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Warship Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017: The bruised-up U-boat bruiser of the Outer Banks

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017: The bruised-up U-boat bruiser of the Outer Banks

Photo NOAA

Here we see the brand-new steel-hulled fishing boat Cohasset in Feb. 1942, just before she assumed her military guise as U.S. Navy Patrol Vessel, District (YP) #389, an anti-submarine trawler, and sailed off into a fateful, if one-sided battle.

Laid down at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts for R. O’Brien and Company of Boston as hull #1512 along with three sister ships on the eve of the U.S. entry into World War II, the 110-foot trawler was meant to ply the fishing grounds off Gloucester and the Georges Bank.

R. O’Brien was reportedly a top-notch operation, and one of the first in the country to equip their whole fleet with R/T sets in the 1930s, and they landed in excess of 20 million pounds annual catch at the canneries in the area.

When war seemed unavoidable, the four new boats were quickly evaluated to be useful to the Navy and on 6 December 1940 the sister trawlers Salem, Lynn, Weymouth and Cohasset were signed over to the federal government in lieu of taxes by O’Brien and delivered under their ordered names as they were completed throughout October and November 1941. Cohasset was taken into custody by the Navy in February 1942 as a coastal minesweeper, USS AMc-202. This was changed to YP-389 on 1 May and she was refitted into a patrol craft at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Armed with a single 3″/23cal deck gun taken from naval stores, two Great War-era. 30 cal. Lewis machine guns, six depth charges on a gravity rack and assorted small arms, she was placed under command of one LT. R.J. Philips, USNR who sailed her with a crew that consisted of two ensigns and 21 enlisted (none higher than a PO1) with a mission to keep the U-boats terrorizing the Eastern Seaboard at bay– though she did not have sonar, ASDIC or a listening device of any kind.

(List of USS YP-389 crew and their disposition after the events of 19 June, 1942. Courtesy the National Archives)

In June 1942, USS YP-389 headed south to North Carolina with the primary duty to patrol the Hatteras minefield on her economic 6-cylinder diesels– just 9 knots when wide open.

There, in the predawn hours of 19 June, she came across Kptlt. Horst Degen’s Type VIIIC submarine, U-701, of 3. Unterseebootsflottille operating out of the pens at La Pallice, France.

The battle should have been over before it started, as the patrol boat’s 3-inch popgun was out of operation with a broken firing pin and Degen’s 88mm and 20mm guns far out-ranged the 389‘s Lewis guns. Still, the surface action took place over a 90-minute period and saw the small patrol craft resort to dropping their depth charges set as shallow as possible in the U-boat’s path in an unsuccessful effort to crack its hull.

In the end, the trawler-turned-fighter was holed several times and sank in 320-feet of water, carrying five of her crew with her to Davy Jones’ Locker some five miles off Diamond Shoals. The crew of YP-389 had fired more than 24 drums from her Lewis gun as the gunners took cover behind trawling winches, answered by 50 shells of 88mm. In all, she had been in the Navy for just five months, most of that undergoing conversion.

The 18 survivors and one body floated overnight, with no life rafts or lifebelts, until they were rescued by Coast Guard picket boats (CG-462 and CG-486) the next morning. Four required treatment at Norfolk Naval Hospital.

In 1948, a Naval Board found that her sinking was in large part avoidable, as she was ill-fitted and suited for the detail assigned to her and, in effect, never should have been there.

Here is how Degen described the action to Navy interrogators a few weeks later:

On the night of June 17, U-701 surfaced off Cape Hatteras close to a U-boat chaser which challenged her with a series of B’s from a signal lamp. Thinking he was going to be rammed, Degen put about and drew away, without answering the challenge. The following day he saw what he thought was the same cutter escorting a tanker and a freighter in line ahead. Degen believed the cutter had made contact with him in passing, for as soon as the convoyed ships were out of range, the cutter returned and dropped depth charges near U-701. Degen said that on this occasion he did not hear the “ping” of Asdic.

