Trepang SS-412 - History

Trepang SS-412 - History

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(SS-412: dp. 1,662 (surf.), 2,424 (subm.), 1. 311'10" b. 27'4"; dr. 16'2", s. 20.26 k. (surf.), 8.76 k.(subm.); cpl. 66; a. 10 21" tt., 1 6", 1 40mm., 1 20mm., 2 .60-car. mg.; cl. Balao)

SS-412 was originally projected as Senorita but was renamed Trepang on 24 September 1942. The submarine was laid down on 26 June 1943 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Navy Yard, launched on 23 March 1944 sponsored by Mrs. R. M. Davenport, the wife of the submarine's prospective commanding officer, and commissioned on 22 May 1944, Comdr. Roy Milton Davenport-already a three-time Navy Cross winner-in command.

Following shakedown out of San Diego Trepang departed the west coast on 16 August 1941 and proceeded to Hawaii where her crew trained and prepared the ship for combat. Setting out from Pearl Harbor on 13 September for her first war patrol, the submarine prowled the waters south of Honshu, the largest and most important of Japan's home islands. She remained below during daylight hours and came up after dark to get a better view as she recharged her batteries and filled up with fresh air. On the night of 30 September Trepang spotted a fast convoy departing Tokyo Bay. The submarine gave chase and closed in on a group of ships which included two large tankers, a small freighter, and an escort. The submarine fired an overlapping spread of torpedoes which struck the freighter 760-ton Takunan Maru, and sent her to the bottom

On 10 October, Trepang attacked her second convoy which consisted of a pair of tankers and a single escort. Although the submarine claimed a "kill," a postwar assessment of the action did not credit her with a sinking. The following day, the error was reversed. The submarine fired four torpedoes at another Japanese ship, and her commanding officer recorded that all of the "fish" had missed. This time, however, postwar accounting credited Trepang with the destruction of the 1,000-ton Transport No. 105.

On 12 October, the submarine cruised some 12 miles southwest of the entrance to Tokyo Bay. Soon after she came to the surface, and her radar swept the surrounding seas. Four pips showed themselves on the phosphorescent screen-two large and two small-which were identified as two battleships and two destroyers.

Despite the fact that the phosphorescent waters would make his submarine stand out starkly in the night, Davenport closed at flank speed and fired a full spread of six torpedoes. The "fish" sped through the water toward their targets. He claimed success when explosions rumbled across the water, and flames lit up the night. Davenport turned the submarine to precept her stern tubes to the enemy and lossed four more torpedoes. These all missed.

Davenport's gallant and skillfully pressed attacks won him his fourth Navy Cross. He felt that he had damaged a Yamashiro-class battleship and had sunk a destroyer; but, unfortunately, a study of Japanese records after the war did not verify either claim.

Her supply of torpedoes exhausted, Trepang cleared the area and headed for the Marshalls. She reached Majuro on 23 October for voyage repairs alongside Bashnell (AS-15) and brief training which lasted until 16 November. On that day, Trepang got underway for the Philippines leading a wolfpack which also included Segundo (SS-398) and Razorhack (SS-394).

The weather was dark, windy, and rough on 6 December, as Trepang's conning tower broke the surface after a day's submerged inshore patrol off Luzon. While shifting course toward deeper water, she detected a group of ships approaching from the northward. Upon closing to investigate, Trepang counted seven large ships and three escorts in the convoy which slowly approached the Philippines.

Trepang radioed news of her "find" to her packmaster and then submerged. The submarine shot straight and true-sending freighter Banshu Maru No. 81 and Jinyo Maru to the bottom in quick succession and damaging a third vessel-Fukuyo Maru. However, as Trepang came about to administer the coup de grace to Fukugo Maru the third cargo ship "obligingly blew up and sank.' Meanwhile, as Segundo and Razorback arrived on the scene, Trepang fired all of her remaining torpedoes at a fourth ship which, she reported, blew up and sank soon thereafter. However, this fourth sinking was not confirmed by Japanese records. In the meantime, the other two American submarines were trying to finish off the fleeing remnants of the shattered convoy and managed to sink two ships-one with the aid of American naval aircraft. Trepang, now out of torpedoes, sped back to Pearl Harbor, arriving before Christmas.

Following this war patrol, Davenport, one of the most highly decorated submariners of the war, left Trepang for shore duty as an instructor at the Naval Academy.

Again sailing for Honshu, Trepang-now under Comdr. Allen Russell Faust-teamed up with Piper (SS-409), Pomiret (SS-391), Bowfin (SS-287), and Sterlet (SS-392) on an anti-picket boat sweep past Nanpo Shoto, the eastern island chain south of Tokyo, to clear the sea lanes for the carriers of Task Force 6g which in turn was about to strike the Japanese home islands to neutralize them during the assault on the strategic island of Iwo Jima. Trepang encountered no worthwhile targets during the patrol and had to settle for performing lifeguard duty for carrier assaults on Tokyo. On 24 February 1945, the submarine sank the 875-ton freighter Usuki Maru and blew the bow off another small coastal vessel. While maneuvering to finish off the crippled ship, several antisubmarine vessels appeared on the scene from behind a nearby headland and converged on the fleet boat. Trepang dove deep as the Japanese subjected her to a seven-hour depth charge barrage.

Following her return to Guam in March, Trepang headed for the Yellow Sea a "hazardous duty" area due to its vast stretches of shallow water. Despite the danger, the submarine performed well, bagging the 1,000-ton landing craft, Transport No. 146, on 28 April, the 4,667-ton, heavily laden freighter, Miho Maru, two days later, and Minesweeper No. 20 which blew sky-high with a hit on her magazine on 4 May. In addition the submarine surfaced to shell a junk with a load of lumber. The sole member of this victim's crew, a Korean understood little sign language, and looked to be of little value for intelligence purposes, so he was put back on board his barely seaworthy craft, with tools and food, and sent on his way. Leaving the Yellow Sea, Trepang did a short tour of lifeguarding for B-25 strikes on Shanghai, China, and for the continuing series of B-29 raids on Tokyo, before she returned to Guam.

Trepang's fifth war patrol was divided into two parts —the first saw the ship operating in a lifeguard capacity while the second gave her a more offensive role off northeastern Honshu and eastern Hokkaido. In the former role, she arrived on station to the southeast of Tokyo Bay. Having experienced two previous tours of lifeguarding, Trepang's men expected a series of long dull days, spent moving in circles, squares, or triangles to break the monotony.

However, shortly before noon on her first day, lookouts spotted a blossoming parachute overhead and soon saw the splash of a crashed P-51 Mustang fighter damaged while escorting B-29's to Tokyo. Trepang bent on full power and soon picked up the downed aviator 2d Lt. Lamar Christian, USAAF, safe and sound. During the maneuver, another Mustang, piloted by 1st Lt. Frank Ayres, USAAF, radioed that it, too, was in trouble; and the pilot requested permission to bail out. Trepang replied telling Ayres to "be patient" until the first rescue was complete. Ayres circled the submarine until Christian was safely on board the submarine. Ayres then executed a perfect jump and landed some 400 yards away from Trepang and was soon hauled on board.

Three days after rescuing the two airmen, Trepang turned them over to Tigrone (SS-419) which was on her way home with 30 other aviators already on board. In the middle of the transfer, the submarines picked up a radio message from a "Boxkite" (rescue search plane) that a B-29 Superfortress crew, downed the previous day, was floating a mere seven miles from the Japanese seaport of Nagoya. Accompanied by Springer (SS-414) which had also been discharging passengers to Tigrone Trepang surged ahead.

The two submarines raced to save the Superfortress's crew. Trepang put on full speed and arrived on the scene first. She found eight survivors in four groups of rafts, spread over about four miles of ocean. By the time Springer arrived on the scene, Trepang had picked up seven of the fliers. Springer picked up the last man.

En route to a rendezvous with Devilfish (SS-292)Trepang sighted a small, troop laden freighter and sank the ship with her deck guns. A dozen or so Japanese soldiers from the flaming vessel refused to be picked up and taken prisoner and so were left to drown.

Subsequently patrolling off the eastern coast of Honshu, Trepang went scoreless until July, when she spotted a coastal convoy of three ships. She torpedoed and sank the lead ship-Koun Maru No. 2—but the other vessels conducted evasive action and sped away from the scene at full speed.

Satisfied that she had done her best, Trepang, heading to seaward, suddenly shuddered under the impact of two depth bomb explosions. A solitary Japanese plane had spotted Trepang's shadow in the shallow waters and had attacked with depth bombs. Fortunately, all missed their mark.

Given another lifeguarding assignment, Trepang stood on the alert to pick up possible downed airmen from British and American carrier strikes on the Japanese home islands. During this tour in July 1945, she rescued one pilot Lt. (jg.) Bill Kingston, USNR. In addition, on 14 July, she witnessed a shore bombardment conducted by three battleships and a heavy cruiser against Kamaishi.

