Tuesday, August 18, 2015

USS Cavalla (SS 244)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Cavalla (SS 244)

USS Cavalla (SS 244) launched on November 14, 1943 in Groton, Connecticut.  Photograph courtesy of National Archives.

USS Cavalla (SS 244) is a Gato-class submarine built by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut.  Her keel was laid March 4, 1943, and commissioned into the United States Navy on February 29, 1944.  This was the first "leap year" boat built by the company.  Three months later Cavalla headed off to action in World War II.  Cavalla saw action in the Philippine, South China, and Java Seas.

During Cavalla's first war patrol, she sank Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku.  This aircraft carrier was a veteran of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Coral Sea.  Cavalla was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for this action.

Cavalla's battle flag streaming from its mast.  Photograph courtesy of Scott Koen.
On August 15, 1945, Cavalla was serving on lifeguard duty near Japan when the cease fire was given. Later she was invited to the formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay.  The day after the ceremony, September 3, 1945, she departed for New London, Connecticut.  March 16, 1946, Cavalla was decommissioned.

Line of decommissioned submarines in Groton, Connecticut, 1947.
Left to right: USS Archerfish (SS 311), USS Flasher (SS 249), USS Cobia (SS 245), USS Croaker (SS 246), USS Drum (SS 228), and USS Cavalla (SS 244).
Photograph courtesy of Jack Treulte.
Cavalla was recommissioned on April 10, 1951, for fleet exercises in the Caribbean and off of Nova Scotia.  The United States Navy decided to convert the submarine to a hunter-killer submarine to meet the Cold War Soviet threat.  Therefore, Cavalla was decommissioned on September 3, 1952, for the conversions and recommissioned USS Cavalla (SSK 244) on July 15, 1953.  She was equipped with new sonar for experimentation.  January 1954, new weapons and equipment was added to the submarine to evaluate them in fleet exercises.  Cavalla took part in NATO exercises in European waters till 1957.

Cavalla September 1, 1953.  United States Navy photograph.
August 15, 1959, Cavalla was reconverted back to SS 244, losing her hunter-killer classification.  

Cavalla, circa 1960.  United States Navy photograph.
In November 1961, the submarine traveled to Puerto Rico to assist a nuclear powered submarine. USS Thresher (SSN 593) suffered a diesel generator failure while the nuclear reactor was shut down. Cavalla provided electrical power and successfully assisted in restarting the reactor.  

Cavalla was reclassified again as an auxiliary submarine (AGSS 244) in July of 1963.  Her service ended with the United States Navy on December 30, 1969, when she was decommissioned and her name struck from the Naval Register.  Over the span of 25 years, Cavalla served for 19 years, 11 months and 24 days.

January 21, 1971, the United States Navy transferred possession of Cavalla to the Texas Submarine Veterans of World War II.  The submarine now resides in Seawolf Park in Galveston, Texas. To learn more about Seawolf Park visit their website: http://www.americanunderseawarfarecenter.com/.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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