USS Sailfish (SS-192)

USS Sailfish (SS-192)

USS "Sailfish" (SS-192), a sclass|Sargo|submarine, was originally named "Squalus".

Her keel was laid on 18 October 1937 by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, as "Squalus", the only ship of the United States Navy named for the squalus. She was launched on 14 September 1938 sponsored by Mrs. Thomas C. Hart (wife of the Admiral), and commissioned on 1 March 1939, with Lieutenant Oliver F. Naquin in command. "Squalus" sank during a test dive on 23 May in relatively shallow water. She was raised, renamed, and recommissioned a year later on 15 May 1940 as "Sailfish".

inking of "Squalus" and recommissioning

On 12 May, following a yard overhaul, "Squalus" began a series of test dives off Portsmouth, New Hampshire. After successfully completing 18 dives she went down again off the Isles of Shoals on the morning of 23 May.coord|42|53|N|70|37|W| Failure of the main induction valve [A repeat of incidents with USS|Sturgeon|SS-187|2 and USS|Snapper|SS-185|2. After this accident, the more reliable Electric Boat design was adopted for new Navy-built subs. cite book | last = Blair | first = Clay, Jr. | authorlink = Clay Blair | title = Silent Victory | location = Philadelphia | publisher = Lippincott | year = 1975 | isbn = 9780397010899 | oclc = 821363 | page = ] [Blair, p. 67] caused the flooding of the aft torpedo room, both engine rooms, and the crew's quarters, drowning 26 men immediately. Quick action by the crew prevented the other compartments from flooding. "Squalus" bottomed in convert|243|ft|m|0|abbr=on of water. [Blair, p. 67]

"Squalus" was initially located by her sister ship, USS|Sculpin|SS-191|3. The two submarines were able to communicate using a telephone marker buoy until the cable parted. Divers from the submarine rescue ship USS|Falcon|AM-28|2, under the direction of the salvage and rescue expert Lieutenant Commander Charles B. "Swede" Momsen, employing the new McCann Rescue Chamber, were able to rescue all 33 surviving crew members from the sunken submarine. Four enlisted divers earned the Medal of Honor for their work during the rescue and subsequent salvage. [The successful rescue of the "Squalus" survivors is in marked contrast to the loss of the HMS|Thetis|1938|6 in Liverpool Bay just a week later.]

The navy authorities felt it important to raise her as she incorporated a succession of new design features. With a thorough investigation of why she sank, more confidence could be placed in the new construction, or alteration of existing designs could be undertaken when cheapest and most efficient to do so. Furthermore, given similar previous accidents in "Sturgeon" & "Snapper", it was necessary to determine a cause.

"Squalus" was refloated using cables passed underneath her hull and attached to pontoons on each side. After initially being brought to the surface, she slipped the cables and went back to the bottom. [Cite Sm|"Shipwrecked" program (rebroadcast), Military Channel (Discovery), 25 Sept 2008, 1400-15:00 hrs EDST. (Production Date unlisted)] After overcoming tremendous technical difficulties in one of the most grueling salvage operations in Navy history, "Squalus" was raised, towed into Portsmouth Navy Yard on 13 September, and decommissioned on 15 November.

Operational history of "Sailfish"

Renamed "Sailfish" on 9 February 1940, she became the first ship of the United States Navy named for the sailfish. After reconditioning, repair, and overhaul, she was recommissioned on 15 May 1940 with Lieutenant Commander Morton C. Mumma, Jr. (Annapolis, Class of 1930) [Blair, p. 902] in command.

With refit completed in mid-September, "Sailfish" departed Portsmouth on 16 January 1941 and headed for the Pacific. Transiting the Panama Canal, she arrived at Pearl Harbor in early March, after refueling at San Diego, California. The submarine then sailed west to Manila where she joined the Asiatic Fleet until the attack on Pearl Harbor.

World War II

During the Pacific War, the captain of the renamed ship issued standing orders if any man on the boat said the word "Squalus", he was to be marooned at the next port of call. This led to crew members referring to their vessel as "Squailfish". That went over almost as well; a court martial was threatened for anyone heard using it. [Blair, p. 143. No crewmembers are known to have been marooned, however.]

