Created: 24 January 2002 Updated: 9 Feb 2013

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USS Narwhal SS-167

Narwhal SS-167

Launched: Portsmouth Navy Yard 17 Dec 1929

Displacement: 2,730 tons (surfaced), 3,960 tons (submerged)
Length Overall: 371'
Waterline Length: 349'
Maximum Beam: 33' 4"
Mean Draft: 15' 4"

2 x 6" guns (fore and aft conning tower)
10 x 21" Torpedo Tubes

Narwhal survived Pearl Harbour, (see below) ignored by the Japanese planes, she went on to conduct five war patrols, during which she sank six enemy ships. Later in the war she was used continually for special missions; mainly, the re-supply or evacuation of Philippine guerrillas. At war's end, Narwhal had been sent on 15 patrols.

Narwhal (originally designated V-5 and given the number SC-1) was commissioned on 15 May 1930, under the command of Lieutenant Commander John H. Brown, Jr.. An American incarnation of the World War I German "cruiser submarine" concept, Narwhal, along with her sister, Nautilus, was a huge boat, 371-feet long (59 feet longer than a Gato), mounting a pair of 6-inch guns on single open mounts. Renamed Narwhal in 1931, she was then given a traditional sequential hull number (SS-167). She served in the Pacific during the 1930s, and was present at Pearl Harbour at the time of the Japanese attack. (Image Right). Narwhal's gunner are credited with downing two Jap planes. Narwhal sailed from Pearl on her first war patrol on 2 Feb 1942. After spending 2 days on a recce of Wake Island she sailed onto the Ityukyu Islands. She damaged the Maju Maru on 28 Feb and sank the Taki Maru 6 days later, returning to Pearl on 28 March. Her second patrol saw her take part in the defence of Midway a rare occasion where fleet subs acted in the role originally designated for them as scout units for the main fleet.

On Patrol number 3, Narwhal sank the Meiwa Maru and avoided plane attack on 1 Aug 42. On 8 Aug Narwhal sank the Bifitku Maru. On 14 Aug Narwhal put up her periscope to find 3 Japanese destroyers crossing her wake. Spotted, they had to dive to avoid a nasty attack of depth charges. Slightly damaged, she started back to Pearl Harbour. After an overhaul, Narwhal sailed for San Diego, arriving on 6 Apr 43. She took on board the 7th Inf Coy Scouts, due to take part in the invasion of Attu, and sailed for Alaska on 18 Apr. Patrol number 4 commenced on 30 Apr 43. She was accompanied by the USS Nautilus (SSN 168). They were employed transporting and landing Scouts. Her main stream attacking role was becoming a thing of the past. Being a giant, she was unsuited for the role of attacking ships. Her 5th patrol saw the Narwhal in the Kuriles having left Pearl on 26 June 43. Her mission was to fire on the airfield at Matsuwa in an effort to divert attention from 2 other subs (Lapon & Permit) sneaking through from the Sea of Japan through Etorofu Strait. She did enough to force the enemy to attack her. The mission was a success, and the 3 boats slipped away. On 11 Sept she sank the Hokusho Maru. But escorts subjected her to a severe depth charge attack. She survived this and later in the month arrived in Australia. Narwhal's main job became the important one of ferrying cargo and passengers to occupied islands. Patrol 7 saw her leave on 23 Oct 43 carrying 92 tons of ammo and stores and 10 passengers the Phillipines. In the Sulu Sea she had to avoid 2 Japanese ships which opened fire and on 12 Nov she arrived in Puluan Bay to discharge her passengers and half of her cargo. She then went to Nasipit, Mindanao, arriving on the 15th where she unloaded the rest. Here she took on board 32 evacuees, including 8 women, 2 children and a baby, Narwhal then set off for Darwin.

Patrol 8 commenced on 25 Nov 43, this time she had on board 11 Army servicemen bound for Cabadaran, Mindanao. On 2 Dec she put her passengers ashore in Buttian Bay. Here Narwhal picked up 7 evacuees and head for Majacalar Bay arriving the next day and took on 7 more passengers, leaving on 5 Dec. Here she sank the Hinteno Maru with her deck guns. On 11 Nov Narwhal dropped off her passengers in Darwin and sailed for Freemantle. Patrol 9 Narwhal returned to Darwin, picked up an observer, Comdr Loomis, and more stores. After a submerged patrol off Naso Point, Panay she headed for Pandan Bay where she offloaded some of her cargo onto sail boats. 6 passengers were taken on board at Negros Island on 7 Feb 44 and she left 45 tons of supplies. 28 more passengers joined the trip back to Darwin.

16 Feb 1944 saw the start of patrol 10. Humping ammunitions to Butuan Bay. Narwhal left there on 3 March, carrying 28 people, and headed for Tawi Tawi. Damaging the river gunboat Karatsu earned her a hefty attack of depth charges. It is believed the gunboat later sank. 2 nights later she was surprised by 3 Jap destroyers whilst ferrying supplies ashore, but she eluded them and transferred her passengers to a tug in Freemantle on 11 Mar. Patrol 11 started off in Freemantle on 7 May 1944. Sailing for Alusan Bay, on Samar and landing 22 men and supplies on the night of 24 May. 16 more men and additional supplies were unloaded on the SW coast of Mindanao on 1 June then Narwhal returned to Darwin on 9 June 1944. On patrol 12 Narwhal closed the shore at Bula Ceram Island and fired shells on fuel storage tanks, setting fire also to a power house and pumping station but then had to withdraw to avoid counter fire. On 20th June she met up with native boats, which would take over 9 hours to unload cargo to the shore. Just 30 minutes after unloading she had to successfully avoid a Japanese sub chaser. She left with 14 evacuees. 21st June saw her attacking 2 ships, one a tanker. She landed her passengers in Darwin then ended her patrol in Freemantle on 7 July.

A supply run to Dibut, Luzon was her 13th patrol on 12 August. A building of bamboo rafts speeded up the unloading and on 2 Sep she took off 4 evacuees and set ashore a party and supplies near the Masanga River. On 14 Sep 44 Narwhal started her 14th patrol, hauling men and supplies to Cebu. On 29th she collected 31 liberated POW's in Sairi Bay, who had been aboard Japanese transports sunk by the USS Paddle on 6 Sep. Narwhal came closest to potential disaster on 30 Sep when she dived to avoid an enemy aircraft, her stern planes became jammed at 20 degrees having to blow main ballast to avoid diving out of control. She managed to burst onto the surface 2 minutes after diving but she managed to get down before the airplane could return and attack. She moved her base of operations at the end of this patrol to Mios Woendi in Dutch New Guinea and from here she started her 15th, and final, patrol on 11 Oct 44. On 15 Oct, a Catalina PBY flying boat charged in to attack, but recognised Narwhal and signalled "good luck" before flying off. On 17 Oct she was off Tawi Tawi, delivering 11 tons of food and on 19 Oct she unloaded the rest of her cargo, and 37 men, at Negros Island, collecting 26 passengers, and set off for Brisbane.

6 Jan 1945 she sailed from Brisbane to Philadelphia Naval Yards, via the Panama Canal, arriving on 21 Feb 1945. She was decommissioned on 23 April and sold for scrap. Her 2 x 6 inch guns are now on display at he Naval Submarine Base, New London, Groton, Connecticut.

Narwhal in 1932 at Pearl Harbour

Narwhal Class Specifications

Lead Boat: SS-167, U.S.S. Narwhal

Length: 371'

Beam: 33' 3"

Draft: 16' 11" (Surface trim)

Displacement: 2,730 tons (surfaced); 3,960 tons (submerged)

Speed: 17 knots (surfaced); 8-1/2 knots (submerged)

Diving Depth: 300' (test depth)

Range: 25,000 miles

Crew: 9 officers, 10 CPO, 70 enlisted

Deck Gun: 2  6"/53-calibre

Torpedoes: 4-21" torpedo tubes (bow), 2-21" torpedo tubes (stern)

Engines: 2-2,350 hp diesel; 2-450 hp diesel generator

Motors: 2-800 hp

Wartime Modifications: Converted to transport submarines.

Blaise Meyers (October 2011) sent me these images of the Narwhal's guns and this plaque. Thank you. They are located in Groton/New London Naval Base, USA.


USS Trigger SS-237

Keel laid by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Mare Island, CA 1 February 1941
Launched 2 March 1942; Sponsored by Mrs. Walter N. Vernon
Commissioned 30 January 1942; Lt Cdr. Jack H. Lewis in command

USS Trigger (SS-237), a Gato-class submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for named for the triggerfish, any of numerous deep-bodied fishes of warm seas having an anterior dorsal fin with two or three stout erectile spines. The submarine sailed for Hawaii on 22 May and reached Pearl Harbour the following week. She sailed for Midway Island with Task Group 7.2 on 29 May in anticipation of a Japanese attack on that island. Her station was northeast of Midway Island, and she remained there without contacting any enemy shipping until she was ordered back to Pearl Harbour on 9 June. On 26 June, Trigger got underway for the Aleutian Islands to patrol an area west of Cape Wrangell, Attu Island. She encountered no enemy shipping before calling at Dutch Harbour on 8 August en route back to Hawaii.

