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World War 2 Submarines

The role of American submarines in the war against Japan cannot be overestimated. During four years of war, American submarines sank more than 600,000 tons of Japanese warships and more than 5,000,000 tons of merchant shipping.

This was accomplished by a force that never numbered more than two percent of naval personnel engaged in the war. American submarines formed a blockade that denied Japan the oil, food, and other raw materials she needed to continue to fight. By 1945, without this commerce and the raw materials it supplied to her war effort, Japan found it impossible to continue the war outside of the homeland.

The Gato class was the standard design for American submarines at the beginning of World War 2. The Gato class, and its successor, the Balao class, bore the brunt of the fighting against Japan during the war. Gato class submarines were successful boats that proved to be fast, strong, well armed, and suited to the long-range patrols necessary to fight in the Pacific. USS Silversides, USS Drum, USS Cobia, and USS Cod are all Gato class submarines.

They all appear to meet the criteria for designation as National Historic Landmarks. USS Silversides and USS Drum are in excellent condition, retain their World War 2 integrity, and have significant war records. USS Cobia is in excellent condition, retains her World War 2 integrity and saw service in the Pacific during the war.

USS Cod is in good condition, retains her World War 2 integrity and saw service in the Pacific during the war. USS Cod is the only World War 2 submarine preserved as a war memorial that has not been altered to accommodate visitor access. Visitors to USS Cod must enter the submarine the same way the sailors did in World War 2.

Two additional Gato class submarines, USS Croaker (Groton, Connecticut) and USS Cavalla (Galveston, Texas), were inspected during this study. USS Croaker shows a severe loss of her World War 2 integrity and for this reason does not appear to meet the criteria for designation as a National Historic Landmark. USS Croaker is missing two of her forward torpedo tubes, one complete diesel engine, parts of two other diesel engines, both periscopes, and much of her internal equipment.

USS Cavalla had a highly significant war record in the Pacific, earning a Presidential Unit Citation, and sinking the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku on June 19, 1944. After the war, USS Cavalla was converted into a snorkel-equipped Guppy submarine. USS Cavalla does not appear to meet the criteria for designation because of her seriously deteriorated condition. The wooden deck of USS Cavalla has been replaced with concrete, her interior is dirty and vandalized, and her exterior is severely rusted.

Balao class submarines were an improved version of the previous Gato class. They were designed to dive to a depth of 400 feet as opposed to the 300 feet for Gato class boats. Like Gato class submarines they were built in large numbers and carried much of the burden of the submarine war in the Pacific. USS Bowfin, USS Pampanito, USS Lionfish and USS Becuna are all Balao class submarines. They all appear to meet the criteria for designation as National Historic Landmarks.

USS Bowfin and USS Pampanito are in excellent condition, retain their World War 2 integrity, and have significant war records. USS Lionfish is in excellent condition, retains her World War 2 integrity, and saw service in the Pacific. USS Becuna is in good condition, has some loss of her World War 2 integrity, and saw service in the Pacific.

USS Ling (Hackensack, New Jersey) was not visited during this study because she saw no service in the Pacific. USS Batfish (Muskogee, Oklahoma) was not visited because the owners could not be located. USS Clamagore does not appear to meet the criteria for designation because of the loss of her World War 2 integrity and her lack of service in the Pacific.

USS Torsk appears to meet the criteria for designation because she is the only surviving Tench class submarine that saw service in the Pacific. Tench class boats were improved copies of the previous Gato/Balao classes and represent the final submarine design of World War 2. USS Torsk is particularly significant in that she fired the last torpedoes of World War 2 and is credited with sinking the last Japanese combat ships to be lost in the war. USS Torsk is in good condition with some loss of her World War 2 integrity.

USS Requin, (Tampa, Florida), another Tench class submarine, is now preserved as a war memorial. USS Requin was not visited because of her lack of service in the Pacific. USS Requin arrived at Pearl Harbor just two weeks before the end of the war.




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