As you exit the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton, Washington, you’ll notice an odd sight to your left near the dock entrance. A large black form with airplane-like wings rises out of the ground beside the entrance to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
This is, in fact, the last remaining piece of what’s said to be the most decorated vessel in United States history, the USS Parche. It’s one of two U.S. Navy ships to be named after the butterflyfish. The vessel spent 30 years undertaking numerous missions, many of which were clandestine and are still considered classified.
The Parche, a Sturgeon-class nuclear submarine, was launched on January 13, 1973. During its many years of service, it was awarded nine Presidential Unit Citations, 10 Navy Unit Commendations, 15 Navy Battle “E” awards, and 13 Navy Expeditionary Medals.
In 2004, the Parche was decommissioned and scrapped two years later at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The submarine’s sail was preserved and is displayed near the Puget Sound Navy Museum. The sail is the centerpiece of the plaza, which is also decorated with fountains, sculptures, and plaques that tell the story of the shipyard’s history.
Know Before You Go
Arriving from Seattle by ferry the plaza can be seen to your left as you exit the ferry dock.