Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Story of Evelyn Borden Usrey's Life!

"This Day in History"

September 22, 1924

Today, 91 years ago, Evelyn Borden was born in Fall River, Massachusetts.  She grew up during the Great Depression that gripped the country; in 1936, her father, Clinton, passed away.  Her mother, Edith, raised Evelyn along with her sister, Alice, and brothers, Charles, Ernest, and Robert.  Eventually Edith remarried.  In the 1940s, Evelyn's stepfather worked in a naval shipyard in Kittery, Maine.

"We had fun growing up.  We didn't have any money or anything, but we had fun.  But one thing we always had was the river or the ocean.  We could always go fishing."
--Evelyn Borden Usrey, interview by AIMM June 17, 2014.

December 7, 1941, Evelyn was home in the midst of her senior year of high school when World War II broke out in the United States. 

"We listened to the radio.  In our movies they had news reels.  And a group of us in high school used to get together and sew for the Red Cross to go overseas just before we were in the war.  So, we were all aware of what was going on, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a big shock."
--Evelyn Borden Usrey, interview by AIMM June 17, 2014.

She graduated from Somerset High School May of 1942 in Somerset, Massachusetts.  After she graduated from high school, Evelyn was told she had to help her family financially with two younger brothers still at home. So she moved to Kittery, Maine.

September 1942, Evelyn moved to Kittery, Maine, to work, as a civilian, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  The shipyard had almost 25,000 civilians working in the yards during World War II when over 70 submarines were constructed at the yard.  Evelyn worked in the Supply Department.  She was in charge of ensuring each submarine being constructed and submarines on patrol had the supplies that they required. 

USS Balao (SS 285) was the first submarine being built in Portsmouth when Evelyn arrived.  From her office window she watched the WAVES going into the submarines to build the boats. Note: WAVES were Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.  WAVES were the manpower behind building submarines during World War II.  The men were gone.  The few men that served in the shipyard were officers.  One of the officers gave her a tour of the submarine, Balao.  She remembers on this tour that they enjoyed coffee and cigarettes in the officers quarters.  

Evelyn stated, "After you've seen one, you've seen them all."  Her memories of the other submarines from Portsmouth seemed to blur together.  While, USS Razorback (SS 394) was built in Portsmouth, by 1944, Evelyn has supplied over 50 submarines, so she did not have any specific memories about Razorback.

One aspect of working in Portsmouth that Evelyn remembered fondly was that of commissioning parties held for the submarine crew members.  She remembers that these parties consisted of drinking, eating, and dancing.  The commissioning parties had good food, like butter, which was a high commodity during the food rationing of World War II.

"I never jitterbugged in my life, and neither did my date, but some of my friends dared us to get out there and get into the contest.  And we won! We just did our own thing.  It was fun." 
--Evelyn Borden Usrey, interview by AIMM June 17, 2014.

Evelyn also explained that they had barbecues, cookouts, and weenie roasts on the beach with Sailors and Marines, just not at the same time.  "The only way you mix a Marine and a Sailor is if they're both in the same family," according to Evelyn.  Also these dinners on the beach had to end before night fell.  Living on the coast, there were strict instructions about lighting after dark.  The town had to "blackout."  This included using blackout curtains before any lights could be turned on in the house.  The streetlights allowed only a small amount of light in a narrow area.  All of this prevented any enemy vessels from seeing the structures on the coast.

The "blackouts" were not the only thing in the shipyard work that reminded Evelyn that the United States was in the midst of war.  Evelyn remembers, spring of 1945, that while she was supplying submarines already serving in the war, there was one submarine that was sixty days overdue and presumed lost at sea.  Unfortunately, Evelyn's friend was married to a man aboard this submarine that was presumed lost.  Often, her friend requested information, and due to the sensitive information Evelyn was unable to tell her friend anything.  June of 1945, while Evelyn was close to a nervous breakdown due to her knowledge of this lost submarine, she left the shipyard to join the Navy.

Evelyn served as a civilian in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from September 1942 till June of 1945.  Little did she know that seventy years later she would be able to visit one of these Portsmouth submarines again.  The museum staff, volunteers, and former Razorback crew members were always happy to see Evelyn visit and enjoy her stories from the yards.  