By now, the war was moving fast, and Trepang returned to Pearl Harbor for a refit. There, she watched the tumbling succession of staggering headlines-first the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Russian entry into the Far Eastern War, Japan's tentative acceptance of surrender terms, and finally-on 15 August-peace at last.

After completion of her refit, Trepang departed Pearl Harbor and arrived at San Diego on 3 September 1945. Decommissioned on 27 June 1946 and placed in reserve at Vallejo, Calif., at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Trepang remained in reserve into the 1960's. She was redesignated as an auxiliary submarine and classified AGSS-412 on 11 June 1962. Struck from the Navy list on 30 June 1967, the submarine was authorized for disposal on 22 December 1967. She was subsequently sunk as a target during Exercise "Strike Ex 4-69" on 16 September 1969 by the combined gunfire of Henderson (DD-785) and Feakteler (DD-870).

Trepang received five battle starts for World War II service and a Navy Unit Commendation.


This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Sturgeon Class Attack Submarine
    Keel Laid October 28 1967 - Launched September 27 1969

Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.


This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.

1. History

To supply the markets of Southern China, Makassarese trepangers traded with Indigenous Australians of Arnhem Land from at least the 18th century or likely prior. This Macassan contact with Australia is the first recorded example of interaction between the inhabitants of the Australian continent and their Asian neighbours.

This contact had a major impact on the Indigenous Australians. The Makassar exchanged goods such as cloth, tobacco, knives, rice and alcohol for the right to trepang coastal waters and employ local labour. Makassar pidgin became a lingua franca along the north coast among different Indigenous Australian groups who were brought into greater contact with each other by the seafaring Macassan culture.

Archeological remains of Makasar contact, including trepang processing plants from the 18th and 19th centuries, are still found at Australian locations such as Port Essington and Groote Eylandt, and the Makasar-planted tamarind trees native to Madagascar and East Africa.

World War II Database

ww2dbase When USS Trepang was launched on 23 Mar 1944, she was sponsored by Mrs. Davenport, the wife of the man who was to take command of the ship when she was to be commissioned in two months, Commander Roy Milton Davenport. She held her shakedown cruise off San Diego, California, United States before departing to Hawaii, United States for training.

ww2dbase On 13 Sep 1944, Trepang departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for her first war patrol south of Honshu, Japan. At about 0400 hours on 1 Oct, she spotted a Japanese convoy departing from Tokyo Bay the convoy was consisted of two tankers, one freighter, and one escort vessel. One of the six torpedoes she fired struck and sank the freighter Takunan Maru. On 11 Oct, she came across another convoy that was consisted of two tankers and one escort vessel she claimed to have sunk a tanker, but post-war analysis removed her credit for the sinking. On 12 Oct, she came across Japanese warships and identified them as two battleships and two destroyers. She fired six bow and four stern torpedoes, and Commander Davenport claimed to have scored two hits with the bow torpedoes, damaging a battleship and sinking a destroyer. This action earned him his fourth Navy Cross award, but Japanese records studied after the war could not confirm the success of this attack. She reached Majuro, Marshall Islands on 23 Oct for repairs (by submarine tender USS Bushnell) and training, ending her first war patrol.

ww2dbase Trepang departed for her second war patrol in the Philippine Islands area on 16 Nov 1944, together with sister ships Segundo and Razorback. Off Luzon, Philippine Islands on 6 Dec at about 2100 hours, she detected seven large freighters escorted by three vessels coming from the north. She radioed her findings to the other two submarines and then proceeded to dive for an attack, sinking Banshu Maru Number 31, Jinyo Maru, and Fukuyo Maru Segundo and Razorback arrived shortly after and sank two additional ships. She arrived at Pearl Harbor in late Dec 1944 to end her second war patrol. Davenport was reassigned as an instructor at the United States Naval Academy in Maryland, United States, and Commander Allen R. Faust took command of the submarine.

ww2dbase In Jan 1945, Trepang joined four other submarines during her third war patrol to form an anti-picket boat sweep in the Nanpo Islands south of Tokyo, Japan as indirect support for the preparation for the invasion of Iwo Jima she encountered no targets during this action. On 24 Feb 1945, she sank the 875-ton Japanese freighter Usuki Maru and blew the bow off of another small coastal vessel she was unable to finish off the damaged ship as anti-submarine vessels arrived and subjected her to a seven-hour depth charge barrage. On her fourth war patrol which began in early Apr 1945, she sailed into the Yellow Sea. On 28 Apr, she sank Japanese Transport Number 146, followed by the sinking of Miho Maru at 0600 hours on 30 Apr. On 2 May, she surfaced to shell a sampan with her deck gun, but after realizing that the boat was of little value, Trepang's crew gave the lone Korean crewman some food and sent him off along with his cargo of lumber. On 4 May, she hit Minesweeper Number 20, which sank after a very large explosion as its magazine was detonated the explosion was so large that Faust thought his submarine had sunk a destroyer escort. She served in lifeguard duties briefly off Shanghai, China and south of Japan before heading for Guam, Mariana Islands to end her fourth war patrol.

ww2dbase In Jun 1945, Trepang departed for her fifth war patrol. She began this patrol on lifeguard duties southeast of Tokyo Bay, rescuing P-51 Mustang fighter pilots Second Lieutenant Lamar Christian and First Lieutenant Frank Ayres from the water on the first day of the patrol. Three days later, she rescued 7 of 8 survivors from a downed B-29 Superfortress bomber while USS Springer picked up the 8th. During the offensive portion of her fifth war patrol, she sank a freighter at 0600 hours on 30 Jun about 12 survivors refused to be rescued, thus Trepang left them to die. In the afternoon of 7 Jul, she spotted a convoy of three ships and proceeded to attack, sinking the leading ship Koun Maru Number Two, but in turn also attracted the attention of a Japanese aircraft which attacked them with depth charges, though the attack caused no damage. Before she ended her fifth war patrol, she was put on lifeguard duty once again, rescuing Lieutenant (junior grade) Bill Kingston on 14 Jul.

ww2dbase Trepang returned to Pearl Harbor for a refit upon the completion of her fifth war patrol, and the war ended while she was out of commission. She was decommissioned from service in mid-1946 and placed in reserve at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California. On 11 Jun 1963, she was reclassified an auxiliary submarine with the hull number of AGSS-412. She was sunk as a target ship off southern California in Sep 1969.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Sep 2010

Submarine Trepang (SS-412) Interactive Map

Trepang Operational Timeline

24 Sep 1942 The planned submarine Senorita was renamed Trepang.
25 Jun 1943 The keel for the future submarine Trepang was laid down at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California, United States.
23 Mar 1944 Submarine Trepang was launched at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California, United States.
22 May 1944 USS Trepang was commissioned into service.
15 Aug 1944 USS Trepang departed for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
13 Sep 1944 USS Trepang departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for her first war patrol.
1 Oct 1944 USS Trepang attacked a Japanese convoy, sinking freighter Takunan Maru.
11 Oct 1944 USS Trepang attacked a Japanese convoy, claiming the sinking of landing ship No. 105.
12 Oct 1944 USS Trepang claimed damaging a Japanese battleship and sinking one destroyer during an attack conducted at 2100 hours, earning Commander Roy Davenport a Navy Cross. Post-war studies could not confirm this success, however.
23 Oct 1944 USS Trepang arrived at Majuro, Marshall Islands, ending her first war patrol.
16 Nov 1944 USS Trepang departed for her second war patrol.
6 Dec 1944 USS Trepang reached the Philippine Islands area off Luzon in the evening, she attacked a Japanese convoy and sank three freighters.
24 Feb 1945 USS Trepang sank freighter Usuki Maru and damaged another ship, and then survived a seven-hour depth charge barrage by multiple Japanese anti-submarine vessels.
28 Apr 1945 USS Trepang sank landing ship No. 146 in the East China Sea about 20 miles southwest of Goto Islands, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, hitting her with 1 of 8 torpedoes fired.
30 Apr 1945 USS Trepang sank Miho Maru in the Yellow Sea.
2 May 1945 USS Trepang surfaced to shell a sampan, but later called off the attack and allowed the boat to leave.
4 May 1945 USS Trepang sank Japanese Minesweeper Number 20 in the Yellow Sea.
30 Jun 1945 USS Trepang sank a Japanese freighter at 0600 hours the Japanese survivors refused to be picked up, thus were left to die.
7 Jul 1945 USS Trepang sank Japanese freighter Koun Maru Number Two the subsequent attack by depth charges from an aircraft resulted in no damage to the submarine.
14 Jul 1945 USS Trepang rescued down US Navy airman Lieutenant (junior grade) Bill Kingston from the water.
3 Sep 1945 USS Trepang arrived at San Diego, California, United States.
27 Jun 1946 USS Trepang was decommissioned from service and entered the reserves at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, United States.
11 Jun 1963 USS Trepang was reclassified an auxiliary submarine with the hull number of AGSS-412.
30 Jun 1967 USS Trepang was struck from the Naval Vessel Register.
22 Dec 1967 USS Trepang was authorized by the US Navy for disposal as a target ship.
16 Sep 1969 USS Trepang was sunk as a target during the exercise Strike Ex 4-69 by destroyers USS Henderson and USS Fechtler.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. David F. Hodges says:
30 May 2011 08:53:24 AM

Thank you for this website. I was born 2/12/1945 while my father Walter F. Hodges, RM1 was on his 5th and last patrol. I honor all those who have lost their lives on this Memorial Day 05/30/2011.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Trepang SS-412 - History


(SS-414: dp. 1,525, (surf.), 2,415 (subm.) 1. 311'8
b.27'3dr.15'3s.20k.(surf.),8.75 (subm.) cpl. 81 a. 10 21 tt., 1 5, 1 40mm.. 1 20mm. cl.Balao)

Springer (SS-414) was laid down on 3 October 1943 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Navy Yard launched on 3 August 1944, sponsored by Mrs. M. S. Tisdale and commissioned on 18 October 1944, Comdr. Russell Kefauver in command.