The next night, June 19, U-701 surfaced off Cape Hatteras and again sighted what Degen took to be the same cutter. He opened fire with his 8.8 cm gun to which the cutter replied with machine-gun fire. U-701 expended a large number of shells. Apparently, the gun crew, groping over-anxiously in the dark, seized every available shell in the ready-use lockers without discrimination. Thus, fire was an unorthodox mixture of SAP, HE and incendiary shell, but it sank the cutter. Prisoners considered this a wasteful and “untidy” piece of work, and the captain gave the impression that he was ashamed of it.

Degen said he approached to look for survivors with the intention of putting them ashore, but he found none. He said he thought the crew made off in a boat. Prisoners gave the position of the attack as near the Diamond Shoals Lightship Buoy.

The 389 was not the only YP lost during the war and no less than 36 were destroyed while at least 17 earned battle stars (one, USS YP-42, the ex-Coast Guard cutter Gallatin, picked up three battle stars on her own). Though many of those lost foundered in heavy weather, sank after collisions, or were written off due to grounding, a number matched our YP’s combat service:

YP-16 (ex-CG-267) lost in Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands
YP-17 (ex-CG-275) lost in Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands
YP-26 destroyed by undetermined explosion in the Canal Zone, Panama, 19 November 1942.
YP-97 lost due to Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands
YP-235 destroyed by undetermined explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, 1 April 1943.
YP-277 scuttled to avoid capture east of Hawaii, 23 May 1942.
YP-284 (ex-San Diego tuna clipper Endeavor) sunk by surface ships off Guadalcanal, 25 Oct 1942.
YP-345 sunk southeast of Midway Island, 31 October 1942.
YP-346 sunk by surface ships in the South Pacific, 9 September 1942.
YP-405 destroyed by undetermined explosion in the Caribbean Sea, 20 November 1942.
YP-492 sunk off east Florida, 8 January 1943.

Cover art for David Bruhn’s book provisionally titled, “Yachts and Yippies: the U.S. Navy’s Patrol Yachts and Patrol Vessels.” The painting by Richard DeRosset, titled “Night Action off Tulagi”, depicts the destruction of USS YP-346 by the Japanese light cruiser HIJMS Sendai and three destroyers off Guadalcanal on 8 September 1942. Three Navy Crosses were awarded for this action. Via Navsource

As for U-701?

Commissioned 16 Jul 1941, her career lasted but 12 months and, after claiming YP-389 and 25,390 GRT of merchant ships, was herself sunk on 7 July 1942 off Cape Hatteras by depth charges from an A-29 Hudson patrol bomber of the 396th Bomb Sqn, taking 39 dead to the bottom in 100 feet of water. Degen and six survivors suffered at sea for two days and were taken into custody and interrogated by Naval Intelligence extensively.

U-701 (German Submarine) Survivors are rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, after their boat was sunk off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on 7 July 1942. She was lost just three weeks after she claimed YP-389, ironically just a few miles Diamond Shoals, where her victim rested. NH 96587

Horst Degen, Kapitänleutnant. C. O. U-701 as POW. U.S. Navy Photo

Known to researchers looking for the lost USS Monitor since the 1970s, in 2009, NOAA announced they had verified the wreck of YP-389, and documented the patrol boat and her combat as part of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photomosaic of USS YP-389 wreck site. Photo: NOAA, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary

Photomosaic of USS YP-389 wreck site. Photo: NOAA, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary

U-701 rests near her and is a popular dive attraction in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Both ships are protected.

