USS Bowfin (SS 236) was launched at Portsmouth, New Hampshire on December 7, 1942, and was commissioned there on May 1, 1943. She is a fleet type submarine of the Balao class. The pressure hull of USS Bowfin is reinforced with high tensile steel to enable her to operate at depths in excess of 400 feet. Since the maximum depth setting of Japanese depth charges at the beginning of the war was only 300 feet this extra margin of safety represented an improvement of the Balao class over the previously designed Gato class of fleet submarines.  USS Bowfin has an exterior coat of haze gray paint on the surface that would normally be seen fron a side view. Surfaces that would be seen from an above or aerial view are painted black. This particular paint scheme was common in World War II submarines as a means of camouflage: the side view of light gray blended with the horizon while the aerial view of black blended in with the dark ocean and may even have appeared as a whale in the water to enemy aircraft. 
The superstructure of the boat has several antennae and periscope shears as well as two antiaircraft gun emplacements mounted on the bridge portion. A dual-purpose 5"/25 caliber gun is mounted aft of the superstructure on the main deck. There are two hatches on the main deck that give visitors access to the interior of the boat. A 35' walkway provides access to the boat from the shore line. 
USS Bowfin is in excellent condition and retains her World War II integrity.
Role of the Submarine in World War II
In the conflict against Japan in World War II, the role and importance of the submarine forces of the United States cannot be overestimated. American submarines sank more than 600,000 tons of enemy warships and more than 5,000,000 tons of merchant shipping, thus destroying much of Japan's ocean commerce. This was accomplished by a force that never numbered more than two percent of naval personnel engaged in the war. The American submarine war against Japan created a blockade that denied her the oil, iron ore, food, and other raw materials she needed to continue to fight. By 1945 this submarine war made it all but impossible for any Japanese ship to sail the ocean. Without this commerce and the raw materials it supplied to her war effort, Japan found it impossible to continue the war outside of the homeland. 
USS Bowfin represents U.S. submarine forces that fought against Japan in World War II for the following reasons:
Edwin P. Hoyt, Submarine at War--The History of the American Silent Service (New York: Stein and Day, 1983), pp. 297-98.
Richard H. O'Kane, Clear the Bridge (New York: Bantam Books, 1981), pp. 465-67.
Alden, John D. The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy--A Design and Construction History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institution Press, 1979.
Blair, Clay Jr. Silent Victory--The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1975.
Gray, Harvey. National Register of Historic Places Inventory USS Bowfin." Honolulu, Hawaii: Pacific Fleet Memorial Association, 1982.
Hoyt, Edwin P. Bowfin. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1983.
Hoyt, Edwin P. Submarines at War--The History of the American Silent Service. New York: Stein and Day, 1983.
Middleton, Drew. Submarine--The Ultimate Naval Weapon-Its Past, Present, and Future. Chicago, Illinois: Playboy Press, 1976.
O'Kane, Richard. Clear the Bridge. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.
Roscoe, Theodore. United States Submarine Operations in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1965.
(click on the above photographs for a more detailed view)