Friday, August 28, 2015

USS Sea Cat (SS 399)

"Submarine Honor Guard"

USS Sea Cat (SS 399)

Postal Cover for USS Sea Cat's (SS 399) launching, February 21, 1944.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) was built in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  This Balao-class submarine was commissioned into the United States navy on May 16, 1944.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) World War II battle flag.  

On October 28, 1944, Sea Cat began her World War II service in the Pacific Fleet.  She spent three patrols in the South China, East China, and Yellow Seas.  August 1945, the submarine began her fourth war patrol off the Kuril Islands, but upon arrival the crew learned that the war had ended.  Sea Cat was ordered to proceed to the Japanese home islands to participate in the formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay.

Subron 5 family photograph in Guam 1945.  From left to right: USS Segundo (SS 398), USS Sea Cat (SS 399), USS Blenny
(SS 324), USS Blower (SS 325), USS Blueback (SS 326), and USS Charr (SS 328). Photograph courtesy of John Hummel.

After the war, Sea Cat served in Guam and San Diego before being overhauled in Mare Island in April of 1946.  The submarine’s overhaul was completed in 3 months.  She then began her first simulated war patrol out of San Diego in August of 1946.  During this patrol Sea Cat visited Hawaii, Canton Islands, Samoa Island, and Shanghai.

After the simulated war patrol in the Pacific Fleet, Sea Cat was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet out of Balboa, Panama, from 1947 to spring of 1949.  The submarine’s home port was changed to Key West in June of 1949.  Later that year, Sea Cat was overhauled and redesignated as an auxiliary submarine (AGSS 399) with experimental changes made to the boat’s design.  The modifications and repairs were made by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for four months.  She operated out of Key West from 1950 through 1951.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) circa 1952.  United State Navy photograph.

January of 1952, Sea Cat arrived in Philadelphia again for another overhaul.  This time she was converted to a Fleet Snorkel Submarine and redesignated back to SS 399.  June 26, 1952, the submarine departed Philadelphia and returned to Key West.  The next sixteen years, Sea Cat served out of Key West.  Her patrols were spent in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and once in the Mediterranean in 1966.

"Loading Fish" watercolor by Salvatore Indiviglia, 1960.  Subject was USS Sea Cat (SS 399) and her crew.
United States National Historic Center.

Sea Cat was decommissioned from the United States Navy on December 2, 1968.  She was sold for scrap on May 18, 1973.

USS Sea Cat (SS 399) at Guantanomo Bay in 1968.  Photograph courtesy of John Hummel.

Sea Cat served the United States Navy continuously for twenty-four years, seven months, and seventeen days.  During World War II service she earned three battle stars.

Author: Allison Hiblong

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