Sonar visualization of the U-701 wreck site. Image ADUS, NOAA

Multibeam survey of U-701 wreck site taken by NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, 2016. Image NOAA

Diver taking images of U-701’s conning tower. Photo NOAA

Specs:


Displacement: 170 long tons (170 t)
Length: 110 ft. oal, 102.5 wl
Beam: 22.1 ft.
Propulsion: 4 6cyl diesel engines, 1 × screw
Speed: 9 kts, max.
Crew: 3 officers, 21 enlisted (1942)
Armament:
1 × 3 in (76 mm)/23 cal dual purpose gun (broken)
2 × .30 cal (7.62 mm) Lewis light machine guns
6 depth charges
small arms

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Getting it done with the Junipers

You don’t typically think of a 225-foot Juniper-class Coast Guard buoy tender as a national defense (MARDEZ) and homeland security asset, but Coast Guard Cutter Aspen just returned to her homeport last week after sailing nearly 7,000 nautical miles during a 30-day patrol, which included a cocaine interdiction off Mexico as part of Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South.

Aspen‘s efforts resulted in the interdiction of a suspected smuggling vessel carrying more than 224 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $3.3 million and the apprehension of six suspected smugglers.

The interdiction occurred Oct. 10, after the Aspen deployed two 23-foot interceptor boats which made a three-hour pursuit to intercept a suspected smuggling vessel approximately 400 miles off the coast of Mexico.

Coast Guard members aboard two interceptor boats from the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, a 225-foot sea-going buoy tender, maneuver in the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico during a counter-smuggling patrol, Oct. 13, 2017.

Also during the deployment, the Aspen conducted exercises with the Mexican and Canadian navies aimed to help strengthen international partnerships while degrading and disrupting transnational criminal organization networks. Not bad for a ship whose primary mission is aids to navigation.

From left to right are Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Nanaimo (MM702), a Kingston-class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel, Aspen and what looks to be a Holzinger-class patrol vessel of the Armada de México.

“This was a very successful deployment and I could not be more proud of the crew,” said Lt. Cmdr. Justin Vanden Heuvel, Aspen‘s commanding officer. “Utilizing a buoy tender as a platform to execute counter-narcotics missions shows the versatility and adaptability of the Coast Guard and the Aspen crew. Day in and day out the crew expertly conducts a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, aids to navigation, fisheries enforcement and in this case, the interdiction of illegal contraband destined for the United States.”

While built for tending navigational aids, 225’s have also proved useful in everything from salvage to sovereignty and fishery patrols, to ice operations (sistership USCGC Maple covered the Northwest Passage in 47 days this summer) and even carrying special operations detachments on training missions in the littoral.

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017: Putting the ‘Marine’ back in submarine

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship (in this case, doctrine) each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017: Putting the ‘Marine’ back in submarine

On 17 August 1942, just nine months after Pearl Harbor, 211 Marines of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion embarked aboard the submarines USS Argonaut and Nautilus crept ashore at Makin Island and did what the Raiders were meant to do– hit hard in the most unexpected area they could find and jack up a small Japanese garrison.

While that attack was the pinnacle of U.S. submarine commando ops in WWII, and the Raiders were disbanded by early 1944, the Marines did not forget the concept of amphibious scouts and small raiding forces carried by submarines when the war was over.

Scouts and Raiders Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Carlos Lopez; C. 1943; Framed Dimensions 29H X 44W Accession #: 88-159-HD as a Gift of Abbott Laboratories “Commandos of the Navy, they leave a transport, submarine, or invasion craft in their black rubber boats at night on reconnaissance, scout, or demolition missions against enemy-held shores. Their faces and hands painted black for night operations, and now called officially Amphibious Scouts by the Navy, they specialize in rugged finesse. Here they go up and over some rock jetties.”

In 1948, the Marines pushed to convert a dozen Balao-class fleet subs into auxiliary Submarine Troop Carriers (ASSPs) which would involve removing all the torpedo tubes (the Navy loved that idea) as well as two of the big main diesels and using the new-found space to install extra bunks, showers and a pressure-proof hangar mounted outside of the pressure hull on deck. These subs would be able to carry 120 troops including an LVT with a jeep and equipment stowed aboard and eight rubber raiding rafts.