September 3, 2015, Evelyn Borden Usrey went home to be with the Lord.  Everyone connected with the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum were very saddened with this news.  We were all so happy that we were able to have met and gotten to know Evelyn the last few years.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

N5R: On-Air Special Event November-Five-Romeo

"Museum Update"

September 2, 2015

September 2, 2015, the United States observed the 70th anniversary of the formal surrender of the Empire of Japan, marking the end of World War II.  Many people know that the documents of surrender were signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri (BB 63), in Tokyo Bay.

What is lesser known is that there were other Allied Navy ships in Tokyo Bay to witness the surrender.  There were 255 Allied ships in Tokyo Bay including ten battleships, forty-eight destroyers, and twelve submarines. Of the U.S. ships present at the surrender, four are currently museumships: USS Missouri (BB 63), USS Iowa (BB 61), USS Cavalla (SS 244), and USS Razorback (SS 394).

John, Don, and Joseph in the submarine's radio room.

A small group of hams conducted an on-air special event to commemorate this anniversary of the surrender from on board the submarine Razorback on September 2, 2015, from 12:00 through 22:00.
The special event call sign was November-Five-Romeo (N5R).  


The group of hams set up their equipment in the submarine's radio room and broadcast from the submarine's whip wire and antenna.  Throughout the broadcast the radio operators, John and Don, were able to successful connect with 39 people.  Connections were made with 18 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

A special thanks to John and Don for coming to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and hosting the On-Air Special!  Also, thank you Joseph Mathis for working as the AIMM staff member coordinating this great event.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Benny's Peacemakers

"Submarine Honor Guard"

"Benny's Peacemakers"

“Cease offensive operations against Japanese forces.  Continue search and patrols.  Maintain defensive and internal security measures at highest level and beware of treachery or last moment attacks by enemy forces or individuals.” –Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations, August 14, 1945.

This message was sent to all United States naval units in the Pacific Fleet.  The commander of the Submarine Force Pacific Fleet, Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, then relayed the message to his submarines.

Excerpt from the diary of USS Razorback (SS 394) crew member Atkinson.  AIMM Permanent Collection.

August 30, 1945, twelve United States Navy submarines rendezvoused with task group “Benny’s Peacemakers” to participate in the formal surrender of the Empire of Japan in Tokyo Bay, Japan.

"Benny" referred to Commander Raymond Henry "Benny" Bass.  Bass, a native Arkansan, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1931 and served in the United States Navy until 1959.  During World War II, Bass was a submarine commander throughout the war.  When the “Cease Fire” was given, Commander Bass commanded the submarine USS Runner (SS 476).  He was put in command of twelve submarines, “Benny’s Peacemakers,” to witness the end of World War II.

Excerpt from the diary of USS Razorback (SS 394) crew member Atkinson.  AIMM Permanent Collection.

“Benny’s Peacemakers” tied up alongside the submarine tender USS Proteus (AS 19) on August 31, 1945.

Proteus was commissioned into the United States Navy on January 31, 1944.  She served in Midway and Guam completing voyage repairs and refitted submarines.  Proteus became the flagship of a twenty six ship support group that steamed off the coast of Honshu, Japan, until August 26, 1945.  Two days later, the submarine tender anchored in Sagami Wan to support submarines.  August 31, 1945, Proteus and “Benny’s Peacemakers” anchored off Yokosuka Navy Yard, in Yokosuka Ko, Japan.

Excerpt from USS Razorback (SS 394) September 1945 deck log.  

USS Razorback (SS 394) crew members listening to the live broadcast of the surrender ceremony.  Raines's photograph collection.  AIMM permanent collection.

The ceremony began at 9:02 a.m. on September 2, 1945. The ceremony was broadcast throughout the world and lasted twenty three minutes.  The ceremony ended with the following statement.

"Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed!" -  General MacArthur, September 2, 1945.

With those words the Second Great War was finally over.

