Silent Hunters - Home Page


Created: 24 January 2002 - Updated: 9 Feb 2013

Page 2

Subron 5, Circa 1944-45 from left to right, Segundo (SS-398), Sea Cat (SS-399), Blenny (SS-324), Blower (SS-325), Blueback (SS-326) & Charr (SS-328)


  • 200 U.S. subs sank 201 Jap warships & 1113 merchant ships
  • total Japan loss of 4.7m tons - 55% total ships
  • 211 subs built - 182 operational peak in '45
  • U.S. would lose 52 subs with 3503 crew
  • Japs lost 112 subs (had 60 at start of war)
  • Germans lost 784 subs with 28,000 crew
    • 1162 German subs built
    • 240 operational peak
    • sank 5150 ships, 21m tons Allied shipping


  • no combat history since 1903 org - not a single ship sunk
  • 1921-33 - built 9 enormous V-class subs
  • such as the 381' Argonaut - largest diesel sub built in US
  • 1933-41 - built 56 new fleet subs - FDR was sub booster
  • new design better than old S-class
    • 1500 tons, 300' long, 10,000 mi. range at 20 knots
    • underwater 9 knots, up to 72 hours
    • 4 electric motors for underwater - 252 batteries
    • 4 diesel motors for surface
    • carried 24 torpedoes (4 stern tubes, 6 bow)
    • Mark 10 contact, Mark 16 magnetic torpedoes
    • 4 deck guns: 1 5", 1 40mm, 2 20mm forward
    • crew of 70 - tours of 60 days
    • periscope depth of 63' - extended 12' out of water
    • not visible until 1200 yds - in range
  • 1930 London Naval Treaty required subs to remove passengers and crew to safety
  • orig painted black - then changed to grey
  • original tactics:
  • deep submerge
  • locate target with sonar ping
  • fire torpedo at 100' depth
  • but no ship ever sunk by this method


  • until 1943, subs used individually for hit-and-run missions & in support of surface ships
  • but 1943 began systematic patrols of key traffic patterns rather than stay on perimeter
  • July 1943 - began to penetrate 4 straits into Sea of Japan
  • emph on "Luzon bottleneck" - Luzon strait where oil imported from Sumatra and Java
    • 80% oil came from U.S. before war; stockpiled 1 year supply
    • 1943 imported 1.5m bbls per month; 1944 imports cut to 300,000 bbls by Nov.


  • before war, bases at PH and Cavite (in Manila Harbour, not Subic Bay)
  • after PH, at Freemantle (SW near Perth) - under Charles Lockwood - also at Brisbane
  • after Marshalls taken (Eniwetok Feb. '44), base at Majuro atoll
  • after Marianas taken (Saipan, Guam June '44), base at Apra harbour at Guam
  • after Carolinas attacked (Pelilieu Sept. '44), base at Ulithi atoll beg. Nov '44


  • new SJ radar (surface ships) was fitted alongside the SD (aircraft only) The SD (114 mc) was for air-search, was non-directional.  The SJ ("S" band,
    @3000 mc) was for surface search, had a very narrow pulse width...was quite accurate.   A later innovation was the ST(X band) radar, which used an
    antenna built in to the #1 periscope.  Was used for accurate ranging to the target. (Radar info: Nathan S Henderson USS Pompon)
  • Japan navy lacked radar at beg.
  • PPI (plan position indicator) showed all blips in radar range in correct geographic arrangement
  • TBT (target bearing transmitter) - night binoculars on bridge on rotating base to calc bearing
  • new GM engines replaced old HOR (German) that had weak gear wheel teeth and made noise
  • adopted wolf-pack techniques
  • but main prob was torpedoes - cont diff with Mark 14 magnetic exploder
  • Dudley Morton on the Wahoo used tactics to compensate
  • "down-the-throat" shot of full salvo of 6 torpedoes at point-blank range

1944 - key year of greatest successes:

  • new electric Mark 18 torpedo - no bubbles, but slower
  • used in 75% of kills by July
  • new acoustic Mark 27 with sonar - only 10' long
  • 7000 yd range - must be silent to launch
  • new 5" deck gun, fathometer without pings, periscope with built-in radar,
  • short range FM sonar ag. mines

Leyte Gulf - Oct. '44:

  • completed destruction of Japan navy
  • U.S. subs allowed to blockade Japan home islands, Formosa strait
  • voyage of the Tang earns Medal of Honour for survivor Dick Kane



