‘ Submarine History ’ Archive

The Submarine That Toured America

The Submarine Force Museum is known for being able to tour the first ever nuclear-powered submarine. While the Nautilus is the only submarine at the museum that can be toured from the inside, it doesn’t mean that it is the only submarine on display. Standing outside of the museum doors, a row of smaller submarines greets visitors. People may be surprised to see a submarine on display, on concrete, on a walkway in front of the museum. The “Type A”

Photo of the HA-8 outside the museum. Photo Courtesy of Erica Buell

submarine on display is not your typical submarine and recalls a time in our nation’s history when a Japanese submarine was generating ticket sales across the country.

 

On December 7, 1941, America was thrust into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The aerial strike in Hawaii was devastating and began a series of events that would lead our government to declare war on Japan. While the facts of that day can be found everywhere, many people aren’t aware of the Japanese naval attack that was also occurring at the same time. The Imperial Japanese Navy sent a group of submarines to surround Oahu to sink any American ships that attempted to flee. Some of these submarines were equipped with top secret “mini-submarines” that were each armed with two torpedoes and carried two crew members. The plan was for these “mini submarines” to surface and fire their torpedoes during the aerial attack. While we all know the very devastating effect of the air attack, the submarines failed in their mission. Only one was able to escape but was sunk once out of the harbor. Another washed ashore the next day and its surviving crew member was captured. A third submarine was sunk before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It had been seen following a U.S. ship that

https://chs.org/2010/05/buy-war-bonds/

was heading into the harbor. The failed mission of the “mini submarines” is not the end of their short history. The submarine captured by the U.S on December 8th was studied by our government and then was used to garner support for the war effort and sell war bonds. This was an effective way to show the American people exactly what they were fighting against.

War bonds are debt securities that help to finance military efforts in times of war. Sold by the government, they are usually retail bonds marketed to the public or wholesales ones sold on the stock market. During WWII, posters encouraged citizens to show their patriotism and buy war bonds and many different events were held throughout the country to encourage sales.  However, promotional art and film reels of the frontline could only elicit so much support. But a Japanese submarine provided a physical reminder of what Japan had done to them and promote the rally cry “Remember Pearl Harbor”. The “mini submarine”, or HA-19, that was captured on December 8th was sent around the United States on war bond rallies between 1942 and 1945. Admission to view the submarine was made possible through the purchase of war bonds and stamps. One stop on its tour was Washington D.C. on April 3, 1943.

postcard printed to publicize the submarine’s tour showed the trailer on which it was transported and exhorted American’s to avenge Pearl Harbor by buying war bonds. Photo courtesy of Arnold Putnam.

Upon arriving in Alexandria, Virginia, $40,000 was raised in a little over 20 minutes with a total of $1,061,650 by the end of the day.  When she made her way to Hartford, Connecticut, $250,000 worth of bonds were sold with over 20,000 people descending to the city center to view the submarine. War bonds were crucial to the war effort and kept troops supplied with what they needed. While the HA-19 was the more popular

A sailor posed next to the conning tower of the HA-19 on the Capitol grounds. The war bond rallies focused on the supposed small stature of the Japanese and their “midget” submarines and likened this smallness of size to smallness of character and to the perceived perfidy of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Library of Congress

“mini submarine” due to its involvement at Pearl Harbor, she was not the only one to participate in war bond rally tours.

 

On May 7, 1943, a Japanese midget submarine was salvaged off the coast of Guadalcanal. The HA-8, as she is known, was launched on November 11, 1942 from her carrier submarine I-16. During the launch, her rudder was damaged and lost steering. The mission was aborted and the submarine was scuttled. HA-8 has a length of 79 feet and a displacement of 46 tons. She arrived in Groton as part of one of the War bond efforts between 1943 and 1944. She is just one of four Type A midget submarines on display in the world, including HA-19.  While a novelty now, submarines such as HA-8 and HA-19 served as a stark reminder in the 1940’s that the world was not as large as everyone thought. The fight had been brought to our shores, and our military was doing what they had signed up to do – to defend and protect.

