The old 297 was donated to the Submarine Memorial Association, a non-profit organization formed in 1972 with the purpose of saving Ling from the scrap yard. They petitioned the Navy to bring the boat to Hackensack, New Jersey to serve as a memorial "to perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country." Many citizens and corporations contributed time, professional services, and funds toward the restoration of Ling. She arrived at her present home in New Jersey in January 1973, where she was restored to near-mint condition—scrubbed, painted, and polished for public tours—through the efforts of the association. The compartments were refurbished and outfitted with authentic gear that recreated the bygone era of the World War II battle submarine. She was the centerpiece of the New Jersey Naval Museum at 78 River St., Hackensack, New Jersey.
X-rays showed that the submarine's five safes contained documents and metallic objects, but the combinations had long been lost. On 27 January 2006, Jeff Sitar, the eight-time world champion locksmith, opened the safes using only his fingers and an electronic sound amplifier, rather than drills or explosives. In the safes, he found a wide variety of objects, including a dozen pennies, two .45-caliber bullets, a ring of keys, many training and maintenance manuals and parts catalogs from the 1940s and 1950s, and two 1-US-quart (950 ml) cans of 190-proof ethanol. (Despite the inevitable jokes that it was the private stash of the yeoman, the alcohol would have been used for cleaning electrical contacts.)
In the American-produced Russian language film Katya shot in 2010, the Ling was used for a set to depict the Soviet K-129 diesel-electric powered submarine which sank on 8 March 1968 northwest of Oahu.