Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Memoriam - USS Runner (SS-275) - Lost on or after June 26, 1943

USS Runner (SS-275), a Gato-class submarine, left Midway Island to begin her third war patrol on May 28, 1943.

She was never heard from again.

Postwar examination of Japanese records revealed no recorded attack that would account for Runner's loss.

Japanese records do indicate that Runner claimed two final victims. The cargo ship Seinan Maru (1,338 tons) was sunk by an allied submarine on June 11th and the troop transport/cargo vessel Shinryu Maru (4,935 tons) was also the victim of a submarine attack on this day in 1943. As Runner was the only submarine assigned to the area, she was almost certainly the attacker in both cases, and sank sometime thereafter.

Possible explanations for her loss are:
  • An operational accident
  • An unreported enemy attack
  • A minefield
A minefield is believed to be the most likely cause, as there were four Japanese minefields in her assigned patrol area.

Runner was declared overdue and presumed lost with all hands on July 20th, 1943.

There is a memorial to USS Runner in New Paltz, NY, which is roughly midway between New York City and Albany, NY

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Submarine History Today - Japanese Submarine Shells U.S. Soil

In the only direct attack on U.S. military installation on the mainland by any Axis power during World War II, the Japanese submarine I-25 fired 17 shells at Fort Stevens, Washington on this day in 1942.

The fort, originally built during the Civil War, protected the mouth of the Columbia River where it entered the Pacific Ocean.  The Japanese Navy apparently believed that there was an American submarine base at the fort (there wasn't)

The attack caused only minimal damage.  One round severed some telephone cables, and another damaged the backstop at the base's baseball field.  The total cost of the repairs has been estimated by at least one historian to be about $20.

I-25 also carried out the only aerial attack on the U.S. mainland, the so-called "Lookout Air Raid" on September 9th, 1942.  This attack, also carried out against the Oregon coast, also caused minimal damage.

Likely, these attacks were carried out with the hope of creating panic and harming American morale, rather than out of any hope of real damage.

I-25 was sunk by USS Patterson (DD-392) off the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) on  August 25th, 1943.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This Day in Submarine History - USS Sargo (SSN-583) Fire

On this day in 1960, a fire broke out aboard the nuclear powered submarine USS Sargo (SSN-583) while she was in port in Pearl Harbor, HI.

The fire started when an oxygen line, being used to recharge the oxygen storage bottles aboard Sargo, ruptured.  This line entered the submarine at the after torpedo room hatch.

The intense heat of the fire caused a low order detonation of the two MK-37 torpedoes in the after torpedo room.  The crewman in charge of the operation aboard Sargo, MM3 (SS) James E. Smallwood, was killed.

After attempts to contain the fire failed, the decision was made to submerge the submarine, with the hatch open.  Once the fire was completely extinguished, a floating crane was used to raise the stern of the submarine.

On February 29, 1998, a new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters building was dedicated in Petty Officer Smallwood's name.

Photo courtesy of Tom Hansen and the USS Sargo Website and used with their kind permission.  A summary of the Board of Inquiry report can be found on the USS Sargo Website.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

More Razorback Deck Logs Online

The 1968 and 1969 Deck Logs are now available on the AIMM website.

This is the page for the Deck Logs

Unfortunately, due to time constraints during the research trip, only the first six months of deck logs from 1968 were digitized.  We hope to acquire more deck logs in the future.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Submarine History Made This Day

On June 4th, 1944, an anti-submarine "hunter-killer" group comprised of the escort Carrier USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60) and five escort vessels - USS Pillsbury (DE-133) USS Pope (DE-134), USS Flaherty (DE-135), USS Chatelain (DE-149), and USS Jenks (DE-665) - captured the German submarine U-505.

This event marked the first time the U.S. Navy had captured an enemy warship at sea since the nineteenth century.

U-505 was retained by the U.S. Navy after World War II.  She is on public display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL.  She holds the distinction of being the only commissioned submarine inside a building.

Official U.S. Navy photograph from the official report of the capture.