History Podcasts

Blueback SS-326 - History

Blueback SS-326 - History

Blueback SS-326

Blueback

Blueback is a salmon.

(SS-326: dp. 1526; 1. 311'9"; b. 27'3"; dr. 16'10"; s. 20.3
k.; cpl. 66; a. 1 5", 10 21" TT.; cl. Balao)

Blueback (SS-326) was launched 7 May 1944 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; sponsored by Mrs. William Brent Young, wife of Rear Admiral Young; and commissioned 28 August 1944, Lieutenant Commander M. K. Clementson In command.

Blueback arrived at Pearl Harbor 21 November 1944. During 16 December 1944-20 July 1945 she completed three war patrols in the South China and Java Seas. Blueback sank a 300-ton submarine chaser, as well as eight

smaller vessels. Blueback arrived at Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippine Islands, from her third and last war patrol 20 July 1945.

On 4 September 1945 she arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam, where she remained until 28 November, conducting daily underway training exercises. - After a voyage to the Caroline and Admiralty Islands, she returned to Guam 15 December. She stood out for San Diego 12 January 1946. Remaining on the west coast until 26 August 1946, she then departed for a tour of the Far East. She visited Pearl Harbor; Truk; Subic Bay; Tsingtao and Shanghai, China, before returning to San Diego 29 November. Blueback conducted one more cruise to Pearl Harbor (17 February-4 April 1947) and then carried out local operations and type training along the coast of California until March 1948.

On 4 March 1948 Blueback departed the west coast and proceeded to the Mediterranean, via New London, Conn. She arrived at Izmir, Turkey, 11 May 1948 and on 23 May 1.948 was decommissioned and transferred to Turkey.

Blueback received two battle stars for her World War II service.


USS Blueback SS-326 (1944-1948)

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BLUEBACK SS 581

This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Barbel Class Submarine
    Keel Laid 15 April 1957 - Christened & Launched 16 May 1959

Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each name of the ship (for example, Bushnell AG-32 / Sumner AGS-5 are different names for the same ship so there should be one set of pages for Bushnell and one set for Sumner). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it does not take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.

Postmarks

This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each name and/or commissioning period. Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
 
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.


Contents

Blueback arrived at Pearl Harbor on 21 November 1944. During the period from 16 December 1944 to 20 July 1945 she completed three war patrols in the South China Sea and Java Sea. She sank a 300-ton submarine chaser, as well as eight smaller vessels and inserted a Z Special Unit operative on the north coast of Java in Operation Binatang. She arrived at Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines, from her third and last war patrol on 20 July 1945.

On 4 September 1945 Blueback arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam, where she remained until 28 November, conducting daily underway training exercises. After a voyage to the Caroline Islands and the Admiralty Islands, she returned to Guam on 15 December. She stood out for San Diego, California, on 12 January 1946. Remaining on the west coast until 26 August 1946, she then departed for a tour of the Far East. She visited Pearl Harbor, Truk, Subic Bay, Tsingtao and Shanghai, China, before returning to San Diego on 29 November. Blueback conducted one more cruise to Pearl Harbor from 17 February to 4 April 1947 and then carried out local operations and type training along the coast of California until March 1948.

Blueback received two battle stars for her World War II service.

The following is an excerpt from the decommissioning booklet of the 2nd USS Blueback, SS-581. The booklet was printed and distributed by the US Navy.


Service in the US Navy

Blueback arrived at Pearl Harbor on 21 November 1944. During the period from 16 December 1944 to 20 July 1945 she completed three war patrols in the South China Sea and Java Sea. She sank a 300-ton submarine chaser, as well as eight smaller vessels. She arrived at Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines, from her third and last war patrol on 20 July 1945.

On 4 September 1945 Blueback arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam, where she remained until 28 November, conducting daily underway training exercises. After a voyage to the Caroline Islands and the Admiralty Islands, she returned to Guam on 15 December. She stood out for San Diego, California, on 12 January 1946. Remaining on the west coast until 26 August 1946, she then departed for a tour of the Far East. She visited Pearl Harbor, Truk, Subic Bay, Tsingtao and Shanghai, China, before returning to San Diego on 29 November. Blueback conducted one more cruise to Pearl Harbor from 17 February to 4 April 1947 and then carried out local operations and type training along the coast of California until March 1948.