Trigger's second war patrol, conducted from 23 September to 8 November, took her to Japanese home waters. In the early morning hours of 5 October, the submarine sighted smoke on the horizon and headed for it. A vessel soon appeared, coming toward the submarine. As the target approached, the submarine identified it as a small ship. Trigger then surfaced and manned her machine guns. However, when the submarine neared the target, she learned that the Japanese ship was larger than she had at first appeared to be. Enemy shells soon began exploding close to Trigger, and the 4000-ton ship turned and came on fast in an attempt to ram. The submarine barely avoided a collision as she submerged for an attack. Trigger fired two torpedoes and heard one hit. She then surfaced and gave chase, only to have the target again open fire. The submarine missed with three more torpedoes and then discontinued the pursuit. Before dawn on the morning of 17 October, Trigger made a surface attack on a freighter off the Bungo Strait. She fired two spreads of torpedoes which sank Holland Maru with her guns still firing. That night, a destroyer came out of Bungo Strait and dropped a string of depth charges near the submarine. Trigger fired three torpedoes "down the throat" at the onrushing Japanese destroyer and, one minute later, observed an explosion so powerful that it threw enough flame and water into the air to obscure the target. When the air cleared, the enemy ship was still intact, suggesting that Trigger's first torpedo may have exploded prematurely, detonating the next two by its turbulence. The submarine fired one more torpedo as the enemy disappeared, but failed to score a hit.

Near midnight of 20 October, Trigger fired a spread of four torpedoes from a range of 900 yards in a surface attack upon a 10,000-ton tanker. Two torpedoes hit the enemy ship as it turned in an attempt to ram. The submarine went to 100 feet to evade a Japanese counterattack and heard a heavy explosion as either gasoline, magazines, or the boilers blew up. She then came up to periscope level but found nothing in sight. Four days later, Trigger attacked a large enemy tanker, riding high in the water. A spread of three torpedoes produced three observed hits, one near the target's stern. The screws of the enemy ship stopped, and she began emitting heavy white smoke aft. But she soon got underway again. Trigger fired her last torpedo at the ship as it was moving off and missed. That night, she surfaced and began her homeward voyage. From 3 December 1942 to 22 January 1943, the submarine conducted a combined minelaying and offensive patrol in waters surrounding the Japanese home islands. On 20 December, she began planting a minefield off Inubo Saki, Honshu. Trigger planted the northern half of the field and was working on the southern part when a cargo ship passed her, heading into the newly-laid mines. Five minutes later, a violent explosion rocked the freighter which sank as an escort circled her. The submarine later heard another explosion from the direction of the minefield and, when she surfaced the next day, found the field was covered by smoke. On 22 December, Trigger sighted a ship approaching from Uraga and made a surface attack. A spread of three torpedoes produced one hit forward of the bridge, and the target started to settle by the bow. The submarine fired one more torpedo into the ship and, when last seen, Teifuku Maru was awash forward with her screws nearly out of the water. On 31 December 1942, she attacked a cargo ship loaded with planes. Trigger fired three torpedoes from 700 yards and watched two hit. The target began to list to starboard and was down by the bow. Sound reported a heavy secondary explosion. The submarine came up to periscope level and saw the freighter with her stern high out of the water and a destroyer approaching. She went deep and when she next came up for a look, there was nothing to be seen.

On 10 January 1943, a Japanese destroyer approached Trigger, and the submarine fired three torpedoes from 1600 yards. One hit under the well deck and folded the destroyer's forecastle up at a 45-degree angle, and another hit the target's stern. Soon, Okikaze sank on an even keel. Trigger stood out of Midway Island on 13 February to patrol off the Palau Islands. Two weeks later, she fired four torpedoes at a freighter, but the target managed to steer between them. Heavy air cover prevented a second attack. On 4 March, the submarine attacked a freighter in a rain squall, but all three of her torpedoes missed. On 15 March, Trigger sighted a convoy steaming in two columns. There were two freighters in the right hand column and three in the left with an escort on the outboard bow of each. She worked her way between the two columns and fired three torpedoes at each of the leading ships. She hit the lead freighter in the left hand column twice but missed her target on the right because it unexpectedly changed course. Trigger then fired three more torpedoes at the right lead ship at a range of 700 yards and observed two hits before the escorts forced her to go deep. When she surfaced again, there was nothing to be seen. Trigger was later officially credited with having sunk Momoha Maru, a 3103-ton cargo ship. That night, the submarine fired six torpedoes at a ship that was being towed by a smaller freighter. Five of the torpedoes missed, and the sixth made a circular run and passed over the submarine's engine room. A shaken crew broke off the attack.

On 20 March, the submarine fired three torpedoes at the lead ship in a convoy of four cargo ships. One hit caused the target to list ten degrees to port and stop, but it soon got underway and rejoined the convoy. Trigger terminated the patrol at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbour, on 6 April. Between 30 April and 22 June, the submarine made a patrol which returned her to Japanese home waters. On 28 May, Trigger contacted two freighters off Iro Saki and launched three torpedoes at the larger. One hit its target aft. When last seen, the ship was down by the stern. The next day, the submarine fired a spread of three torpedoes at a small cargo ship. Two missed and the third exploded prematurely. She then launched a fourth which apparently hit but failed to explode. On 1 June, the submarine was searching for Japanese shipping off Sagami Nada when she sighted two columns of smoke. She closed the range toward a firing position, made out two cargo ships, and fired a spread of three torpedoes at each target. Hit in her stern, the lead ship, Noborikawa Maru, sank immediately. The second ship saw the torpedo wakes, turned and passed between them. Trigger then fired a torpedo at the oncoming ship; but, if the torpedo reached the target, it failed to explode. On 10 June, Trigger sighted an aircraft carrier protected by two destroyers. She closed and sent six torpedoes streaking toward the Japanese flattop. The submarine heard four hits before she went deep to avoid the escorts which kept her down for several hours. The damaged carrier Hiyo limped into Tokyo Bay and was out of action for almost a year. The next day, the submarine began her return voyage to Pearl Harbour. On 1 September, after a yard overhaul, Trigger was ready to begin her sixth war patrol. It took her into the East China Sea, off the China coast, north of Formosa. On 17 September, she made two hits on a Japanese freighter, one aft and one on the bow, but both torpedoes proved to be duds. The next day, she again contacted the same ship and fired four torpedoes at her. One struck Yowa Maru, and the 6435-ton cargo ship slid beneath the waves.

21 September was Trigger's best day. She was patrolling some 30 miles north of the Hoka Sho light when she sighted a convoy of three tankers and three freighters protected by Japanese planes. The submarine attacked the tankers first, firing three torpedoes at the leader and three at the second. One hit aft was seen on the lead tanker, and flames shot over 500 feet into the air. Her crew, dressed in whites, could be seen running forward to escape the fire. One torpedo hit the second tanker amidships, and it broke in half beneath the stack and sank immediately. Trigger turned and fired three stern tubes at the third tanker. This target swung toward the submarine, and all three torpedoes missed. Trigger then fired another torpedo which hit the ship's starboard side. When the submarine went deep, her commanding officer slipped and fell into the periscope well as the quartermaster was lowering it. He supported himself on his elbows, and the quartermaster heard his shouts in time to prevent a serious accident. Sonar reported two more explosions before the submarine came up to periscope depth to resume the attack. Trigger fired two bow torpedoes at the third freighter in the column and scored two hits on the target which went down by the bow. The submarine then made two more attacks on the freighter, but all of her torpedoes either missed or were duds. During the three and one-half hours of action, Trigger sank two tankers, Shiriya and Shoyo Maru, and a freighter, Argun Maru, for a total of 20,660 tons of enemy shipping. The submarine returned to Midway Island on 30 September to be refitted and rearmed.

The East China Sea and Yellow Sea were Trigger's objective for her seventh patrol. She stood out of Midway Island on 22 October and proceeded to her patrol area. At 2200 hours on 1 November, she sighted a convoy that was steaming in two columns. When a ship in the nearer column overlapped one in the more distant group, she fired a spread of three torpedoes at them. One torpedo struck the nearer freighter in her bow and one hit the farther ship amidships. The submarine saw the nearer ship go down by the bow, before she herself was forced to go deep where she was severely depth-charged by two escorts. In the early morning of 2 November, Trigger fired three torpedoes at a freighter and scored one hit. At 0050 hours, she attacked the ship again with a spread of another three. Two of them hit forward, and Yawata Maru went down, bow first, in a vertical plunge. Two hours and 25 minutes later, Trigger fired three torpedoes at a 7148-ton transport. All torpedoes hit the ship, and Delagoa Maru disintegrated. On 5 November, the submarine attacked a convoy of three cargo ships protected by one destroyer and two planes. Trigger fired three bow tubes at the second ship in the convoy and one bow tube at the third before she went deep to avoid the escort which dropped 20 depth charges. Thinking she was clear, the submarine came to periscope depth and was greeted by five near bomb misses.

