New wayside exhibits honor history of submarine service

UT2 (SCW) Jeremy Orndoff, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii Self-Help Seabees, prepares a wayside exhibit about early submarines at Submarine Memorial Park, JBPHH.

UT2 (SCW) Jeremy Orndoff, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii Self-Help Seabees, prepares a wayside exhibit about early submarines at Submarine Memorial Park, JBPHH.

Story and photo by Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

Eleven wayside exhibits are currently being installed near the submarine piers, highlighting the submarine force’s history at Pearl Harbor.

According to Jim Neuman, Navy Region Hawaii historian, the first submarines arrived in Pearl Harbor in 1915. They were moored at Kuahua Peninsula, which was an island at the time.

Construction began on the current submarine base in 1918. On July 17, 1920, Cmdr. Chester W. Nimitz became the commanding officer of the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base.

“It was Cmdr. Nimitz who was tasked with the responsibility of transforming the base from a temporary facility to a more permanent status,” said Neumann. “In that sense, Nimitz could arguably be called the ‘father of the submarine base.'”

UT2 (SCW) Jeremy Orndoff and BU2 Reynaldo Castro, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii Self-Help Seabees, lay the foundation for a wayside exhibit about WWII submarines at Submarine Memorial Park, JBPHH.

UT2 (SCW) Jeremy Orndoff and BU2 Reynaldo Castro, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii Self-Help Seabees, lay the foundation for a wayside exhibit about WWII submarines at Submarine Memorial Park, JBPHH.


The wayside exhibits explore the submarine’s development from the old “R boats”, which were the first subs in Pearl through World War II, and into the nuclear age. The exhibits are placed around the base near historic buildings such as Lockwood Hall, Paquet Hall, Sharkey Theater and the chapel.

Nearly half will be located in the Memorial Park to provide a context for the Submarine Memorial, built in 1960.

The 11 wayside exhibits are similar to the existing exhibits already installed around JBPHH. Wayside exhibits are designed with visuals and text to provide a more stimulating and descriptive experience for the employees and visitors to the submarine piers.

Seabees from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii Self-Help installed the exhibits. It was a different sort of task for them, but one they embraced.

“I’ve never done this kind of thing before,” said Builder 2nd Class Reynaldo Castro, looking at one of the new exhibits. “It’s pretty cool. I like it.”

Neumann hopes the new wayside exhibits will help people to appreciate the rich history of the piers and the submarine service.

“The exhibits add faces and historic photographs to the many names that are listed on the memorial and hopefully reinforce the legacy of the submariners whose lives are memorialized in the park,” said Neuman.

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Category: News