Sunday, February 27, 2011

In Memoriam - USS Grayback (SS208) - Sunk 27 February 1944

USS Grayback (SS-208) was a Tambor-class submarine designed in 1937 and commisioned on 03 April 1940.

On 28 January 1944, the veteran submarine left Pearl Habor for her tenth and final patrol. After sinking three large merchant ships and damaging three more, Grayback reported she was down to only two torpedoes and was ordered to return home on 25 February. She was never heard from again.

After the war, captured Japanese records revealed Grayback's fate. After turning for home, Grayback encountered a Japanese freighter, the Ceylon Maru. Grayback used her last two torpedoes to send the Japanese ship and her war cargo to the bottom. Later that same day, a Japanese carrier-based airplane spotted Grayback on the surface and attacked, causing the submarine to explode and sink "immediately". Japanese anti-submarine warships were sent to the area and depth charges were dropped until a heavy oil slick swelled to the surface.

The Tambor class took full advantage of everything American engineers had learned about submarine design and added to that knowledge new technologies in fire control and propulsion. These submarines were also designed to fight a war in the Pacific, as opposed to the coastal defense roles and Alantic war zone envisioned for earlier submarines. These submarines were nearly identical to Razorback in size and armament, but only had a safe diving depth of 250 feet.

In drydock at the beginning of the war, Grayback began her first war patrol in February 1942, and successfully completed nine war patrols, sinking 11 Japanese ships including a submarine.


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