Dive into U.S. Naval History aboard the Submarine Becuna

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Friday, September 10, 2021
Dive into U.S. Naval History aboard the Submarine Becuna
Experience what life was like beneath the surface during WWII during this guided tour through this floating museum.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "I've always been a history guy, but I got into naval history specifically when my grandfather passed away," said Gregory Williams. "At his funeral, the Navy showed up and kind of rendered honors to him."

Williams remembers uncovering old photos and researching the types of battles in which his grandfather took part.

"That was the first time any of us really knew he was in the Navy because he never talked about his service," he said. "So, I was able to kind of track down, like, what he did. And then I fell in love with submarines and that's how I ended up here."

Williams, the manager of the USS Becuna, sees the submarine like a second home. Unfortunately, it was closed for roughly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now that it has reopened, he runs a tight ship giving guided tours through the slender corridors.

"So, you come aboard, you can experience with the cramped, confined spaces, what it was like for the crew to live aboard for two months, and just the sheer engineering marvel that this submarine is because it was built in a time before you had computers or anything like that," he said.

Now a National Historic Landmark, the WWII submarine is nestled on the water between the walkable Penn's Landing and the USS Cruiser Olympia. Both floating attractions are part of the Independence Seaport Museum.

"My father was a Submariner. I used to ask him about it all the time. I mean, I loved it," said Don Legro, visiting from New Hampshire.

To honor his father's service, Legro studies U.S. Naval history and visits various warships.

"I've been on a few tours, and this is probably one of the best, most informative tours I've been on," he said. "The amount of information that I've actually got off of this, it's astounding."

Education like this is one of the primary goals of Independence Seaport Museum's programming.

"I think the city really started on the river," said Alexis Furlong, the museum's Director of Marketing and Communications. "I think that's a story that's kind of been lost to time."

She hopes locals and tourists alike will enjoy the museum's year-long programming as well as seasonal activities such as Paddle Penn's Landing, which currently runs on weekends from noon to dusk.

"You could really make a day on the waterfront if you started the museum, you go to the ships, and then you end your day paddling in the boat basin," said Furlong.

To learn more about Submarine Becuna or the other programming at Independence Seaport Museum, visit their website.

NEXT DOOR: Philadelphia's historic WWI ship celebrates 125th anniversary

Cruiser Olympia is the oldest steel warship afloat in the world. Community Journalist Matteo ventures deep within the vessel to celebrate her 125th anniversary.