First five patrols: December 1941 – August 1942

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, "Sailfish" departed Manila on her first war patrol, destined for the west coast of Luzon. Early on 10 December, she sighted a landing force, supported by cruisers and destroyers, but could not gain firing position. [Blair, p. 143] On the night of 13 December, she made contact with two Japanese destroyers, and bravely began a submerged attack; the destroyers detected her, dropping a couple of depth charges, while "Sailfish" fired two torpedoes. Despite a massive explosion nearby, no damage was done, and the destroyers counterattacked with eighteen or twenty depth charges. [The depth charging led Mumma to crack up, & he was relieved. Blair, p. 143] She returned to Manila on 17 December.

Her second patrol (now in the hands of Richard G. Voge, Class of 1925), [Blair, p. 144. Former skipper of USS|Sealion|SS-195|2, he went on to become Charles Lockwood's Chief of Staff, and a crucial liaison with HYPO.] begun on 21 December, took the submarine to waters off Taiwan. On the morning of 27 January 1942, off Halmahera, near Davao, she sighted a sclass|Myōkō|cruiser|1, making a daylight submerged attack with four torpedoes, and reporting the target was damaged, for which she got credit.Blair, p. 165] However, the damage could not be assessed since the cruiser's two escorts forced "Sailfish" to dive deep and run silent. Running at convert|260|ft, the submarine eluded the destroyers and proceeded south toward Java. She arrived at Tjilatjap on 14 February for refueling and rearming.

Departing 19 February for her third patrol, she headed through Lombok Strait to the Java Sea. After sighting the cruiser USS|Houston|CA-30|6, with two escorts, heading for Sunda Strait following the Allied defeat in the Battle of the Java Sea, "Sailfish" intercepted an enemy destroyer on 2 March. Following an unsuccessful attack on the Japanese warship, she was forced to dive deep to escape the ensuing depth charge attack from the destroyer and patrol aircraft. That night, near the mouth of Lombok Strait, she spotted what appeared to be "Kaga", escorted by four destroyers. "Sailfish" fired four torpedoes, scoring two hits. Leaving the target aflame and dead in the water, "Sailfish" dove, the escorts delivering forty depth charges in the next ninety minutes. She eluded destroyers and aircraft and arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia, on 19 March, to great fanfare, believed to be the first U.S. sub to have sunk an enemy carrier; postwar, it was revealed "Kaga" had been nowhere in the area, and the target had in fact been 6,440 ton aircraft ferry, "Kamogawa Maru", still a valuable target.

The Java Sea and Celebes Sea were the areas of "Sailfish"'s fourth patrol, from 22 March to 21 May. After delivering 1,856 rounds of antiaircraft ammunition to "MacArthur's guerrillas", she made only one ship contact and was unable to attack the target before returning to Fremantle.

The submarine's fifth patrol, from 13 June to 1 August, was off the coast of Indochina in the South China Sea. On 4 July, she intercepted and tracked a large cargo-type vessel but discovered the intended target was a hospital ship and held her fire. On 9 July, she intercepted and torpedoed a Japanese freighter. One of a pair of torpedoes struck home and the ship took a fifteen degree list. As "Sailfish" went deep, a series of explosions was heard, and no further screw noises were detected. When the submarine surfaced in the area an hour and a half later, no ship was in sight. Credited during the war with a 7,000 ton ship,Blair, p. 910] postwar examination of Japanese records confirmed no sinking in the area on that date. "Sailfish" observed only one other enemy vessel before the end of the patrol.

Sixth and seventh patrols: September 1942 – January 1943

Shifting her base of operations to Brisbane, "Sailfish" (now under the command of John R. "Dinty" Moore, Class of 1929)Blair, p. 913] got underway for her sixth patrol on 13 September and headed for the western Solomon Islands. On the night of 17 September18 September, she encountered eight Japanese destroyers escorting a cruiser, but she was unable to attack. On 19 September, she attacked a minelayer. The spread of three torpedoes missed, and "Sailfish" was forced to dive deep to escape the depth charge counterattack. Eleven well-placed charges went off near the submarine, causing much minor damage. "Sailfish" returned to Brisbane on 1 November.