"Admiral Lockwood returning from formal surrender on the Missouri.  He is Chief of all subs operating in Pacific area." -- Marion Raines.  Raines's photograph aboard USS Razorback (SS 394) September 2, 1945.  AIMM permanent collection.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

USS Tigrone (SS 419)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Tigrone (SS 419)

USS Tigrone (SS 419) was a Tench-class submarine built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  She was commissioned into the United States navy on October 25, 1944.  The submarine arrived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on February 16, 1945, ready to serve in the Pacific Fleet.

USS Tigrone (SS 419) launched on July 20, 1944.  United States Navy photograph.

During World War II, the submarine served three war patrols.  She patrolled the South China Sea, Hainan coast, Batan Island, and off of Honshū, Japan.  May 19 to July 3, 1945, Tigrone’s second war patrol, the submarine served lifeguard duty where she rescued a total of 30 aviators.  The final war patrol, she again served lifeguard duty off of Japan’s mainland.  August 15, 1945, orders were received to “Cease Fire.”  August 31, 1945, Tigrone moored in Tokyo Bay to be present during the formal surrender of the Empire of Japan.

October of 1945, after the war ended, Tigrone visited Washington, D.C. for Navy Day.  In December, she was prepared for inactivation.  The submarine was decommissioned on March 30, 1946.  The Navy chose to reclassify Tigrone as a radar picket submarine (SSR 419).  She was then recommissioned on November 1, 1948. 

USS Tigrone (SSR 419) as a Radar Picket Submarine, 1951.  United States Navy photograph.

From 1949 to 1957, Tigrone evaluated new radar equipment and techniques for long range air defense in the Arctic, Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean.  Again, the submarine was decommissioned from service on August 1, 1957.

Tigrone was redesignated back to SS 419 and recommissioned on March 10, 1962.  After refresher training, the submarine operated in the Mediterranean Sea.  She then served for the Submarine School in the United States.

Again the submarine went through a new designation as an auxiliary submarine (AGSS 419) in December of 1963.  The next year, Tigrone was fitted with an experimental sonar unit and operated with the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory and the Submarine School. 

USS Tigrone (SS 419) underway March 15, 1967.  Photograph courtesy of Carlos Manuel Estrela.

In 1965, Tigrone went through a major overhaul and modification by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.  The submarine’s torpedo tubes were removed, the two forward compartments were sound isolated, and a new experimental sonar system was installed.  The Underwater Sound Laboratory used the submarine for research and development. Tigrone and British submarine HMS Grampus worked together for a joint American-British oceanographic operation in 1972. Tigrone continued in research activities until she was decommissioned on June 27, 1975.   In October of 1976, the submarine was sunk as a target.

Postal Cover to commemorate the joint United States and British sonar operations, April 26, 1972.

When the submarine was decommissioned, she was the oldest submarine still in commission by the United States Navy.  Tigrone actively served the Navy for twenty three years, eight months, and twenty two days.  In 1975, she was the last unit of the submarine force that had taken part in combat action in World War II, where she earned two battle stars. 

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Monday, August 31, 2015

USS Segundo (SS 398)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Segundo (SS 398)

Officers and crew aboard USS Segundo (SS 398) salute the colors as the submarine slides down the
 launching ramp, February 5, 1944.  United States Navy photograph.

October 14, 1943, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard laid the keel for USS Segundo (SS 398).  The submarine was commissioned into the United States Navy on May 9, 1944.

Segundo joined the Pacific Fleet on July 25, 1944.  The next year, the submarine served five war patrols in the Philippines, Marshall Islands, Luzon Strait, South China Sea, East China Sea, and Korean coast.  The fifth war patrol began on August 10, 1945 in the Sea of Okhotsk.  After “Cease Fire” was announced on August 15, Segundo was ordered to proceed to Tokyo Bay on August 24. 

World War II battle flag of USS Segundo  (SS 398).

While en route, she encountered the Japanese I-400 class submarine I-401 on August 29.  In 1945, I-401 was the largest submarine in the world.  Segundo ordered I-401 to standstill, after communication between the submarines, the Japanese accepted Segundo crew members aboard and operating I-401 to Tokyo Bay.  On August 31, 1945, at 05:00, the United States flag was raised aboard the Japanese submarine I-401. Segundo and I-401 were both present in Tokyo Bay during the formal surrender on September 2, 1945.

Blimp overhead deck of USS Segundo (SS 398), circa 1947.  Photograph courtesy of John Hummel.

