When USS LIONFISH (SS-298) was commissioned on 13 October 1944, a program was created for the official after party at Club Pannaway in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On the cover the author noted that “the spines of the dorsal fin [of an actual lionfish] are long and sharp and serve as hypodermic needles for the injection of a poisonous substance into the wound of the unlucky victim. Thus, the fish is capable of inflicting a very painful sting…. The U.S.S. Lionfish will carry the sting of her namesake not only into the tropical Pacific but also to the colder waters of the Empire.”

On the back of the program, the designer got down to business, listing the menu and “Night Orders.” Partygoers were offered cold fried chicken, baked Virginia ham, cranberry sauce, potato salad, sardine stuffed celery, olives, sweet mixed pickles, peanuts, potato chips, popcorn, cheese, hard boiled eggs, cigars, cigarettes, cake, and beverages. The schedule went as follows:

2000—Lunch available. Help yourself, —use fingers.

2100—Make ready for ship’s photographer.

2115—Open wide the bar.

2130—Dancing—Music by Freddie Gilbert’s Orchestra.

2230—Ye Oldtimers Gallup. (Waltz contest.)

2300—Stand by to ram. (Jitterbug contest.)


2400—Grab your partners for old fashioned square dance.

0115—Take a strain—you are on your own.

0130—Juke box review—music and dancing ’til dawn.

Fortunately for revelers who might have taken too many trips to the bar, chartered buses left for Portsmouth Square at midnight, 1:00 AM, 1:30, and 4:00.

A view of LIONFISH’s sail, Midway Island, 22 May 1945.

A view of LIONFISH’s sail, Midway Island, 22 May 1945.