HA_8 at the Submarine Museum. Photo Courtesy of Erica Buell

 

 

 

 

 

Steel Beach Picnic

This week, the smells of summer can be found in backyards, driveways, and parks around the country. The fourth of July is celebrated with BBQ’s and fireworks and usually time in the pool or on the beach. As we celebrate with family and friends, we can’t forget those who are always on watch in our Navy. But just because a submariner is currently deployed, it doesn’t mean that a little fun and celebration can’t be had.

Life on a submarine can be boring. And for the most part, you want it to be. Submarine movies like to have us believe that it’s all action and secret missions. But most of the time it is routine patrols with the crew taking turns sleeping, eating, and standing watch. So, what do submariners do in their down time? While there isn’t always a lot of downtime between routine maintenance and studying for qualifications, down time does occur.  Most of a sailor’s down time will be spent in the mess hall. They watch movies, play video games, play cards, or just sit around and hang out. Sometimes they will get in a gym workout or run. Yes, submarines have gyms. Some modern-day subs are the length of two football fields and seven feet tall. So, while most of the space is taken up with state of the art navigation and warfare equipment, there is still a little room for a treadmill or two. What equipment comes aboard can vary depending on the type of submarine. For instance, an SSBN has a little more space than an SSN. Sometimes there will be a stationary bike or row machine and other times a weight machine with adjustable dumbbells. As far as a run is concerned, if a sailor does 17 laps in an SSBN missile compartment upper level, they have gotten in a nice one mile run! Even this can all get mundane after months at sea and sailors need to let off some steam. So, when weather and schedule permits, a captain may call for a Steel Beach Picnic.

A steel beach picnic is just as it sounds. A picnic topside of the submarine. The cook will bring out a grill and cook up some burgers and hot dogs and the crew will eat on top of the submarine and relax in the sun. For the most part, while out to sea, the Navy maintains a no alcohol policy. However, when a ship or submarine has been out for over 45 days, the captain can request a ‘beer day’, which allows the crew to really get a chance to unwind and feel a little taste of home. Depending on mission status and location, this can be held on the same day as a steel beach picnic. The captain may also allow a swim call. During a swim call, sailors will use the top of the submarine as their diving board and get to swim in the world’s best swimming pool – the open ocean. These activities allow a submariner some fresh air, sun and a little fun during long deployments. Therefore, this week, we would like to share some of our favorite images from Steel Beach Picnic’s and swim calls in the US Navy.  We hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th!

Steel Beach Picnics are not new to the Navy http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1731342-photo-essay-life-on-a-navy-submarine

 

                          Need a raft? A submarine will do!
                             Photo from Business Insider

              Just catching some sun – Navy style!

 

                                  Who’s Hungry? https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/steel-beach-when-us-navy-ships-throw-giant-beach-picni-1658725234

 

 

                                One, Two, Three, JUMP!ttps://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/steel-beach-when-us-navy-ships-throw-giant-beach-picni-1658725234

 

                                               Cannon Ball!
http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1731342-photo-essay-life-on-a-navy-submarine

 

                                         Swim Anyone?
http://www.businessinsider.com/swim-call-2016-6/#a-sailor-from-the-uss-mobile-bay-jumps-into-the-pacific-ocean-1

5 Facts From Our New Exhibit

On June 26th 1917, 14,000 U.S infantry troops landed in France and entered world War I. While the war began in 1914, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entrance into the war. In honor of this milestone, the museum opened a new exhibit called “The Great War- Through the Periscope.” This week we would like to share five submarine World War I facts from this new exhibit. While submarines have been used in earlier wars, this was the first time they had a more powerful presence and set the stage for their future involvement in military conflicts.