Springer sailed for San Diego on 3 December to conduct sea trials and shakedown training After availability, she departed Mare Island for Hawaii on 8 January 1945 and arrived at Pearl Harbor the following week. On 4 February, she steamed to Guam topped off her stores and oil and, on the 17th, sailed for the Ryukyus to begin her first war patrol.

Springer rode out several heavy storms and was driven down many times by enemy aircraft, but she finally spotted two Japanese warships on 11 March. The ships were at a range of 22,000 yards steaming at 17 knots, so the submarine surfaced to give chase. She was forced to submerge immediately by planes, and the pursuit was abandoned. Later in the month, the submarine made radar contact with three ships, and she tracked the largest for three hours. When it was within torpedo range, she made a surface attack with four torpedoes. She scored two hits and the target began to burn. An hour later, Transport No. 18 was still afloat so she sank it with another torpedo. The submarine returned to Guam on 25 March and was refitted by Proteus (AS-19).

Springer, Trepang (SS-412), and Raton (SS&mdash270) sailed on 20 April for the Yellow Sea where they were to operate as a wolfpack. Eight days later, the pack checked Tomei Harbor on Fukue Shima. At 0515, Springer sighted two ships hugging the coastline, but she found it impossible to close nearer than 6,500 yards. She heard 14 explosions at approximately 0630. Trepang had sunk Transport No. 146 and was being depth charged by the victim's escort. Springer headed out of the harbor, and sighted the escort returning alone. At 0830, the submarine fired three torpedoes. The target went dead in the water and, as the crew was abandoning ship, Springer fired another torpedo. It hit under the target's No. 1 turret and blew off her bout Two planes and two patrol craft approached, so SS-414 went deep and cleared the area, leaving Japan's Submarine Chaser No. 17 to sink.

Springer and Trepang contacted three targets on 30 April. The morning was very foggy, and the submarines decided to make a surface attack. Just as Sprinper reached a favorable firing position around noon, the fog suddenly lifted and left her exposed to a destroyer escort crossing her stern. The escort turned toward the submarine with all guns firing. Springer submerged, went deep, and rigged for silent running. Soon the first of 27 depth charges came down, and all were uncomfortably close. Speakers were knocked off the bulkhead, bulbs were smashed, and valves were lifted off their seats. When all was quiet, the submarine surfaced for a look as the fog closed in again. One more explosion was heard as Tre pang sank the cargo ship Miho Maru.

On the night of 2 May, Springer attacked a ship and two small escorts with a spread of four torpedoes. She heard the first explode and then saw and heard two more hits which blew up and sank the frigate Ojika. The next night, she fired a spread of torpedoes at a ship making an antisubmarine sweep and sank the Japanese Coast Defense Vessel No. 25. On 4 May, Springer sailed toward Honshu for lifeguard duty. No American pilots were sighted but, on 14 May, after watching a dogfight between a Japanese fighter and four of our carrier planes, she fished the dead enemy pilot from the water. After removing his papers, the submarine's commanding officer returned his body to the sea. The submarine concluded her patrol at Guam, on 18 May, and was refitted by Proteus.

Springer sailed to Saipan on 16 June and began her

third war patrol the next day. This was a combination offensive and life guard patrol in the Tokyo Bay area. On 26 June, she rescued eight men from a downed B 29 and transferred them to Tigrone (SS-419). Springer and Trepang were notified that there was another crew down about 50 miles distant. They raced to the scene and Springer rescued one airman while Trepang picked up seven. The airman was transferred to Devilfish (SS-292) several days later. After an uneventful patrol in Kii Suido from 17 to 23 July, the submarine sailed for Guam.

Springer was at Guam when hostilities with Japan ceased. She departed there on 17 August and headed for the west coast of the United States. She arrived at Mare Island on 5 September 1945 and shortly thereafter was attached to Mare Island Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. In January 1947, her status was changed to in reserve, out of commission.

In April 1960, Springer was moved from Mare Island to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard to be modernized in preparation for her transfer to the Republic of Chile. She was recommissioned on 24 September and the overhaul completed on 15 November. From 19 December 1960 to 19 January 1961, she held alongside and underway training for the Chilean crew.

Springer was decommissioned on 23 January 1961, transferred to the Republic of Chile, and commissioned in the Chilean Navy as SS Thomson on that date. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 September 1972, and her hulk was sold to the government of Chile as scrap.

USS Razorback

USS Razorback, a Balao-class submarine of the Sandlance variant, was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.

Submarines, like other naval ships, are built in “classes”. Each class is named after the first ship of the class. Even though all members of a class are largely identical, as new technology is introduced, “variants” of the class occur.

For example, there are nine different variants of the “Balao” class:

  • Balao (SS 285 – 291)
  • Devilfish (SS 291 – 297)
  • Lionfish (SS 298 – 299, SS 308 – 312)
  • Moray (SS 300 – 303)
  • Seahorse (SS 304 – 307)
  • Perch (SS 313 – 352, SS 362 – 378)
  • Sandlance (SS 381 – 404)
  • Sea Owl (SS 405 – 410)
  • Spadefish (SS 411 – 416)

Her keel was laid on 09 September 1943. Razorback was constructed in Drydock #1 at the shipyard, and she was launched, along with two sister ships USS Redfish (SS-395) and USS Ronquil (SS-396), on 27 January 1944. USS Scabbardfish (SS-397) was also launched at the shipyard that day. This was the largest single-day launch of submarines in US history.

Physical Characteristics
Overall Length: 311 Feet, 7 Inches
Maximum Beam: 27 Feet, 3 Inches
Draft: 16 Feet, 10 Inches
Surfaced Speed: 20.25 Knots
Submerged Speed: 8.75 Knots
Surfaced Range: 10,000 Nautical Miles
Submerged Range: 10 hours, 48 minutes at 2 Knots (21.75 NM)
Test Depth: 400 Feet
Crush Depth: 600 Feet
Surfaced Displacement: 1,870 Tons
Submerged Displacement: 2,391 Tons
Torpedo Tubes: 10 (21″ diameter)
Six Forward
Four Aft
Deck Guns: 1 – 4″/50 Mk12 Mod 44 – Forward
Changed to 2 – 5″/25 Mk13 Mod11 Guns after 3rd War Patrol
2 20mm Single Mount
Various small arms
Periscopes: Two
1 – Type 2 Attack Periscope
1 – Type 3 Search Periscope
Diesel Engines: 4 – Fairbanks Morse
1,350 HP each
Auxiliary Engine: 300 Kw
Electric Motors: 4 – 685 HP each
Batteries: 2 – 126 cells each
18,600 amp-hr total capacity

She was commissioned on 03 April 1944. Her first Commanding Officer was LCDR Albert W. Bontier, USN.


During her training period, Razorback ran aground in the late evening of 23 May 1944 at Race Rock Light outside New London submarine base. Initial attempts to free her failed, and ultimately Razorback would be forced to unload gun ammunition and torpedoes from the forward torpedo room. Following a short drydocking period (27 May – 04 June), Razorback resumed her training regimen. CDR Roy S. Benson relieved LCDR Bontier as Commanding Officer on 05 June 1944. (LCDR Bontier would go on to commmand USS Seawolf (SS-197), which was probably sunk by U.S. forces on 03 October 1944.)

World War II Service

Razorback conducted five combat patrols during World War II, sinking Japanese vessels, capturing Japanese POWs and rescuing American pilots who had been shot down. At the end of WWII, she was one of only 12 submarines selected to be present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender was signed.

