Thursday, May 23, 2013

USS Razorback Aground This Day in 1944

On May 23, 1944, USS Razorback departed from the Submarine Base in New London, CT, in order to conduct surfaced night gunnery training with her 4" - 50-caliber main deck gun as well as with her smaller guns.  In total, Razorback's crew fired 15 rounds from her 4" gun, 240 rounds from her 20mm guns, 120 rounds of .45 caliber pistol ammunition and 600 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition.

During the attempted transit back to the submarine base, Razorback ran aground on Fisher's Island in Block Island Sound near Race Rock Light, one of the most well known navigational lights in the area.

On the morning of May 24th, 1944, a number of vessels were on the scene to assist Razorback, including USS Nawat (YNT-23) (a Yard Net Tender), USS Falcon (ASR-2) and USS Catclaw (AN-60).  All torpedoes were unloaded from the forward torpedo room, undoubtedly a difficult process.  In addition, Razorback's deck log mentions unloading ammunition from the forward torpedo room as well.

Razorback was refloated at high tide, at 1342 on May 24th.  She then returned to the Submarine Base in New London, CT.

This video was located in the National Archives in College Park, MD and shows Razorback aground.

A Board of Inquiry was held, and LCDR Bontier, Razorback's Commanding Officer was relieved of duty on June 5th, 1944.  The Officer of the Deck at the time of the grounding, LT(jg) Alvin Hersh was given a letter of reprimand.  He would remain aboard Razorback and would receive the Silver Star for his actions as Assistant Approach Officer.  The citation reads (in part) -
"his aggressive spirit and proficiency contributed immeasurably in sinking 20,000 tons of enemy shipping and damaging an additional 5,000 tons."
AIMM has a number of photographs of Razorback while she was aground. Some of these photographs were likely taken from USS Falcon (ASR-2), but no identifying information is known for certain.


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