Underway for her seventh patrol on 24 November "Sailfish" proceeded to the area south of New Britain. Following an unsuccessful attack on a destroyer on 2 December, the submarine made no other contacts until 25 December, when she scored a hit on a Japanese submarine. Postwar analysis of Japanese records could not confirm a sinking in the area. During the remainder of the patrol, she made unsuccessful attacks on a cargo ship and a destroyer before ending the patrol at Pearl Harbor on 15 January 1943.

Eighth and ninth patrols: May – September 1943

After an overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard from 27 January to 22 April, "Sailfish" returned to Pearl Harbor on 30 April. Departing Hawaii on 17 May for her eighth patrol, she stopped off to fuel at Midway Island and proceeded to her station off the east coast of Honshū. Several contacts were made but were not attacked due to bad weather. On 15 June, she encountered two freighters off Todo Saki, escorted by three subchasers.Blair, p. 463] Firing a spread of three stern torpedoes, she observed one hit which stopped the "maru" dead in the water. "Sailfish" was driven down by the escort, but listened on her sound gear as "Shinju Maru" broke up and sank. Ten days later, she found a second convoy, three ships with a subchaser and, unusually, an aircraft, for escort. "Sailfish" once more fired three stern tubes, sinking "Iburi Maru"; in response, the subchaser, aircraft, and "three more escorts that appeared from nowhere", pinned her down in a grueling depth charge attack lasting ten hours and ninety-eight charges, but inflicted only slight damage. After shaking off her tormentors, she set course for Midway Island on 26 June, arriving there on 3 July. [At the time, Moore was not given credit for the sinkings, and was transferred. Blair, pp. 463 & 930.]

Her ninth patrol (commanded by William R. Lefavour, Class of 1931),Blair, p. 932] from 25 July to 16 September, in the Formosa Strait and off Okinawa, produced only two contacts (a 2,500 ton steamer at Naha, Okinawa, Okinawa, and a junk), but no worthwhile targets, and "Sailfish" returned to Pearl Harbor. [On return, Lefavour was transferred to small craft. Blair, p. 464]

Tenth patrol: November 1943 – January 1944

After refit at Pearl Harbor, she departed (under the command of Robert E. McC. Ward, Class of 1935), [Not to be confused with Norvell G. "Bub" Ward. He had an almost entirely new wardroom after the unfortunate experience with Lefavour. Blair, pp. 527 & 940.] with newly rejuvenated spirits, on 17 November for her tenth patrol, which took her south of Honshū. Along the way, she suffered a "hot run" in tube eight (aft), and (after the skipper himself went over the side to inspect the damage) ejected the torpedo; the tube remained out of commission for the duration of the patrol.Blair, p. 528]

Prior to arriving on station, after refueling at Midway Island, she was alerted by ULTRA of a fast convoy of Japanese ships, About 240 miles (440 km) southeast of Yokosuka, on the night of 3 December, she made radar contact at convert|9000|yd|m. The group consisted of the Japanese aircraft carrier "Chuyo", a cruiser, and two destroyers. Despite high seas whipped up by typhoon winds, "Sailfish" maneuvered into firing position shortly after midnight on 3 December4 December, dived to radar depth (just his radar aerial exposed), and fired four bow torpedoes at the carrier, at a range of convert|2100|yd|m, scoring two hits. She went deep to escape the escorting destroyers, which dropped twenty-one depth charges (only two close), reloaded, and at 02:00, surfaced resume the pursuit. She found a mass of radar contacts, and a slow-moving target, impossible to identify in the miserable visibility. As dawn neared, she fired another spread of three bow "fish" from convert|3100|yd|m, scoring two more hits on the stricken carrier. Diving to eluding the Japanese counter-attack, which was hampered by the raging seas, "Sailfish" came to periscope depth, and at 07:58, finally saw the carrier, lying dead in the water, listing to port and down by the stern. Preparations to abandon ship were in progress. Later in the morning, "Sailfish" fired another spread of three torpedoes, from only convert|1700|yd|m, [Blair, p. 528. In that weather, these were of questionable necessity.] scoring two final hits. Loud internal explosions and breaking-up noises were heard, while the submarine dived to escape a depth charge attack. Abruptly, a cruiser appeared and, fearing a broach, "Sailfish" went to Ft to m|90, losing a chance at this new target.Blair, p. 529] Shortly afterwards, the carrier, "Chuyo" (20,000 tons), went to the bottom, the first aircraft carrier sunk by an American submarine in the war, and the only major Japanese man-of-war in 1943.Blair, p. 553] In an ironic twist, "Chuyo" was carrying American prisoners of war from USS|Sculpin|SS-191|2, the same ship that had helped locate and rescue "Sailfish" — then "Squalus" — over four years before. 20 of the 21 US crew members from the "Sculpin" were killed. [None, however, of the original rescue crew. Blair, p. 529]

