USS Pampanito (SS383) in San Francisco

Show Map

USS Pampanito (SS-383/AGSS-383), a Balao-class submarine, was a United States Navy ship, the only one named for a variety of the pompano fish (see gafftopsail pompano). She completed six war patrols from 1944 to 1945 and served as a Naval Reserve Training ship from 1960 to 1971. She is now a National Historic Landmark, preserved as a memorial and museum ship in the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association located at Fisherman's Wharf.

History: 1943-1970

USS Pampanito's keel was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, on 15 March 1943. She was launched on 12 July 1943, sponsored by Mrs. James Wolfender, and commissioned on 6 November 1943, with Lieutenant Commander Charles B. Jackson, Jr. in command.

After shakedown off New London, Connecticut, Pampanito transited the Panama Canal and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 14 February 1944. Her first war patrol, from 15 March to 2 May, was conducted in the southwest approaches to Saipan and Guam. She served on lifeguard duty south of Yap, then scored two torpedo hits on a destroyer before sailing for Midway Island and Pearl Harbor for refit and repairs to a hull badly damaged by depth charges.

Pampanito’s second war patrol, from 3 June to 23 July, took place off Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Honshū. On 23 June, a submerged Japanese submarine fired two torpedoes, just missing Pampanito. On 6 July, Pampanito damaged a Japanese gunboat, and 11 days later headed for Midway Island.

Pampanito’s third war patrol, from 17 August to 28 September, a "wolfpack" operation with submarines and , was conducted in the South China Sea. On 12 September, she unknowingly sank 10,509 ton POW ship Kachidoki Maru , which unfortunately was transporting 900 British prisoners, the 5,135 ton tanker Zuihō Maru, and she damaged a third ship. On 15 September, Pampanito moved back to the area of the original attack and found men clinging to makeshift rafts. As the sub moved closer, the men were heard to be shouting in English. Pampanito was able to pick up 73 British and Australian survivors and called in three other subs, Sealion, and , to assist with the rescue. She then set course for Saipan, disembarked the survivors, and steamed on to Pearl Harbor.

Pampanito’s fourth war patrol, from 28 October to 30 December, took place off Formosa and the coast of southeastern China with , , and . Sinking 1200 ton cargo ship Shinko Maru Number One, 19 November, she damaged a second ship before putting in to Fremantle for refit. Her fifth war patrol in the Gulf of Siam, from 23 January to 12 February 1945, with , was highlighted by two sinkings, the 6,968-ton cargo ship Engen Maru 6 February and the 3,520-ton passenger-cargo ship Eifuku Maru on 8 February.

Refitted at Subic Bay, Pampanito returned to the Gulf of Siam for her sixth war patrol. Operating with , Sealion, and , she sighted only one target before sailing for Pearl Harbor.

From Pearl Harbor the ship proceeded to San Francisco for overhaul, departing for Pearl Harbor again 1 August. With the end of the war, she was ordered to return to San Francisco. She was decommissioned at Mare Island on 15 December 1945. She remained in reserve until April 1960 when she was assigned to Naval Reserve Training at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Reclassified AGSS-383, 6 November 1962, she served as a Naval Reserve Training ship at Vallejo, California, until she was stricken from the Navy Register on 20 December 1971.

In 1986, Pampanito was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared to be a National Historic Landmark.

She is now owned and operated by the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association and is moored at Pier 45 in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf area, where she is open for visiting.

She flies a broom from her mast, indicating a "clean sweep": a successful patrol that "swept the enemy from the seas." In total, she sank six Japanese ships and damaged four others, with a total of more than 27,000 tons of enemy shipping sunken.

Pampanito has completed four maintenance drydockings since becoming a memorial and museum. "The Pampanito still has several working parts, including one torpedo tube, the periscope, engines, galley and ice-cream maker." The museum runs educational programs including one that allows organized groups of children and adults to sleep overnight in the submarine's 48 bunk beds.

In Film

In 1995, she played the fictional USS Stingray (SS-161) in the movie Down Periscope. The movie, with Kelsey Grammer as the ship's captain, is set in Charleston and Norfolk harbors, on the U.S. east coast. Filming is actually of the Pampanito sailing under tow in San Francisco Bay and venturing past the Golden Gate Bridge. It had been fifty years since she sailed under the bridge.<ref name="welcome"/>



  • San Francisco Maritime National Park Association (2002). USS Pampanito. Retrieved May 10, 2005.

External links