On 13 November, Trigger made a submerged approach on a convoy of nine merchantmen and four escorts. After the Japanese ships zigged, the submarine found herself between two columns of ships -- with empty bow tubes. She emptied her stern tubes at the last and biggest ship, believed to be a transport, from a range of 800 yards. The target, which carried a large deck cargo, took one hit aft and one under her stack. The submarine went deep, received a short depth charge attack, and came up to periscope depth to learn that her target had gone down. On 21 November, Trigger sighted a cargo ship and closed the range to 2000 yards before firing four torpedoes. Two hits started the victim down by the bow as the submarine's crew took turns at the periscope to watch Eizan Maru sink. More than a fortnight later, the submarine arrived at Pearl Harbour on 8 December 1943.

Trigger stood out to sea on New Year's Day 1944 to begin her eighth war patrol, this time in the Truk-Guam shipping lanes. On 27 January, she sighted the conning tower of an Ro-class submarine dead ahead. Trigger set up to fire a bow shot from a range of 800 yards. She came to periscope depth and saw that the Japanese submarine, then less than 100 yards away, was preparing to attack. Trigger went to 150 feet, expecting a torpedo at any minute, but sound heard no torpedo screws. She came up to periscope depth and saw the Japanese periscope so she decided to make an end around. When Trigger returned to periscope depth, the enemy had disappeared. Four days later, she contacted a convoy of three ships accompanied by two Fubuki-class destroyers. The submarine scored two hits on the coastal minelayer Nasami which disappeared in a cloud of smoke and debris. The nearer destroyer began closing the range, and Trigger missed it with four aft tubes. She caught up with the convoy again and fired five torpedoes at the last ship. Two hits produced flames that reached mast head height and several secondary explosions that marked the end of the 11,933-ton converted submarine tender Yasukuni Maru. Over three weeks later, the submarine terminated the patrol when she arrived at Pearl Harbour on 23 February.

On 23 March, Trigger headed for the Palau Islands on her ninth war patrol. In the early morning of 8 April, she contacted a convoy of approximately 20 large ships with an estimated 25 escorts and closed to attack. When she raised her periscope, she saw a destroyer 150 feet away firing at the scope and attempting to ram. The submarine loosed four torpedoes at the convoy and went deep as several more escorts joined the attack. On her way down, she heard four explosions. Trigger ran at 300 feet or more for 17 hours as six escorts dogged her trail and rained down numerous depth charges. Six exploded extremely close. When the submarine surfaced, her forward torpedo room was flooded to her deck plates, the hull air induction and most compartments were in about the same condition. The bow planes, trim pump, sound gear, and both radars were all dead. Her radio antenna was grounded, and the submarine could not transmit. The crew spent the next four days making repairs "by use of spares, baling wire, and considerable ingenuity."

Trigger met submarine Tang (SS-306) on 14 April and exchanged information by line gun. The next day, Trigger's executive officer went on board Tang by a rubber boat, to borrow an air compressor part and to make plans for a coordinated search and attack. On 18 April, Tang's executive officer delivered spare parts for the air compressor to Trigger, and she continued on patrol. Shortly before midnight on 26 April, the submarine contacted a convoy of six ships off the eastern Palau Islands. She fired six torpedoes, from 2400 yards, at four ships that were closely bunched and overlapping. Four hits were seen and heard from a big explosion on each ship. Suddenly, a terrific explosion blew up one of the closer ships. One of the more distant ships stood straight up on her bow and then sank immediately. At six minutes after midnight, Trigger fired three torpedoes at a group of ships and heard one timed explosion. At 0157, she fired four torpedoes at a damaged cargo ship and two at an escort. The cargo ship received two more hits. Five minutes later, the submarine fired three stern tubes at a group of three escorts, and the middle one disappeared in a cloud of smoke. During the attack, Trigger sank the 11,739-ton passenger-cargo ship Miike Maru and heavily damaged the destroyer escort Kasado, the 9467-ton cargo ship Hawaii Maru, and the 8811-ton cargo ship Asosan Maru. Trigger returned to Pearl Harbour on 20 May and four days later, headed for the United States for a major overhaul. She arrived at San Francisco, California, on 31 May and, after overhaul, returned to Hawaii on 11 September.

On 24 September, Trigger got underway to take station off the east coast of Formosa and perform life guard patrol for bomber strikes due on 12 October. The morning of the strikes, she rescued a pilot from the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17) whose burning plane had crash-landed nearby. On 19 October, as the invasion of the Philippines was about to begin, she contacted a convoy of two Atago-class heavy cruisers, one Natori-class, two other light cruisers, and several destroyers with air cover. Trigger had no chance to fire but reported the contact. On 30 October, she fired four torpedoes at a tanker but missed. She then fired another four from her stern tubes and heard one hit the target before running up the periscope to watch the other three blow off part of the stern, but the ship did not sink. Trigger went deep as 78 depth charges were rained down on her within the next hour, but caused no damage. The damaged 10,021 ton tanker Takane Maru was later sunk by submarines Salmon (SS-182) and Sterlet (SS-392). The next morning, Trigger received word from Salmon that she had been heavily damaged by depth charges and was unable to submerge. Trigger rendezvoused with Salmon that night and was joined by Silversides (SS-236) and Sterlet to escort the damaged submarine to Saipan. They were provided with air cover from the Mariana Islands and arrived at Tanapag Harbor on 3 November. A week later, Trigger departed with six other submarines but was ordered to discontinue her patrol on 17 November and returned to Guam.

On 28 December 1944, Trigger headed for the Bungo Strait-Kii Strait area to begin her 11th war patrol. At 2105 on 3 January 1945, she sighted a light, and radar made a doubtful contact. Thirty minutes later, a torpedo passed by her starboard side. She reversed course and cleared the area but returned two days later. That day, she sighted a periscope at 2000 yards, and -- realizing that instead of hunting, she was being hunted -- she slipped away.

On 29 January, she made radar contact from 23,000 yards on a large convoy with six escorts and well covered by aircraft. As she closed, the moon came out bright and clear. An enemy bomber turned and started in as radar picked up another plane coming in astern at 5000 yards. The submarine went deep, and the convoy slowly pulled away. The next day, the ship was ordered to terminate her patrol, and she returned to Guam on 3 February.

On departing Guam on 11 March 1945, Trigger, under the command of Cdr. D.R. Connole, headed for the Nansei Shoto area to conduct her twelfth war patrol during WWII. She was to provide rescue services for carrier based aircraft, as well as to carry out a normal offensive patrol. After having sent several routine messages en route to her area, Trigger reported her first action on 18 March. She stated that she had made a seven-hour end around on a convoy she had previously reported, and had attacked. She sank one freighter and damaged another. The other two merchantmen of the convoy and four escorts proceeded west. For some time, Allied forces had been aware of a large Japanese restricted area west of the Nansei Shoto in the East China Sea. The area had been marked "restricted" in captured enemy notices to mariners, and Allied forces were obliged to accept that the area was mined, and to keep out of it. Submarines had been warned of its presence and given its position, and were in the habit of proceeding around it to the north when patrolling the Formosa Strait and the adjacent China coast. The convoy which had been attacked by Trigger was heading for this restricted area. It had always been strongly suspected that there were gaps in the mine lines, since the area was too big to be at once completely and effectively mined. Immediately after receipt of Trigger's report of the attack she had made, ComSubPac told her to give as much information as possible concerning the subsequent movements of the convoy, in order to help establish the existence of a safe passage through the restricted area. On 20 March Trigger reported that the attack she had made on the convoy had taken place at 28-15'N;126-44'E, and that she had been held down for three hours by escorts following the attack. When last seen or heard the convoy was heading for the restricted area, but Trigger had been unable to regain contact when she was able to surface.

On 24 March, Trigger was given further orders. On 25 March she was to move west and patrol between 29N and 31N west of the Nansei Shoto chain, remaining clear of restricted areas and outside the 100 fathom curve. On 26 March Trigger was told to proceed at best speed to 31N;132E, to form a coordinated attack group, known as "Earl's Eliminators," with Sea Dog (SS-401) and Threadfin (SS-410). The group was to be commanded by Cdr. E.T. Hydeman in Sea Dog. This message to Trigger required an acknowledgment, but on the same day she sent a weather report which did not contain an acknowledgment, and she was never heard from again. On 28 March, Sea Dog reported that she had been unable to communicate with Trigger since the formation of the wolf pack. To clarify the situation for the other submarines, Trigger was given another assignment and told to acknowledge, and the wolf pack was disbanded on 30 March. After many attempts to contact her by radio had failed, Trigger was ordered on 4 April to proceed to Midway. When she failed to arrive by 1 May 1945, she was reported as presumed lost in enemy waters on her twelfth patrol, after a long and illustrious career.

