Undersea battle star: Inside the USS Pampanito

CNET | 7/4/2019 | Geoffrey Morrison
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The USS Pampanito submarine sits dockside at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Countless tourists and locals have likely seen it, an obviously older boat that looks out of place and time in the relentlessly modern Bay Area. The ship was built during World War II, and earned 6 battle stars before the end of the war.

After the war, this Balao-class diesel-electric sub served as a training ship and even starred in some movies. Some of her sister ships continued their lives in foreign navies.

Museum - Ship - Pampanito - Submarines - Look

Now, as a museum ship, the Pampanito is one of the most easily accessed submarines you can tour. We decided to give it a closer look.

On the afternoon of September 15, 1944, the USS Pampanito spotted men floating adrift at sea on a makeshift raft. They were filthy and covered in oil. As the sub approached, they could hear voices speaking in English.

Men - Sailors - Japanese - Passengers - Convoy

The men turned out to be British and Australian sailors who'd been captured by the Japanese -- tragically, they had been passengers aboard a convoy ship the Pampanito had just helped sink. The sub switched missions immediately to one of rescue. The Pampanito pulled 73 men from the water and was able to radio for other subs in its wolfpack to come and do the same.

Submarines don't carry doctors on board. Pharmacist's Mate First Class Maurice L. Demers was the closest they had. Trained in medicine and formerly a hospital corpsman, he worked himself nearly to exhaustion during the five-day journey to the nearest American base in Saipan. Not a spacious place to begin with, it was all the more difficult and crowded while the sub carried twice its normal complement, half of them close to death. Amazingly, only one man died during the journey.

Pampanito - Patrols

The Pampanito went back out on three more patrols before...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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