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The U.S.S. Bowfin – Steampunk Eye Candy

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II.  I visited Pearl Harbor a few weeks ago and was, like countless others, moved by the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.  But the highlight of the day for me was the U.S.S. Bowfin, a Balao class submarine launched exactly one year after the attack and dubbed “The Pearl Harbor Avenger.”

Forward torpedo tubes on the USS Bowfin

I’m what you might call a casual military history nut.  I’ve always found submarines fascinating and wondered what it would be like to live trapped inside a tube deep underwater.  I can’t decide whether it would be really cool or really hellish to serve aboard a submarine for months on end.  I imagine it’s a mix of both.

Orange-tinted glass and impossibly polished brass

I’ve toured several submarines, but what stands out about the U.S.S. Bowfin is its aesthetically divine interior.  If you are at all into the steampunk aesthetic, the Bowfin is a wet dream wonderland.

Don't touch that dial

If you’ve ever been inside a sub, you know that there’s not an inch of wasted space.  What amazed me about the Bowfin was that though it is a machine built for a very utilitarian purpose, every instrument, every piece of equipment is a work of art.  The craftsmanship is astounding.  They certainly don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Walking around inside, it was hard to believe this ship is 70 years old.  Not only was it built at a time when things were built to last, but they put a lot of work into the upkeep of the ship.  The thing that stood out to me immediately was the shiny, shiny brass.  I asked the docent how often they polished it.  Every day.

Can you guess which ones have been replaced?

I’ve posted more photos on my Tumblr page and will be adding more in the coming days.  Happy Pearl Harbor Day.

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