Since she knew the position of the enemy restricted area containing mines, and had been told to keep clear of it, it is extremely doubtful that Trigger's loss was due to a mine. On the afternoon of 28 March a two-hour long depth charge attack was conducted by Japanese planes in cooperation with ships in 32-66'N;132-05'E. USS Silversides (SS-236), USS Hackleback (SS-295), Sea Dog and Threadfin, all near the area, heard the attack. Threadfin obtained two torpedo hits on a DE in 31-49.5'N;131-44'E, and she was depth charged by accompanying escort vessels. Eighteen charges were dropped on her, none particularly close, but she reported that the charges were set for 450 feet, which made them much more dangerous that the usual run of depth charges. Most Japanese believed that US submarines could not go deeper than 200 feet, subsequently the depth charges were set accordingly. An hour later, Threadfin reports, "Many distant strings of depth charges and several heavy explosions heard from what was believed to be the eastward. (In the opposite direction from the location of our attacks). It sounded as though someone was getting quite a drubbing." No other submarine in the vicinity reported having been attacked, although all reported hearing many explosions. The Japanese report of the above attack states, "Detected a submarine over eight times and bombed it. Ships also detected it --- depth charged. Found oil pool an 1 x 5 miles in size the following day." Since it is extremely doubtful that Threadfin received sufficient damage to have left the oil pool described by the Japanese, it must be presumed that Trigger was lost in this action. That it occurred two days after Trigger had been told to acknowledge a message, and none was ever received is not considered unusual. Conditions often force submarines to delay transmissions for considerable periods of time. Trigger is credited with one freighter sunk and another damaged on her final patrol This makes a total of 27 ships sunk, for 180,800 tons, and 13 ships damaged, for 102,900 tons, during the boat's entire career.

The brave crew of Trigger:

Neal A. Absher, FC3 / Ernest A. Arsenault, S1 / Dewey G. Backer, Jr., EM3 / Robert B. Ball, MoMM1 / James V. Barry, F1 / Rudolph C. Beranek, EM3 / John B. Bird, MoMM1 / Joseph M. Boeding, TM3 / Kenneth W. Bolz, SM2 / Harold Butts, S1 / Vern W. Cain, F1 / Andrew J. Carter, SM1 / Hubert Coles, MoMM1 / David R. Connole, CDR (CO) / William C. Craig, MoMM3 / Balous E. Crutcher, F1 / Perry P. Curry, TM1 / Maurice V. DeLone, MoMM3 / Claude A. Derrick, GM3 / Robert L. Dodane, LCDR / Richard J. Dorries, F1 / Willie E. Dow, S1 / James W. Dunnam, FC2 / John P. Dusko, BK1 / William L. Emmons, Jr., S1 / Richard E. Engle, EM3 / Joseph P. Fisher, EM3 / Harold L. Fiste, EMC / Robert M. Foster, TM3 / Joseph A. Franks, MoMM3 / Howard R. Gleason, LTjg / Robert H. Greenwell, LT / Ralph E. Hambright, Jr., MoMM2 / George T. Hampton, MoMM3 / Ray J. Harrison, RT2 / John R. Householder, EM1 / Vincent T. Iovino, EM3 / C.B. Irish, LT / Lester A. Johanson, RT2 / S.G. Johnson, ENS / Richard F. Johnston, TM2 / Robert M. Kelly, EM2 / Rustislav N. Kemarsky, RT1 / Murray Kimmel, S1 / Karl A. Livingston, EM3 / Charles G. Maben, RM2 / Arthur L. MacVane, SM2 / G.W. McDonough, RM1 / Lawrence J. McHugh, Jr., TM3 / Robert H. Melton, MoMMC / Donald E. Misner, LT / Harold P. Morgan, S1 / Robert C. Morin, F1 / Robert W. Murray, S1 / Frank L. Niles, F1 / Donald T. Olson, YN1 / Laddie Oster, SC1 / Gordon E. Palmer, TM2 / Lewis R. Payne, TM1 / Robert C. Pollack, EM2 / James L. Pross, QM1 / William H. Rae, TM3 / James A. Reed, MoMM1 / Clifford J. Roberts LTjg / Cecil C. Robertson, MoMM1 / Normand N. Rondeau, RM2 / Carl H. Scheidegger, QM3 / Clarence E. Schenck, MoMM2 / John E. Shepherd, III, LCDR / John W. Sincavich, LT / Donald L. Smith, S1 / Daniel R. Stakich, MoMM2 / John N. Stewart, EM1 / Marvin N. Stock, S1 / George S. Targosz, GM3 / Nathaniel E. Thompson, CK2 / Warren C. Thompson, EM2 / Charles G. Thornberry, S1 / Harvey J. Turner, EM2 / Billy J. Watson, SC3 / John R. Weeks, TMC / Charles A. Welch, MoMM2 / Franklin H. Widdekind, F1 / Jack T. Wildey, GM1 / Donald L. Wilkens, S1 / Lenard W. Wilkins, S1 / Charles A. Williams, MoMMC / Charles M. Worrels, Jr., MoMM2 / William M. Zugecic, PhMC

Trigger was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 11 July 1945.

Trigger received 11 battle stars for World War II service and the Presidential Unit Citation for her fifth, sixth, and seventh war patrols.

The War Career of A US Submariner - Joe Kemp

A member of the crew of Narwhal, amongst others, was Joe Kemp of Cleveland Ohio. I have received the following two items belonging to this gent. The first is a Notice of Separation From US Naval Service after a distinguished war career and the second is what appears to be some sort of record of service, some parts of which are illegible. From the paperwork I can glean the following info, but dates are vague or unreadable. Joe was born Joseph Vincent Kemp on 13 February 1920 in Cleveland Ohio and lived at 111th Street in Cuyahoga County. He was an employee of the Otis Steel Co before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour after which he joined the US Navy at NRS Cleveland on Dec 11th 1941. He then reported to the USN Tra Station, Newport, Rhode Island and from there reported to the Receiving Station, San Diego, California and from there he went to Pearl Harbour on April 30th 1942. It then notes CSD - 42, Aug 42 whatever that is. (Some sort of course?) and then USS Nautilus 8/?/42  (see image) and then something illegible taking him to a CSD 141 in Mar 43. Following that there are 3 completely unreadable lines taking him to the USS Segundo in 1944 (see image) and then another CSD (this time 282) before the USS Holland in 1945. The USS Holland was a submarine tender ship. (see image). This information is contained on this image:

USS Nautilus 1942 - Nautilus  & Raiders: Back from Makin - August, 1942

USS Segundo -
her fate

USS Holland

The other piece of paper, the Notice of Separation from US Naval Service gives a little more detail about the subs Joe actually served upon. These being the USS Narwhal; USS Nautilus; USS Runner; USS Steelhead; USS Plunger and USS Segundo. It too mentions the USS Holland and also "sub division #282" whatever that is? It also mentions the NTS at Rhode Island and Sub Base New London. It lists his qualification as Submarine Torpedoman and that he attended the Submarine School, New London for 6 weeks and Sound School, New London for 4 weeks (Did he change to Sonarman?). He received $89.93 for "Total Payment upon Discharge" and $5.35 travel expenses. Also:


Motor Machinist Mate Second Class
American Area ribbon
Asiatic-Pacific Theatre (1 str)
Philippine Liberation
Submarine Combat Insignia (4 str)
Presidential Unit Citation (1 str)

Honourable Discharge and service buttons delivered this date - 25 Oct 1945



Signed Lt G E Wise, USNR

USS Narwhal                                    USS Steelhead                          USS Plunger

USS Runner

Silent Victory
by Dr Gary Weir US Naval Historical Centre

on the following web site can be found the following article, reproduced here with permission on 3 March 2005:

As the Navy struggled to recover from the disaster of 7 December 1941, the Submarine Force quickly brought the war to the enemy. Operating from Pearl Harbor, Fremantle, and Brisbane, U.S. submarines played a variety of roles in the Pacific War, demonstrating both the power and versatility of their stealth. CAPT John Wilkes, RADM Ralph W. Christie, and RADM James Fife took the initiative from Australia and VADM Charles Lockwood, as Commander Submarine Force, Pacific, directed the Pearl Harbor-based submarines for most of the war. Unlike the German U-boat effort in the Atlantic Ocean, the American submarine campaign did not rely on strong, land-based tactical control via encoded radio transmissions. American skippers had their orders, but received considerable latitude in carrying them out. Thus, submarine warfare quickly became very flexible, fast-paced, and adaptable. A war patrol of USS Tarpon (SS-175) provides a case in point. On station off Tokyo Bay on 1 February 1943, Tarpon's radar detected an 11,000-ton merchant vessel emerging into the open sea. The submarine pursued the target on the surface with radar-aided visual tracking and soon sent its quarry to the bottom. One week later, Tarpon found the 17,000-ton Tatsuta Maru and employing visual sighting, radar, and periscope observations, eventually destroyed the ship with four torpedoes. Compared with their World War I counterparts, submarines now exhibited greater speed, more effective weaponry, sophisticated detection technology, and great versatility, and could pursue their victims rather than just lying in wait.