After escaping a strafing attack by a Japanese fighter on 7 December, she made contact and commenced tracking two cargo ships with two escorts on the morning of 13 December, south of Kyūshū. That night she fired a spread of four torpedoes at the two freighters. Two solid explosions were heard, including an internal secondary explosion. "Sailfish" heard "Totai Maru" (3,000 tons) break up and sink as the destroyers made a vigorous but inaccurate depth charge attack. When "Sailfish" caught up with the other freighter, she was dead in the water, but covered by a screen of five destroyers. Rather than face suicidal odds, the submarine quietly left the area. On the night of 20 December, she intercepted an enemy hospital ship, which she left unmolested.

On 21 December, in the approach to Bungo Suido, "Sailfish" intercepted six large freighters escorted by three destroyers. With five torpedoes left, she fired a spread of three stern tubes, scoring two hits on the largest target. Diving to escape the approaching destroyers, the submarine detected breaking-up noises as "Uyo Maru" (6,400 tons) went to the bottom; destroyers counterattacked with thirty-one depth charges, "some very close". "Sailfish" terminated her tenth patrol at Pearl Harbor on 5 January 1944. It was a remarkable performance: three ships for 35,729 tons, plus damage to one for 7,000, the best patrol by tonnage to date; postwar, it was reduced to 29,571 tons. [Blair, pp. 529–30. It earned Ward a richly-deserved Navy Cross.]

Eleventh patrol: July – September 1944

After an extensive overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 15 January to 17 June 1944, she returned to Hawaii and sailed on 9 July as part of a wolf pack ("Moseley's Maulers", commanded by Stan Moseley),Blair, p. 701] with USS|Greenling|SS-213|3 and USS|Billfish|SS-286|3, to prey on shipping in the LuzonFormosa area. On the afternoon of 7 August, "Sailfish" and "Greenling" made contact with an enemy convoy. "Sailfish" maneuvered into firing position and launched a spread of three torpedoes at a medium tanker. One hit caused the tanker to disintegrate into a column of water, smoke and debris. It was not recorded in the postwar account.

The next target was a battleship escorted by three destroyers, on which she made radar contact shortly after midnight on 18- 19 August. At 01.35, after getting as close as she was able, convert|3500|yd, "Sailfish" fired all four bow tubes. One of the escorts ran into the path of two lethal fish; the other two missed.Blair, p. 702] While the destroyer must have been severely damaged or sunk, there was nothing in JANAC.

On 24 August south of Formosa, "Sailfish" made radar contact with an enemy convoy consisting of four cargo ships escorted by two small patrol craft. Moving into firing position, "Sailfish" launched a salvo of four torpedoes, scoring two hits. The cargo ship, "Toan Maru" (2,100 tons), was enveloped in a cloud of smoke and shortly afterwards broke in two and sank. Surfacing after escaping a depth charge attack, "Sailfish" closed on a second cargo ship of the convoy, scoring two hits out of four torpedoes fired. The submarine's crew felt the cargo ship either had been sunk or badly damaged, but the sinking was not confirmed by JANAC postwar. [Her packmates, "Greenling" and "Billfish", were similarly denied. Blair, p.702] "Sailfish" terminated her eleventh patrol at Midway Island on 6 September 1944; her wartime credit was four ships for 13,200 tons, reduced to one of 2,100 tons postwar.Blair, p.953]

Twelfth patrol: September – December 1944

Her twelfth patrol, from 26 September to 11 December, was conducted between Luzon and Formosa, in company with USS|Pomfret|SS-391|3 and USS|Parche|SS-384|3.