Following her commissioning on 03 April, 1944, Razorback and her crew underwent an intensive period of tests, exercises, and other training. She departed New London, CT en route to the Pacific on 23 June, 1944. Stopping from 30 June to 11 July in Key West, FL to act as a target for new SONAR operators at the Fleet Sound School there, she transited the Panama Canal on 15 July, 1944. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 04 August, Razorback underwent additional training and had the following modifications performed:

  • Replaced the 20mm gun on the after end of the bridge with a 40mm gun
  • Installed a VHF radio
  • Installed an AN/APR-1 Radar Countermeasures System (a Radar detector)
  • Replaced one RAL radio receiver with a newer RBH-1
  • Painted the submarine in standard camouflage scheme 32/3 SS-B
First War Patrol

Razorback departed for her first combat patrol on 25 August. CDR Roy Stanley Benson, USN, Razorback‘s Commanding Officer, was also in overall command of a group, or “wolf pack” of three submarines, known as the “Dog Pack”:

  • USS Razorback (SS 394)
  • USS Piranha (SS 389)
  • USS Cavalla (SS 244)

(CDR Benson would ultimately rise to the rank of Rear Admiral.)

During the first part of the patrol, the group operated as part of a larger group of submarines (known as the “Zoo”, under the tactical command of CAPT C.W. Wilkins, USN), conducting offensive reconnaissance in support of the invasion of Palau and fleet operations around the Philippines. Then, the group patrolled the areas east of Taiwan and between Taiwan and the Philippine island of Luzon.

Although neither Razorback, nor the other two submarines in the group sank any Japanese ships, it was recognized that this was due to the fact that the group was severely constrained in their operations and movements by the other operations going on in the Pacific. Razorback in particular was recognized for making a systematic collection of information about Japanese use of radar, especially radar aboard aircraft. Razorback‘s newly installed APR radar detector almost certainly prevented her from being sunk by Japanese aircraft. Razorback had bombs and/or depth charges dropped on her twice.

At the end of the patrol on 09 October, the group split up. Razorback headed to Midway, Piranha to Pearl Harbor, and Cavalla to Freemantle, Australia.

Read Razorback‘s War Patrol Report for her First War Patrol here

Razorback arrived at Midway on 19 October. CDR Benson was relieved by LCDR C. Donald Brown, USN on 21 October. During her time in Midway, a few minor alterations were performed and a week-long training period was conducted. Razorback departed for her second war patrol on 15 November, 1944

Second War Patrol

Razorback operated as part of “Roys Rangers”, a wolfpack group under the command of CDR R.M. Davenport, Commander of USS Trepang. The group consisted of:

  • USS Razorback (SS 394)
  • USS Trepang (SS 412)
  • USS Segundo (SS 398)

The group patrolled the Luzon Strait area. A total of 10 attacks were conducted on six different groups of Japanese vessels. Razorback was so aggressive in pressing her attacks that part way through her patrol, she ran low on torpedoes and returned briefly to Saipan for 24 more.

Razorback sank the following vessels:

  • Unknown Shigure-type Destroyer of approximately 1,400 tons
  • IJN Kuretake (DD-4), a Wakatake class Destroyer (1,100 tons full load displacement)
  • A large Oiler (8,000 tons)
  • A large AK (troop carrying freighter) (7,500 tons)
  • A large AK or AP (troop ship) type (5,000 tons)

Razorback shares 1/2 credit for the last vessel with Segundo, who had previously damaged it.

Razorback also damaged a medium AK (troop carrying freighter) of about 4,000 tons.

More recent evidence suggests that the attack on the Shigure-type destroyer, conducted on 05/06 December, 1944, was not actually successful. Research is ongoing.

At the end of her second patrol, Razorback headed for Guam.

Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Second War Patrol here

Razorback arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam on 05 January, 1945 for a refit and overhaul. She departed on her third war patrol on 01 February, 1945.

Third War Patrol

Razorback operated as part of a group “Fulp’s Fiddlers”, consisting of:

  • USS Segundo (SS 398) (CDR J.D. Fulp, USN, Pack Commander)
  • USS Razorback (SS 394)
  • USS Sea Cat (SS 399)

The group patrolled the East China Sea. Razorback conducted two unsuccessful torpedo attacks, but sank two 85-foot long, 100-ton wooden sea trucks a 50-ton wooden schooner and a 100-ton, two-masted junk with her 4″ deck gun and her 40mm and 20mm guns. Four Japanese POWs were also captured.

At the end of her third patrol, Razorback stopped at Guam to discharge her prisoners, then proceeded to Pearl Harbor, HI.

Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Third War Patrol here

Razorback arrived at Pearl Harbor 26 March, 1945. While the crew was given a well deserved rest, Razorback was undergoing both a normal post-patrol refit as well as having major modifications done. Some of the work done included:

  • Attempted repair of (followed by replacement of) the port propeller shaft which had begun over heating at deep submergence depths
  • Replaced 4″/50 gun forward with a 5″/25
  • Installation of a second gun foundation aft
  • Installation of a 5″/25 gun aft
  • Installation of an ST-type (range-only) periscope radar

Razorback departed on her fourth war patrol on 07 May, 1945.

The majority of this war patrol was spent on lifeguard duty very near the Japanese coast. Razorback rescued a total of five men:

  • Lt. Col. Charles E. Taylor, a P-51 pilot
  • 1st Lt. J. Z. Keseks, B-29 “MASCOT 31”
  • 2nd Lt. J. P. Duffy, B-29 “MASCOT 31”
  • 2nd Lt. C. J. Duveen, B-29 “MASCOT 31”
  • Staff Sgt A. J. Liberi, B-29 “MASCOT 31”

These men were transferred to USS Dragonet (SS 293) on 05 June, and Razorback continued her patrol.

During this patrol, Razorback saw no large vessels at all, but did see a number of Japanese aircraft and experienced a variety of new Japanese ASW tactics, including “gambit” or loitering tactics by Japanese aircraft and possibly the use of an air-dropped ASW torpedo.

At the end of her fourth war patrol, Razorback headed for Midway.

Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Forth War Patrol here

Razorback arrived at Midway on 27 July, 1945. During a short refit period, the following alterations were performed:

  • Replaced 20mm gun on aft cigarette deck with a twin 20mm gun mount
  • Replaced the SD-4 air search radar with an SD-5
  • Installed a DCDI (Depth Charge Direction Indicator)
  • Installed an ice cream freezer

While Razorback was in Midway conducting underway training, GMC Valant, a crewman aboard USS Entemedor (SS 340), was washed overboard. Razorback crewmen LT (jg) W. H. Pattillo, USNR and MoMM3 D.D. Langford went into the water and rescued him, despite the state 3 seas and a nearby reef.

Razorback departed on her fifth war patrol on 22 July, 1945. This patrol was spent in the Okhotsk Sea and east of the Northern Kurile Islands.

Razorback was especially impressed with the performance of the newly installed SD-5 air search radar, which regularly gave contacts at an excess of 50 miles. Previous contact distances had been as low as 10 miles or less.

The only large vessels sighted during this patrol were Russian vessels, and Razorback was able to confirm that they were staying in their agreed upon areas. A number of these vessels were “shot” with a camera, rather than torpedoes. Razorback was able to engage and sink six wooden “sea trucks” and damage two others with her deck guns.

Razorback‘s offensive patrols were interrupted by assigned to lifeguard stations, but fortunately, her services were not needed.

Despite the declaration of a cease fire on 16 August, Razorback was fired upon by an unidentified submerged Japanese submarine on 29 August. Razorback dove to avoid the torpedo and did not return fire.

On 30 August, 1945, Razorback was assigned to the task group “Benny’s Peacemakers”, and she entered Tokyo Bay on 31 August to participate in the formal surrender ceremonies on 02 September, 1945.

Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Fifth War Patrol here (4MB Adobe PDF file)

Read Razorback‘s Official Ship’s History for World War II Here (400KB Adobe PDF file)

Read a Summary of the Awards that Razorback‘s Officers and Crewmen Received Here (353KB Adobe PDF file)

All U.S. Navy deck logs are kept at the National Archives in College, Park, MD.

They are available for researchers to examine and even make copies of, but cannot be “checked out”.

As such, the process of getting digital copies made is time-consuming. Hiring someone to do it would be prohibitively expensive (but if you would be interested in helping, please let us know).

At the present time, the following log books have been scanned:

April 1944 (Commissioning, including crew list)

May 1944

June 1944

July 1944

August 1944

September 1944

October 1944

November 1944

December 1944

January 1945 Deck Log Notes

January 1945 Deck Log

February 1945 Deck Log

March 1945 Deck Log

April 1945 Deck Log

May 1945 Deck Log

June 1945 Deck Log

Post War Service

After WWII, Razorback was active in the Cold War, conducting surveillance patrols around Russian ports, photographing Russian vessels, and conducting training missions with US ships and aircraft, as well as with US Coast Guard vessels and the vessels of the Canadian, British, and other allied nations.

All U.S. Navy deck logs are kept at the National Archives in College, Park, MD.

They are available for researchers to examine and even make copies of, but cannot be “checked out”.

As such, the process of getting digital copies made is time-consuming. Hiring someone to do it would be prohibitively expensive (but if you would be interested in helping, please let us know).