Among the few allied combatants regularly able to penetrate Japanese-controlled areas early in the war, American submarines had extraordinary success against both Japanese merchantmen and warships. The exploits of LCDR Henry C. Bruton in the early fall of 1942 offer a compelling illustration. In command of USS Greenling (SS-213) off the coast of Honshu on her third war patrol, Bruton destroyed 32,050 tons of enemy merchant shipping and damaged a 22,000-ton auxiliary aircraft carrier. He ended the war ranked thirteenth among Submarine Force aces. Submarines also played humanitarian and special operations roles in their campaign against Japan. In many of the hardest fought battles of the war, submarine crews rescued unlucky carrier pilots - like future President George Bush - who ended up in the sea. Fleet submarines also delivered troops tasked with special missions against Japanese Pacificstrongholds. In August 1942, USS Nautilus (SS-169) and USS Argonaut (SS-166) delivered Marine COL Evans F. Carlson's "Raiders" to Makin Island in the Gilbert chain as a diversion during the Guadalcanal campaign. The two submarines then picked up the Marines after they had completed their missions to reconnoiter the island and destroy its most important facilities - and returned to Pearl Harbor. Refining their methods of attack made American submariners the worst enemy of any ship flying the Japanese flag. In early 1943, USS Wahoo (SS-238) put to sea on her third war patrol under the command of LCDR Dudley W. Morton. Morton and his executive officer, LT Richard O'Kane, further refined and implemented a new method of attack suggested by RADM James Fife, commander of the submarines operating out of Brisbane. While O'Kane manned the periscope and made all of the observations, Morton was left free to evaluate the entire combat situation, making possible swift, informed, and effective approach and attack decisions.


A tense moment onboard USS Wahoo (SS-238) The Nitsu Maru, a Japanese merchant, slips beneath the waves

The talent of Morton and O'Kane as well as their new command and control procedure enabled Wahoo to sink 31,890 tons of Japanese shipping on that patrol. Morton received the first of four Navy Crosses, and his ship took home a Presidential Unit Citation. Later in the war, as Commanding Officer of USS Tang (SS-306), Dick O'Kane received the Congressional Medal of Honor and became the Submarine Force's leading ace of the war, ultimately credited with destroying 31 ships for 227,800 tons. While the Submarine Force lost 15 boats and 1,129 officers and men in 1943 alone, the Japanese paid a much steeper price. Increasingly numerous and modern American submarines destroyed 1,335,240 gross tons of shipping that year by sinking 22 warships and 296 merchant vessels. Even if one considers the effort of the Japanese shipyards to replace the lost tonnage and the Imperial Navy's success at capture and salvage, Japan still came up 718,000 tons short of the replacement mark. At the same time, the American submarine fleet increased to 75 boats by 1 January 1944, as compared to only 53 one year earlier. All of these boats were new construction and the latest designs. This permitted the Navy to relegate the pre war S-boats to training duty for new recruits. Submariners faced both combat challenges and environmental difficulties during the war. While en route to the Aleutian Islands in February 1944 under the command of CDR Malcolm E. Garrison, USS Sandlance (SS-381) frequently dove merely to clear sheets of ice off the boat's superstructure and masts. Braving frequent storms, Garrison's Sandlance arrived on station near Paramushiro in the Kurile Islands on 24 February to find itself surrounded by pack ice. Only careful maneuvering enabled the ship to escape, and repeated submergence was needed to keep the periscope clear. In spite of all these difficulties, Sandlance navigated safely along the Kuriles and Hokkaido, sinking two merchantmen along the way. Moving further south into the Japan Current, Garrison faced just the opposite problem. The water temperature rose to 70 degrees as Sandlance reached the vicinity of Honshu and the Bonin Islands.

All of Garrison's endurance and skill paid off, however, when on 13 March 1944 he found himself in the midst of a Japanese reinforcement convoy bound for the Marianas. Under the light of a full moon, Sandlance picked her targets carefully before firing four torpedoes at a merchant vessel and the light cruiser Tatsuta. Both ships went to a watery grave as Sandlance dove to avoid counterattack. Although they had to remain submerged for 18 hours during a Japanese search, Garrison and his crew returned safely to Pearl Harbor. After some withdrawal from commerce raiding because of other assignments stemming from the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, the American submarine force returned to the enemy's supply lanes with renewed intensity and devastating effect. The Japanese reacted to the westward advance of allied forces by routing their convoys and supply ships through narrow channels considered relatively safe from attack. This presented a perfect opportunity for aggressive submarine commanders to feast on vulnerable but important convoys. At this point, American submariners adopted the wolf pack tactics of the Germans for their own purposes but did not employ the centralized direction by radio characteristic of Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz's methods. Rather, a senior wolf pack commodore on one of the boats exerted local control at sea. The technique increased tonnage totals considerably. East of Formosa in early September 1944 and under the direction of CDR G.R. Donaho, Picuda (SS-382), Redfish (SS-395), and Spadefish (SS-411), destroyed four merchant ships out of a single convoy. One week later Donaho concluded his patrol with 64,456 tons, the highest wolf pack score to date. CDR T.B. Oakley led Growler (SS-215), Pampanito (SS-383), and Sealion (SS-315) against a convoy bound from Singapore to Japan - seven ships with nine escorts. Growler destroyed the frigate Hirado, Sealion attacked three other ships, and then Growler returned to sink the destroyer Shikinami. When the convoy changed course for Hong Kong and protection, Pampanito followed closely and managed to destroy the 10,509 ton tanker Kachidoki Maru. These victories lost some of their sweetness when the Submarine Force later learned that many Australian and British prisoners of war en route to captivity in Japan on board these ships lost their lives.

In October of 1944 the submarine force scored its largest monthly total of the war with sinkings of 320,906 tons. As the year waned, the pace of victory persisted, with Japan losing 214,506 tons of shipping in November. During the last week of November, CDR J. F. Enright's Archerfish (SS-311) claimed the largest single victory of the submarine war. Built on a hull originally laid down for a Yamato-class battleship, the new carrier Shinano displaced 59,000 tons. Archerfish detected the behemoth on radar two hours after it emerged from Tokyo Bay on its first sortie, escorted by three destroyers. After shadowing the carrier on the surface at 20 knots, CDR Enright positioned himself perfectly at a range of 1,400 yards and launched six torpedoes, four of which scored hits. Convinced that her heavy armor and intricate internal compartmentalization would render the new carrier invulnerable, the ship's captain pressed on without slowing for eight hours after the submarine attack. The Archerfish witnessed the end of Shinano's battle with the inrushing sea as the Imperial Navy's newest asset then rolled over and sank. Employing boats of the Gato, Balao, and Tench classes, American submariners scored the most complete victory of any force in any theater of war. Having advanced considerably in design, technology, and reliability during the 1930s, the submarine was ready to become a very flexible weapon in the war against Japan. Each of these Fleet boats displaced roughly 1,500 tons, and carried a complement of 7 officers and 70 men. Four diesel engines provided surface propulsion at speeds up to 20 knots and charged the batteries that powered the electric motors for submerged operations. At 2.5 knots the submarine could operate underwater for up to 48 hours, but higher speeds - up to 9 knots - were available when required. Crews stored 60 days of provisions on board for each patrol.

Submarines employed guns and torpedoes to achieve their ends. Depending on the year and the refit status, these boats could carry one or two 3 or 5-inch, 50 caliber deck guns, two 50-caliber machine guns, and six to ten 21-inch torpedo tubes with 18 spare torpedoes. Early in the war the Navy armed torpedoes with TNT, changing later to the far more powerful Torpex. It also took until mid-1943 for the Bureau of Ordnance to redesign the troublesome Mark 14 torpedo, both to remain at the proper depth setting after launch and to avoid circular runs. The Mark 6 exploder also proved defective, and on far too many occasions, an accurate shot from an American submarine resulted in a hit without any detonation. At first, the exploder's magnetic influence fuzing was suspect, and in June 1943, Admiral Nimitz ordered it disabled until the Navy's materiel establishment could discover the reasons for the malfunction. Still, it proved very difficult to convince the Bureau of Ordnance that so many torpedo failures were not caused by personnel problems in preparing and firing the weapons. VADM Lockwood even ordered submarines to fire test torpedoes against seaside cliffs at Kohoolawe, Hawaii to investigate the failures to detonate. These experiments showed convincingly that the firing pin design was defective. Until the Navy's technical bureaus successfully addressed these and other problems in 1943, submarine captains often took extraordinary risks for little result. Despite a slow beginning because of the Pearl Harbor attack and the nagging problem of defective torpedoes, theSubmarine Force destroyed 1,314 enemy ships in the Pacific, representing fifty-five percent of all enemy ships lost and a total of 5.3 million tons of shipping. Out of 16,000 U.S. submariners, the force lost 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men in 52 submarines, and although this was a tragic loss, it was still the lowest casualty rate of any combatant submarine service on either side in the 1939-1945 conflict.

In the final months of the war, American submarines had difficulty finding targets, because the Japanese had virtually no ships left to sink. In response, U.S. boats employed newly-developed FM sonar sets to navigate through minefields in closely-guarded Japanese home waters to seek out the remaining targets. On 27 May 1945, a nine-submarine wolfpack led by CDR E.T. Hydeman on board USS Tinosa (SS-283) left Guam under orders from VADM Lockwood for the first major penetration of the Sea of Japan. After picking up the survivors of a downed B-29 en route, the pack traversed the Tsushima Strait on 5-6 June and once on station, set up their own shooting gallery. In 11 days, they destroyed 27 merchant ships with total tonnage exceeding 57,000. In the end, Japanese ships had no safe haven. There was nowhere to hide. The American submariner's silent victory was complete.