After passing through the edge of a typhoon, "Sailfish" arrived on station to perform lifeguard duty. On 12 October, staying surfaced in full view of enemy attackers, she rescued twelve Navy fliers who had ditched their stricken aircraft after strikes against Japanese bases on Formosa. She sank a sampan and a patrol craft with her deck gun as the enemy craft tried to capture the downed aviators. The following day, she rescued another flier. The submarines pulled into Saipan, arriving 24 October, to drop off their temporary passengers, refuel, and make minor repairs.

After returning to the patrol area with the wolf pack, she made an unsuccessful attack on a transport on 3 November. The following day, "Sailfish" damaged two destroyers but was slightly damaged herself by a bomb from a patrol aircraft. With battle damage under control, "Sailfish" eluded her pursuers and cleared the area. After riding out a typhoon on 9 November and 10 November, she intercepted a convoy on the evening of 24 November heading for Itbayat in the Philippines. After alerting "Pomfret" of the convoy's location and course, "Sailfish" was moving into an attack position when one of the escorting destroyers headed straight for her. "Sailfish" fired a three-torpedo spread "down the throat" and headed toward the main convoy. At least one hit was scored on the destroyer and her pip faded from the radar screen. Suddenly "Sailfish" received an unwelcome surprise when she came under fire from the destroyer that she had believed to be sunk. "Sailfish" ran deep after ascertaining there was no hull damage resulting from a near miss from the escort's guns. For the next 4½ hours, "Sailfish" was forced to run silent and deep as the Japanese kept up an uncomfortably accurate depth charge attack. Finally the submarine was able to elude the destroyers and slip away. Shortly, "Sailfish" headed for Hawaii, via Midway, and completed her twelfth and final war patrol upon arriving at Pearl Harbor on 11 December.

Return stateside

Following refit, "Sailfish" departed Hawaii on 26 December 1944 and arrived at New London, "via" the Panama Canal, on 22 January 1945. For the next four and one-half months, she aided training out of New London. Next, she operated as a training ship at Guantanamo Bay from 9 June to 9 August. After a six-week stay at Philadelphia Navy Yard, she arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 2 October for deactivation.


Decommissioned on 27 October 1945, she was initially scheduled to be a target ship in the atomic bomb tests or sunk by conventional ordnance. However, she was placed on sale in March 1948 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 April 1948. The hulk was sold for scrapping to Luria Brothers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 18 June 1948. Her conning tower stands as a memorial to the lost crew of "Squalus" at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.

"Sailfish" was awarded nine battle stars for service in the Pacific and the Presidential Unit Citation for outstanding performance on her tenth patrol.

"Squalus" sailing roster

The men lost were: [USS "Squalus", Ship Source Files, Ships History Branch, Naval Historical Center]

*Aitken, James A. - FC3c, USN
*Batick, John J. - EM1c, USN
*Casey, Joshua - F1c, USN
*Chestnutt, John A. - CMM, USN
*Coffey, Robert L. - EM2c, USN
*Deal, Elvin L. - MM2c, USN
*Fletcher, Lionel H. - EM3c, USN
*Garrison, Kenneth R. - CMM, USN
*Gibbs, Robert F. - TM1c, USN
*Hathaway, John P. - F1c, USN
*Hoffman, Eugene A. - MM1c, USN
*Keegan, Alexander B. - Sea1c, USN
*Marino, John P. - Sea2c, USN
*McAfee, Huie K. - EM2c, USN
*Patterson, Joseph H. - Ensign, USN
*Priester, Alfred C. - TM2c, USN
*Schulte, Frank H. - MM1c, USN
*Scypers, Bascom S. - EM1c, USN
*Shirley, Sherman L. - TM1c, USN
*Smith, Don M. - civilian electrician, General Motor Corporation
*Strong, Jack J. - MM1c, USN
*Thomala, John M. - MM1c, USN
*Thompson, Robert P. - SC3c, USN
*Ward, Marion L. - RM3c, USN
*Weld, Robert R. - F2c, USN
*Wood, Charles M. - civilian electrician, General Motor Corporation