The Drum refers to any of various fishes capable of making a drumming noise; best known, and named for a large sea bass off the North Atlantic Coast. The USS DRUM (SS-228) was launched May 12, 1941 by Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire, sponsored by Mrs. Thomas Holcomb.   She was commissioned November 1, 1941, CDR R.H. Rice in command. DRUM arrived at Pearl Harbour from the east coast April 1, 1942, and after a voyage to Midway, cleared Pearl Harbour April 14, 1942, action bound on her first war patrol.   Cruising off the coast of Japan, she sank the seaplane Tender MIZUHO and three cargo ships in the month of May, returning to Pearl Harbour June 12th to refit. DRUM's second war patrol, which she made in the waters between Truk and Kavieng from July 10th to September 2nd, found her efforts frustrated by poor torpedo performance, but she damaged one freighter before returning to Midway to refit. The submarine sailed from Midway September 23rd 1942 on her third war patrol, bound for the eastern coast of Kyushu.  On October 8th she contacted a convoy of four freighters, and defied the air cover guarding the ships,  to sink one of the cargo ships before bombs forced her deep.  The next day,  underwent a severe depth charging from several escorts after she attacked a cargo ship.  Later in the patrol,  she sank one of three air-escorted cargo ships, and damaged at least two more ships before completing her patrol at Pearl Harbour November 8th.  On her fourth patrol, between November 29th and January 24th, 1943, DRUM carried out the demanding task of planting mines in heavily travelled Bungo Suido.  On December 12th, she contacted a carrier, RYUHO, with a full deck load of planes.  Although taking water forward due to faulty valves,  DRUM launched torpedoes at this choice target, scoring two hits, and causing the carrier to list so far that her flight deck became completely visible.  Also visible was a destroyer bearing down, and splashes that indicated DRUM's periscope was under fire.  As the submarine dove she lost depth control and her port shaft stopped turning.  As she made emergency repairs, she underwent two waves of depth charging.  When she surfaced several hours later to see what had become of her prey, an airplane forced her down.

During this patrol, DRUM damaged a large tanker, another choice target. After a thorough overhaul at Pearl Harbour, DRUM made her fifth war patrol between March 24th and May 13th 1943, searching waters south of Truk after she had made a photographic reconnaissance of Nauru.  She sank two freighters in April, then refitted at Brisbane, Australia.  Her sixth war patrol, between June 7th and July 26th, found her north of the Bismarck Archipelago, sinking a cargo-passenger ship on June 17th.  Again she put into Brisbane to replenish, and on August 16th sailed on her seventh war patrol.   Adding to her already impressive list of sinkings, she sent a cargo ship to the bottom on August 31st, as well as patrolling off New Georgia during the landings there.  She put into Tulagi from September 29th to October 2nd to repair her gyro compass, then sailed on to Brisbane.  DRUM sailed November 2nd 1943 for her eighth war patrol, coordinated with the landings at Cape Torokina.  Patrolling between the Carolinas and New Ireland, she sank a cargo ship on November 17th and on November 22nd, attacked a convoy of four freighters.   The convoy's escorts delivered three depth charge attacks, the DRUM was damaged heavily and was ordered to Pearl Harbour.  DRUM returned there on the 5th of December.   After inspection showed the conning tower needed to be replaced, she sailed to the west coast. Returning to Pearl Harbour March 29th 1944, DRUM sailed 11 days later on her ninth war patrol, during which she patrolled the waters around Iwo Jima and other islands in the Bonins.  No worthy targets were contacted, but a reconnaissance of Chichi Jima gained valuable intelligence for bombardment of the island later by surface ships.  The submarine refitted at Majuro between May 31st and June 24th, then sailed on her 10th war patrol to give lifeguard service for raids on Yap and Palau.   She sank a 125-ton sampan on July 29th, capturing two prisoners with whom she arrived at Pearl Harbour on August 14th.  She sailed for Surigao Strait September 9th on her 11th war patrol, and after two weeks in the Strait with no contact, was ordered north to the South China Sea. Here she patrolled during the Leyte landings and the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf, sinking three cargo ships bound to reinforce Japanese troops fighting to keep the Philippines.  While bound for Majuro for refit, DRUM searched east of Luzon Strait for downed aviators. DRUM replenished and made repairs at Majuro between November 8th, 1944 and December 7th, then sailed on her 12th war patrol for the Nansei Shoto.  Only one contact was made during this patrol, from which she returned to Guam January 17th, 1945.  During her 13th war patrol, from February 11th to April 2nd, DRUM played a part in the assaults on both Iwo Jima and Okinawa, providing lifeguard service for air strikes on the Nansei Shoto and the Japanese home islands as bases were neutralized before both invasions.   Returning to Pearl Harbour, DRUM sailed on to a west coast overhaul, and after training at Pearl Harbour, cleared Midway August 9th on what would have been her 14th war patrol.  She proceeded to Sai Pan at the end of hostilities, and from there sailed for Pearl Harbour, the Canal Zone, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. DRUM was decommissioned February 16th, 1946 and on March 18th, 1947, began service at Washington, D.C., to members of the Naval Reserve in the Potomac River Naval Command, which continued through 1967.  She was in the inactive Fleet at Norfolk, Virginia from 1967 to 1969. Of DRUM's 13 war patrols, all save the second, ninth, and last two were designated "successful".  She received a total of 12 battle stars for World War II service. She is credited with sinking 15 ships, a total of 80,580 tons of enemy shipping, eighth highest of all U.S. submarines in total Japanese tonnage sunk. * The DRUM was donated to the USS ALABAMA Battleship Commission on April 14th, 1969.   She was towed to Mobile arriving May 18th, 1969.  The DRUM was dedicated and opened to the public on July 4th 1969.