As a footnote in the same article is a piece on the much lesser known activities of US Submarines in the Atlantic:

U.S. Submarine Operations in the Atlantic during World War II

While the extraordinary success of U.S. submarines against Japanese shipping in the Pacific completely overshadowed the achievements of their counterparts in the Atlantic, LANTFLT boats nonetheless made a major contribution to winning the war in Europe. In February 1941, shortly after the Navy reorganization that created the Atlantic, Pacific, and Asiatic Fleets, RADM Richard Edwards became Commander Submarines, Atlantic, the forerunner of COMSUBLANT. Originally comprising only B, O, R, and S-class boats, of which only the last were truly oceangoing, Submarines Atlantic prepared for war with a series of contingency plans that led eventually to basing submarines in Key West, St. Thomas (U.S.Virgin Islands), Bermuda, Coco Solo (Panama), and Argentia (Newfoundland). Additionally, all East Coast new-construction boats - the great majority - honed their skills for the Pacific war on shakedown and training cruises in the LANTFLT area. During June 1941, with the rising threat of the German U-boat campaign against Britain, U.S. submarines began defensive patrols in both the Atlantic and Caribbean, with particular emphasis on protecting shipping lanes off the East Coast and through the Panama Canal. After Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war, U.S. boats established an intermittent patrol line from Bermuda to Nantucket, but despite regular sightings and several brief skirmishes with German U-boats, there were no kills or losses. For operations in European waters, Submarine Squadron 50 was established at New London in September 1942. Comprising six new Gato-class boats and the submarine tender USS Beaver (AS-5), it departed in October for a base at Rosneath on the west coast of Scotland and saw its first major action in support of Operation TORCH, the Allied invasion of Vichy-controlled French North Africa. Five SUBRON 50 boats served in the invasion force, performing reconnaissance off the landing sites in Morocco, establishing navigation references for the amphibious assault, patrolling against possible Vichy French resistance, and even putting U.S. Army scouts ashore in advance of the main landings on 8 November 1942. On D-Day, USS Herring (SS-233) sank a 5,700-ton cargo ship, Ville de Havre, but French opposition to the invasion was only token, and the North African campaign was off to a successful beginning. Following TORCH, SUBRON 50 passed under Royal Navy operational control and patrolled the Bay of Biscay to interdict German blockade-runners attempting to run war supplies through Axis-leaning Spain. In this role, they inflicted significant damage - and even a few losses - on both small freighters and several German escorts. Moreover, in March 1943, Herring scored a probable kill on a 517-ton U-boat. In April 1943, the squadron's patrol responsibilities were shifted to the Norway-Iceland area, but lack of targets in the Atlantic soon motivated a decision to return SUBRON 50 to the United States and re-allocate its submarines to the Pacific. This was indicative of the turning tide in the Battle of the Atlantic, and although German U-boats remained a recurring threat until late in the war, improved sensors and weapons, convoying, increasingly effective combined-arms ASW prosecutions, and a significant cryptologic advantage drove them back. Because U.S. submarines played little part in ASW operations during the final phases of the European conflict, the primary role that remained for LANTFLT submarines was to support the training of escort ships and patrol aircraft, largely from a training base in Bermuda. Three submarines were lost in the Atlantic area during World War Two. In January 1942, USS S-26 (SS-131) went down in the Gulf of Panama after a collision with the patrol craft PC-460, and in June 1943, R-12 (SS-89) was lost near Key West due to accidental flooding. Then, during October 1943, USS Dorado (SS-248) disappeared with all hands during a transit between New London and Panama, and her fate remains unknown to this day. There is some evidence that she was either depth-charged by one of our own aircraft or torpedoed by a German U-boat that had been operating in the same vicinity near Cuba.

Perhaps the best appreciation of U.S. LANTFLT submarine operations was offered by RADM C.B. Barry, Royal Navy, to SUBRON 50 on the occasion of their departure from the British Isles:

". . . The targets that have come your way in European waters have been disappointingly few, but your submarines have invariably seized their opportunity and exploited themselves to the utmost. Their actual contribution has been very great and personal, far beyond the number of ships sunk or damaged".

Flying Fish and below, her launching

The launching of USS Skate and below, her death at the hands of the Atomic bomb

USS Cavalla

Cavalla (SS-244) was launched 14 November 1943 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Connecticut; sponsored by Mrs. M. Comstock; and commissioned 29 February 1944, Lieutenant Commander H. J. Kossler in command. Departing New London 11 April 1944, Cavalla arrived at Pearl Harbour 9 May for voyage repairs and training. On 31 May 1944 she put to sea, bound for distant, enemy-held waters. It was on her maiden patrol that Cavalla rendered the distinguished service that earned her a Presidential Unit Citation. En route to her station in the eastern Philippines, she made contact with a large Japanese task force 17 June 1944. Cavalla tracked the force for several hours, then relayed invaluable information which contributed heavily to the overwhelming United States victory scored in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the famous "Marianas Turkey Shoot" on 19-20 June 1944. With this great service completed, Cavalla continued her pursuit. On 19 June she caught the carrier Shokaku landing planes and quickly fired a spread of six torpedoes for three hits, enough to send Shokaku to the bottom in 11°50' N., 137°57' E. After a severe depth charging by three destroyers, Cavalla escaped to continue her patrol.

Cavalla's second patrol took her to the Philippine Sea as a member of a wolfpack operating in support of the invasion of Peleliu 15 September 1944. On 25 November 1944 during her third patrol, Cavalla encountered two Japanese destroyers, and made a daring surface attack which blew up Shimotsuki in 02°21' N., 107° 20' E. The companion destroyer began depth charging while elusive Cavalla evaded on the surface. Later in the same patrol, 5 January 1945, she made a night surface attack on an enemy convoy, and sank two converted net tenders in 05°00' S., 112°20' E.Cavalla cruised the South China and Java Seas on her fourth and fifth war patrols. Targets were few and far between, but she came to the aid of an ally on 21 May 1945. A month out on her fifth patrol, the submarine sighted HM Submarine Terrapin, damaged by enemy depth charges and unable to submerge or make full speed. Cavalla stood by the wounded submarine and escorted her on the surface to Fremantle, arriving 27 May 1945.

Cavalla received the cease-fire order of 15 August while life guarding off Japan on her sixth war patrol. A few minutes later she was bombed by a Japanese plane that apparently had not yet received the same information. She joined the fleet units entering Tokyo Bay 31 August, remained for the signing of the surrender on 2 September, then departed the next day for New London, arriving 6 October 1945. She was placed out of commission in reserve there 16 March 1946. Recommissioned 10 April 1951, Cavalla was assigned to Submarine Squadron 8 and engaged in various fleet exercises in the Caribbean and off Nova Scotia. She was placed out of commission 3 September 1952 and entered Electric Boat Co. yard for conversion to a hunter-killer submarine (reclassified SSK-244, 18 February 1953). Cavalla was recommissioned 15 July 1953 and assigned to Submarine Squadron 10. Her new sonar made Cavalla valuable for experimentation and she was transferred to Submarine Development Group 2 on 1 January 1954, to evaluate new weapons and equipment, and participate in fleet exercises. She also cruised to European waters several times to take part in North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercises, and visited Norfolk, Virginia, for the International Naval Review (11-12 June 1957). She remained active with the Fleet through 1963; on 15 August 1959, her classification reverted to SS-244. In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation, Cavalla received four battle stars for service in World War II. Of her six war patrols, the first and third were designated as Successful War Patrols. She is credited with having sunk a total of 34,180 tons of shipping. - apparently she is "rusting away" - according to an email I got from Glenn. If so, a sad end to a hero.

September 2nd 2008 and I received this email from Gary Kucsan in Allenstown. I believe this is Pennsylvania over in the USA; as I too have a friend there, Bob. Anyway, Gary's very informative email:

I have a relative (my grandmother’s youngest brother, still alive – we call him “uncle” even though he is my father’s uncle, really) who served 14 combat patrols aboard US Submarines in the Pacific in WW2.  He lied about his age to get into the Navy, found himself aboard the fleet boat USS Nautilus (SS-168), then the USS Gar.  The Nautilus, as best I recall, was a mid-30’s fleet boat, much larger than most US subs of the period.  While on board as a machinists mate, my “uncle”, Henry Kudzik, participated in the battle of Midway.  The Nautilus is actually credited with the sinking of one the large Jap fleet carriers.  Initially, it was the Soryu, however, and only recently, the Dept of The Navy has presumed it was actually the Kaga. I am darn near 50 years old, and ever since I was in 5th grade, my Uncle Hank has been my hero.  He is very willing to relate some great stories about his experiences both at sea, and in foreign ports of call during the war.  He just won’t let me chronicle them for posterity.  There are many, some very funny, some absolutely bone chilling.  I have asked him many times.  Veteran’s of that period are very humble.  They don’t see themselves as heroes.  They just figured they were doing what any red blooded American should do.