Yes, this IS a submarine with an Amtrac aboard. Perch (ASSP-313) preparing to launch an LVT amphibious tractor during a 1949 exercise. The vehicle could be carried in the cargo hangar and launched by flooding down the submarine. USN photo and text from The American Submarine by Norman Polmar, courtesy of Robert Hurst.

In theory, these boats could lift an entire reinforced battalion landing team with four 75mm Pack Howitzers, six 57mm recoilless rifles, 12 jeeps, 12 LVTs, 48 boats, 220 tons of ammo and ordnance; and 158 tons of supplies– enough to operate for ashore for ten days.

Bad news for the USMC was that the Navy just converted two of the subs– USS Perch (SS-313) and USS Sealion (SS-315). While they were later used extensively to support the Navy’s own UDT operations through the Vietnamese conflict, they didn’t come close to realizing the Marine’s vision in 1948.

Nonetheless, the Marines continued to trial submarine operations with smaller teams of amphibious recon troops in the 1950s, as seen in these great images:

Marine Corps Amphibious Reconnaissance troops in LCR (landing craft, rubber) leave submarine to perform a landing operation during maneuvers. OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO 313892

“A five-man amphibious reconnaissance team stands with nylon boat and equipment necessary for their mission, including aqualungs, depth gauges, wrist compasses and exposure suits which enable swimmers to work in the extremely cold water. All members of the team are outstanding swimmers, capable of breasting high surf and rough waters.” OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO A367275

“OPERATION SKI JUMP – Technical Sergeant B. J. Parrerson, left Company Gunny of Amphibious Reconnaissance and Private First Class Robert T. Kassanovoid, right, help Staff Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard gets rigged with aqua-lung equipment on the forward deck of the submarine PERCH.” January 17, 1957, J.W. Richardson. DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A352423

“OPERATION SKI JUMP – Scout patrol of Amphibian Reconnaissance Company, leaving in rubber boats from the submarine PERCH.” January 17, 1957, J.W. Richardson DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A352380

Reconnaissance scouts of the 1st Provisional Marine Air-Ground Task Force load into a rubber boat from a submarine of the Pacific fleet as they leave on a night mission against “enemy” installations on the island of Maui. The training afforded the Marines of the Task Force, which is based at the Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, is the most versatile offered to Marines anywhere October 7, 1954, Sgt D.E. Reyher DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A290040. The classic WWII “duck hunter” camo had by 1954 been out of use for almost a decade with the exception of special operations units.

The submarine above is USS Greenfish (SS-351). Greenfish was a Balao-class fleet sub commissioned 7 June 1946, too late for WWII. She did, however, perform duty during the Korean and Vietnam wars and, after she was decommissioned in 1973, was transferred to the Brazilian Navy as the submarine Amazonas (S-16), who kept her in service for another 20 years before she was ultimately scrapped in 2001. In U.S. service, Greenfish sank two submarines in her career, the captured U-234 in 1947 and her sister ship and former Warship Wednesday alumni USS Barbero (SS/SSA/SSG-317) off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 October 1964 after that ship was stricken.

“When the mission is a raid on “enemy-held” beaches, members of the Marine recon party move out on the double to their assigned targets.” DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A31990

“Parachute scout, foreground, makes a sketch of enemy terrain and installations while another Marine Corps scout covers him with a “burp” gun. All Reconnaissance Leathernecks are experts in determining terrain factors and capabilities of roads and bridges.” December 2, 1957, MSgt J. W. Richardson DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A367293. Note the M3 Grease Gun and the WWII M1 “duck hunter” camo helmet covers worn as caps.

“BUDDY SYSTEM – Before leaving the submarine on a mission, scout-swimmers assist each other with the bulky equipment. When the mission is a raid on “enemy-held” beaches, members of the Marine recon party move out on the double to their assigned targets.” December 2, 1957, MSgt J. W. Richardson DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A367308

The tradition of the Raiders and their use from submarines continues in the modern-day Raiders, recon teams and, of course Navy SEAL units who utilise a number of dedicated boats including the Seawolf and modified Ohio-class SSGNs when they are feeling particularly froggy as well as the organic Combat Rubber Raiding Craft companies built into to each of the seven Marine Expeditionary Forces.