After World War II, Segundo operated out of San Diego with cruises to Australia and China in 1946 and 1948.  On June 25, 1950, the submarine was in the Far East with the outbreak of the Korean War.  Segundo served as support for the United Nations Forces during the war from July to September of 1950.  In 1951, the San Francisco Naval Shipyard converted Segundo to a Fleet Snorkel Submarine.  The next year, the submarine returned to the Korean War until February 16, 1953.

USS Segundo's (SS 398) after battery and laundry room, circa 1960s.  Photograph courtesy of John Hummel.

Segundo served from 1953 to 1969 out of San Diego patrolling along the west coast of the United States and in the Pacific.  In July of 1970, the submarine was found unfit for further Naval service.  Segundo was decommissioned on August 1, 1970.  Seven days later the submarine was sunk as a target by the submarine USS Salmon (SSR 573).

The colors lowered for the final time aboard USS Segundo (SS 398).  United States Navy photograph.

USS Segundo (SS 398) after being struck by a torpedo on August 8, 1970.  United States Navy photograph.

The United States Navy used the submarine for twenty six years, two months, and twenty three days continuously.  During that time Segundo earned four battle stars during World War II and one battle star during the Korean War.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Friday, August 28, 2015

USS Sea Cat (SS 399)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Sea Cat (SS 399)

Postal Cover for USS Sea Cat's (SS 399) launching, February 21, 1944.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) was built in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  This Balao-class submarine was commissioned into the United States navy on May 16, 1944.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) World War II battle flag.  

On October 28, 1944, Sea Cat began her World War II service in the Pacific Fleet.  She spent three patrols in the South China, East China, and Yellow Seas.  August 1945, the submarine began her fourth war patrol off the Kuril Islands, but upon arrival the crew learned that the war had ended.  Sea Cat was ordered to proceed to the Japanese home islands to participate in the formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay.

Subron 5 family photograph in Guam 1945.  From left to right: USS Segundo (SS 398), USS Sea Cat (SS 399), USS Blenny
(SS 324), USS Blower (SS 325), USS Blueback (SS 326), and USS Charr (SS 328). Photograph courtesy of John Hummel.

After the war, Sea Cat served in Guam and San Diego before being overhauled in Mare Island in April of 1946.  The submarine’s overhaul was completed in 3 months.  She then began her first simulated war patrol out of San Diego in August of 1946.  During this patrol Sea Cat visited Hawaii, Canton Islands, Samoa Island, and Shanghai.

After the simulated war patrol in the Pacific Fleet, Sea Cat was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet out of Balboa, Panama, from 1947 to spring of 1949.  The submarine’s home port was changed to Key West in June of 1949.  Later that year, Sea Cat was overhauled and redesignated as an auxiliary submarine (AGSS 399) with experimental changes made to the boat’s design.  The modifications and repairs were made by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for four months.  She operated out of Key West from 1950 through 1951.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) circa 1952.  United State Navy photograph.

January of 1952, Sea Cat arrived in Philadelphia again for another overhaul.  This time she was converted to a Fleet Snorkel Submarine and redesignated back to SS 399.  June 26, 1952, the submarine departed Philadelphia and returned to Key West.  The next sixteen years, Sea Cat served out of Key West.  Her patrols were spent in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and once in the Mediterranean in 1966.

"Loading Fish" watercolor by Salvatore Indiviglia, 1960.  Subject was USS Sea Cat (SS 399) and her crew.
United States National Historic Center.

Sea Cat was decommissioned from the United States Navy on December 2, 1968.  She was sold for scrap on May 18, 1973.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) at Guantanomo Bay in 1968.  Photograph courtesy of John Hummel.

Sea Cat served the United States Navy continuously for twenty-four years, seven months, and seventeen days.  During World War II service she earned three battle stars.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

USS Runner (SS 476)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Runner (SS 476)

On July 10, 1944, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard laid the keel to the Tench-class submarine USS Runner (SS 476).  Three months later the submarine was launched and on February 6, 1945, she was commissioned into the United States Navy. 

USS Runner (SS 476), March 1945.  United States Navy photograph.