  1. Did you know German U-boats came as far up the coast as Connecticut?

Prior to 1917, the United States maintained neutrality and maintained a friendly distance with the German U-boats. Deutschland, a German merchant submarine arrived in Maryland in July of 1916. In

 

From the New Exhibit at the Submarine Force Museum on The Great War

November, she returned to the United States, but this time to New London. Both times Deutschland was able to load up on raw materials that would help the German war effort. All friendly intentions vanished once America joined the war on the allied side in 1917. From April to July of 1918, German U-boats were able to sink several ships off the Atlantic coast from Virginia to New Jersey. In July of 1918, U-156 attacked a town in Cape Cod with a deck gun. This was the first time since the Mexican American War that the United States was attacked by a foreign power at home and the only time in WWI. A total of 91 vessels were sunk off the American coast by German U-boats.

  1. Did you know that the Naval Submarine Base was built in part because of seeing the power of German U-boats?

Naval Submarine Base New London was the United States’ first permanent submarine base and opened in 1916. At Fort Trumbull, just down the river, experiments on how to detect submarines were conducted. Having seen the potential for submarines as a weapon of war prior to joining the war, the United States opened the base and school. Jules Verne, who wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is quoted as saying, “The next great war may be largely a contest between submarine boats.” Verne’s prediction would turn out to be true as submarine capabilities were expanded after the war.

During WWI, Germany was the only country to use submarines as more of a fleet service than as simple coastal protection. By WWII, submarines would play an integral role in US victories. By studying German U-boats captured during the war, the Navy was able to improve on its developments of standardizing its submarine fleet in terms of size, speed, endurance, and armament. The turn of the century brought with it much needed inventions that would allow submarine development to flourish. Such devices include the gyroscopic compass for navigation, hydrophones for listening underwater, pressed steel for hulls and diesel engines.

  1. The United States almost joined the war in 1915, rather than 1917.

U-20 sunk the RMS Lusitania killing 1,198 passengers including 128 Americans. The Lusitania was an ocean liner that briefly held the title of largest passenger ship until her sister ship was constructed. Germany had abandoned the established rules for sinking a merchant ship, primarily to announce their intentions of sinking a vessel, allowing the crew to abandon ship. Germany claimed that since the ship was carrying war munitions she could be considered a military vessel. Two of the Americans who died in the sinking were Alfred Vanderbilt and Newport News shipbuilding President Albert L. Hopkins. With America approaching a decision to break its neutrality and enter the war, Germany rescinded the policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. With Germany once again following the established rules, America backed off from declaring war on Germany. In 1917, Germany once again became desperate for a

 

From the New Exhibit at the Submarine Force Museum on The Great War

conclusion to the war and returned to the tactic of unrestricted submarine warfare. While the U-boats returning to terrorize the high seas was not the only reason America decided to finally enter the war, it did play a major contributing factor.

  1. The above poster was just one of many propaganda posters that played a major role in enlisting new recruits and boosting moral on the home front.

World War I was the first war to have a global influence, and not just because of the amount of countries involved. Mass printing allowed propaganda posters to be used on all sides and to serve many purposes. WWI was also the first war to be caught on motion picture. The museum exhibit showcases a small video of submarines. This footage is only a small snapshot of what was captured for the first time by filmmakers who were on the frontlines. These films took those posters and brought them to life in a way never before possible. Reordered sound allowed Americans to hear the sounds of the front line and motion picture and posters allowed them to see it. With the sinking of the Lusitania, the war hit home

Poster by artist Frank Brangwyn in response to the sinking of the Lusitania.
https://library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections-exhibitions-war-propaganda#activate-image9

for many Americans. These elements of communication captured the sentiment of the day and evolved with the changing emotions of the country.

  1. Even in WWI, despite poor conditions, submarines were known to have the best food in the Navy.

Early submarines were only equipped for short trips. There were no sleeping bunks, toilets, or galleys for cooking. S-boats were not much better. The galleys were small with an electric stove. Meat would last for three days, unless it was winter. If frost built up on the hull, meat could keep for longer. Once toilets were put aboard, sailors no longer had to wait to surface. However, even this could be difficult since at lower depths increased water pressure made it hard to flush. It was common for submariners to use a bucket filled with fuel oil and dump it once they surfaced. Construction of submarines was still being perfected and during storms in the Atlantic, men would report rolls in the vessel- to the point where the periscope was almost hitting the water. If sailors were out for long patrols they would remain submerged for seventeen hours and not come up until 9:00 at night and only to recharge the batteries. Despite these rough conditions, an anonymous sailor still was quoted raving about the food on a submarine.