The GATO Class submarine USS DRUM (SS 228) was built at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Navy Yard and
commissioned on 1 November 1941. After training and equipment checks, she arrived at Pearl Harbour
on 1 April 1942 to begin a series of 13 war patrols as summarized below:

DRUM's War Patrols

Underway 14 April 1942
Underway 10 July 1942  damaged one Japanese freighter
Underway 23 September 1942 sank 3 Japanese freighters & damaged 2 other cargo ships
Underway 29 November 1942 damaged the Japanese aircraft carrier RYUHO and a tanker
Underway 24 March 1943 made a photo reconnaissance of the island of Nauru and sank two freighters
Underway 7 June 1943 sank one Japanese cargo-passenger ship
Underway 16 August 1943 sank one Japanese cargo ship
Underway 2 November 1943 sank one Japanese cargo ship and received heavy damage under depth charge attack from enemy escort ships
Underway 9 April 1944 made a photo reconnaissance of the island of Chichi Jima
Underway 24 June 1944 sank one Japanese sampan
Underway 9 September 1944 sank three Japanese cargo ships
Underway 7 December 1944 could not detect any enemy shipping
Underway 11 February 1945 provided pilot rescue & reconnaissance for the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa



Displacement: 1,526 tons surfaced, 2,424 tons submerged
Length: 311 ft. 8 in.
Breadth: 27 ft. 4 in.
Draft: 15 ft. 3 in.
Speed: 20 knots
Crew: 7 Officers, 65 Enlisted Men
Maximum Diving Depth: 400 ft.

Armament; varied during WWII, presently:

1 5"/25 calibre gun
1 40mm single mount
1 20mm twin mount

DRUM sank 15 ships for cumulative displacement of 80,580 tons, ranking eighth among American submarines, earning 12 Battle Stars for her World War II service. She was decommissioned 16 February 1946, but reactivated 18 March 1947 to serve as a training ship for naval reservists around Washington, DC, where she remained throughout most of the 1960's. She was opened for public display at USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park on 4 July 1969.

USS Seacat

USS Flasher

Two images of the USS Herring

Japanese Shore Battery off Matsuwa Island, Kuriles

HERRING, under Lt. Cmdr. D. Zabriskie, Jr., left Pearl Harbour on May 16, 1944 to conduct her eighth patrol in the Kurkle Islands. On May 21st she topped off with fuel at Midway and departed for the Kurile region. No word was received from HERRING direct after her departure from Midway, but she did accomplish a rendezvous with BARB on May 21, 1944.

These two boats were to patrol the Kurile Islands area cooperatively, and at the rendezvous, as recorded in BARB’s report of her eighth war patrol, the areas for which each was to be responsible were delineated. A few hours after leaving HERRING early on the afternoon of May 31st, BARB made contact with two Japanese merchantmen. While developing the contacts BARB heard distant depth charging, which she took as an indication that HERRING was making an attack.

Later that evening BARB picked up a prisoner who revealed that HERRING had sunk the escort vessel of the convoy BARB had been attacking. The ship sunk was ISHIGAKI, a new type DE built in 1942, and it was sunk with one torpedo hit. The sinking resulted in the scattering of the three-ship convoy and two ships, which subsequently passed near BARB, were sunk by her. Post-war information reveals that HERRING sank the third merchantman of the convoy.

On June 3, 1944 orders were sent to BARB and HERRING directing them to stay outside of a restricted area in which friendly surface ships would be operating during the Marianas Campaign. A receipt was required for this message, but none was heard from HERRING. BARB was unable to contact her after May 31st. Consequently on June 27th, Midway was directed to post a sharp lookout for HERRING, which might be returning without ability to transmit by radio, and was expected by July 3rd or 4th. When she had not appeared by July 13, 1944, HERRING was reported as presumed lost.

Japanese information indicates that HERRING was sunk on June 1, 1944, two kilometres south of Point Tagan on Matsuwa Island in the Kuriles. The report states that two merchant ships, HIBURI MARU and IWAKI MARU, were sunk by American torpedoes while at anchor at Matsuwa. In a counterattack, a shore battery scored two direct hits on the conning tower, and “bubbles covered an area about 5 meters wide, and heavy oil covered an area of approximately 15 miles.” The position of this attack was around 150 miles from the position where HERRING met BARB: the attack occurred on the day after the BARB picked up her prisoner. BARB and HERRING were the only U.S. submarines in the area at the time and BARB did not make attacks reported by BARB and by the Japanese, HERRING has been credited with four ships and 13,202 tons sunk for her last patrol.

