Submarine Memorial Chapel

Last updated
Submarine Memorial Chapel
Submarine Memorial Chapel exterior 2019 (7).jpg
Exterior of Submarine Memorial Chapel (2019)
General information
LocationCorner of Oakley and Nimitz Streets, Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
CountryUnited States
Coordinates 21°21′19″N157°56′31″W / 21.35528°N 157.94194°W / 21.35528; -157.94194 Coordinates: 21°21′19″N157°56′31″W / 21.35528°N 157.94194°W / 21.35528; -157.94194
Construction startedc. November 1943
InauguratedSeptember 10, 1944
OwnerUnited States Navy
Heightc. 10 m (33 ft)

The Submarine Memorial Chapel is a military chapel onboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, Hawaii, United States. Dedicated in 1944, it is the oldest chapel at Pearl Harbor, built in remembrance of all the submariners who died in World War II. It ceased hosting religious worship services sometime in the 2000s, but regular religious services were re-established by a congregation at the chapel in 2015.

Chapel Religious place of fellowship attached to a larger institution

The term chapel usually refers to a Christian place of prayer and worship that is attached to a larger, often nonreligious institution or that is considered an extension of a primary religious institution. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a college, hospital, palace, prison, funeral home, church, synagogue or mosque, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building, sometimes with its own grounds. Chapel has also referred to independent or nonconformist places of worship in Great Britain—outside the established church.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam US Air Force and Navy joint base in Hawaii

Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam (JBPHH) is a United States military base adjacent to Honolulu, Hawaii. It is an amalgamation of the United States Air Force Hickam Air Force Base and the United States Navy Naval Station Pearl Harbor, which were merged in 2010.

Hawaii State of the United States of America

Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state to have joined the United States, having received statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located in Oceania, the only U.S. state located outside North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.



The Submarine Memorial Chapel is the oldest chapel at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, built during World War II in remembrance of all the submariners who died in that conflict. In November 1943, Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Commander Thomas H. Reilly conceived of the building and began to organize volunteers to build it. [1]

Pearl Harbor Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.

Chaplain Provider of pastoral care, often a minister of a religious tradition, attached to an institution

A chaplain is, traditionally, a cleric, or a lay representative of a religious tradition, attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, school, labor union, business, police department, fire department, university, or private chapel.

The dedication ceremony on September 10, 1944, was attended by more than 400 personnel, including Admiral Chester Nimitz and then-Rear Admiral Charles A. Lockwood. [2]

Charles A. Lockwood United States admiral

Charles Andrews Lockwood was a vice-admiral and flag officer of the United States Navy. He is known in submarine history as the commander of Submarine Force Pacific Fleet during World War II. He devised tactics for the effective use of submarines, making the members and elements of "silent service" key players in the Pacific victory.

At some point in the early 2000s, the chapel ceased hosting religious worship services, but it continued to be the site of community activities including retirements, weddings, the monthly Tolling of the Boats and other services. On November 22, 2015, regular religious services were re-established by a congregation at the chapel. [2]


Stained glass

The chapel has fourteen stained glass windows at ground level, one over the main door and another over the chancel. They were donated to the Navy by the president of submarine manufacturer Electric Boat Company in 1959. [3] From inside the chapel, a small submarine may be seen in the lower portion of each window. [4]

Stained glass decorative window composed of pieces of coloured glass

The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works created from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant religious buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture. Modern vernacular usage has often extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic lead light and objects d'art created from foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Chancel space around the altar of a traditional Christian church

In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar, including the choir and the sanctuary, at the liturgical east end of a traditional Christian church building. It may terminate in an apse. It is generally the area used by the clergy and choir during worship, while the congregation is in the nave. Direct access may be provided by a priest's door, usually on the south side of the church. This is one definition, sometimes called the "strict" one; in practice in churches where the eastern end contains other elements such as an ambulatory and side chapels, these are also often counted as part of the chancel, especially when discussing architecture. In smaller churches, where the altar is backed by the outside east wall and there is no distinct choir, the chancel and sanctuary may be the same area. In churches with a retroquire area behind the altar, this may only be included in the broader definition of chancel.