Blueback received two battle stars for her World War II service.


Gunfighters on the Java Sea – May 28 1945

I have been chronicling the actions of the US Forces in the Pacific fleet for a number of months and in doing so have found some really great stories with a lot of detail about how the war was progressing in mid 1945. One of those stories started with a small footnote about a wolf pack operation in the Java Sea conducted by the submarines USS Blueback (SS-326) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) and USS Lamprey (SS-372) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) as they battled the Japanese submarine chaser Ch.1 in a surface gunnery action off Japara, N.E.I., 06°28’S, 110°37’E.

What I like most about these stories is the human face they put on the war’s prosecution. The Blueback’s war patrol records and deck logs have been preserved and I was able to trace the action in the words and sometimes very interesting thoughts of her skipper M.K. Clementson Cdr. USN. one small example came in his final report where he spoke about crewmembers who were departing before the mission began. While reading the original report, I was a bit confused for a few moments about the upcoming re-assignment of Lt. James Mercer who had completed 13 war patrols.

By this time in the war, many of the submarine skippers were modifying their deck guns to suit the missions they would be conducting. During his refit in Perth AU prior to commencing the third war patrol, Clementson and his crew rearranged the location and firing support devices for much of his topside weaponry. The hope was that with an increased capacity to conduct surface operations, they would be able to have more flexibility in attacking the dwindling enemy surface fleet and merchant fleet. During the third war patrol, Blueback would get credit for sinking one patrol boat using surface tactics.

Night Action – Java Sea

This story occurs on May 28th in the Java Sea. While the world and most of the military was still focused on the continuing battle of Okinawa, patrols by the US Submarine force continued all across the pacific. The boats that had been rushed into service during the previous few years had finally started overcoming the torpedo problems of the early years. Success after success had started piling up and even though submarine losses also took their toll, new fleet boats were adding to the overall efforts in ways never before imagined. At 0355 on the morning of the 28th, Blueback had just completed a secret mission and was beginning her patrol. She sighted what she thought was a Jap destroyer at 0510 and sent a report to the Wolf Pack she was operating with.

From that moment on, she would join with the Lamprey in a running torpedo and gun battle in the Java Sea.

The Balao submarine classs was made up of 120 boats and those were typically armed with the following weapons:

10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
(six forward, four aft)
24 torpedoes
1 × 5-inch (127 mm) / 25 caliber deck gun (which replaced the 4-inch 102mm gun installed at the beginning of their service)
Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

During her overhaul prior to WP 3, the guns on the Blueback were modified as follows: the twin 20 MM was moved from the cigarette deck to the main deck forward and a second 40mm was installed on the cigarette deck. They also installed specially braced mountings for twin 50 caliber machine guns and twin 30 caliber machine guns on the bridge. In short, the Blueback was loaded for bear and was ready to take on any targets she would encounter on the surface.

Wolf Pack – American Style

German submarines are well known for Wolf Pack tactics that resulted in horrific losses. Not as well known are the Wolf Packs that the US Forces operated in during the Pacific campaign. Starting with the coordinated attacks of the USS Cero, many combined operations were mounted. At first, there was a reluctance among the individual skippers to advocate for this type of operation. But some, including Captain Swede Momsen saw the need for new tactics in this war . USS Cero cleared New London 17 August 1943 for Pacific waters, and on 26 September sailed from Pearl Harbor, bound for the East China and Yellow Seas on her first war patrol. This patrol was also the first American wolfpack, comprising Cero, Shad (SS-235), and Grayback (SS-208), commanded from Cero by Captain “Swede” Momsen.

Torpedo Attack

At 0843, the Blueback submerged and began a day long track and search pattern looking for the contact the had sighted at 0520 and at 1910 sighted a submarine that was identified as the USS Lamprey. At 1954, she surfaced and communicated with Lamprey using blinker lights. At that time Blueback was informed about the three targets in the Japara anchorage. Plans were then exchanged for the hunt. At 2010, there was a radar contact which the skipper verified was not a submarine. The contact was at approximately 12,000 yards and zig zagging.