For her first seven patrols, HERRING sank nine ships, totalling 45,200 tons, and damaged two, totalling an additional 8,400 tons. Her first four patrols were in the Atlantic, the first three off the coast of Spain, and the fourth near Iceland. The first netted an Axis freighter, while on the second HERRING saw no enemy ships. Her third patrol saw her sink Nazi U-163 and her fourth was again unproductive of enemy targets. Her fifth patrol was the passage from the United Kingdom, where she had been based for her Atlantic patrols, to New London, Conn., thence to Pearl Harbour. She patrolled the East China Sea on her sixth war run, and sank two large transports, a freighter, and a small escort type vessel. HERRING’s seventh patrol was in the area just south of the Japanese home islands; here she damaged a destroyer type vessel.

Sailors Lost On USS HERRING (SS-233) 1 June 1944

Anderson, F. H. RT2
Anderson, J. L., Jr. MOMM2
Armstrong, J. E. RM1
Balestrieri, S. ENS
Blair, J. L. F1
Blevins, J. T. S1
Boucher, L. J. S1
Brennan, J. J. TM1
Bronder, J. J. SC2
Brown, W. J. S2
Burkett, T. CK1
Burton, C. E. MOMM2
Campbell, N. STM2
Carroll, M. D. CMOMMA
Carter, R. A. TM3
Chouinard, R. J. TM1
Christopherson, R. W. TM1
Compton, J. N. LT
Cook, A. J. MOMM2
Cunningham, E. P. ENS
Cushion, H. L. EM1
Dawkins, J. R. MOMM1
Devenport, R. E. TM3
Edginton, F. K. MOMM3
Eitelbach, W. J., Jr. MOMM1
French, G. W. MOMM3
Gagnon, D. R. F2
Gregory, J. L. TM3
Groshens, C. G. EM2
Grote, C. H. RM3
Guerra, A. A. PHAR
Harper, P. TM3
Haskell, R. G. MOMM2
Hill, B. G. S1
Hofman, W. A. LTJG
Isbell, L. H. SC3
Johnson, J. M. MOMM2
Johnson, L. K. S2
Johnson, S. L., Jr. RM2
Kelley, E. A. EM2
Kostai, M. F., Jr. LTJG
Leahy, E. L., Jr. LT
Lewis, W. E. TM3
Loftis, R. H. MOMM1
Mack, R. L. RM3
Mason, W. J. LCDR
Mayes, J. B. SM3
McCreary, J. W., Jr. CQMA
McLendon, W. R. TM3
Merriman, J. A., Jr. SOM2
Millis, R. S. CEM
Mitchell, G. R. EM3
Much, H. B. F1
Odom, L. F2
O'Howell, H. J. CMOMM
Payne, R. E. GM2
Pepera, G. J. FC2
Perkins, J. G. S1
Poland, C. E. SM3
Potvin, O. P. QM3
Pressnali, W. B. ENS
Price, S. H. EM2
Riley, C. E. MOMM2
Robbins, D. L. MOMM3
Rockwell, E. E. EM1
Ryan, D. E. MOMM3
Saarm, A, H. MOMM3
Schmidt, C. A. F1
Smiley, W. K. GM3
Stern, W. S1
Stoneking, R. R. SC3
Sutherland, J. A. F1
Swanson, F. A. Y2
Twigg, A. W. EM1
VanMatri, V. H. EM3
Vreeland, L. M. COX
Wagoner, G. E. FCS1
Walker, C. D. MOMM2
Walsh, J. R. EM3
Way, K. K. S1
Wilson, H. R. TM2
Wuertele, E. C. S1
Zabriskie, D., Jr. LCDR


USS Seadragon SS194

dp. 1475 tons (surf.), 2370 tons (subm.); l. 307'; b. 27';
s. 20k (surf.), 9k (subm.); td. 250'; a. 1-3"/50, 4-21" tt. fwd., 4-21" tt. aft.;
cpl. 5 officers - 54 enlisted men; cl. "SEADRAGON"

Keel laid by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT, 18 Apr 38;
Launched: 11 Apr 39; Sponsored by Mrs. James O. Richardson;
Commissioned: 23 Oct 39 with LCdr John G. Johns in command;
Decommissioned: 15 Nov 45;
Recommissioned: 8 Feb 46;
Decommissioned: 29 Oct 46
Struck from the Navy List 30 Mar 48;
Sold for scrapping 2 Jul 48.

