Stickleback found, filed 10,944 feet down

Just serving two days on her first (and only) WWII combat patrol before the cease-fire was issued in August 1945, the Balao-class submarine USS Stickleback (SS-415) served as a training ship until her GUPPY IIA conversion in the 1950s. She managed to complete five sometimes dicey Cold War patrols, spending lots of time creeping around Soviet Red Banner Pacific Fleet assets including snapping photos of two Sverlov class cruisers.

Taking some time off, she stood out of Pearl on 28 May 1958 with the John C. Butler-class destroyer escort USS Silverstein (DE-534) and a torpedo retriever on an antisubmarine warfare exercise.

As Stickleback was going to a safe depth about 19 miles off Oahu the next day, she lost power and broached about 200 yards ahead of the steaming Silverstein, who was unable to avoid a collision and holed the submarine on her port side, riding over the submarine’s pressure hull.

USS SILVERSTEIN (DE-534) and USS STICKLEBACK (SS-415) Collide 19 miles out from Barbers Point, Oahu Hawaii on 29 May 1958. The photo was taken in a HUP-2 piloted by Ensign Rucks, PHAAN R.K. Ahlgren, photographer. USN 1036229

USN 1036225

USN 1036226

While the submarine Sabalo (SS-302), destroyer escort Sturtevant (DE-239), and rescue ship Greenlet (ASR-10) quickly responded, the combined efforts were unable to correct the flooding, Stickleback at 19:57 made her last dive in 1,800 fathoms of water. Luckily, she suffered no losses and all 82 of her crew were taken off.

Silverstein would be mothballed at San Francisco the next year and would be disposed of in 1973.

Now, Stickleback has been discovered by the Lost 52 Project. She is one of four US Navy submarines lost since the end of World War II

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