At the present time, the following log books have been scanned:

January 1948 Deck Log

February 1948 Deck Log

June 1948 Deck Log

July 1948 Deck Log

August 1948 Deck Log

October 1948 Deck Log

November 1948 Deck Log

December 1948 Deck Log

After the formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay, Razorback returned to America, arriving in San Diego on 20 September 1945. By the end of the year, she was back at sea, arriving in Pearl Harbor on 05 January 1946 for a general overhaul which lasted until 22 April. The following modifications were performed during this overhaul:

  • Installed a Mk IV TDC (Torpedo Data Computer)
  • Installed a Mk II TBT (Target Bearing Transmitter)
  • Installed a MK 7, Mod 1 DRT (Dead Reckoning Tracer) in the Control Room
  • Installed an SV air search radar
  • Installed an AN/SPR-1 Radar Receiver
  • Installed an SCR-624-A VHF Radio
  • Installed a JT Sonar
  • Installation of a NGA Fathometer
  • Installation of a fixed dome on the QB sonar spherical sound dome
  • Installation of two 5″/25 caliber Mark 40 wet type guns
  • Installation of two 40mm mounts
  • Installation of associated gun and ammunition storage
  • Installed permanent propeller and stern plane guards
  • Modified the general alarm system
  • Modified the diving alarm system
  • Modified the submarine control announcing system
  • Modified the heat exchanger in the fresh water distiller
First “Simulated War Patrol”

After the overhaul, Razorback remained at the Submarine Base in Pearl Harbor through the rest of April. Razorback and her crew also underwent eight days of training, including two days of target approaches, but no torpedoes were fired (probably a reflection of postwar budget realities). She then departed Pearl Harbor on 13 May 1946 for what was called a “Simulated War Patrol”.

During this patrol, Razorback took photographs of Johnson Island and made an extensive photographic and periscope reconnaissance of Nauru Island. She also took soundings around Nauru Island, in order to update navigational charts (which were based on a 1921 Australian survey). Her patrol ended on 02 June 1946 in Guam.

On 23 June 1947, Razorback entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for an overhaul. The following major alterations were performed:

  • Installation of a WFA-1 Sonar
  • Installation of an SS Radar
  • Installation of a Mk18 Mod 1 Auxiliary Gyroscope
  • Rearrangement of both the Conning Tower and the Control Room
  • Rearrangement of 5″ ammunition stowage space (reflecting the postwar shift away from submarine guns and, therefore a reduced allowance of ammunition)
Second “Simulated War Patrol”

Following the overhaul, Razorback departed San Francisco for Pearl Harbor, HI, arriving on 05 November. After having other work done, Razorback and her crew underwent two weeks of pre-patrol training, firing four practice torpedoes and holding three gunnery exercises. On 28 November 1947, she departed Pearl Harbor on a wide ranging cruise, traveling to:

  • Canton Island
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Okinawa
  • Tsingtao, China
  • Midway

The stop at Canton Island was an unscheduled stop. On 02 December, MoMM2 (Motor Machinist’s Mate Second Class) E.B. Zeller, Jr complained of severe abdominal pain. The Duty Corpsman, Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class L.C. Jones diagnosed a case of appendicitis. COMSUBPAC was contacted, and Razorback requested that a plane and doctor be sent to rendezvous at Canton Island. COMSUBPAC agreed, and a plane brought a Dr. Vogel to Canton Island. After examining MoMM2 Zeller, Dr. Vogel had the petty officer transported back to Pearl Harbor.

Razorback arrived at Sydney Harbor on 15 December. The boat was open to visitors from 1300 to 1600 each day, and “a capacity crowd was present each day, despite the fact that it rained almost continually.” (Just proves that Razorback has always been a crowd pleaser. Upon her departure, the patrol report also noted that, “All hands considered Sydney an excellent liberty port.”

Razorback departed Sydney on 19 December. On Christmas Eve, the Razorback Choir, under the direction of “Mastro” LT A.W. Gillis, entertained the crew with Christmas Carols over the 1MC. A photo reconnaissance of Yap Island was attempted, but the sky was too overcast to permit taking pictures, so Razorback headed for Okinawa, arriving on 05 January 1948. Four days of ASW exercises were held, with Razorback playing the roll of hunted, a part she would play over and over again for many years.

After the exercises, there was a short time ashore, during which a softball game between the officers and crew was held. Crew defeated the Officer’s team 9-8, and Razorback headed for Tsingtao, China that afternoon.

Razorback rendezvoused with USS Charles P. Cecil (DD 835) in the area of Chalin Tao Island (about 30 miles southeast of Tsingtao) on 13 January and conducted a series of ASW exercises with her. The next day, a series of exercises with USS Begor were cancelled due to the poor weather. Exercises on the 15 were also cut short. The Patrol Report noted that, “…the weather in general very unpleasant.”

Razorback moored at Tsingtao, China from 16-18 January, then conducted a series of exercises, including ASW exercises as well as attack exercises, almost every day for the next month. Razorback also had the opportunity to fire five exercise torpedoes, all of which were recovered and returned to Razorback for re-use. The only interruption was when a case of measles was diagnosed. The infected man was isolated in the forward torpedo room until he could be transferred to the hospital ship USS Repose (AH 16) the next day. Razorback finally left Tsingtao on 15 February for Midway and then Pearl Harbor, arriving on February 28 after steaming 16,985 miles since her departure.

Third “Simulated War Patrol”

On 19 July 1949, Razorback departed Pearl Harbor on 19 July 1949 for her Third “Simulated War Patrol”. Upon arriving at Guam, Razorback provided ASW target services for both US Navy aircraft and surface ships. Two practice torpedoes were fired at USS Hewell (AKL 14) and both torpedoes were hits. Her stay in Guam was cut short so that Razorback could travel to Yokosuka, Japan to provide ASW target services for the destroyers of DESRON Five as well as for various air units.

For the next month, Razorback conducted exercises daily during the week, with short weekend stays in Yokosuka for liberty. On 19 August, Razorback made a successful approach and simulated attack on USS Manchester (CL 83), even though she was protected by eight destroyers and a Sunderland seaplane. At the end of August, Razorback shifted to Subic Bay, Philippines, to provide ASW target services for the vessels of DESDIV 32. Razorback also conducted ASW training with British units in the Yokosuka area.

According to the Patrol Report, “DESDIV 32 had gone through considerable ASW training and was ready for advanced work.” Despite this, just after her arrival,Razorback was able to slip past four DESDIV 32 destroyers, make an approach on USS St. Paul (CA 73), and simulate launching 10 torpedoes at the cruiser! After nearly a month in the Philippines, Razorback left for a scheduled four day stop in Hong Kong for liberty and recreation.

Unfortunately, the visit had to be cut short due to the approach of Typhoon Omelia, and Razorback departed for Pearl Harbor on 06 October. After a short stop at Midway, Razorback arrived back at Pearl Harbor on 21 October having steamed 16,440 miles.

During this patrol, the Razorback basketball team ran up a string of seven consecutive victories over various opponents in the Western Pacific, mostly against teams from destroyers. (Apparently, the basketball court was taken out during the GUPPY conversion.)

Fourth Simulated War Patrol

1951 Found Razorback on the East Coast, operating out of Norfolk, VA. On 30 April 1951, she departed Norfolk and began operating in an operating area in the Atlantic known as “Convex II”. For the first several days, Razorback found many merchant ships, and was the target of frequent searches by aircraft, but managed to evade all her potential aerial hunters.

Finally, on the 6th, Razorback located two destroyers, but was unable to press the attack. A P2V Neptune scored first on the 7th after surprising Razorback on the surface and conducting a successful simulated attack. It turned out that the aircraft was not attacking Razorback‘s periscope, but a fisherman’s float marker. Nevertheless, Razorback reported herself “Out of Action” in accordance with the exercise rules. Just before returning to duty, Razorback was attacked a second time by a P2V Neptune and put out of action again.

Razorback turned the tables on the 11th. She penetrated the destroyer screen around USS Palau (CVE 122) and simulated firing six torpedoes. She was able to avoid the hunting destroyers for two hours, but was finally located and successfully attacked by USS Johnson (DD 821). She then spent the remainder of the exercise unsuccessfully searching for another group to attack, but while successfully avoiding attack by any other aircraft.

She received the coveted Navy “E” for overall excellence in 1949.

GUPPY Conversion

Razorback was decommissioned on 05 August 1952 in order to undergo conversion and modernization under the (Greater Underwater Propulsive Power) “GUPPY” program.

The GUPPY program was developed by the US Navy after World War II to improve the submerged speed, maneuverability and endurance of its submarines. The modifications were made at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, where she had been built just eight years before. Many technologies had advanced in those eight short years. The world had also changed and both the technological changes and the geopolitical changes had a direct impact on submarine operations and submarine design.

By 1946 the Soviet Union was already seen as the future adversary of the United States. It was estimated that the Soviet Union had 229 submarines, of which only 13 were obsolete types. It was also estimated that over the next 20 years the Soviet Navy would be able to build over 1200 new submarines. Clearly, the United States could not build enough new submarines to keep up, so existing submarines would have to be modernized.