BUSAN, Republic of Korea (Oct. 13, 2017) The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Gold) pulls into Busan Naval Base for a routine port visit. Note the twin Dry Deck Shelters on her casing, each able to carry 4 rubber raiding craft or an SDV minisub. Michigan can carry as many as 60 expeditionary operators, be they Navy or Marines (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Carlisle/Released)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017: I’d like to be back on my horse

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017: I’d like to be back on my horse

USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com via Navsource

Here we see the Balao-class diesel-electric fleet submarine USS Tilefish (SS-307) returning to San Diego on 5 December 1958 for inactivation. You may not recognize her in the photo, but she was always ready for her closeup.

A member of the 128-ship Balao class, she was one of the most mature U.S. Navy diesel designs of the World War Two era, constructed with knowledge gained from the earlier Gato-class. U.S. subs, unlike those of many navies of the day, were ‘fleet’ boats, capable of unsupported operations in deep water far from home.

Able to range 11,000 nautical miles on their reliable diesel engines, they could undertake 75-day patrols that could span the immensity of the Pacific. Carrying 24 (often unreliable) Mk14 Torpedoes, these subs often sank anything short of a 5000-ton Maru or warship by surfacing and using their 4-inch/50 caliber and 40mm/20mm AAA’s. The also served as the firetrucks of the fleet, rescuing downed naval aviators from right under the noses of Japanese warships.

We have covered a number of this class before, such as Rocket Mail slinging USS Barbero, the carrier-sinking USS Archerfish, the long-serving USS Catfish and the frogman Cadillac USS Perch —but don’t complain, they have lots of great stories.

Laid down at Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California, on 10 Mar 1943, USS Tilefish was the first and only naval vessel named for homely reef fish found in the world’s oceans.

1916 USBOF sheet on the Tilefish, via NARA

Commissioned just nine months later on 28 Dec 1943, Tilefish completed her trials and shakedown off the California coast and made for the Western Pacific in early 1944.

Broadside view of the Tilefish (SS-307) off Mare Island on 2 March 1944. USN photos # 1434-44 through1436-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Via Navsource

Her first war patrol, off Honshu in Japanese home waters, was short and uneventful.

Her second, in the Luzon Strait, netted a torpedo hit on the 745-ton Japanese corvette Kaibokan 17 south of Formosa on 18 July.

Her third patrol, in the Sea of Okhotsk and off the Kuril Islands, resulted in sinking a sampan in a surface action, as well as two small cargo ships, a larger cargo ship and the 108-ton Japanese guard boat Kyowa Maru No.2. Tilefish also picked up a Russian owl in these frigid waters, which was duly named Boris Hootski with the ship’s log noting, “He is now official ship’s mascot and stands battle stations on top of the tube blow and vent manifold.”

She closed the year with her fourth patrol in the Kurils and Japanese home waters with sinking the Japanese torpedo boat Chidori some 90 miles WSW of Yokosuka.

Early 1945 saw her fifth patrol which sank a small Japanese coaster and effectively knocked the IJN minesweeper W 15 out of the war. She also plucked LT (JG) William J. Hooks from the USS Hancock (CV-19) of VF-80 out of the water after he had to ditch his F6F at sea off Amami Oshima in the Ryukyus.

After refit on the West Coast, Tilefish completed her sixth patrol on lifeguard station off the Ryukyus where she ended the war, being ordered back to California on 7 September.

In all, Tilefish received five battle stars for World War II service. Her tally included 7 vessels for a total of 10,700 claimed tons– though many were disallowed post-war by JANAC. Her six patrols averaged 48 days at sea.

