16. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel became a haven for submarine sailors
When it opened in 1927, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, established the standard for luxury in the Territory of Hawaii. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford stayed there. So did President Roosevelt, in 1934. It offered hundreds of rooms, ballrooms, lounges and dining rooms, bars (one of which claimed credit for the invention of the Mai Tai) and its own beachfront, with separate lounges and umbrellas for every room. In addition to the beach there were swimming pools, where lunch could be served to those who wished it. But, in 1942, the US Navy requisitioned the hotel. The staff remained in place, for the most part. Beginning in 1943 the Royal Hawaiian began its war service as the site for rest and recreation for the crews of the US Navy submarines operating out of Pearl Harbor. A crew returning to Pearl had the Royal Hawaiian at their disposal.
A relief crew manned the submarine while those fresh off patrol stayed at the Royal Hawaiian. The beach front featured barbed wire, to keep trespassers from interfering with the relaxation of the submarine sailors. They ate in the ball room, converted to a mess hall for the enlisted, foods prepared by the Royal Hawaiian staff. Officers had a wardroom in one of the former dining rooms, and bars were converted as enlisted and officer’s clubs. They were assessed a nominal charge as a laundry and linens fee. Those submarines that returned from patrol to dock at Midway Island (many did, when Pearl’s docks were crowded) missed out, and return to Pearl became the goal of Pacific submarine crews. For two weeks they enjoyed the amenities none could afford in peacetime, after which they returned to the extremely hazardous duties aboard the submarines.