80 Years Ago, Silversides Lashes Out

The Gato-class fleet boat USS Silversides (SS-236) was commissioned a week and a day after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

Silversides, off Mare Island, early 1942. 80-G-446220

Bringing the war to the Empire, Silversides completed 14 war patrols and sank 23 ships, the third-highest total of enemy ships sunk by a U.S. submarine during the war.

One of those Japanese vessels that narrowly escaped making the list was a vessel damaged but somehow not sunk 80 years ago today while Silversides was on her 3rd War Patrol, a voyage that would take her from Pearl Harbor to Brisbane across the course of eight weeks– most of it without a functioning gyro compass. Her target that day was a sail-rigged converted trawler turned patrol boat.

USS Silversides (SS-236) 3″/50 deck gun firing on a Japanese picket boat, in October 1942. Description: 80-G-12881

USS Silversides (SS-236) 3″/50 deck gun firing on a Japanese picket boat, in October 1942. Description: 80-G-12875

USS Silversides (SS-236) water-cooled .50 caliber machine gun in action on board USS Silversides (SS-236), in 1942. 80-G-20367

USS Silversides (SS-236) Officer spotting shots as the sub. shells a Japanese picket vessel in October 1942. 80-G-12879

USS Silversides (SS-236) Japanese picket vessel attacked by Silversides on 14 October 1942. Periscope photo. 80-G-12899

Japanese patrol vessel under attack by USS Silversides (SS-236). Photo dated 14 October 1942. 80-G-12895

Japanese patrol vessel afire during an attack by USS Silversides (SS-236). Photo dated 14 October 1942. 80-G-12893

LCDR Creed Cardwell Burlingame, USN, Commanding Officer, USS Silversides (SS-236) Wearing foul weather gear, sporting his “patrol beard” and smoking a corncob pipe on board his boat, during a 1942 war patrol. The salty officer was at the time on his sixth submarine and third command, with 15 years of service under his belt. 80-G-11902

Silversides received twelve battle stars for World War II service and was awarded one Presidential Unit Citation.

Decommissioned on 17 April 1946 and moved to the freshwater of the Great Lakes to serve for another 23 years as a Naval Reserve training ship, by the time she was stricken in 1969 she was almost unique– virtually unmodified since her last refitting at Pearl Harbor in 1945– and her hull in great shape due to her freshwater storage.

This allowed Silversides to be moved to an easy display in Pere Marquette Park along the Muskegon Lake Channel, where she rests today, still beautiful despite her age.

As for Burlingame, the 1927 Annapolis grad would retire from the Navy in 1957 as a rear admiral with three (3) Navy Crosses and two Silver Stars in his collection. He passed in 1985, aged 80, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.