While most of the U.S. submarine fleet was mothballed in the months immediately after WWII, Tilefish remained in service. She even managed a sinkex in August 1947 against the crippled Liberty tanker SS Schuyler Colfax, at 7,200-tons, Tilefish‘s largest prize.

Her war flag represented as a patch from popularpatch.com. Note the 10 vessels claimed and the parachute for Lt. Hooks.

When the Korean War kicked off in 1950, Tilefish made for the region.

As noted by DANFS:

“From 28 September 1950 through 24 March 1951, the submarine operated out of Japanese ports conducting patrols in Korean waters in support of the United Nations campaign in Korea. She made reconnaissance patrols of La Perouse Strait to keep the Commander, Naval Forces Far East, informed of Soviet seaborne activity in that area.”

Tilefish received one battle star for Korean service.

Hula dancers Kuulei Jesse, Gigi White and Dancette Poepoe (left to right) welcome the submarine, as she docks at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base after a Korean War tour. Crewmen placing the flower lei around Tilefish’s bow are Engineman 3rd Class Donald E. Dunlevy, USN, (left – still wearing E-3 stripes) and Torpedoman’s Mate 1st Class Gordon F. Sudduth, USNR. This photograph was released by Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, on 26 March 1951. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the All Hands collection at the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97068

The next nine years saw her conducting regular peacetime operations and exercises including a goodwill visit to Acapulco; a survey mission with four civilian geophysicists on board from the Hydrographic Office of Eniwetok, Wake, and Midway; and other ops.

USS TILEFISH (SS-307) Caption: Photographed during the 1950s. Description: Courtesy of Commander Donald J. Robinson, USN (MSC), 1974. Catalog #: NH 78988

These “other ops” included filming some scenes for the 1958 Glen Ford WWII submarine flick Torpedo Run, which were extensively augmented by scale models, and more extensive shoots for Up Periscope, a film in which James Garner, a Korean war Army vet and Hollywood cowboy, plays a frogman ordered to photograph a codebook at an isolated Japanese radio station.

The film was an adaption of LCDR Robb White’s book of the same name.

Garner was not impressed by the Tilefish.

James Garner as Lieutenant Kenneth M. Braden in Up Periscope

As related by a Warren Oaks biographer, Garner, bobbing along on the old submarine offshore at 9-kts in groundswells, said, “You know something? I’d like to be back on my horse.”

After her brief movie career and service in two wars, Tilefish was given a rebuild at the San Francisco Navy Yard and was decommissioned in May 1960.

Tilefish was then sold to Venezuela, which renamed her ARV Carite (S-11). As such, she was the first modern submarine in that force. She arrived in that country on 23 July 1960, setting the small navy up to be the fifth in Latin America with subs.

ARV S-11 Carite El 4 de mayo de 1960

As noted by El Snorkel (great name), a Latin American submarine resource, Tilefish/Carite was very active indeed, making 7,287 dives with the Venezuelan Navy over the next 17 years. She participated in the Argentine/Dominican Republic/Venezuelan -U.S. Quarantine Task Force 137 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and intercepted the Soviet tug Gromoboi in 1968.

In 1966, she was part of the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program (GUPPY) conversion program and (along with 20 other boats), was given the very basic Fleet Snorkel package which provided most ofthe bells and whistles found on the German late-WWII Type XXI U-boats– which would later prove ironic. This gave her expanded battery capacity, steamlined her sail conning tower fairwater into a so-called “Northern or North Atlantic sail”– a steel framework surrounded by thick fiberglass– added a snorkel, higher capacity air-conditioning system, and a more powerful electrical system and increased her submerged speed to 15 knots while removing her auxillary diesel. A small topside sonar dome appeared.

ex-Tilefish (SS-307), taken 12 Oct. 1966 after transfer to Venezuela as ARV Carite (S-11). Note the GUPPY series conversion, the so-called very basic “Fleet Snorkel” mod.