Following a shakedown cruise off the east coast and in the Caribbean, USS SEADRAGON (SS-194) returned to New England and, on 23 May 1940, departed New London for the Philippines. With ComSubDiv17 embarked, she arrived at Cavite on 30 November and commenced training operations as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet. A year later, she prepared for overhaul; and, by 8 December 1941 (7 December east of the International Date Line), she had started her yard period at the Cavite Navy Yard. Two days later, on 10 December, she and sister ship USS SEALION (SS-195), moored together, were caught in an enemy air raid against Cavite. SEALION took a direct hit which demolished that submarine and damaged SEADRAGON. The force of the explosion ripped off part of the latter's bridge. Shrapnel and splinters punctured her tanks and pierced her Conning Tower, killing one (Ensign Sam Hunter, the first WWII casualty for the SubForce) and wounding five. The heat of the explosion scorched her hull and blistered her black paint. Fires and explosions raged along the wharf. A nearby torpedo shop went up and flames reached toward a lighter, loaded with torpedoes, alongside SEADRAGON and SEADRAGON. Submarine Rescue Vessel USS PIGEON (ASR-6), however, disregarded the danger and moved in to tow SEADRAGON out into the channel, whence the submarine continued into Manila Bay under her own power.

Temporary repairs were accomplished by submarine tender USS CANOPUS (AS-9) and PIGEON; and, on the night of 15 December, she embarked members of the Asiatic Fleet staff. At 0000, 16 December, she headed out of Manila Bay. Escorted by destroyer USS BULMER (DD-222), SEADRAGON moved south, via Surigao and Makassar strait to Soerabaja, where she disembarked her passengers; received further repairs, exclusive of a paint job, and prepared for her first war patrol. On 30 December, the submarine departed the Dutch naval base and set a course for the South China Sea to intercept Japanese shipping off the coast of Indochina. On 8 January, she was in the sea lanes to Cam Ranh Bay. Two days later, she sighted a destroyer, fired two torpedoes which missed, then watched as the destroyer continued on its course without attempting to attack the submarine. SEADRAGON remained in the area. Shortly after noon, a convoy was heard. One-half hour later, it was sighted, and the submarine began closing the last ship in the column. Shortly after 1300, she fired; missed; and again tried to close to firing position. Within an hour, however, the convoy was safely into Cam Ranh Bay. SEADRAGON retired eastward. After dark while on the surface, recharging, she sighted a destroyer and attempted to slip away undetected. The destroyer spotlighted her. SEADRAGON went deep and worked her way eastward through two depth charge attacks. She spent the morning of the 12th evading Japanese patrol planes. In the afternoon, she closed a six-ship convoy; but, as she came to periscope depth for a final check, she was spotted from the air. Three salvos of bombs dropped close aboard, but SEADRAGON went deep and again made her way eastward -- this time to investigate the cause of the plane sightings. She surfaced after 1800. No oil or air leaks were spotted, but her black paint was coming off the entire hull. Red lead undercoating showed from the waterline to the side plating, and, "in spots," on the bow planes and propeller guards. In shallow tropical waters, her original black paint was easily spotted against a light colored background. With red showing, she stood out regardless of the color of the seabed. From then on, SEADRAGON ran at 140 feet between periscope exposures except in areas known to be patrolled by air. She then went to 200 feet.

On the 14th, she patrolled in the Cape Varella area. On the 15th, she shifted southward, and, on the 16th, she stood off Hon Lon to wait for a convoy. At 1115, after a periscope observation, she was again spotted and bombed from the air. She returned to Cape Varella where the depth of the water permitted a closer patrol to the shore line. During the next six days, she sighted several targets but had no luck with her torpedoes. Early on the 23d, she sighted a four-ship convoy which she stalked until daylight, then attacked. At 0806, she fired at the lead ship and scored with a hit on the port quarter. She then fired two at the ship and missed. The third and fourth ships ran off to the southeast and west respectively. The second ship moved in toward the first; then, listing to port and down by the stern accompanied it as it ran for the beach. SEADRAGON surfaced and went after the third ship, but the appearance of an enemy plane forced her to break off the attack.

The submarine remained off the Indochina coast for another four days, then set a course back to Luzon. On the 29th, she began patrolling along the coast from Subic Bay to Lingayen Gulf. On 1 February, she took up station off San Fernando and, early on the morning of the 2nd, conducted a night submerged attack on a five-ship convoy. The fourth ship in line, went down, depriving the Japanese occupation force of a number of the reinforcement troops and the equipment she carried. After the sinking, SEADRAGON patrolled southward. On the 4th, she arrived off Luzon Point; and, that night, she moved into Manila Bay to take on cargo and passengers at Corregidor. Mooring at 2203, she completed loading torpedoes, radio equipment, and submarine spare parts at 0300 on the 5th. Shortly thereafter, she moved out; rested on the bottom until after dark, then surfaced to take on passengers. At 1946, she got underway for the Netherlands East Indies.

