Tag Archives: V-submarine

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 the 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 on 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 except for 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 utilize several 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)

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Warship Wednesday July 23, Jules Verne, Meet the U.S. Navy

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 of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, July 23, Jules Verne, Meet the U.S. Navy

0816846
Here we see the magnificent V-type submarine USS Nautilus (SS-168) in oil on board by the artist I.L. Lloyd depicting the submarine engaging a Japanese merchant ship at close quarters.

Between the two world wars, the U.S. Navy built a collection of nine more of less experimental “V-boat” submarines. These boats took lessons from British and German submarines learned after WWI and incorporated these into a more Yankee design. Each of these subs was very different as the design bureau experimented as they went. One of the ships, V-6, a very close pattern of V-5, which came before her, was built to a submarine-cruiser design.

This concept was a huge sub, meant to have very long legs, and capable of taking the war to the enemy wherever they may be. For this, they were fitted with large, cruiser-caliber guns, and an impressive torpedo battery. Laid down at Mare Island Naval Yard on 2 August 1927, this V-boat (designated V-6/SC-2) was commissioned in June 1930. Following sea trials, V-6 was renamed USS Nautilus (SS-168) on Feb 19, 1931.

Steaming into New York City, 1931. Photo credit: Navsource

Steaming into New York City, 1931. Photo credit: Navsource

The sub was fitted with a pair of massive 6-inch/53 guns in special Mark 17 wet mountings. This gun was designed as a secondary battery of the Lexington-class battle cruisers and South Dakota-class battleships but was only installed in Omaha-class cruisers. Capable of firing a 105-lb shell to a maximum range was 23,300 yd (21,310 m), at the maximum elevation of 25 degrees, they were a hoss of a battery for a boat meant to operate underwater. Except for near-sisters (and fellow V-boats) USS Argonaut (SM-1) and USS Narwhal (SS-167, ex-V-5), the guns carried by the Nautilus were the largest fitted to an American submarine.

To get a feel for how big these guns were, here we see the Nautilus (SS-168) photographed from her sister ship, the Narwhal (SS-167). Photo credit; Navsource.

To get a feel for how big these guns were, here we see the Nautilus (SS-168) photographed from her sister ship, the Narwhal (SS-167). Photo credit; Navsource.

Capable of traveling an amazing 25,000 nm as long as she kept it slow and filled her ballast tanks with fuel, Nautilus could cross the Atlantic six times without refueling if needed. However, she was meant to operate in the Pacific against a growing Japanese naval threat, and she soon found herself there as flagship os SubDiv12 at Pearl Harbor. Although her near-sister Narwhal was present there on Dec. 7, 1941 (shooting down two torpedo bombers of the Japanese Combined Fleet), Nautilus was laid up undergoing maintenance back in California.

However, she soon got underway and conducted an amazing 14 war patrols. Nautilus found herself in the middle of the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway, firing 5 torpedoes at the battleship Kirishima and the carrier Kaga (with little success due to faulty torpedoes) while surviving 42 enemy depth charges. However, just a few weeks after the battle, she ran across the Japanese Shiratsuyu-class destroyer Yamakaze and sent that ship to Davy Jones approximately 60 nautical miles (110 km) southeast of Yokosuka on 30 June 1945. The photo taken of the Yamakaze sinking after being torpedoed became an instant hit and was used for war bond art.

Yamakaze sinking by Nautilus

 

Yamakaze sinking by Nautilus used in 1943 Electric Boat ad

Yamakaze sinking by Nautilus used in 1943 Electric Boat ad

In August 1942, along with the fellow V-Boat USS Argonaut, the two subs carried elements of the Marine Second Raider Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson to raid the isolated Japanese garrison at Makin Atoll.

Carrying 90 men of Bravo Company, the raid annihilated the small force on the atoll and was a huge propaganda victory for the nation at the time.

U.S. Marine Raiders exercise on the deck of USS Nautilus while en route to the raid on Makin Island on August 11 1942

U.S. Marine Raiders exercise on the deck of USS Nautilus while en route to the raid on Makin Island on August 11, 1942. And yes, that’s what a 6″/53 Mk17 looks like up close.

Nautilus went back to her life as a fleet submarine but was also pressed back into duty carrying raiders behind enemy lines.

In 1943 she carried 109 Eskimo Scouts to land on the Japanese-occupied Aleutian island of Attu just before the main assault. Then at Tarawa, she put ashore a 77-man group of the 5th Amphibious Reconnaissance Company. Towards the end of the war, she helped carry supplies and recon teams around the Philippines, helping to resupply and tie in local guerrilla groups led since 1942 in many cases by stay-behind (left-behind?) U.S. military members to the effort to liberate the islands.

However, with the war winding down, so did the Navy’s interest in the old and reliable Nautilus. Decommed before the war even ended on 30 June 1945, she was stricken and sold for scrap that fall after a very hard 15-year life. Her war patrol reports are public record.

Specs:

0816803a

Displacement, Surfaced: 2,730 t., Submerged: 3,960 t.;
Length 371′ ;
Beam 33′ 3″;
Draft 15′ 9″;
Propulsion, diesel-electric, Maschinfabrik – Augusburg- Nurnburg, New York Navy Yard diesel engines, hp 3175,
Fuel Capacity, 182,778 gal., Westinghouse Electric Co., electric motors, hp 2500, Battery Cells 240, twin propellers.
Speed, Surfaced 17 kts, Submerged 8 kts;
Depth Limit 300′;
Complement 8 officers 80 enlisted;
Armament, four 21″ torpedo tubes forward, two 21″ torpedo tubes aft, four 21″ torpedo tubes topside, 24 torpedoes; two single 6″/53 deck gun, two 30 cal. mgs.;

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/

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.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!