From the action report:

“Can just barely get in a night tracking surface approach before the just rising full moon gets too high. Tracking 10 knots, base course 090 true. Am convinced this is our OOD. Will have enough moon before shooting to make certain it is not a submarine.”

One of the greatest fears of submarine commanders concerning the Wolf Pack approach was in not shooting a fellow American submariner in the heat of the battle. Our technology in weapons firing and ship identification was pretty basic during that war so this was a real concern.

At 2033, confident of his target, Blueback headed in at flank speed.

At 2102, Blueback slowed to 2/3 speed. He received a message from the HMS THOROUGH giving his position and stating that a patrol craft has been patrolling in the area all day. Target was not THOROUGH. Target definitely not submarine. (Note: HMS Thorough was a British T class submarine that served in the Far East for much of her wartime career, where she sank twenty seven Japanese sailing vessels, seven coasters, a small Japanese vessel, a Japanese barge, a small Japanese gunboat, a Japanese trawler, and the Malaysian sailing vessel Palange)

At 2107, with confidence that the vessel was not a submarine, Blueback fired five MK 18-2 torpedoes forward. Torpedo run was 3000 yards. At 2109, the skipper turned the boat and fired 2 MK-14-3A torpedoes aft, torpedo run 2200 yards. All missed and as a good close broadside view of the target was obtained, it was discovered that this was not a destroyer but a patrol boat. Blueback headed away at 19 knots. The patrol boat headed away from a torpedo that broached just ahead of him.

Blueback’s skipper made a note in the log:

“Made mental note to always use binocular formula hereafter in an attempt to avoid such costly errors in the future. Even with grim visions of my income tax soaring to the stratosphere. Won’t be able to look a taxpayer in the eye.”

At this point he slows the ship and manned the 5″ and two 40mm gins and informed Lamprey who was 9-10,000 yards to the northwest.

Open Fire

At 2135, Blueback opened fire and immediately got some hits. These hits resulted in a small fire being started on the patrol ship’s forward action station. He commenced returning fire , too accurately according to reports with 25mm explosive shells.

at 2140, Blueback laid a smoke screen and opened range. The moon was brilliant by that time and very low. Blueback was heading into the moon and was weaving to each side trying to distribute the smoke in any direction but true west. The target’s gunfire was on them every time they emerges from either side of the narrow screen.

At 2143, Lamprey opened fire with her 5′ gun but in the words of the Blueback CO “The silly target didn’t know enough to shoot at him.” Then Blueback opened range to 6500 yards and headed to join the Lamprey. The target was making radical maneuvers and returning fire on both Lamprey and Blueback by this time with four guns. The Lamprey skipper reported that “his aim was not very good”. Lamprey expended 40 rounds of 5″ ammunition and recorded two sure hits.

At 2200, Blueback fired a few more rounds of 5″ at his gun flashes but when he ceased firing, there was no more point of aim. Blueback decided to call it a draw (except that Blueback was not hit thanks to the smoke screen.) Lamprey made the same decision at 2209 and the engagement was completed. Blueback’s skipper records in his log that better night sights and star shells would have helped considerable to eliminate “this boil on the heel”.

Lessons learned from the action that night:

1. Get and keep the TARGET up moon,

2. Concentrate forces on initial attack.

At 2207, Blueback set course for new area, 3 engines… At 2339, Lamprey departed for her new patrol area in the Karimata Strait.

The CH-1 would survive the rest of the war but had one more brush with the American submarine fleet. On the 16th of July 1945: West of Surabaya, Java, she was escorting gunboat NANKAI (ex-Dutch minelayer REGULUS) when they were attacked by LCDR William H. Hazzard’s USS BLENNY (SS-324). Hazzard fires a total of 12 torpedoes in a night surface radar attack and claims four hits that sink NANKAI at 05-26S, 110-33E. At about 0700, Hazzard finds and shells CH-1 with his 5-inch deck gun. BLENNY gets two hits that set CH-1 on fire at 05-16S, 110-17E.

Despite two attacks, CH-1 survives the war and is finally scuttled by the Royal Navy in Singapore in 1946.

