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:

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

Author: Allison Hiblong

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