The Nautilus also participated in many, many pre-invasion recon patrols.  They would transport frogmen (the forerunners of SEALS) to the intended assault beaches where the frogmen would map approaches, clear obstacles, and document defensive positions for the marines who were going to hit those beaches.  Then they would hang around in enemy-infested waters and extricate the frogmen. Surprisingly enough, my first assignment in the US Army as the Administrative Services Division Officer, G1, 4th Infantry Division saw me overseeing 5 branches, all directed by Department of Army civilians.  One of my branch chiefs was a very nice man named Les Bodine.  Les, it turns out, was a frogman in the Pacific in WW2.  I often wondered whether my uncle Hank’s sub ever transported Mr. Bodine to an enemy beach during the war.  I was never able to make the connection, but you never know.

To this day, Uncle Hank still visits elementary schools for veteran’s events and talks with young kids.  On a lighter note, at a recent event, one of the young children, listened intently as the old vets related their stories about the war.  At the end of the session, the kids were allowed to ask questions.  This child was so enamored at the depravity that sailors on “pig boats” had to endure that she had to ask my uncle why he chose to join the Navy.  His answer, “Five sisters, one bathroom.” One day, when my own son was very young, he and I watched Run Silent, Run Deep on television.  This prompted my son to ask questions about subs.  I immediately called Uncle Hank who was only too glad to come to my house and tell my boy hours worth of real life stories of subs in WW2.  Who would know better than a man who completed 14 combat patrols?

 Hank’s wife, my Aunt Jackie said you could always tell when Hank was near home.  She could smell the diesel fuel. To this very day, the Navy still values the contributions of these pig boat sailors.  Several years ago, the USS Pennsylvania, a boomer, was commissioned at Groton, CN.  My uncle, and many other old time submariners were all invited and treated like royalty, as they were when in US ports during the war.  Most of them never made it past 4 patrols.  The odds were not in their favor, and the Navy knew it. I couldn’t be any more proud of anyone than I am of my Uncle Hank, and all those submariners like him.  These guys were the epitome of courage and bravery.  Every one of them.  Today’s soldiers and sailors also have that same dedication to duty.  Since the mid-70’s the US military has been 100% voluntary.  Just wearing the uniform means something to me, and men like my Uncle Hank.

I think your website is terrific.  I’m sure my uncle would be glad to add anything he knows, if you wish to ask.  He’s in the phone book in Northampton, PA, US.  Our generation could learn many lessons from these guys Best Regards, Gary

USS Cuttlefish 1943 3 Images

USS Dace (rear) in Groton Connecticut July 1943

American Submarines in the Pacific War

Click on the Image - Eternal Patrol Web Site

Battery Section USS Tang

Australian Bases

Fremantle Memorial (Images: wyrmworld) - tells us:

Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Navy's Asiatic Submarine fleet (29 submarines) had been based in Manila in the Philippines along with 3 cruisers, 14 destroyers and a numbers of smaller vessels. 

When the war started the Japanese bombed the Navy Base at Cavite quite extensively. The submarines were operating near the Philippines at that time. Captain John Wilkes who had been Commander SubsAsiatic Force was due to return to the States prior to the start of the war with Japan. Admiral Thomas C. Hart, the Commanding Officer of the Asiatic Fleet told Wilkes he was staying. 

Captain Wilkes was given command of the six "S" type and some other Fleet type submarines and told to use facilities at Soerabaja in Java. Captain John Fife was ordered to proceed to Darwin to establish a new Submarine Headquarters and a repair base where the submarine Tender USS Holland (AS3) would be based. It was soon realised that Darwin, with its high tides was unsuitable for Submarine operations and was too open and hence could be easily mined. USS Holland (AS3) was then relocated to Tjilaljap in Java, which also proved unsuitable.

All three locations were often bombed by the Japs. Java was then eventually taken by the Japanese leaving the Asiatic Submarine Force without a base. Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia was also considered for a while as a likely contender for a new Submarine Base. The sub fleet sank only three merchant ships during December 1941. USS Sealion (SS195) was sunk by the Japs while it was moored at the wharf in Cavite Navy Yard. They only sank another 3 Japanese ships in January 1942 and Submarine S-36 was lost  in the Makassar Straits. Admiral Hart requested to be relieved of his duties.

Finally on the 3 March 1942, the USS Holland (AS3) arrived in Fremantle to establish the new Fremantle Submarine Base as home for 8 submarines of the Asiatic Fleet. The Officers of the submarine command started to arrive in Fremantle and finally started to form a united command. Captain Wilkes ordered that two large wheat loading sheds on the wharf be leased. They were each 800 feet long and 50 feet high making them very suitable for their submarine workshop space. The area was also serviced by a railway line which was ideal for their operation. They also established an Auxiliary Submarine Base at Albany further south on the Western Australian coast.

Captain Wilkes, who was now well overdue for replacement, was finally replaced by Rear Admiral Charles Lockwood, who commandeered  four hotels as Rest Camps for his submarine crews.  Submarine Tender USS Euryale AS 22 and USS Griffin AS13 served at Fremantle during WW2. USS Euryale was stationed in Fremantle from August 1944 to early 1945. Submarine Tender USS Griffin AS 13 was assigned to the Pacific Fleet after Pearl Harbor and left Newport, R.I. on 14 February 1942 headed for Australia. USS Griffin arrived in Brisbane, in southern Queensland on 15 April 1942 to look after Submarine Squadron 5 (SubRon5) at the Brisbane Submarine Base.

USS Griffin left Brisbane on 11 November 1942 and headed for the Fiji Islands and eventually the USA. USS Griffin left Pearl Harbor for Fremantle Submarine Base on 8 April 1944. She arrived at Brisbane Submarine Base on 22 April 1944 and left for Fremantle on 27 April 1944. She arrived in Fremantle on 7 May 1944. USS Griffin left Fremantle on 20 November 1944 and arrived in Brisbane on 29 November 1944 and left Brisbane on 1 December 1944 to proceed to Mios Woendi, New Guinea to tend submarines and various surface craft.


The Fremantle Submarine Base

By Bart Bartholomew

On December 7, 1941, the U.S. Navy’s submarine strength was 111 in commission and seventy-three under construction. The submarines were a mixture of R, S and the newer fleet type boats. This ‘Pig-Boat’ Fleet was under the command of the Commander-in-Chiefs Atlantic, Pacific and Asiatic Fleets, the latter based at Manila in the Philippines.

Admiral Thomas C. Hart in Manila had three cruisers, thirteen over-aged four stack destroyers, a few river gun boats, thirty PBY’s and twenty-nine submarines. Twenty-three of the submarines were fleet types, the others S Boats. The submarine tenders HOLLAND, OTIS, CANOPOUS and the submarine rescue vessel, PIGEON were the support ships. The Navy Base at Cavite was the ashore supply and refit center. This small fleet was all that stood in the path of ten Japanese battleships, three heavy and light cruisers and nine aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Siam ready to pounce. Admiral Hart’s fleet had been on war footing since receiving a Chief of Naval Operations message on 27 November 1941 saying, "This dispatch is to be considered a war warning."

Admiral Hart, a veteran submariner, devised strategy for sending his submarines into immediate action on the declaration of war. With their Mark XIV torpedoes the fleet type submarines had racked up an impressive peacetime record. The majority of practice torpedoes fired ran hot, straight, normal and under the middle of battleships and other targets. Morale was high in the submarine crews, and they expected every torpedo fired to send an enemy ship to the bottom. Submarines were on patrol around the Philippines on December 8, 1941 when the War started west of the International Date Line.

Before December ended the defective Mark XIV torpedo and the Mark Six exploder were being cursed by all hands. The torpedoes ran in circles, ran deep, bounced off the hulls of enemy ships or prematurely exploded. The submarine support system was scattered and Cavite had been bombed out of existence. Morale was sagging. The Submarine Squadron’s staff was separated. Captain John Wilkes, Commander SubsAsiatic Force, had orders back to the states before war was declared but Admiral Hart held onto him.

Captain Wilkes was given command of the S-Boats, some fleet boats and ordered to use the facilities at Soerabaja, Java. Captain John Fife and HOLLAND was to establish headquarters and a repair base at Darwin, Australia. Both places proved to be unsuitable.

Soerabaja gave preference to overhauling Dutch submarines and had no spare parts or torpedoes for U.S. subs. Darwin had high tides preventing submarines from being moored alongside HOLLAND for repairs. Darwin harbor was open and could have been easily mined, and there were no shore support or recreational facilities. HOLLAND was moved to Tjilaljap, Java, which also proved unsuitable. All three of the bases, were subjected to air raids by the superior Japanese air force. Submarines under repair were forced to dive and wait on the bottom during the day and surfacing for repairs at night. When the Japanese overran Java, Exmouth Gulf on the Western Coast of Australia was considered for a submarine base. That idea was abandoned and the Asiatic Submarine Force was without a support base. Morale plunged. Only three merchant ships were sunk during December 1942 and the USS SEALION (SS195) was sunk moored to Machina Wharf at the Cavite Navy Yard. During January 1942, three enemy ships were sunk by submarines and the S-36 was lost in Makassar Strait. Admiral Hart requested to be relieved. In February two ships were sunk, a destroyer and a merchant type. A permanent base had to be established to pull the submarine force back together. This started when the USS HOLLAND (AS3) arrived in FremantIe, Western Australia on 3 March 1942.