However, during this time, her most enduring exposure was in helping film Murphy’s War, in which a German U-boat (U-482) hides out in the Orinoco River in Venezuela after sinking British merchant steamer Mount Kyle, leaving Peter O’Toole as the lone survivor on a hunt to bag the German shark. The thing is, she looked too modern for the film after her recent conversion.

For her role, Carite was given a far-out grey-white-black dazzle camo scheme and, to make her more U-boat-ish, was fitted with a faux cigarette deck after her tower complete with a Boffin 40mm (!) and a twin Oerlikon mount (!!). Her bow was fitted with similarly faked submarine net cutting teeth.

Her “crew” was a mix of U.S. Peace Corps kids working in the area (to get the proper blonde Germanic look) with Venezuelan tars at the controls.

The movie, filmed in decadent Panavision color, shows lots of footage of the old Tilefish including a dramatic ramming sequence with a bone in her teeth and what could be the last and best images of a Balao-class submarine with her decks awash.

That bone!

Ballasting down– note the very un U-boat like sonar dome. I believe that is a QHB-1 transducer dome to starboard with a BQR-3 hydrophone behind it on port

By the mid-1970s, Tilefish/Carite was showing her age. In 1972, the Venezuelans picked up more two more advanced GUPPY II conversions, her Balao-class sister USS Cubera (SS-347), renaming her ARV Tiburon (S-12) and the Tench-class USS Grenadier (SS-525) which followed as ARV Picua (S-13) in 1973.

The Venezuelan submarine ARV Carite (S-11) demonstrates an emergency surfacing during the UNITAS XI exercise, in 1970. via All Hands magazine

Once the two “new” boats were integrated into the Venezuelan Navy, Tilefish/Carite was decommissioned on 28 January 1977 and slowly cannibalized for spare parts, enabling Cubera and Grenadier to remain in service until 1989 when they were replaced by new-built German Type 209-class SSKs, which still serve to one degree or another.

According to a Polish submarine page, some artifacts from Tilefish including a torpedo tube remain in Venezuela.

Although she is no longer afloat, eight Balao-class submarines are preserved (for now) as museum ships across the country.

Please visit one of these fine ships and keep the legacy alive:

-USS Batfish (SS-310) at War Memorial Park in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
USS Becuna (SS-319) at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
USS Bowfin (SS-287) at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
USS Clamagore (SS-343) at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (Which may not be there much longer)
USS Ling (SS-297) at New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Which is also on borrowed time)
USS Lionfish (SS-298) at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.
-USS Pampanito (SS-383) at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California, (which played the part of the fictional USS Stingray in the movie Down Periscope).
USS Razorback (SS-394) at Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

However, Tilefish will endure wherever submarine films are enjoyed.

Specs:

Displacement, surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t.
Length 311′ 10″
Beam 27′ 3″
Draft 15′ 3″
Speed surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts
Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2kts
Operating Depth Limit, 400 ft.
Patrol Endurance 75 days
Propulsion: diesels-electric reduction gear with four Fairbanks-Morse main generator engines., 5,400 hp, four Elliot Motor Co., main motors with 2,740 hp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
Fuel Capacity: 94,400 gal.
Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted
Armament:
(As built)
10 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes,
one 4″/50 caliber deck gun,
one 40mm gun,
two .50 cal. machine guns
(By 1966)
10 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes,

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

New FRCs are already giving hard service and proving useful

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joesph Tazanos, a fast response cutter, escorts the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) into San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 3, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joesph Tazanos, a fast response cutter, escorts the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) into San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 3, 2017. The ship is providing escort and security for the Comfort’s relief misson post-Hurricane Maria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

The big 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, built to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats of the 1980s and 90s, (which in turn replaced the 1950s era 95-foot Cape-class cutters, et.al) are fast becoming a backbone asset for the Coast Guard. Designed for five-day patrols, these 28-knot vessels have a stern boat ramp like the smaller 87-foot WPBs but carry a stabilized 25mm Mk38 and four M2s as well as much more ISR equipment. The first entered service in 2012, just five years ago.