At the end of World War II, cutting edge German submarine technology, including complete submarines, examples of snorkel technology, highly advanced torpedoes, and even sound absorbing tiles for submarine hulls had been evenly distributed between the three major allied powers (the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union). In this distribution, the United States and the Soviet Union both received 10 German submarines. In addition, American and British Naval leaders believed that advancing Soviet armies, while occupying much of Germany, had captured additional items including blueprints, prototypes and possibly even as many as 40 nearly complete submarines.

It was clear to American Naval leaders that the US submarine fleet would need to be rapidly modernized in order to keep pace with the expected advances in Russian submarine technology. The surface Navy also needed to learn how to detect, defend against, and if necessary, attack the fast, modern submarines the Soviets were building, so they needed similarly fast, modern submarines to train against.

The primary elements of the GUPPY Program were:

  • Increased battery capacity
  • Streamlined outer hull
  • Addition of a snorkel
  • Improved sensors

Increased Battery Capacity
The underwater endurance of a diesel-electric submarine is defined by the capacity of it’s batteries. The GUPPY program increased the number of battery cells in each submarine with some later boats receiving improved batteries that provided even more power per cell.

Streamlined Outer Hull
WWII submarines like Razorback were basically surface ships that could submerge, but were very slow under water (8.5 knots vs 18 knots surfaced). A submarine’s underwater speed is limited by the amount of drag created by it’s fairwater, periscopes, guns, and other deck machinery. All of these items created a great deal of drag. Reducing this drag meant that the submarine could go faster while using the same amount of power. Streamlining also had the advantage of reducing an opponent’s sonar effectiveness by 10% or more. Significant changes included:

  • Removal of deck guns
  • Removal of 20mm and 40mm anti-aircraft guns
  • Rebuilding of the bridge/periscope shears structure as a streamlined “sail”
  • Capstans made retractable
  • Deck cleats made retractable
  • Deck safety rail stanchions made flush with the deck
  • All deck safety rails made removable
  • Replacement of the pointed bow and towing fairlead with a rounded bow (known as the “Guppy Bow”)

Addition of a Snorkel
The snorkel, often credited to the German Navy, was actually a Dutch invention. The Dutch Navy began experimenting with snorkels as early as 1938. When the Netherlands fell to German invasion in 1940, the invention fell in to German hands, and was being installed on German U-Boats by 1943.

The snorkel allows a submarine to run its diesel engines while submerged (down to about periscope depth), greatly increasing its underwater endurance while also greatly reducing its vulnerability to detection by radar. (A snorkeling boat was actually more vulnerable to detection by sonar, but this was considered an advantage for US submarines, since existing sonars and torpedoes, designed to detect and attack surface ships, could still be used to detect and attack a snorkeling submarine. Also, the Soviet Navy operated from a very limited number of bases, allowing US submarines to “lurk” off these bases waiting for their noisy targets to approach.)

Improved Sensors
The GUPPY program added a wide variety of sensors, including better sonars, better electronic warfare systems, and even new fire control systems in the later boats.

The GUPPY program eventually led to seven different variants:

  • Fleet Snorkel

The apparent out of order sequence is correct. Furthermore, some boats that went through an early part of the program were upgraded a second time in a later phase. For example, both GUPPY I boats (USS Odax (SS 484) and USS Pomodon (SS 486)) went through the GUPPY II program while all nine GUPPY III boats had themselves previously been through the GUPPY II program. A total of 50 submarines went through some phase of the GUPPY program.

While many of the museum submarines in the United States went through some form of the GUPPY program, Razorback is the only Balao class GUPPY IIA boat on display anywhere in the world. Furthermore, she is one of only two GUPPY submarines to have had her hull reinforced so she could act as a live target for torpedo tests, a role Razorback would fulfill regularly during her career. (The other submarine was USS Thornback (SS 418), a Tench class submarine that also served in the Turkish Navy. She is now a museum submarine in Istanbul.)

Read a copy of Razorback‘s Recommissioning Program Here

Cold War Activities and Training

Recommissioned on 08 January 1954, Razorback resumed her Cold War duties. During 1955 alone, she made over 390 dives during exercises and ASW training. In 1957 she made a surveillance patrol around the Russian port of Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia’s primary submarine port in the Pacific.

Click here to read the formerly TOP SECRET patrol report from Razorback‘s patrol off Petropavlovsk.

She also participated in testing of the Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) in 1957. ASROC was designed to give surface ships a long-range ASW capability.

Razorback was awarded a second Battle “E” on 11 August 1959.

In 1960, Razorback continued her R&D work with both the Naval Electronics Library and the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory.

From November 1961 to February 1962, Razorback was drydocked in San Francisco for additional modifications, including the replacement of her “step-sail” (installed as part of the GUPPY program) with a larger “North Atlantic” sail (the same sail she still has today).

On 04 December, 1961, a Ship’s Party was held. The emcee was Ed Hennessey, who emceed the 1961 “Miss Universe” pagent.

Click here to see a copy of the program from the party, including a complete crew list.

On Christmas Day, 1961, Razorback, then under the command of LCDR Schoenherr, hosted a Christmas Party for “Submarine Group San Francisco”. Unfortunately, the program does not list any of the participants, but it does list some of the crew and a menu. Click here to see a copy of the program from the party.


On 11 May 1962, Razorback participated in the “SWORDFISH” nuclear weapons test. An ASROC with a nuclear depth charge warhead was fired by the destroyer Agerholmn (DD-826) at a target raft from a range of 2 nautical miles. Razorback was submerged at periscope depth 2 nautical miles from the target raft. The ASROC weapon produced a powerful underwater shock wave which visibly shook Razorback and her crew. The resulting data was used to formulate tactical doctrine for ASROC, a weapon that remained in front-line service for nearly 30 years.

Training for Vietnam

Following the “SWORDFISH” test, Razorback resumed her normal duties. She conducted ASW training with many different vessels and aircraft. In 1962, Razorback traveled to Seattle, Washington where she participated in the annual “Sea Fair”. She hosted an estimated 5,000 visitors during her stay.

In 1963, she rescued Vice Admiral Gerald F. Bogan, USN (ret) and six other men after Admiral Bogan’s yacht, Freedom II sank in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and San Diego. In 1967, Razorback rescued two US Navy crew members from a downed S-2E aircraft. Two Razorback crewmen received citations from the Secretary of the Navy for aiding in the rescue and treatment of the airmen.

On 29 June 1965, Razorback deployed to the western Pacific for seven months, receiving the Vietnam Service Medal and visiting many ports of call before returning to the United States in early 1966.

In May 1967, Razorback recorded her 6,000 th dive.

On 02 July 1969, Razorback won the Navy “E” for a third time.

During this period Razorback was also participating in the Vietnam War. She received the Vietnam Service medal four times and the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation twice. She received five battle stars for her Vietnam-era patrols. Many of the details of her Vietnam-era service remain classified.

All U.S. Navy deck logs are kept at the National Archives in College, Park, MD.

They are available for researchers to examine and even make copies of, but cannot be “checked out”.

As such, the process of getting digital copies made is time-consuming and expensive, requiring that an AIMM staff member travel to the Washington, DC area in person. There are also the expenses of hotel rooms and food. Hiring someone to do it would be prohibitively expensive (but if you would be interested in helping, please let us know).

At the present time, the following log books have been scanned:

January 1968 Deck Log

February 1968 Deck Log

March 1968 Deck Log

April 1968 Deck Log

May 1968 Deck Log

June 1968 Deck Log

January 1969 Deck Log

February 1969 Deck Log

March 1969 Deck Log

April 1969 Deck Log

May 1969 Deck Log

June 1969 Deck Log

July 1969 Deck Log

August 1969 Deck Log

September 1969 Deck Log

October 1969 Deck Log

November 1969 Deck Log

December 1969 Deck Log

Decommissioning and Transfer to the Turkish Navy

On 30 November 1970, USS Razorback was decommissioned and transferred to the Turkish Navy.

Click here to read the Decommissioning Booklet

She was recommissioned as TCG Muratreis (S 336) on 17 December 1971. Muratreis served in the 1st Submarine Squadron, based in Karadeniz Eregil on the Black Sea. On 13 August 1993, she was transferred to the 2nd Submarine Squadron, sailing out of Gölcük and Karadeniz Eregil.

During her service with the Turkish Navy, Muratreis served as a front-line, combatant submarine, making at least 14 patrol rotations and 7 long-range deployments. She also participated in the NATO-sponsored exercise LINKED SEA-95, conducted in the Atlantic in June 1995.

TCG Muratreis was decommissioned on 08 August, 2001.

On 25 March 2004, the Turkish Navy officially transferred Muratreis to the “USS Razorback / TCG Muratreis Association”, which is now the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum Foundation.

Click here to see the transfer booklet.

Service history [ edit | edit source ]

1970-1971 [ edit | edit source ]

Following local operations out of her home port, New London, Connecticut, Trepang proceeded to the Arctic early in 1971. From 22 February to 22 March 1971, she operated beneath the polar ice cap, conducting extensive tests to provide data for her weapons systems as well as carrying out scientific experiments concerning the movement, composition, and geological history of the ice cap itself.

