Submarine Becuna is moored at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia and like the Cruiser Olympia is a part of the Independence Seaport Museum open to the public via guided tours. Also like the Olympia, the USS Becuna is the only remaining vessel of her kind – the only existing Guppy 1-A submarine left. As such the Becuna is well worth a visit, and is a fascinating remnant of the United States Navy’s history.
Becuna was launched in 1944 in Groton, Connecticut after construction at the Electric Boat Company. Four months later she was sent to fight Japan in the Pacific during World War II, and sank three and a half ships, which included two Japanese tankers. The USS Becuna received four battle stars for her service and continued to patrol the Pacific after the war. In 1949-1950 the USS Becuna was used as for training exercises, and then modernized as a GUPPY submarine in late 1950. Among other things this overhaul installed newer more efficient batteries, removed deck guns, rounded the bow, and improved the living conditions and the ability to perform maintenance. After the redesign the made three cruises to photograph Soviet radar installations and record the sonar signatures Soviet submarines, but mainly continued to serve as a training submarine.
The USS Becuna was decommissioned in 1969, moved to her current location at Penn’s landing in 1976, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Ten years later she became part of the Independence Seaport Museum, which continues to conduct guided tours to this day. Filled with artifacts including magazines, paintings, menus, and log sheets, visitors can get a great sense of what life was like in the claustrophobic environment, thankfully without having to navigate around the crew of 80 officers and enlisted men that operated it while in use. It’s an amazing opportunity to explore a place most people will never get to see, and imagine what it would be like being trapped underwater for months at a time while completing missions. If nothing else it gives you a newfound respect for the dedication of the men who served onboard, and the challenges they faced. You can find out more information on tour prices and availability at https://www.phillyseaport.org/
Matthew Christopher PA Philadelphia Dec 19, 2022 History Maritime Museums War & Peace