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.
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.
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.