The scattered submarine staff gathered in Fremantle. Captain John Wilkes leased two wheat loading sheds fifty feet high and 800 feet long on the pier. This was to be shop space. Machine shops, a railroad and excellent recreational facilities were available in the area. An auxiliary base was also established in Albany on the Southern coast of Australia. Captain Wilkes, long overdue for rotation, was relieved by Rear Admiral Charles Lockwood.

Admiral Lockwood had been associated with submarines all his life. He had personal knowledge about the Japanese because he had served at the American Embassy in Japan. His Fremantle submarines were to operate in the Southwest Pacific area. The Admiral was a can do type of officer. Against advice received from Washington, he leased four hotels, the King Edward, Wentworth, Ocean Beach and Majestic, for submarine crews rest camps. Listening to his submarine skippers complain about the faulty torpedoes, the Admiral tried to get the Bureau of Ordnance to conduct torpedo performance tests. The Bureau refused. They blamed the skippers and their torpedomen for not preparing and firing the torpedoes in the proper manner. Admiral Lockwood ordered his own torpedo tests.

The USS SKIPJACK (SS188) had just returned from a war patrol and was being refit alongside HOLLAND at Albany. Under the supervision of Captain Fife, a target net was anchored in the Princess Royal Harbour. SKIPJACK got into position and fired three Mark XIV torpedoes.

The first two torpedoes were set to run at ten feet. They tore holes in the net at twenty-five and eighteen feet. The third torpedo was set to run on the surface. It bounced off the bottom at sixty-five feet and went through the net at eleven feet. The Bureau of Ordnance rejected the test results and told the Admiral to conserve the torpedoes because they were in short supply. The Admiral ordered the USS SAURY (SS189) to fire five torpedoes at the net. The results were the same, all torpedoes ran deep. Admiral King, Commander-in-Chief United States Fleet, intervened. Admiral King believed Lockwood’s test results and eight months after the war started, the Bureau of Ordnance admitted the Mark XIV ran deep. The number of ships sunk increased after the Fremantle Base was established and the deep running torpedoes were fixed. January 1943 started on a tragic note. Admiral English, Commander Pacific Fleet Submarines, was killed in an air crash. Lockwood was promoted to Vice Admiral and ordered to command the Pacific Fleet Submarines at Pearl Harbor against his wishes. Rear Admiral Ralph Christie took command of the submarine force operating out of Fremantle. The Asiatic Fleet submarines were rotated to the states for overhaul and replaced by new squadrons. A large floating drydock and Submarine Repair Unit 137 arrived at Fremantle. The submarine success rate increased dramatically.

The USS BOWFIN (SS287) had the best patrol run out of Fremantle in 1943 and USS BONEFISH (SS223) had the second best. Admiral Christie didn’t like his deserving skippers having to wait until the Award Board in Washington gave out medals. He pinned Navy Crosses on the skippers of BOWFIN, BONEFISH and JACK on their return from very successful patrol runs. Four Fremantle boats were lost in 1943, USS GRENADIER (SS21O), USS GRAYLIN (SS209), USS CISCO (SS290) and USS CAPE LIN (SS289). The year ended with the eight boats stationed at Fremantle increased to thirty.

During 1944 oil tankers were officially the most important merchant ship targets. Advance fueling bases were established at Manus in the Admiralities and Mios Woendi at Biak. The greatest tonnage of tankers sunk in 1944 were the victims of Fremantle submarines. Another four boats from Fremantle were lost, USS ROBALO (SS273), USS FLIER (SS250), USS HARDER (SS257) and USS GROWLER (SS215). On December 30, 1944 Admiral Fife relieved Admiral Christie.

Fife and Christie were the only admirals who made war patrols on submarines, and they did it against the wishes of their superiors. The number of enemy ships dwindled while the number of U.S. submarines on patrol increased. The submarine support bases were moved North. Three Fremantle boats were lost in 1945, USS BARBEL (SS316), USS LAGARTO (SS371) and USS BULLHEAD (SS332). The submarines operating out of Fremantle achieved many successes. About one third of U.S. submarines operated out of Fremantle making 354 war patrols. The Fremantle boats sank a substantially higher tanker tonnage than all other submarine commands. Out of the twenty-five leading U.S. Boats by tonnage sank, nineteen had made patrol runs out of the Western Australia Base. Fremantle and Perth were rated 4.0 by all sailors. In Aussie talk it would be, "Bloody fair dinkum," meaning abso-bloody-lutely true. The best testimonial about Australia and the friendly people was given by Admiral Lockwood. "The request I received most often by Pacific Fleet submarine skippers was to be allowed to end their patrol run at Fremantle."

In June 2012 I received a very informative email from Richard Law (USN Retd). As a 'brit' I do not pretend to understand all of it, but I am sure former US submariners will.

The USA had a relatively small Navy prior to the Japanese sneak attack upon our unprepared forces at Pearl Harbor and Cavetti of December 7 1941. Our ships loaded with war materials and enroute to Europe must somehow be protected from German U-Boats seemingly everywhere.  A select few had the "opportunity" to face the enemy in the Atlantic Ocean during FDR's "Lend Lease War" of June 22 through December 7 1941, earning the privilege of wearing the Fleet Clasp on our American Defense service medal and either the Bronze A or Star on the ribbon. Is it possible for me to now be the sole survivor of those operations in the cold cruel North Atlantic so long ago?

October and November found this convoy of ships laden with war and relief supplies especially trying for a freighter limping along behind with her thumping screw plowing through the stormy waters, obviously an easy target of German U-Boats known to be hunting in the area (the former SS Mormacpenn). Actually the converted Submarine tender USS Griffin AS13 with her brood of WWI class submarines submerged nearby and looking for their own kill of careless U-Boats. The Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor shut down communications and initiated a full speed recall to New London.

The post-haste return of USS Griffin with her submarines to New London initiated an extended voyage with two quick stops enroute to Australia (Panama and Bora Bora) and participation in the Battles of coral Sea (May 4 thru 8 1942) - resulting in turning back the Japanese armies' march through Asia toward Tulagi and Port Moresby, and setting up the great battles of Midway and Iwo Jima. Families at home might occasionally receive heavily redacted letters but would not discover where their men were and what they were doing until much later. The refitted Griffin and part of her brood stealthy departed New London 14 February 1942 enroute to more pressing duties to be revealed only after the fact. Seemingly everywhere along the route they could see cars running up and down the US' east-coast highways with headlights flashing day and night and ships burning and sinking from U-Boat attacks. Strict orders said "remain hidden, do not get involved, you are more needed somewhere else". Frustration galore!

At Coco Solo she traded and acquired other submarines. Following transit through the big ditch (canal), Griffin and her six submarines (S42 - S47) departed Panama as the brunt of SubRon5 March 5 1942. What with restricted communications and lack of info they had limited knowledge of any fighting ships remaining to contest the Japanese - but these crews were prepared to take on the task if the restraints were loosened.  Following an overnight stop at Bora Bora (a French protectorate) they arrived in Brisbane, Australia 15 April 1942. The secret orders were finally revealed to the crews: build a submarine base on the wool shipping and receiving docks of New Farm Wharf - while her submarines strike hard at Japanese shipping and Allied surface forces strengthen themselves for the first Pacific offenses.

Captain Christie's SubRon5 carried plenty of submarine supplies and parts but needed long range base infrastructure. Who would suspect that the resourceful members of his command could convert the meager resources of this industry deprived member of the British Commonwealth into such a center of operations while supporting the south pacific war?  The world's media had not been hesitant in reporting the ravages committed by the Imperial Japanese Army while storming through Asia. This must somehow be stopped. But how, and by whom?

Allied forces were at a low ebb, largely crippled through the dastardly attacks on the Hawaiian and the Philippine islands. All able bodied Australians had already been conscripted and sent to fight in North Africa. Every remaining Aussie (including women and children) was somehow bracing and prepared to fight the expected invasion and had a final assignment if needed. Everything the USA and Australia could muster was committed to the task.

The onslaught was actually stopped through the sinking of troopships and supply ships enroute to Tulagi and Port Moresby in the Battles of Corral Sea (May 3-8 1942). These scrimmages resulted in tipping of the playing field of capital ships leading up to the battle of Midway. History writes that it was fought entirely by aircraft from Carriers but those of us who were there know it also included a few USA cruisers and destroyers along with ships of the Australian Navy and our flotilla of six submarines (S42-S47) and the mother ship USS Griffin.

Among the greatest actions of World War 2 must be this stopping of the Japanese invasion enroute to Port Moresby and Australia. The resulting sigh of relief should have been heard around the world. Captain Christies Subron5 grew and moved on, setting up bases while servicing others throughout WWII in such places as Fremantle Australia, Mios Woendi New Guinea, Midway Island, Leyte and Subic Bay Philippines.  Decommissioned at Mare Island 12 October 1945 the Griffin was placed in reserve. She was stricken from the register in 1982 and transferred to MADAD. She was sold in 1973.

Richard E. Law, USN (Ret)

Loading Mk14 torpedoes


It is believed that asbestos in US warships has contributed to many cases of cancer over the years, particularly in WW2 veterans.

I have been asked to provide these links for anybody who feels that they are in need of information or advice.

mesothelioma  - another useful site (American) is here:  Mesothelioma & Asbestos Cancer Resource

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