Ship's bell

The chapel's steeple contains the ship's bell from USS Argonaut, donated just before the submarine put to sea for her 1943 cruise on which she was sunk. [4]

Steeple tall tower on a building

A steeple, in architecture, is a tall tower on a building, topped by a spire and often incorporating a belfry and other components. Steeples are very common on Christian churches and cathedrals and the use of the term generally connotes a religious structure. They may be stand-alone structures, or incorporated into the entrance or center of the building.

Ships bell

A ship's bell is a bell on a ship that is used for the indication of time as well as other traditional functions. The bell itself is usually made of brass or bronze, and normally has the ship's name engraved or cast on it.

USS <i>Argonaut</i> (SM-1)

USS Argonaut was a submarine of the United States Navy, the first boat to carry the name. Argonaut was laid down as V-4 on 1 May 1925 at Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was launched on 10 November 1927, sponsored by Mrs. Philip Mason Sears, the daughter of Rear Admiral William D. MacDougall, and commissioned on 2 April 1928, Lieutenant Commander W.M. Quigley in command. Although never officially designated as "SS-166", at some point she displayed this number on her conning tower.

Tolling of the Boats

A bell-tolling ceremony, the "Tolling of the Boats", is held at the chapel every month in remembrance of the submariners killed from the 52 United States Navy submarines lost during World War II. [5] [6] The ceremony was initiated by the organization United States Submarine Veterans of World War II, and is a solemn occasion at which "the names of each of the U.S. submarines lost, along with the fate of its crew, are read aloud as a bell is tolled for each in turn". [7] At other bases the tolling of the boats may be held less frequently, for instance on Memorial Day, [8] and may include boats lost before and after World War II. [9]

Related Research Articles

Chester W. Nimitz United States Navy fleet admiral

Chester William Nimitz, Sr. was a fleet admiral of the United States Navy. He played a major role in the naval history of World War II as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, commanding Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

United States Pacific Fleet Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy

The United States Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT) is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval forces to the United States Indo-Pacific Command. Fleet headquarters is at Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Hawaii, with large secondary facilities at North Island, San Diego Bay on the Mainland.

USS <i>Minneapolis–Saint Paul</i> (SSN-708) attack submarine

USS Minneapolis–Saint Paul (SSN-708), a Los Angeles-class submarine, was the first vessel of the United States Navy to be named for the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, although each city had been honored twice before. The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut on 31 October 1973 and her keel was laid down on 20 January 1981. She was launched on 19 March 1983 sponsored by Mrs. Penny Durenberger, and commissioned on 10 March 1984, with Commander Ralph Schlichter in command.

USS <i>Tang</i> (SS-563)

USS Tang (SS/AGSS-563), the lead ship of her class was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tang.

USS <i>Cuttlefish</i> (SS-171)

USS Cuttlefish (SC-5/SS-171), a Cachalot-class submarine and one of the "V-boats," was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the cuttlefish. Her keel was laid down by Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 21 November 1933 sponsored by Mrs. B. S. Bullard, and commissioned on 8 June 1934, Lieutenant Commander Charles W. "Gin" Styer in command. Cuttlefish was the first submarine built entirely at Electric Boat's facility in Groton, Connecticut; construction of previous Electric Boat designs had been subcontracted to other shipyards, notably Fore River Shipbuilding of Quincy, Massachusetts. Four Peruvian R-class submarines had previously been finished in Groton, using material from cancelled S-boats salvaged from Fore River.

USS <i>Ward</i> (DD-139) destroyer

USS Ward (DD-139) was a 1,247-long-ton (1,267 t) Wickes-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War I, later APD-16 in World War II. She caused the first American-caused casualties in World War II, when she engaged a Japanese submarine before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and successfully sank her, killing the two crew on board.

USS <i>Arizona</i> Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and commemorates the events of that day. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oahu led to the United States' direct involvement in World War II.

USS <i>San Francisco</i> (SSN-711) attack submarine

USS San Francisco (SSN-711) is a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine, the third ship or boat of the United States Navy to be named for San Francisco, California.

USS <i>Tautog</i> (SSN-639) Sturgeon class submarine

USS Tautog (SSN-639), a Sturgeon-class attack submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the Tautog, a wrasse commonly found along the Northern Atlantic coast. The submarine was in service from 17 August 1968 to 31 March 1997.