Runner joined the Pacific Fleet on May 21, 1945.  Her first war patrol’s primary mission was to scout for defensive minefields that guarded the Japanese home islands.  When Runner arrived on station at Honshū, Japan, for her second war patrol peace had come. The submarine, Runner, was given the order to participate in the formal surrender ceremony of the Empire of Japan.

After World War II, Runner served out of various ports. 
·         Balboa, Panama: 1946 to 1949
·         Norfolk, Virginia: 1949 to 1957
·         San Juan, Puerto Rico: 1958 to 1959
·         Norfolk, Virginia: 1959 to 1963
In 1957, the submarine participated in North Atlantic NATO exercises visiting ports in France and England.  While Runner served in Puerto Rico, she served as a Regulus missile guidance submarine.

USS Runner (SS 476) docked at Great Lakes Naval Training Station.  Photograph courtesy of Joe Radigan.

Later in life, Runner served as an educational tool. The summer of 1964, Runner arrived in Great Lakes to serve as a training vessel for the Naval Reservists.  In 1967, she served for educational services for future submariners.  Runner provided services for Underwater Demolition Team school at Little Creek, Virginia, in 1968. Runner did complete one last Mediterranean Sea deployment in April through July of 1968. During the deployment the submarine visited European ports and participating in NATO exercises.

USS Runner (SS 476) in Genoa, Italy, June 29, 1968.  Photograph courtesy of Carlo Martinelli.

January 25, 1969, Runner was decommissioned from the United States Navy.  She was still useful to the Navy as a Naval Reserve Training vessel as an auxiliary submarine (AGSS 476).  Runner was finally stricken from the Naval Register on December 15, 1971. The submarine was sold for scrap on June 19, 1973, to Diamond Scrapyards in Waukegan, Illinois for $108,000.00. 

USS Runner (SS 476) towed to Great Lakes Naval Station, August 12, 1969. Photograph courtesy of Ron Reeves. 

Runner served continuously for the United States Navy for twenty-three years, eleven months, and nineteen days.  After being decommissioned she served for almost two more years.  During her service she did earn one battle star for her World War II service.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

USS Razorback (SS 394)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Razorback (SS 394)

Launch of USS Razorback (SS 394), USS Redfish (USS 395), and USS Ronquil (SS 396) in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
United States Navy photograph.

USS Razorback (SS 394), a Balao-class submarine, was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.  Her keel was laid on September 9, 1943.  Razorback was launched along with three other submarines, USS Redfish (SS 395), USS Ronquil (SS 396), and USS Scabbardfish (SS 397).  This is the largest single-day launch of submarines in United States history on January 27, 1944.  

USS Razorback (SS 394) grounded 1944.  AIMM Permanent Collection.

April 3, 1944, Razorback was commissioned into the United States Navy.  During her training period, the submarine ran aground in the late evening of May 23, 1944, outside of New London submarine base.  Following a short drydocking period, she resumed her training regimen.  On August 4, 1944, Razorback arrived in Pearl Harbor joining the Pacific Fleet.

During World War II, Razorback was able to complete five war patrols.  She patrolled the Philippines, Luzon Strait, and the East China Sea.  Her final war patrol began on July 22, 1945, where she patrolled the Okhotsk Sea and East of the Northern Kurile Islands.  Her offensive patrols were interrupted by an assignment to lifeguard duty.

Atkinson Diary from USS Razorback (SS 394) 1944-1945.  AIMM Permanent Collection

Despite the declaration of "Cease Fire," Razorback was fired upon by an unidentified submerged Japanese submarine on August 29.  She dove to avoid the torpedo and did not return fire.  Two days later Razorback arrived in Tokyo Bay to participate in the formal surrender ceremonies on September 2, 1945.

USS Razorback (SS 394) crew members in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945.  AIMM Permanent Collection.

After World War II, Razorback participated in simulated four war patrols in the Pacific Fleet.  The first of these patrols, in 1946, the submarine took photographs of Johnson Island and Nauru Island in order to update navigational charts from 1921.  In 1947, the patrol's mission was a wide range cruise.  Razorback visited Canton Island, Sydney, Okinawa, Tsingtao, and Midway.  The last two patrols were spent participating in exercises and experimental activities.

