Pearl Harbor Submarine Base (TH)


After completing submarine school at the submarine base at New London, CT, in March of 1950, I reported aboard the USS Caiman (SS323) at Pearl Harbor, TH. I spent six years at Pearl Harbor on three different boats, the Caiman four years, the Bluegill (SS242) six months, and the Sterlet (SS392) two years. I have a lot of photographs from that era, including Waikiki beach before the big hotels arrived. It was at that time called the Paradise of the Pacific. But after a few months we began referring to it as "the rock."


The submarine base entrance sign was on the only street leading to the center of the sub base. That street no longer exists. Extensive re-arrangement of the base to provide more security for the nuclear boats changed the traffic pattern. I have visited the base twice since I left it in 1956, once in 1985, when the submarine museum was in its infancy and still housed in a quonset hut on the base, just behind the gas station behind the sign, and again in 1996 after the grand museum had been built. The base has changed a bit, but the officers club is still there. The biggest change is that the main barracks building (seen in the background) has been subdivided into individual "apartments" for the sub crews. The old Ships Service and laundry building behind the main barracks has been replaced by high-rise apartment buildings for the sub crews. Large training buildings have been built near the submarine base gate. The escape training tower has been drained, but still stands as a landmark. All the finger piers have been removed and a large wharf has been extended.

Look at these pages to get an idea of the sub base era of 1950.


The base                        The boats                            The beach               


  The museum             Other boats                             Other places     


  Books to read         Films to find             Stamps to locate         


The use of the escape training tower was demonstrated in the movie "Torpedo Alley" starring Mark Stevens. The movie has been on TV several times and has been released on video. Another good one of that era is "Guided Missile" with Glen Ford captaining the first sub to be outfitted with the Regulus missile.