Robert Henry English United States admiral

Robert Henry English was a United States Navy commissioned officer who commanded the U.S. Navy's submarine force in the Pacific Theater of Operations early in World War II.

Bernard A. Clarey United States Navy admiral

Bernard Ambrose Clarey, nicknamed "Chick", was an admiral of the United States Navy. A submarine commander during World War II, he served during the late 1960s as Vice Chief of Naval Operations and in the early 1970s as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

USS <i>Whitman</i> (DE-24)

USS Whitman (DE-24) was an Evarts-class destroyer escort constructed for the United States Navy during World War II. It was promptly sent off into the Pacific Ocean to protect convoys and other ships from Japanese submarines and fighter aircraft. By the end of the war, when she returned to the United States, she had proudly accumulated four battle stars.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day, is observed annually in the United States on December 7, to remember and honor the 2,403 citizens of the United States who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

Naval Station Pearl Harbor naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Naval Station Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base adjacent to Honolulu, in the U.S. state of Hawaii. In 2010, along with the United States Air Force's Hickam Air Force Base, the facility was merged to form Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam.

Submarine Squadron 3

Submarine Squadron 3 was a squadron of submarines of the United States Navy based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Pearl Harbor, HI which was disestablished in 2012.

James Wiggin Coe American submarine commander

Commander James Wiggins "Red" Coe (13 June 1909 – 28 September 1943, 8 January 1946 was an American submariner. A submarine ace, Coe commanded USS Skipjack and Cisco during operations in the Pacific theatre of World War II. After a number of successful patrols, Coe and the Cisco failed to return from patrol in November 1943, and her captain and crew were presumed dead in 1946.

Charles "Charlie" W. Rush, Jr. was a United States Navy captain who served during World War II and the Korean War. During World War II, Rush saved the entire crew of the submarine USS Billfish from a November 1943 depth charge attack by three Japanese destroyers. His actions remained hidden for nearly 60 years before he was honored with the Navy Cross in 2002 for his actions. Rush served on the USS Thresher, USS Carbonero, and USS Billfish and served in command of the submarines USS Queenfish and USS Blackfin before retiring from the Navy in 1961. Rush developed a number of submarine-launched missiles, including a notable high-speed wake-less torpedo.


  1. Journalist 3rd Class Corwin Colbert (September 30, 2004), Submarine Memorial Chapel Celebrates Six Decades of Service (Press release), Pacific Submarine Force Public Affairs, Commander Submarine Force Pacific, Story number NNS040930-03
  2. 1 2 Michael H. Lee (March 10, 2016), Pearl Harbor’s World War II-Era Submarine Chapel renews weekly services, Pacific Submarine Force Public Affairs, Commander Submarine Force Pacific , retrieved 2019-02-15
  3. Facts recorded on bronze plaque outside the chapel
  4. 1 2 Commander, Navy Region Hawaii (2015), Pearl Harbor Tourist Attractions , retrieved 2019-02-15
  5. Khor, MC1 Steven (January 27, 2015). "Bell tolling ceremony in honor of lost submariners". The Flagship. Norfolk, Virginia: Military Newspapers of Virginia.
  6. Hinman, Charles R., "On Eternal Patrol – Men Lost while in service to the US Submarine Force – A Photographic Presentation", note – author was Director of Education & Outreach USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
  7. Base Memorials And Ceremonies Handbook (PDF), United States Submarine Veterans, Inc., May 8, 2009, p. 27
  8. Gray, Amanda (May 26, 2016). "Tolling the Boats Ceremony Held at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor" (press release). Commander, Submarine Group Nine, COMSUBPAC, United States Navy via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
  9. Alexander, Rachel (May 30, 2017). "Tolling of the Boats in Hayden honors submarine crews lost at sea". The Spokesman-Review . Spokane, Washington.

Further reading

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the United States Navy document "Pearl Harbor’s World War II-Era Submarine Chapel renews weekly services" by Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet .Retrieved on 2019-02-15.
PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the United States Navy document "Pearl Harbor Tourist Attractions" by Commander, Navy Region Hawaii .Retrieved on 2019-02-15.