Galveston, TX 77550
American Undersea Warfare Center
Just before noon on June 19, 1944, after days of playing a lethal game of cat-and-mouse with enemy ships, the Gato-class submarine USS Cavalla, SS-244, unleashed its bow torpedoes on the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Shokaku. Earlier in the war, IJN Shokaku had launched aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor and operated in the destruction of the USS Lexington at Coral Sea, the Royal Navy carrier HMS Hermes and two British cruisers in the Indian Ocean, and the famed Doolittle carrier USS Hornet near the Solomon Islands.
But on this day, on its maiden voyage, USS Cavalla sent this scourge of the WWII seas to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, becoming the only U.S. submarine to avenge Pearl Harbor. A grateful command assigned Cavalla as an escort to the fleet entering Tokyo Bay for the war’s final surrender. After the war, Cavalla was selected for conversion to advanced technologies that led to today’s modern submarine forces.
Proudly berthed next to the stealthy Cavalla at the American Undersea Warfare Center is the Edsall-class destroyer escort USS Stewart, DE-238, which was born in the Houston shipyards and finished in Galveston before joining the fleet as a protector against submarines. Initially serving as escort for President Roosevelt on his way to the crucial Tehran Conference, USS Stewart soon engaged in the valiant service as convoy sentinel, shepherding cargo and troop ships as the lifeline to our allies against fascism.
Brought together, predator and protector, as nowhere else, USS Cavalla and USS Stewart welcome all who seek to understand the drama of World War II’s deadly struggles to master the underwater domain of the unforgiving seas.
As you tour both ships, walk the weather-worn decks. Explore the brass-glistened torpedo rooms. Stand where crews launched depth charges and hedgehog mortars against an unseen foe below. Visit the command rooms where orders were given, engaging in the chess match between sub and escort. Spin the wagon-wheel-sized controls that once set the submarine’s depth, or answer “Full Speed Ahead” in the maneuvering room. Onboard ship sleepovers for groups are not only available, but may even arouse the legendary ghost whom some claim wakes the sailors for the morning watch!
The American Undersea Warfare Center, sponsored by the Cavalla Historical Foundation and Seawolf Park, offers self-guided tours and opportunities for special events. It’s also the perfect setting for gatherings, school or class trips, reunions, military/naval weddings, corporate team building, or to pay personal homage to those family, friends, and comrades who once or now serve this nation’s nautical responsibilities.
Visit today and re-live the bravery of those who went down to the sea in the very ships whose lonely duty directed them into harm’s way.
Galveston, TX 77550