After returning to New London via Faslane, Scotland, Trepang was soon deployed to the warmer climes of the Caribbean Sea, departing from New London on 22 April 1971 and subsequently making port at Frederiksted on St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands for weapons systems acceptance and evaluation trials. Back in New England waters for local operations, Trepang again headed south for further tests. In November 1971, she deployed to conduct independent operations in the North Atlantic Ocean.

1972 [ edit | edit source ]

Following her return to New London on 5 February 1972, Trepang underwent a routine post-deployment standdown and upkeep, as well as attack submarine training and equipment grooming in local operating areas. She conducted a second extended deployment into the North Atlantic from 24 July to 25 September 1972, returning to New London via Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. For the remainder of 1972, she operated off the United States East Coast between New London and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

1973 [ edit | edit source ]

An interim four-week drydocking period at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard at Kittery, Maine, preceded Trepang ' s 1973 operations before she headed south for weapons tests off the Florida coast. Completing a four-week upkeep period on 22 April 1973, she completed a Nuclear Technical Proficiency Inspection before returning to New London, where she completed an Operational Reactor Safeguard Examination on 4 May 1973.

On 8 June 1973, Trepang departed New London for a six-month deployment with the United States Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. She participated in several special operations with the Sixth Fleet during the increased tension brought on by the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East in October 1973. She returned to New London at the end of November 1973 for upkeep and the routine post-deployment standdown leave period.

1974 [ edit | edit source ]

Trepang got underway on 15 February 1974 for a special operation which lasted through 9 April 1974. She then spent three days at Holy Loch, Scotland, before departing for New London. She continued local operations and training off the U.S. East Coast through her change of home port on 1 October 1974, when Portsmouth, New Hampshire, became her new base. She spent the remainder of 1974 in drydock in annual overhaul.

1975 [ edit | edit source ]

While in overhaul, Trepang was assigned to Submarine Squadron 10 during March 1975. She spent April to August 1975 completing the overhaul and carrying out crew training and recertification. Following sea trials in late October 1975, Trepang returned to New London, which once again became her home port, on 7 November for an intensive post-overhaul upkeep alongside submarine tender USS Fulton (AS-11).

Departing New London on 1 December 1975, Trepang conducted post-overhaul weapons systems acceptance testing at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico and five days of acoustic trials off Frederiksted at St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands before departing St. Croix on 17 December 1975 and returning to New London on 22 December.

1976 [ edit | edit source ]

Trepang spent the early part of 1976 preparing for an extended cruise. She deployed to the Mediterranean Sea from June to November 1976, operating with the Sixth Fleet. She returned to New London upon conclusion of the deployment, and the routine post-deployment standdown lasted into 1977.

1977 [ edit | edit source ]

In mid-January 1977, Trepang participated in Exercise "CARIBEX 77" in the Caribbean. She devoted the spring of 1977 to individual ship exercises which included a Nuclear Technical Proficiency Inspection, a Mk-48 Torpedo Proficiency Inspection, and an Operational Readiness Inspection, all of which she completed successfully. An extensive refit period, which included drydocking, took place in May and early June 1977. Midshipman orientation cruises followed and, in September, Trepang conducted pre-deployment work-up and certification. She then engaged in a training mission in the Atlantic Ocean from mid-October to mid-December 1977 before returning to New London and beginning a routine post-deployment standdown.

1978 [ edit | edit source ]

After the standdown ended during January 1978, Trepang devoted the remainder of January, February, and March to attack submarine training and participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Exercise "Safepass." She spent the summer of 1978 working up for a scheduled Mediterranean deployment. The deployment was subsequently cancelled to permit her to participate in a special Chief of Naval Operations project. She spent the remaining months of 1978 in the evaluation of equipment associated with that project, with periods at sea alternating with periods in port devoted to equipment maintenance. In October 1978, the FBI arrested three men—two in St. Louis, one in New York—on charges of conspiring to steal the USS Trepang, based in New London, Ct. The FBI discovered the plot when Edward J. Mendenhall and James W. Cosgrove, two of the accused conspirators, contacted an undercover agent seeking funds for training and supplies. After stealing the submarine, the two intended to kill the crew, put out to sea, and rendezvous with an unidentified buyer. Ώ]

She departed Groton on 27 November 1978 to conclude 1978 at sea conducting activities related to the special project.

1979-1988 [ edit | edit source ]

In 1988, Trepang visited Bermuda, earned the Battle "E" and visited Scotland following a Northern Atlantic deployment. From 1989 to 1991, Trepang completed overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She then moved to her new home port of Charleston, South Carolina. During her voyage from Kittery to Charleston late in 1991 she transited beneath under the 1991 "Perfect Storm".

1991-1998 [ edit | edit source ]

During the remainder of her career, Trepang conducted many "fast-attack submarine" drill missions as well as a Mediterranean cruise interrupted by a stay of many weeks in La Maddalena, Italy, and Haifa, Israel. During her Mediterranean deployment, she participated in NATO operations off Bosnia-Herzegovina, became the first American submarine in history to perform peacetime operations with a German submarine—namely U-29 (S178), conducted a secret mission tailing a drug-smuggling ship, and trained with SEAL Team 6.

During these years, one of Trepang ' s sister ships, USS Bluefish (SSN-675) was considered her "sister submarine," and the two often docked near one another.

After Trans World Airlines Flight 800 exploded and crashed off Long Island, New York, on 17 July 1996, one of the theories about the cause of the disaster posited by various unofficial investigators held that a missile fired by the U.S. armed forces had shot the airliner down. The U.S. Navy confirmed that Trepang was operating off the coast of Long Island at the time of the disaster but had nothing to do with the crash.

Trepang conducted her final six-month deployment to the Mediterranean between June and December 1997. In late 1998, she circumnavigated the world in order to use up as much nuclear fuel as possible prior to decommissioning. She was awarded during this time the Joint Meritorious Unit Award (reasons unknown).


Living in a trader's house everything is brought to me as well as to the rest–bundles of smoked tripang, or beche de mer, looking like sausages which have been rolled in mud and then thrown up the chimney… Alfred Russel Wallace [1:329]

The term trepang derives from the Malayan word teripang and describes a range of edible holothurians commonly known as sea cucumbers. Sea cucumbers are found in temperate and tropical marine waters all over the world, but the centre of species diversity and abundance are the shallow coastal waters of Island Southeast Asia and adjacent areas. In this region, some 80–100 species are known, up to half of which have some commercial value. Along with other marine resources such as pearls, mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshells, trepang has exclusively been harvested as a high-priced commodity for the international market. Historically, trepang trade was a specialized business, almost completely in the hand of Makassarese, Bugis, and Bajau [2]. Because of its importance as an item of trade, and certainly also because of its unusual appearance to early European travellers, there are a number of historical sources available allowing us to follow the history of trepang fishing and trade in Island Southeast Asia, with Makassar (Ujung Pandang) in South Sulawesi as a major trading hub.

The consumption of trepang is almost entirely restricted to the Chinese, who consider them a culinary delicacy and an aphrodisiac. Together with similarly treasured resources such as shark fins and bird nests, trepang belongs to a group of commodities which were so valuable that “distant seaside cliffs and seemingly peripheral seas became sought-after destinations” [3:138]. Trepang fishing and trade thus was exclusively driven by a strong demand from China, and quickly generated new sources of supply. Trade with China has a long history in Southeast Asia, reaching back several thousand years and resulting in the development of large trading networks that involved local partners and extended into remote areas such as Eastern Indonesia by the time the trepang fishery developed [4]. The shallow seas of Island Southeast Asia suddenly had an additional valuable export commodity enabling local communities to contribute to these networks.

Authors such as Macknight [5], Sutherland [3] and Dai [6] agree that sea cucumbers were first derived from Hainan and Japan, before Southeast Asia became the centre of exploitation. The region not only possessed what seemed like an unlimited supply, it also offered virtually ideal conditions for exploitation and trade.

Makassar had long been known as a central point of seaborne commerce. Its geographic location at the southwest peninsular of Sulawesi made the town an ideal trading place, being at the crossroads of local coastal movements as well as in inter-insular traffic among Java, Kalimantan, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara and the Philippines, and in long distance trade with Europe, India and China [7]. The town also provided political stability, which further increased after its conquest by the Dutch in 1669. In addition, many Indians and Malays withdrew from Makassar after 1669, thereby leaving room for Chinese traders [3].

Three ethnic groups were involved in the exploitation and trade of marine resources in this region. The Bajau people originally were sea nomads, travelling long distances in search of valuable collecting grounds and thereby opening many trading routes. Bajau have often been described as the only people engaged in commercial fishing and collecting resources along the shores in Sulawesi [8]. They added trepang catching to fishing and turtle hunting as a means of obtaining goods for exchange [7]. The second group are the Bugis, traders from the mainland of Sulawesi, which Earl [9:390] described as “… the chief and almost sole carriers of the Archipelago, collecting the products of the various islands….” Bugis were also well-known and feared as pirates, and involved in the slave trade [10]–[11]. Together with the Makassarese, the traditional inhabitants of coastal Southern Sulawesi and also well-known as traders, the Bugis became quickly involved in the trepang trade.