USS Razorback (SS 394) crew, circa 1947.  AIMM Permanent Collection

Razorback was decommissioned on August 5, 1952, to undergo conversion and modernization under the Great Underwater Propulsive Power (GUPPY) program.  Once modifications were complete at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, she was recommissioned into the Navy on January 8, 1954.  

Recommissioning ceremony of USS Razorback (SS 394).  AIMM Permanent Collection.

From 1954 through 1970, Razorback was active in the Cold War and the Vietnam War.  Much of this activity is shrouded in mystery due to is classified nature.  On November 30, 1970, Razorback was decommissioned from the United States Navy and transferred to the Navy of the Republic of Turkey.

Transfer Ceremony Booklet.  AIMM Permanent Collection

The submarine was commissioned into the Turkish Navy on December 17, 1971, as TCG Muratreis (S 336).  During her service with the Turkish Navy, Muratreis served as a front-line, combatant submarine.  After fourteen patrol rotations and seven long-rang deployments, she was decommissioned on August 8, 2001.

Razorback served the United States Navy actively for twenty five years, two months, and twenty four days.  Muratreis then served the Turkish Navy for twenty nine years, seven months, and twenty two days.  Combined the submarine served fifty four years, ten months, and fifteen days as a combat submarine, making Razorback the longest serving combat submarine in the world.

Official transfer ceremony in Turkey, 2004.  AIMM Permanent Collection.

March 25, 2004, the Turkish Navy officially transferred Muratreis to the "USS Razorback/TCG Muratreis Association," which is now the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.  Visitors can participate in a guided tour of the submarine in North Little Rock, Arkansas.  Operating hours are: 
  • Summer Hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day): Wednesdays through Sundays
  • Fall/Winter/Spring Hours: Fridays through Sundays
For more information about Razorback or about the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum please visit our website: http://aimmuseum.org/.

USS Razorback (SS 394) moored in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

USS Pilotfish (SS 386)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Pilotfish (SS 386)

May 15, 1943, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard laid the keel of a Balao-class submarine, USS Pilotfish (SS 386).  She was launched 3 months later and commissioned into the United States Navy on December 16, 1943.

USS Pilotfish (SS 386) prior to launching at Portsmouth Navy Yard.  United States Navy photograph.

April 10, 1944, Pilotfish joined the Pacific Fleet.  During the war, the submarine patrolled the Mariana Islands, Bonin Islands, Chichi Jima, and the East China Sea.  She began her sixth war patrol on August 9, 1945.  Pilotfish was ordered to patrol the south-east of Japan on lifeguard duty.

USS Proteus (AS 19) at Midway Naval Base in May 1944.  Submarines alongside are (from left to right) USS Bang (SS 385), USS Pintado (SS 387), and USS Pilotfish (SS 386).  United States Naval Historical Center Photograph.

August 15, 1945, Pilotfish received the "Cease Fire" order.  She remained on lifeguard duty and also completed neutrality patrol.  August 31, 1945, the submarine arrived in Tokyo Bay for her mission to participate in the formal surrender of the Empire of Japan two days later. The next day she went underway to return to the United States.

USS Pilotfish (SS 386) underway with crewmen on deck, September 1945, upon arrival at San Francisco.
United States Naval Historical Center Photograph.

"PILOTFISH was underway for San Francisco, California, after 18 months duty beyond the continental limits of the United States, which duty covered 75, 075 miles underway during 313 days on war patrol.  The homing pennant flying from the periscope as the PILOTFISH enters the Golden Gate will probably mean most to those of her commissioning personnel who still remain aboard after six war patrols."  -- History of Pilotfish (SS 386)

July 1, 1946, Pilotfish was used as a target for the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll.  The submarine was decommissioned on August 29, 1946, and finally struck from the Naval Register on February 25, 1947.