The survivors were: [USS "Squalus", Ship Source Files, Ships History Branch, Naval Historical Center]
*Blanchard, Roland - F2c, USN
*Bland, Jutson T. - EM1c, USN
*Booth, Arthur L. - RM1c, USN
*Boulton, William D. - Sea1c, USN
*Bryson, Allen C. - F1c, USN
*Campbell, Roy H. - CTM, USN
*Coyne, Gavin J. - MM2c, USN
*Cravens, Eugene D. - GM1c, USN
*Doyle, William T., Jr., Lieutenant, U.S.N.
*Elvina, Feliciano - Matt1c, USN
*Fitzpatrick, William J. - TM2c, USN
*Gainor, Lawrence J. - CEM, USN
*Galvan, Basilio - Matt1c, USN
*Isaacs, William - SC2c, USN
*Jacobs, Theodore - SM3c, USN
*Kuney, Charles S. - Y2c, USN
*Maness, Lloyd B. - EM3c, USN
*McLees, Gerald C. - EM2c, USN
*Medeiros, Leonard de - TM3c, USN
*Murphy, Francis Jr., QM1c, USN
*Naquin, Oliver F., Lieutenant, USN (commanding officer)
*Nichols, John C., Lieutenant (junior grade), USN
*O'Hara, Raymond F. - PhM1c, USN
*Persico, Donato - Sea1c, USN
*Pierce, Carol N - MM2c, USN
*Powell, Carlton B. - MM2c, USN
*Powell, Charles A. - RM2c, USN
*Preble, Harold C. - civilian naval architect
*Prien, Alfred G. - MM1c, USN
*Robertson, Robert N., Lieutenant (junior grade), USN
*Smith, Warren W., Jr. - SM2c, USN
*Washburn, Robert L. - Sea2c, USN
*Yuhas, Charles - MM1c, USN

Awarded the Medal of Honor for their rescue efforts were:
*Chief Machinist's Mate William Badders
*Chief Boatswain's Mate Orson L. Crandall
*Chief Metalsmith James H. McDonald
*Chief Torpedoman John Mihalowski


* (Television movie. The film does not acknowledge any design flaw and claims the cause is unknown.)

*USS "Squalus", Ship Source Files, Ships History Branch, Naval Historical Center

*"Oliver Francis Naquin," Obituary, "New York Times", November 15. 1989

*Barrows, Nathaniel A. "Blow All Ballast! The Story of the Squalus." New York: Dodd, Mead & Co, 1940.

*"Department's Report on "Squalus" Disaster". Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1939.

*Gray, Edwyn. "Disasters of the Deep: A Comprehensive Survey of Submarine Accidents and Disasters." Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 2003.

*Naval Historical Center (U.S.)." USS Squalus (SS-192) The Sinking, Rescue of Survivors, and Subsequent Salvage, 1939." Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1998.

*LaVO, Carl. "Back from the Deep: The Strange Story of the Sister Subs Squalus and Sculpin." Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 1994.

*Mariners' Museum (Newport News, Va.). "Salvage of the Squalus: Clippings from Newspapers, May 25, 1939-Jan. 20, 1941". Newport News, Va: Mariners' Museum, 1942.

*Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (U.S.). "Technical Report of the Salvage of U.S.S. Squalus." Portsmouth, N.H.: U.S. Navy Yard, 1939.

*Falcon (Salvage ship), and Albert R. Behnke. "Log of Diving During Rescue and Salvage Operations of the USS Squalus: Diving Log of USS Falcon", 24 May 1939-12 September 1939. Kensington, Maryland: Reprinted by Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society, 2001

*Maas, Peter. "The Rescuer." New York: Harper & Row, 1967.
*"Diving in the U.S. Navy a brief history."

External links

* [ Naval Historical Center, Online Library of Selected
* [ USS "Sailfish"]
* [ USS "Sailfish"]
* [ Sinkings by boat: USS "Sailfish"]
* [ On Eternal Patrol: USS "Squalus"]

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