Saturday, July 31, 2010

In Memoriam - USS Grunion (SS-216) - Lost 31 July, 1942

USS Grunion (SS-216), a Gato-class submarine, was lost in the early morning hours of 31 July, 1942 on her first war patrol in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska.

After sinking two Japanese patrol boats, Grunion reported intensive Japanese anti-submarine activity on 30 July and was ordered to return to her base in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. She failed to arrive, and was never seen or hear from again.

The reason for her loss was unknown for 65 years.

In 2007, information surfaced from Japanese sources that Grunion had attacked the Japanese troop transport Kano Maru, firing six torpedoes for only one hit. Reportedly (and in accordance with patrol orders at the time), Grunion then attempted to surface to finish off her target with fire from her 3" 50-caliber deck gun.

The troop ship responded by firing her own guns at the submarine, and one hit in the area of the conning tower fairwater was reported.

Armed with the new information, a search of the area, funded almost entirely by the three sons of Grunion's captain, successfully located Grunion's wreck on 22 August, 2007 in 3,300 feet of water.

When she was located, her After Battery Hatch, which would have been used by Grunion's gun crew, was found to be open. It is probable that the Japanese shell hit caused enough damage to force the hatch open, causing catastrophic flooding throughout the submarine.

Official U.S. Navy photograph of Grunion taken on 20 March, 1942. Note the very large conning tower fairwater (these would be greatly reduced during the war).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Submarine Trivia

Occasionally, we are asked the question, "How much did it cost to build submarines back in World War II?"

The answer - $4,674,000 (in 1940 dollars), or about $674 MILLION in today's dollar (as a relative share of GDP).

As a comparison, the Virginia class submarines being built today cost approximately $2 Billion each, but are nuclear powered, and have MANY times the combat power that Razorback had.

Source - Forged in War - The Naval-Industrial Complex and American Submarine Construction, 1940-1961 by Dr. Gary E. Weir, Naval Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard, DC, page 23

Official U.S. Navy photograph from the AIMM Archives.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Submarine Review - July 2010 Issue

The July 2010 issue of The Submarine Review has arrived, and as usual, it has a number of interesting articles.

One article, "Downed by a Dud", by well-known author and WWII submarine officer John Alden, examines in detail six cases where American submarines hit Japanese vessels with torpedoes that failed to explode, but still managed to sink the ship.

Submarine news from around the world is also covered.

This issue is available in the AIMM Library.