Postal Cover issued on USS Pilotfish (SS 386) at Operation Crossroads Nuclear Test Abel.
Pilotfish was commissioned in the United States Navy for three years, two months, and nine days.  During that time the submarine served six war patrols, earning five battle stars in World War II, and participated in the nuclear bomb testing in the Bikini Atoll.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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Monday, August 24, 2015

USS Muskallunge (SS 262)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Muskallunge (SS 262)

The Gato-class submarine, USS Muskallunge (SS 262) was built by the Electric Boat Company in 1942.  She was commissioned into the United States Navy on March 15, 1943.  Muskallunge entered the war in September of 1943 with the Pacific Fleet.  She completed seven war patrols during World War II.
USS Muskallunge (SS 262) on September 4, 1943. United States Navy photograph.

 Muskallunge's last war patrol was spent in the Kurile Islands, north of Japan, attacking Japanese ships.  On August 8, 1945, enemy fire killed one of the submarine's gunners and wounded two other crew members.  With the news of victory on August 15, Muskallunge received orders to report to Tokyo Bay for the formal surrender ceremonies on September 2, 1945.

USS Muskallunge's (SS 262) World War II battle flag.  United States Navy photograph.

September 3, 1945, Muskallunge was sent to the Atlantic Fleet where she served until she was decommissioned on January 29, 1947.

Muskallunge was recommissioned on August 31, 1956, prior to being transferred to Brazil.  The transfer took place on January 18, 1957.  Muskallunge was on loan to Brazil and served the Brazilian Navy as Humaitá (S14).  

Humaitá (S14), October 1966, transferring cargo.  Brazilian Navy photograph.

March of 1968, the submarine was returned to the United States and was sunk as a target off Long Island, New York, on July 9, 1968.  During Muskallunge's 25 years of existence, she served actively for four years, 4 months, 1 day with the United States Navy and eleven years, 5 months, and 21 days with the Brazilian Navy.  

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Friday, August 21, 2015

USS Hake (SS 256)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Hake (SS 256)

Postal cover to commemorate USS Hake's (SS 256) commissioning, October 30, 1942.  Courtesy of Jack Treutle.

USS Hake's (SS 256) keel was laid November 1, 1941, in Groton, Connecticut.  The Electric Boat Company launched the boat on July 17, 1942 and commissioned her three and a half months later on October 30, 1942.
USS Hake (SS 256) November 1943.  United States Navy photograph.

Hake's first two war patrols were in the Atlantic Fleet on antisubmarine patrol.  From April 3, 1943 through July 17, 1943, her mission was to search and destroy German submarines in the North Atlantic.  She did encounter a few submarines but did not have any kills during these patrols.
USS Hake (SS 256) November 1943.  United States Navy photograph.

The rest of the war, Hake spent in the Pacific Fleet.  She completed seven more war patrols totaling nine war patrols.  During that time she served off the Philippine Islands, Luzon, Mindanao, South China Sea, Mariana Islands, and Panay Island.  Hake witnessed the loss of USS Harder (SS 257) and USS Growler (SS 215).  In November of 1944, the submarine was sent on a special mission to pick up 29 United States aviators that were held by the Filipino guerrillas.  Hake successfully transported these aviators to Australia before she continued on with her war patrols.
USS Hake's (SS 256) officers on deck September 2, 1945.
From left to right: Fred Maier, Lt. jg Ted Snyder, Lt. Charlie Knapp, Lt. Bob Heysinger, CDR Frank Haylor, LCDR Jack Edmands, Lt. jg Dick Metzger.  Photograph courtesy of Henry (Hank) Knebes.

Hake's ninth war patrol began on July 20, 1945.  She served on lifeguard duty for the air strikes on Japan until the surrender was announced.  Hake was one of the twelve submarines that was given the distinction of being able to witness the formal surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
USS Hake (SS 256) battle flag.  
Post World War II, Hake returned to New London, Connecticut, and was decommissioned on July 13, 1946.  Ten years later, October 15, 1956, Hake was chosen to serve the Navy as a reserve training ship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Her classification was changed to an auxiliary submarine, AGSS 256.  Hake served as a reserve training ship until November 6, 1962.  The submarine was struck from the Naval Register on March 1, 1967 and sold for scrap on December 5, 1972.
USS Hake (SS 256) circa 1960s.  United States Navy photograph.

Hake actively served the United States Navy for three years, nine months, and fourteen days earning seven battle stars during her service in World War II.  The submarine then served the Navy as a training ship for six years and twenty-two days.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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