Monday, January 07, 2013

USS Perch (SS-313) Commissioned This Day in 1944

This plaque was recently donated to AIMM, and the story behind this little known submarine is (at least to us) an interesting one, and one that we thought should be shared.

USS Perch (SS-313) was commissioned on this day in 1944.  Like Razorback, Perch was a Balao-class submarine.  Unlike Razorback, she was built at the Electric Boat Company shipyard in Groton, CT.

Perch conducted seven war patrols during World War II, earning four battle stars.

Like Razorback, Perch remained in the Navy after the war, and this is where Perch's story becomes interesting (and complicated).

Shortly after WWII ended, Perch was decommissioned and placed in reserve status.

There were, of course, incredible technological advances in the postwar period, and there were many theories about the roles that submarines would play in the Navy.  One thought was that submarines could carry troops, especially Marines or special operations forces.  Perch was selected as one of the submarines to test these theories.

Perch was outfitted with a pressure-proof chamber large enough to carry a small helicopter or a small armored amphibious vehicle and designated as an SSP - Submarine Transport, then as an ASSP - Transport Submarine.  Both of her torpedo rooms were turned into berthing spaces for the embarked troops.  After these changes were made, Perch was able to carry over 100 marines or other special forces personnel, 85 tons of their equipment, a landing vehicle AND a jeep and eight 10-man rubber rafts.

A hatch connected the pressure-proof hanger to the submarine, and all the equipment could be accessed and maintained while at sea.

During the Korean War, Perch actually landed a small force of British commandos in an successful attack on a Korean train tunnel.

After the Korean War ended, Perch continued in her role, but was classified as an APSS - Submarine Transport.  In 1960, Perch was decommissioned, but she was returned to active service in 1961 and began training with the U.S. Marine Corps and other special operations forces.  Perch landed troops multiple times during the Vietnam War.

In 1967, Perch began the final phase of her career, when she became a Naval Reserve training submarine.  Her classification was changed to LPSS - Submarine Transport.  Then in 1971, she was re-designated as IXSS - Unclassified Miscellaneous Submarine and on 1 December 1971, Perch was finally decommissioned and sold for scrapping.

Perch almost certainly holds the record for the most number of different classifications (six):

  • SS
  • SSP
  • ASSP
  • APSS
  • LPSS
  • IXSS


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