Similar to other products, trepang flowed through a shifting hierarchy of collecting points where cargoes were assembled. Many Bugis traders paid dues to their kings or patrons, who could also be their creditors, while the Bajau were often tied to a patron in semi-tributary relationships [3].

Gathering trepang neither required special skills nor a lot of equipment. Fishing techniques ranged from simply collecting specimens by hand to the use of single- or double-headed spears. In shallow water, trepang was located by feeling for it with bare feet and then brought to the surface. Women would also collect the specimens by hand on the reef flats at low tide, while men dived or used a weighted, three-pronged spear, which was lowered by rope from a boat to a point just above a trepang and then dropped to the bottom, the weighted spear impaling the animal [12]. The subsequent processing required more attention, as this contemporary description explains: “After the trepang is caught, it is immediately boiled in sea-water, in which the leaves of the papaya are steeped, to take off a thin skin which covers it. It is then placed in baskets or holes, and covered up with earth until the following morning, when it is washed repeatedly to deprive it as much as possible of the disagreeable taste of coral which it possesses, after which it is spread out on mats, and dried.” [13:174]. Sometimes, instead of papaya, mangrove bark was used, and in some areas the trepang was also dried by smoking over fire. In this way made to last, the trepang was either sold to the Chinese in Makassar, or directly brought to Singapore [10]. The mode of production has not changed over time. Nowadays, trepang fishers still process their harvest in basically the same way.

Fishing and trading of trepang has a number of similarities with the more recent exploitation of other marine commodities, such as live reef food fish or ornamentals. One major factor common to all is the strong influence of an outside demand. The raise of a wealthy consumer class not only had a great influence on the Chinese desire for sea cucumbers in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century [14], but also stimulates today's exports of live grouper to seafood restaurants in Hong Kong and Singapore. Similarly, fashionable trends greatly influence the demand for marine commodities: the movie “Finding Nemo” significantly increased the demand for both saltwater aquariums and clownfishes.

A second influential factor is the role of credit and debt, which is inherent in patron-client relationships. The term describes a relationship between a politically and economically powerful patron and a weaker client. Clients and their families can borrow money, equipment or goods from the patron, in order to make it through bad seasons. This can be regarded as benevolent, but also creates debts and dependency. Patron-client relationships have a significant influence on the exploitation of marine resources in certain parts of Island Southeast Asia. In South Sulawesi, they developed from (1) local systems of land tenure and agricultural production [15] and (2) credit-debt arrangements common in Chinese business operations. Punggawa, the local term for patron, has already been used in the 19 th century to describe elected leaders of the Bajau [16]. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century credits were usually provided by ethnic Chinese, as Earl noticed: “Many of the Bajau … are chiefly employed by the Chinese in fishing for trepang … and according to the policy invariable adopted by the latter in their dealings with the natives, are generally involved in debt, from which extrication is nearly hopeless … no instance is on record of ever having absconded to avoid the payment of their debts.” [9:335]. For a more detailed description of the role of credits and depths in the Makassan trepanging activities, readers are referred to Sutherland [17].

Patrons react to market signals such as the desire for a new resource by providing their clients with the necessary equipment and announcing their will to buy a certain item. Clients–depending on the credits provided and often socially tied to a patron–will change to a different target resource, if their patron demands them to do so. Thus, patron-client relationships influence the choice of fishing strategies of individual fishermen [18].

Opportunistic behaviour is also quite common in the exploitation of open-access marine resources. Fishermen exploit local stocks of valuable resources until they are depleted, and then move to another area, a pattern Berkes et al. [19] have termed the “roving bandit syndrome”. This sequential exploitation of resources has been described for a range of marine resources such as lobster and conch, sea urchins, and live reef food and ornamental fishes [20]–[22]. While the phenomenon has been linked to the effects of recent globalisation, the case of trepang shows that roving bandits are not an entirely new phenomenon. Other historical accounts also give evidence of early serial depletion of marine resources, as in the case of the Atlantic cod in the 19 th century [23], or very large green turtles before the 19 th century in the Americas [24].

A current study by the FAO claims sea cucumber overexploitation to be a recent problem [25]. This statement can only be revised by taking a historical perspective, although the present amount of overfishing seems to largely exceed the historical impacts of this activity. While more ecological studies are needed to understand the potential effects of removing a large number of bioturbating organisms from tropical marine ecosystems, there also is a need to look at the similarities and differences between historical and recent exploitation of trepang in order to provide a knowledge base for its management.

Therefore, the aim of this paper is to follow the trepang fishing and trade as an example for the historical and current exploitation of marine resources in Island Southeast Asia. Our focus is on the trade which was started and is still handled by people from Makassar, and which had historically accounted for the largest amount of this economically important activity.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Segundo (SS-398) was laid down on 14 October 1943 by the Portsmouth (N. H.) Navy Yard launched on 5 February 1944 sponsored by Mrs. John L. Sullivan and commissioned on 9 May 1944, Lt. Comdr. J. D. Fulp, Jr., in command.

Segundo completed fitting out and contract trials then moved to New London, Conn., on 15 June and began training. The submarine stood out of New London on 26 June for the Panama Canal Zone en route to the Pacific war zone. She departed Balboa on 9 July and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 25 July. The next several weeks were spent in training exercises and weapons firing. The ship was combat loaded on 19 and 20 August and, the next day, sailed on her first war patrol.

Segundo, together with submarines Seahorse (SS-304), and Whale (SS-239) formed a wolf pack. They refueled at Saipan on 3 September and departed the next day for their patrol area in the Philippines near Surigao Strait. No worthwhile targets were found, and Segundo ended her patrol at Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, on 21 October without having fired a shot.

The second patrol, from 16 November 1944 to 5 January 1945, was more profitable. Segundo, and sister ships Trepang (SS-412), and Razorback (SS-394) were cruising between Luzon Strait and the South China Sea. On the evening of 6 December, a convoy of seven escorted merchant ships was sighted. The three submarines made night attacks which sank all of the merchantmen.

Segundo refitted at Guam from submarine tender Apollo (AS-25) and was in the East China Sea with Razorback and Seacat (SS-399) on 1 February. Three torpedo attacks were made on unescorted ships near the Korean coast in shallow water. The first attack was on 6 March against a small ship but all torpedoes missed. The next was made four days later against a medium-sized ship. Four torpedoes were fired at 1,000 yards but they also missed. The third attack was a night surface one against a cargo ship on 11 March. Two torpedoes of the spread hit. The first blew the stern off and the second hit amidships, sinking cargo ship Shori Maru in two minutes. The submarine ended her patrol at Pearl Harbor on 26 March and remained there for a month before putting to sea again.

Segundo was assigned to a lifeguard station until 16 May when she departed for her assigned area in the East China Sea. On the 29th, she sank seven two-masted schooners of approximately 100 tons each with shellfire. Two days later, she sank a large four-masted full-rigged ship of approximately 1,250 tons with two torpedoes. She sank another on 3 June with her deck gun. On the 9th, two patrol ships were also sunk by her deck gun. On the night of 11 June, the Fuku Maru was torpedoed and sunk. The submarine then sailed to Midway for upkeep.

Segundo began her fifth and final war patrol on 10 August in the Sea of Okhotsk. Ordered to proceed to Tokyo Bay on the 24th, the ship was proceeding south when she picked up a Japanese submarine by radar on the 29th. The enemy boat was ordered to halt by international signal. This was done and, after several trips between the two submarines by their respective representatives, the Japanese agreed to accept a prize crew aboard and to proceed to Tokyo with Segundo. The two ships entered Sagami Wan on 31 August and, at 0500, the American flag was raised aboard the I-401.

Segundo stood out of Tokyo Bay on 3 September 1945 en route to the west coast via Pearl Harbor. She was assigned to Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 3 in San Diego and began operations from there. The submarine made a three-month cruise to Australia and China in 1946 and a four-month cruise to China in 1948. The outbreak of war in Korea found Segundo in the Far East. She supported United Nations Forces in Korea from July to September 1950 before returning to San Diego in late November.

In 1951, Segundo was modernized at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard and equipped with a snorkel. She returned to her home port and resumed operations until 15 August 1952 when she again joined the 7th Fleet off Korea. That deployment period ended on 16 February 1953.

For the next 16 years, Segundo operated out of her home port and along the west coast. From 1953 through 1969, she was deployed to the western Pacific every year except 1956, 1957, 1961, and 1963.

In July 1970, a Survey Board found Segundo unfit for further Naval service. The submarine was struck from the Navy list on 8 August 1970 and sunk as a target.

Segundo received four battle stars for World War II service and one for the Korean War.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation


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Watch the video: Alex Mistretta on the USS Trepang, SSN 674, Artic UFO Photos - 07-08-15


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