USS Pampanito

Soak in some Maritime History at Fisherman’s Wharf

You don’t have to be a military historian or even a sailor to enjoy a tour aboard the USS Pampanito but you’re likely to leave the tour with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the men who served on her. This Balao-class submarine saw extensive action in the Pacific in World War II, where she sank six Japanese warships and damaged four others. Although she was decommissioned many years ago, the Pampanito is still very much in service, so to speak, as a museum that hosts more than 100,000 visitors a year. A national historic landmark, the Pampanito is owned and operated by the Maritime Park Association, which offers many educational programs on and off the warship, including daytime activities and overnight sleepovers.

The Pampanito is currently undergoing extensive renovations to restore her to her condition at the war’s end in late summer 1945. This has been going on for several years as curators and supporters have scoured the United States and the world for missing equipment and spare parts to ensure that as much of the ship is as authentic as possible. Countless man-hours have been donated by retired submariners to restore old equipment to full operation to make this floating and fully operational museum as she was when she patrolled the Pacific. Youngsters taking part in the many educational programs occasionally get a chance to speak directly to old salts who served on Balao-class boats and other World War II submarines.

If you’d like to tour the Pampanito, she’s easy to find, as she is one of them many attractions on Fisherman’s Wharf. The museum opens at 9 a.m. every day, but closing hours vary by season. Self-guided tours cost only $3, but you may wish to upgrade to the guided version at $12 to get the most out of this interesting and very affordable San Francisco attraction. Kids, seniors and students can tour this one-of-a-kind museum for a bit less, as can current active duty military personnel with proper ID. The USS Pampanito is located at Pier 45 on the Wharf. For more information about this unique experience and the educational opportunities offered by the Association, visit the official site at

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