She arrived at Soerabaja on 13 February. On the 21st, she left for Tjilatjap, whence she was ordered on to Australia. She reached Fremantle on 4 March and two weeks later, again headed for the Indochina coast for her second war patrol. At the end of the month, she was diverted to Cebu to take on fuel and food for Corregidor. On the evening of 8 April, she arrived off that besieged base. At 2053, she moored alongside SEADRAGON, to which she transferred fuel; offloaded 7 tons of food; took on 21 passengers; and, at 2129, she got underway to resume her patrol. She remained in the waters off south western Luzon and recommenced her patrol off the entrance to Subic Bay. On the 11th, she sighted several targets but was able to attack only one, a patrolling destroyer. At 1720, she fired three torpedoes. Twenty-nine seconds later the first torpedo exploded halfway to the target. The second torpedo broached and circled abeam of the target. The destroyer avoided the third torpedo. SEADRAGON changed course and went to 200 feet to avoid the circling torpedo and the expected depth charging. None of the depth charges was close, but a second destroyer soon joined the first, spotted the submarine as she came up for a periscope observation, and turned on her. SEADRAGON again went deep, then cleared the area.

On the 12th, the submarine started south. On the 20th, she cleared Lombok Strait; and, on the 26th, she returned to Fremantle. On her third patrol, 11 June to 2 August 1942, SEADRAGON returned to the South China Sea. Arriving in her assigned area on 27 June, she patrolled along the Singapore-Hong Kong routes to the end of the month; then shifted to the Cape Varella area. On the morning of 4 July, she fired a torpedo at the leader of a three ship formation. The torpedo missed ahead, all three ships changed course toward SEADRAGON with the leader proceeding down the torpedo track firing her bow gun. Depth charges were dropped indiscriminately. Ten minutes later, the three had turned toward shore. SEADRAGON then shifted southward to intercept enemy traffic off Hon Lon Light. A few hours later, she sighted two freighters and fired tubes 1 and 2 at the lead ship. Her No. 1 tube did not fire, and her No. 2 torpedo missed astern. Two more torpedoes were fired at the ships, but both missed. Enemy planes arrived on the scene soon afterward and for over two hours aerial depth charges in salvos of 2 and 3 were dropped. Despite water depth of 75 fathoms, submarines were visible at any depth against the light coloured bottom.

SEADRAGON survived the close bombing and continued her patrol. During the next week, she attempted to close several ships, but was unable to attain attack positions. On the night of the 11th, her losing streak ended. Just prior to midnight, she sighted smoke and opened out to the westward to overtake the target. At 0156 on the 12th, she began her approach; and, 14 minutes later, she fired three torpedoes. Two hit, but the third missed astern. The merchantman began settling. By 0219, she had been abandoned. SEADRAGON submerged and resumed her patrol eight miles northeast of Cape Varella. On the morning of the 13th, SEADRAGON torpedoed and sank her second victim of the patrol. The target was hit approximately 50 feet abaft the beam and settled immediately. SEADRAGON moved out of the area and hunted along the Haina Varella routes for a few days. On the 16th, she was back off Cape Varella; and, soon after 1030, she fired on a four-ship convoy. Five minutes later, the torpedoes exploded on the beach. The four ships turned toward SEADRAGON and commenced firing their guns. SEADRAGON fired two more torpedoes and went deep. A few minutes later, she came to periscope depth. Only three ships remained on the surface, One had been sunk.

On 20 July, SEADRAGON departed the South China Sea and made her way south to Australia. On 26 August, she departed her Australian base for her fourth war patrol and again set a course for the coast of Indochina. On 10 September, she moved through Apo East Pass. On the 11th, her progress into the South China Sea was delayed by an emergency appendectomy performed successfully by the pharmacist's mate. On the 12th, she arrived on station and commenced patrolling the steamer lanes west of Macclesfield Bank. At dusk on the 16th, she headed for Cape Varella. Not until the 22d, however, while off Cam Ranh Bay was she able to gain a firing position on a suitable target. On that morning, she fired four torpedoes at a cruiser escorted by two destroyers. No explosions were heard, but her torpedoes were seen, and the enemy ships turned on SEADRAGON and delivered a "well executed depth charge attack."

A week later, on the night of the 29th, the submarine tracked a five-ship convoy; and, at 0122 on the 30th conducted a surface torpedo attack which damaged one ship. She then ran eastward to attain a position ahead of the convoy but was spotlighted by an escort which had shifted stations. SEADRAGON went deep; the escort dropped six depth charges and then rejoined the convoy. The submarine surfaced and attempted to make up for lost time. Three hours later, she had overheated her main motor cables and was forced to give up the chase. On the evening of 3 October, SEADRAGON departed the South China Sea and, five days later, commenced patrolling the approaches to Balikpapan. On the 10th, she attained a position for a stern tube shot. The cargoman disappeared 47 seconds after the first explosion. On the 11th, the submarine patrolled off Capes William and Mandar. On the 12th, she was off Makassar City. On the 14th, she transited Lombok Strait; and, on the 20th, she returned to Fremantle.