Battle of Midway

On June 6, 2017, the museum hosted a special ceremony to honor the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.  One of the guests who participated in the ceremony was Jeweldeen “Deen” Brown, who served aboard USS Trout (SS 202). While the Trout did not play a major role in the battle itself, she did pick up a few Japanese sailors who were taken to Pearl Harbor to be questioned. Despite its small role in the battle, Brown’s story, along with others, creates a fuller picture of the war.  Deen and a few others from the area make it out to events at the museum when they can. It is a great privilege to be able to sit down with these men and hear their stories and relive the past.

Jeweldeen “Deen” Brown knew he wanted to be a submariner from almost the beginning of his Navy career despite starting as a surface sailor. Selected for Radio school, his first introduction to the submarine force was through its food, which is probably no surprise to any submariner. While awaiting transport to Pearl Harbor in San Diego, he found that the best food could be found on the S-Class subs. Having some contacts with friends from radio school, he would go down and eat, and quickly his interests in submarines grew. In a book by Stephen Leal Jackson about the men of WWII, Deen was quoted as saying, “I was rather intrigued with the complexity, and I was somewhat awed that these guys could learn to operate that thing…. You know, instruments everywhere, all of that, of course was mysterious to me. And so, I was somewhat awed by that and thought… just to learn how to operate this thing would be an education

Gold being offloaded from USS Trout. Brown helped unload the Philippine gold before being able to join the crew. March 1942. Image courtesy of Submarine Force Museum and Library.

in itself.”[1] A week after the attack at Pearl Harbor, Deen was sent to Hawaii to his assignment on the surface ship USS Nevada. When he arrived, just like many others, he found confusion, sadness, and horror. The Nevada was the first ship Brown saw as he entered the harbor. It was aground and not going anywhere anytime soon. While in Pearl, Deen convinced the officer in charge to let him go work at the submarine base. From then, Deen worked hard and learned quickly until he found himself a spot on an active Submarine. While working for a support tender named the USS Pelias, Brown was able to strike a deal with the Executive Office of the Trout and make his way on the crew. He was given six months to qualify despite having never been to the submarine school in Groton. Brown qualified in four months. Brown’s first war patrol saw the Trout participate in the Doolittle Raid. While an aircraft mission, the Trout was stationed at the mouth of the Kobe harbor to keep watch on the Japanese’s fleet. If the fleet began to leave, that would signal that the mission had been compromised and the crew report it. Brown may very well have been the first to realize that the bombing had been a success. While monitoring the Tokyo radio broadcast, he realized that it went off air suddenly. Once he was informed of the bombing, he knew the raid had been successful. His second war patrol saw the decisive Battle of Midway which was credited as the turning point in the war. In all, Brown served nine war patrols. Retiring after twenty-two years, he had been promoted to the Master Chief rate, becoming one of the first navy Chiefs and the only radioman chief in the Atlantic submarine force. After his navy retirement, like many in the area, he continued to work twenty-four more years at Electric Boat. He is quoted as saying, “Submarine guys had something real to do. Meaningful. And that’s what meant a lot to me; I wanted to do something meaningful and real. Never mind the spit and the polish.” [2]

Deen Brown can be found walking the halls of the museum from time to time. With a smile on his face, he usually tells the girls in the museum store not to work too hard. They talk with him a bit and they learn some new tidbits about the war. On the day of the Battle of Midway ceremony, Brown was there with his usual smile and sweet demeanor, happy to participate and share his story. Just like most of the veterans who walk through these doors, he wants the submarine legacy to endure, both for those outside the service and for those who currently serve. Many sailors who came to the ceremony that day took the time to stop and shake his hand. They wanted to share their gratitude for his service and he thanked them for theirs. Last year during a book signing for “The