In a hat tip to the fact they are so much more capable, the USCG uses the WPC hull designation, used last by the old “buck and a quarter” 125-foot cutters of the Prohibition-era with these craft, rather than the WPB patrol boat designation of the ships they are replacing.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry staging out of San Diego headed to Oahu, 2,600-nm West on a solo trip. Not bad for a yacht-sized patrol boat

You can bet these cutters are being looked at for littoral work such as in the Persian Gulf where the Navy has a whole squadron of 170-foot Cyclone-class (PCs) that are showing their age. However, they are already proving themselves domestically.

With over 24 of the planned-on 58 of these vessels in service and hulls 25-44 in building stages, they have been very useful in the Coast Guard’s recent response to Hurricane Irma and Maria, with the latter in particular.

The smallest service has deployed 13 vessels in what they term a “Surface Asset Group” (like the Navy’s surface action group concept, only with cutters), and many of those 13 are FRCs.

With a draft of just over 9-feet, they can get to a lot of places that small tin-can style vessels cannot (FFG-7s draw over 22 while the LCS, depending on type and load, run 13-15). This has enabled them to appear in places where the larger craft would be off-limits.

USCGC Joseph Napier (WPC-1115), homeported in San Juan and commissioned last year, has been poking around small harbors in the USVI dropping off water and diesel fuel. Another FRC of 2016-vintage based in San Juan, USCGC Donald Horsley (WPC-1117), brought 750 liters of bottled water and 1,440 meals to Vieques. Yet another year-old San Juan-based 154-footer, USCGC Winslow W. Griesser (WPC-1116), brought Department of Homeland Security special agents and disaster relief supplies to St. Croix as well as critical prescription medication. Meanwhile, USCGC Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118), as shown in the first image in this post, is providing escort and security for the 70,000-ton Mercy-class hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), operating out of San Juan.

In another sign of the type’s flexibility, USCCGC Oliver Berry (WPC-1124) last week completed a 7,300-mile self-deployment from her builder’s in New Orleans to Key West where she did shake up work, to Pearl Harbor where she is the first WPC stationed there. Her last leg, from San Diego to Oahu was over 2,600 miles with no pit stops, a trip that showed the craft is capable of extended missions. Further, the class has deployed to the coast of South America in joint Operations Tradewinds exercises for the past two years.

It should be pointed out that typically patrol craft of that size are transported as deck cargo or on a heavy lift vessel for forward deployments.  This could prove useful in transfers to the Persian Gulf.

Current contracts for FRCs are running at about $48 million per completed vessel, plus Navy-supplied ordnance, and it looks like a good investment.

Feeling froggy? Like 1944 froggy?

IMA  has a great grouping from a frogman of Underwater Demolition Team 7 during WWII.They include a set of Owen Churchill of LA swim fins, a Waterproof Bag BG 160 by U.S. Rubber Company, a wetsuit with feet and hood, as well as decorations from one D.A. Leavy of UDT 7 for action in the summer of 1944 off Saipan and Tinian.

It is a really great set, head on over and check it out in detail.

More on UDT 7 here.

Showing off the Proteus mini-sub packing heat

Huntington Ingalls Industries announced a couple weeks ago that Proteus, their 26-foot-long dual-mode undersea vehicle (UUV), successfully completed autonomous contested battlespace missions during the 2017 Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City Division.

And released this sweet image:

Proteus, a dual-mode undersea vehicle developed by HII_s Technical Solutions division

The Panama City News Herald has more images, including shots of the interior and control panel and underway.

As noted by the PCB NH:

Since entering the testing phase in 2012, Proteus has logged 2,000 dive hours locally and abroad, including at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), the scientific lab for Naval Support Activity Panama City.

It can go underwater with or without a human crew, though it isn’t yet being used in field missions. At ANTX, hosted by NSWC PCD, its designers showed off another capability, having Proteus carry other vehicles during testing.

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