‘ Submarine History ’ Archive

800px-Japanese_aircraft_carrier_Shinano

On 11 November 1944 B-29 air strikes against Tokyo were cancelled and Archerfish, originally assigned to lifesaving duties, was free to patrol the waters near Tokyo Bay. On the night of 28 November she spots what is believed to be a tanker leaving the bay. Lookouts later determine that it’s a large aircraft carrier with three destroyer escorts.

Archerfish CO, CDR Joseph F. Enright, begins a six-hour surface track on the carrier in anticipation of a submerged attack. When the carrier turned into the sub’s path six torpedos were fired. They were set for shallow running in order to increase the chances of a hit in case they ran deeper than set. Two torpedo hits were seen and four more were heard. The carrier sank in 5 hours.

Enright believed the target to be, and was credited for, a Hayataka-class carrier weighing 28,000 tons. Post war accounting identified the target as the Shinano, a 72,000 ton supercarrier, originally laid down as a Yamato-class battleship, the first of its kind. It was so secret it was being transferred from Yokusuka to Kure for final fitting out. One of the items on the list for installation were her watertight doors. Once the torpedos hit, the inexperienced crew could do nothing to save her. As of 2014, Shinano remains the the largest warship ever sunk buy a submarine. Archerfish earned the Presidential Unit Citation for this patrol.

Dec 1, 1943: Loss of the USS Capelin (SS 289)

capelin-crewTopside

Capelin put out on her second war patrol on 17 November 1943, in the Molucca and Celebes Seas, and was to pay particular attention to the trade routes in the vicinity of Siaoe, Sangi, Talaud, and Sarangani Islands. She was to end her patrol on 6 December.

USS Bonefish (SS 223) communicated with Capelin on 1 December 1943 in the area assigned to Capelin at that time. Bonefish warned Capelin about a convoy they had just attacked. Capelin acknowledged the message was never heard from again.

Japanese records studied after the war listed an attack by minelayer Wakataka on a supposed United States submarine on 23 November, off Kaoe Bay, Halmahera. The Japanese ship noted the attack produced oily black water columns that contained wood and cork splinters and later a raft was found. This is the only reported attack in the appropriate area at that time. Also, Japanese minefields are now known to have been placed in various positions along the north coast of Sulawesi (Celebes) in Capelin’s area, and she may have been lost because of a mine explosion. Gone without a trace with 76 crew members, Capelin remains in the list of ships lost without a known cause.

The Loss of USS CISCO (SS-290)

On 10 May 1943, the U.S. Navy commissioned USS CISCO (SS-290) at Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. Soon after, the boat set out for Darwin, Australia, arriving in the middle of September. While there, Chief Radioman Howell B. Rice became sick and was sent to the local Navy hospital. On 18 September, his boat set out on her first war patrol without him. A leak in her hydraulic system forced her to turn back for repairs, but two days later CISCO headed back out. She was never heard from again.

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Medal of Honor Recipient Howard Gilmore

Howard Walter Gilmore was born in Selma, Alabama, on 29 September 1902. He enlisted in the Navy at the age of eighteen; two years later he scored high enough on the entrance examination to be accepted into the Naval Academy. He was commissioned in 1926 and sent to a battleship; in 1930 he volunteered for submarine duty. He served as executive officer of USS SHARK (SS-174), during whose shakedown cruise Gilmore and another officer had their throats slashed during a stop in Panama; although scarred, both survived. He took command of SHARK in 1941, but was transferred to the not-yet-commissioned USS GROWLER (SS-215) the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He and his new boat began their first war patrol on 29 June 1942, just three months after GROWLER joined the fleet.

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The Loss of USS S-51 (SS-162)

On 24 June 1922, USS S-51 (SS-162), a fourth-group S-class submarine, was commissioned. She was homeported in New London, Connecticut, just up the coast from where she was built at the Lake Torpedo Boat Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. S-51 operated normally and uneventfully until the night of 25 September 1925. What follows are excerpts from a history of S-51 written by the Ships’ Histories Section of the Naval History Division.

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The Loss of USS POMPANO (SS-181)

By the summer of 1943, USS POMPANO (SS-181) was already an accomplished submarine, a veteran of six war patrols. On 20 August, she left Midway with high hopes for further success. She had been ordered to patrol off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, until sunset on 27 September. Then she was to return to Midway and continue to Pearl Harbor to undergo maintenance.

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Medal of Honor Recipient Samuel Dealey

Samuel David Dealey was born in Dallas, Texas, on 13 September 1906. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1930 and was subsequently commissioned as an ensign. He served aboard several surface ships and was promoted to lieutenant (jg) before reporting, in the summer of 1934, to Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut. After graduation he was assigned to several subs in quick succession: USS S-34 (SS-139), USS S-24 (SS-129), USS NAUTILUS (SS-168), and USS BASS (SS-164). Then he was off to Pensacola Naval Air Station and another surface vessel before returning to submarines as Commanding Officer of USS S-20 (SS-125), where he remained for two years.

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Medal of Honor Recipient John Cromwell

USS SCULPIN (SS-191) began her ninth war patrol on 7 November 1943, departing Johnston Atoll, where she had stopped to fill up on fuel after leaving Pearl Harbor, for the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. The United States was about to mount a massive attack on the Gilbert Islands and SCULPIN was charged with intercepting any Japanese naval forces that might be on their way to oppose the invasion. She was supposed to remain on station until 14 December and then return to Pearl Harbor. But after leaving Johnston Atoll she was never heard from again.

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Remembering

Firefighters and military personnel unfurl the American flag from the roof of the Pentagon, 12 September 2001. 184 people—70 civilians and 55 servicemembers in the Pentagon, 59 people aboard the aircraft—were killed the previous day when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building. Take a moment today, the 13th anniversary of that terrible event, to remember all who lost their lives and whose lives were changed forever.

 

Turn Up the Klaxon!

Monday’s “Tidbit” about memories of USS HADDO (SS-255) included the entry, “When Porter was left topside on a dive in the warzone, the tough time we had finding him, and how ‘Doc’ (Lilly? or Wortham?) took care of him?” Harry Heflin, first-class radioman aboard the boat at the time, fleshes out the recollection.

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