Naval Base New London Commanding Officer Captain Paul Whitescarver and Master Chief Deen Brown place a wreath in remembrance of those lost in The Battle of Midway on June 6, 2017 at the Submarine Force Museum. Image courtesy of The Day

Men”, Stephen Jackson had some of the men featured in the book come along for a presentation. Of course, Deen came. He had been involved in the planning process of the book signing. He said hello to lecture goers and alongside Jackson, signed copies of the book which featured his profile along with others. Deen Brown’s story is like many from the WWII era. Ready and eager to go and fight for what he believed in, Brown chose the road less traveled at a time when living on a submarine for two months was compared to living in a basement. We thank him for that choice and eagerly await the next story he chooses to share.

[1] Jackson, Stephan Leal. The Men. (Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010) 94.

[2] Jackson, pg 105

 

Flag Day and the Beginning of The Nuclear Navy

We all know June 14th as Flag day. On this day in 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted what would become the flag of the United States. On this same day, many years later, we would adopt a new form of submarine. The birth of the Nuclear Navy saw its beginning on June 14, 1952 in Groton, Connecticut with the keel of SSN 571- USS Nautilus, being laid by Harry S. Truman. In his opening remarks, Truman said, “As we celebrate this Flag Day, it marks one of the most significant developments of our time.”[1]

Figure 1 Truman signing the keel of USS Nautilus http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/six-new-england-presidential-visits-stories-behind/

Truman was right. The development of the first atomic submarine led the way for a faster, more efficient submarine force. It also marked a turning point in scientific and industrial development. The keel laying ceremony was only the beginning, but served as a marker to celebrate the advancement of this technology. The Nautilus would surpass all of her predecessors with new capabilities and advancements. Once finished, she stretched 319 feet and displaced 3,180 tons. Truman, in his speech on that June day, made multiple references to the profound impact that nuclear power was having not only on military developments but the world at large. Truman passionately went on to say, “I know that all Americans will join me in this. For we are a peaceful people, not a warlike people. We want peace and we work hard for peace. This is a great day for us, a day to celebrate—not because we are starting a new ship for war, but because we are making a great advance in use of atomic energy for peace. We want atomic power to be a boon to all men everywhere, not an instrument for their destruction. Today, we stand on the threshold of a new age of power.”[2]

A keel laying ceremony is a long-standing tradition and the formal recognition of a ship’s construction. The keel laying is the first of four celebrated events in a ship’s life, followed by their commissioning, launching, and decommissioning.  The atomic energy being harnessed for use in the Nautilus gave special meaning to this ceremony. It was only a few short years prior that the world saw the devastating effects of the atomic bomb. With the development of SSN 571, that power was being harnessed and used for development instead of destruction. On that June 14th, no one could have known the long-lasting effects that the Nautilus and this new technology would have on the submarine force and technology. On that Saturday, especially to those in Groton, this was another ceremony. Groton was and is proud of its submarine history and this was just another

Figure 2 Crowd at keel laying of USS Nautilus. Image courtesy of Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

part of it. Down the river from Electric Boat were five submarines anchored and “manning the rails” in honor of Truman’s visit. One Submariner recalled that most of the crews were upset about giving up a Saturday’s liberty without much thought to the historical ramifications of the moment. It wasn’t until later – after Nautilus had reached the North Pole – that those in attendance would realize what they had witnessed. So tomorrow as we celebrate Flag Day, we also celebrate the start of our nuclear navy and the history it created.

 

[1] Harry S. Truman: “Address in Groton, Conn., at the Keel Laying of the first Atomic Energy Submarine.,” June 14, 1952. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=14162.

[2] Harry S. Truman: “Address in Groton, Conn., at the Keel Laying of the first Atomic Energy Submarine.,” June 14, 1952. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=14162.

 

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 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.

Continue reading “The Loss of USS CISCO (SS-290)”

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.

Continue reading “The Loss of USS S-51 (SS-162)”