LAUNCHING & COMMISSIONING
On 15 December 1941, eight days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Portsmouth Navy Yard was given the order to start construction on the new Balao class fleet submarines. The third boat of the class was to bear the name USS Bowfin (SS-287). Her keel was laid on 23 July 1942.
Construction proceeded smoothly, and Bowfin was launched at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine on 7 December 1942, exactly one year after the Pearl Harbor attack. Due to this historic coincidence, and in hopes of future success against the enemy, she was appropriately dubbed the "Pearl Harbor Avenger."
Bowfin was christened by Mrs. Jane Gawne, wife of Captain James Orville Gawne who was head of the Portsmouth Navy Yard.
After a period of trial runs, Bowfin was deemed ready to begin her career as a U.S. Navy submarine. Her commissioning party was held on 24 April 1943 at the Pannaway Club in New London, CT, followed a week later by her formal Commissioning Ceremony held on her main deck on 1 May 1943.
USS Bowfin takes her name from the hard fighting, aggressive, and voracious fish found in fresh water from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi River, and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. As the last survivor of the family Amiidae, which dates back to the Jurassic Period, this living fossil is at home in backwaters and marshy areas. Due to its primitive lung, it thrives in water with low oxygen content, and can survive for days at a time in little or no water. A more appropriate name could not have been found for an air-breathing diesel boat, this one soon to be legendary in the submarine force for her bold determination and insatiable appetite for enemy shipping.