Refit was started by submarine tender USS HOLLAND (AS-3) at Fremantle and completed by tenders USS GRIFFIN (AS-13) and USS FULTON (AS-11) at Brisbane. On 23 November, she departed the latter and headed for the Bismarck Archipelago for her fifth war patrol. On the 29th, she entered her area and commenced patrolling the Rabaul-Shortland routes. On 1 December, she closed the New Britain coast to intercept Buna traffic, and, during the next 10 days, conducted several unsuccessful approaches on enemy formations. On the morning of the 11th, she sighted a freighter with one escort rounding Cape St. George and fired two torpedoes at the merchantman. One hit under the main mast, damaging but not sinking the target. The escort delivered a depth charge attack then took the damaged vessel under tow for Rabaul. Enemy planes prohibited SEADRAGON from delivering the ‘coup de grace.’

On the 21st, SEADRAGON sighted an enemy submarine, made her approach, and fired three torpedoes at the target. The first missed ahead. The second exploded about 18 seconds after firing. The third torpedo hit the enemy submarine. I-4 sank with her bow vertical. The second torpedo explosion, however, had damaged SEADRAGON. The force of the explosion had knocked down the personnel in the forward torpedo room, and the torpedo in No. 1 tube, the outer door of which was open, was forced against the tail buffer. The countereffect forced the torpedo forward shearing off the guide stud and tripping the starting lever. The outer door could not be closed. Depth control was lost. The torpedo was fired. Control was regained as the torpedo exploded on her port quarter.

On the 25th, SEADRAGON damaged another cargoman, and, on the 26th, departed the area for Pearl Harbor where she arrived on 7 January 1943. From Pearl Harbor, SEADRAGON continued on to the west coast. Between 16 January and 8 April, she underwent overhaul at Mare Island, receiving new batteries and radar and changing the position of her 3" mount from aft to a forward position. In mid-April, she sailed west again; and, on 9 May, she departed Pearl Harbor for her 6th war patrol. On the 15th, SEADRAGON crossed the 180th Meridian and moved toward Micronesia. On the 19th, she commenced patrolling in the Carolines. On the 20th, she surprised and was in turn surprised by sighting a surfaced submarine on a parallel course. The other submarine submerged immediately. On the 22d, she took up station off the Truk Islands and for the next 11 days patrolled the sea lanes to the major enemy anchorage enclosed by Dublon, Fefan, and Uman islands. On 4 June, she departed Truk and moved eastward to reconnoiter Ponape, thence proceeded into the Marshalls to patrol the sealanes converging on Kwajalein. There, the enemy's omnipresent surface and aerial escorts inhibited hunting, but, on the 13th, SEADRAGON was able to damage a freighter. Four days later, she cleared the area, and, on the 21st, she arrived at Midway, whence she returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs to her steering gear.

From 18 July to 30 August, SEADRAGON conducted her 7th war patrol. Of the 44 days, 31 were spent on station near Wake and in the Marshalls where increased enemy air activity again hindered hunting and limited SEADRAGON's score to five freighters damaged. In mid-August, she reconnoitered Wotje; and, at the end of the month, she returned to Pearl Harbor. On her 8th war patrol, 24 September to 5 November, SEADRAGON again returned to the Marshalls and spent 31 days hunting in the sea lanes to Kwajalein. Again Japanese antisubmarine measures hindered hunting; and, of the five ship contacts made, only two could be developed and only one attack was made. On 13 October, she damaged an enemy transport.

SEADRAGON's 9th war patrol, 14 December 1943 to 5 February 1944, took her back to the Carolines where she hunted enemy shipping on the Truk-Saipan route and damaged two, possibly three, cargomen. Refit brought the replacement of SEADRAGON's 3" deck gun with a 4", and, on 1 April, she cleared Pearl Harbor for the Japanese home islands for her 10th war patrol. On the 5th, she crossed the International Date Line. On the 15th, she entered Japanese waters. On the 16th, she moved past O Shima, and, that night, commenced patrolling off the Bungo Strait and Kii Channel entrances to the Inland Sea. On the morning of the 23d, she sighted four freighters, escorted by three patrol boats, moving toward Shiono Misaki. She closed the convoy; fired on the third ship, the heaviest laden; then went deep and rigged for depth charging. The patrol boats moved toward SEADRAGON as  the target sank and, during the next two hours, delivered a 40 depth charge attack. Later that day, the submarine conducted an unsuccessful attack on a naval auxiliary; and, on the 26th, she moved out into the Tokyo-Manila shipping lanes where she damaged a freighter on the 27th. On 28 April, she commenced patrolling the Nagoya-Saipan route. In May, she took station off the entrance to Sugura Wan and, on the 3d, shifted to the Tokyo-Guam-Saipan-Truk sea lanes. Two days later, she hunted enemy traffic at the entrance to Sagami Wan. On the 13th, she headed for Midway. On the 17th, she caught an armed trawler in a surface attack; set it afire with 4" gun salvos, then closed the target to take off the uniformed enemy crew. The surviving crew members refused to surrender, and SEADRAGON continued eastward. On the 21st, she crossed the 180th Meridian and stopped at Midway; thence got underway for Pearl Harbor, arriving on the 25th.

Reengined at Mare Island during the summer, SEADRAGON returned to Pearl Harbor on 7 September and departed on her 11th war patrol, a coordinated patrol with submarines USS SHARK (SS-314) and USS BLACKFISH (SS-221), on the 23dr. She arrived at Saipan to top off on 3 October. On the 4th, SHARK and BLACKFISH continued on to the wolfpack's assigned area in the northern China Sea. SEADRAGON, delayed by the need for repairs, did not depart until the 5th. On the 9th, she arrived off Batan Island, established contact with SHARK and BLACKFISH, and took position in a scouting line in the pack's assigned area. On the night of 21 October and the morning of the 22nd, the group went after an enemy warship formation lead by a carrier. At 0615 on 24 October, SHARK reported a contact, and SEADRAGON headed for the scene. At 0730, the contact was sighted through the high periscope, but it proved too distant. At 0920, SEADRAGON sighted three enemy merchantmen in a loose column with a torpedo boat destroyer and an airplane as escorts. At 1055, she fired four torpedoes at the lead freighter.

The first torpedo broached and ran erratic, alerting the escort which started for SEADRAGON. SEADRAGON rigged for depth charging. Soon thereafter, two torpedo explosions were heard, and, at 1101, the first of 8 depth charges was dropped. At 1154, SEADRAGON went to periscope depth. The escort was milling around picking up survivors four miles astern. The remaining merchant ships were ahead of the submarine and making only 2 or 3 knots. As SEADRAGON prepared to fire again, the destroyer rejoined the formation. At 1114, SEADRAGON fired four more torpedoes. Three hits were observed. The submarine's second target of the day sank in less than two minutes. SEADRAGON went deep. Fifteen depth charges followed. At 1310, the submarine returned to periscope depth. The deck of the sole remaining freighter was crowded. The freighter was smoking heavily and moving slowly. The escort circled the freighter. At 1404, SEADRAGON fired. The first torpedo tore off the freighter's bow. The rest of the ship went under quickly. At 1405, the first of 25 depth charges was dropped.

Postwar examination of Japanese records identified the sunken ships as a cargo ship, and two passenger-cargomen. At 1858, SEADRAGON tried unsuccessfully to raise SHARK. She had been sunk after attacking the contact of her 0615 transmission. On 26 October, SEADRAGON headed toward Luzon. On the 27th and 28th, she searched for downed aviators; and, on the 29th, she was ordered to return to Midway. Arriving at her destination on 8 November, she commenced refit; and, on 3 December, she headed west for her 12th war patrol. The patrol took her back into Japanese waters where she hunted enemy shipping and searched for downed aviators into January 1945. On the 10th, she moved into the Bonins, where she continued those two roles. On 19 January, she set a southerly course; and, on the 22nd, she arrived at Guam to complete her last war patrol.

The next day, SEADRAGON continued on to Pearl Harbor, and, after refit, returned to California to provide training services to naval air units. In May, she was transferred back to the Atlantic Fleet and for the final months of the war, provided training services at Guantanamo Bay and Key West. In September, she moved north to New London, thence to Boston where she was decommissioned on 15 November 1945. Less than four months later, on 8 February 1946, she was recommissioned to assist in the inactivation and preservation of submarines, including U-boats, at Hingham, MA. On 29 October 1946, she was again decommissioned and berthed as a unit of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet where she remained until struck from the Navy list on 30 April 1948. SEADRAGON earned 11 battle stars during World War II.

Email received on 16th February 2005. Mike thought you might like to know that the pharmacist mate on the USS Seadragon SS194, on her fourth war patrol, will be receiving his long overdue Navy Commendation Medal by the former Surgeon General of the Navy RADM Mike Cowan this sunday 20 Feb 05 at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina...Wheeler Johnny Lipes rose through the ranks from SA to LCmdr retiring in 1962. He preformed the emergency appendectomy on 11 Sep 42 on 19 year old Darrel Dean Rector..The XO Lt.Norvel Ward (RADM RET.) not only witnessed the historic event but also assisted Lipes. Darrel Rector survived the appendectomy but did not survive the war. He went down on the USS Tang on her fifth war patrol....Respectfully, John M. (Squirrel) Herina (SS) SSBN622B Tar Heel Base US Subvets ..Mike, Very Nice Web Honoring The Greatest Generation.

USS Tautog - An Appeal for Info

My father was the radioman on the sub during WWII.  It sent shivers up my spine when I read your stories and looked at the pictures.  My father was George E Melton Radioman 1st class.  His nickname was Dirk, or Skinny. He  was from a small town in Alabama.  He passed away after serving 22 years in the navy.  I was only about 3 years old when he was discharged.  He lied about his age to get into the service first 2 years in the army then 22 in the navy. I just wanted to thank you for your site and to see if any of his shipmates might still be out there. I know they had a reunion in Las Vegas last summer but lost track of the gentleman I was in contact with when I changed my email address. God Bless You Kim Melton Stichler

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Japanese Merchant heads for the "deep" in silent hunter 4

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