Both Blueback and Lamprey also survive the war. Guns would be removed from the decks of post war submarines for a host of reasons. Submarines evolved through technology to be more effective under the water during all modes of warfare and a deck gun was no longer needed or practical. One of the many enemies a submarine fought was the airplane and post war development of antisubmarine air forces increased the danger of being on the surface for any period of time. But having those guns on board WW2 boats was a critical factor during the early months and years where the unreliable torpedo corrupted the ultimate mission of a submarine. The other factor of not wasting a torpedo on smaller craft played a key role as well

Seventy years has passed since that night action on the Java Sea. The bravery of those men on both sides under some very difficult conditions is a testament to the strength found in men who are committed to a cause.


USS Blueback

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With the decommissioning of the USS Blueback on October 1, 1990, the last ever diesel-electric submarine of the United States Navy had left the fleet. But rather than being ignominiously scrapped, it instead found its way to the Willamette River, just a mile from downtown Portland.

It now provides quite a strange sight for unsuspecting folks walking along the banks of the Willamette River, who might be surprised to see the sleek hull of the Barbel-class submarine sitting half-submerged in the water.

The USS Blueback (SS-581) was launched in May, 1959, unknowingly becoming the last ever non-nuclear submarine to join the Navy. During its service, the Blueback took part in various fleet operations, patrolled the waters of Hawaii, and was deployed in the Far East. It earned two battle stars for its service in the Vietnam War.

The vessel also made the longest-ever submerged voyage by a diesel-electric submarine, when it traveled 5,340 miles from Yokosuka, Japan, to San Diego. And, shortly before its decommissioning, it made one last star turn in the 1990 movie The Hunt for Red October.

That could have been the end of the Blueback. It was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1990 and sat in the Pacific Reserve Fleet in Bremerton, Washington, awaiting its fate. Luckily for this retired submarine, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) came calling.

In February 1994, the OMSI towed the USS Blueback to Portland. It was moored in the river just outside the main museum building, where it still sits today, serving as both a maritime memorial and an interactive part of the museum. Visitors are welcome to walk inside the dark shell of the 219-foot sub, to explore the radio room, narrow halls, and living spaces full of marvelous artifacts, or look through the periscope and imagine what it might be like to fire a torpedo.

Know Before You Go

The OMSI runs two types of tours inside the Blueback. In the standard tour, visitors get to explore the submarine in a 45-minute guided tour, during which they can look through her periscope, touch a torpedo, and see the cramped crew quarters and various other things. These tours take place daily and are for ages three and above.

True submarine nerds will want to take the Submarine Tech Tour, which happens on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. This two-hour long tour is guided by a submarine veteran, who’ll teach you all about the technical workings of the Blueback. Reserve in advance, and visitors must be at least 12 years old.


Blueback SS-326 - History

13,000 Tons (as designed)
14,743 Tons (as built)
668' 6" x 68' x 20' 11"
(As Built Armament)
10 x 203mm guns (5x2)
6 x 120mm AA guns
2 x 7.7mm MG
12 x 24" torpedo tubes

(Final Armament)
10 x 203mm guns (5x2)
8 x 127mm AA guns
8 x 25mm AA guns
2 x quad 13.2mm AA guns
16 x 24" torpedo tubes
1 x catapult with 3 planes

Ship History
Built by Kawasaki Shipyards in Kobe. Laid down April 11, 1925 as a Myōkō-class heavy cruiser, the final vessel after Nachi, Myōkō, and Haguro. Launched April 22, 1928 as Ashigara named after Mount Ashigara on the border between Kanagawa Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan. Commissioned August 20, 1929 in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) under the command of Captain Inoue Choji attached to Sasebo Naval District.

Wartime History
On November 30, 1929 becomes the flagship of CruDiv 4 placed under the command of Captain Hani Rokuro. On October 26, 1930 off Kobe participates in a Naval Review for Emperor Hirohito. On December 1, 1930 placed under the command of Captain Otagaki Tomisaburo.

On June 7, 1945 departed Batavia (Jakarta) on Java bound for Singapore with 1,600 troops embarked escorted by destroyer Kamikaze. Immediately, USS Blueback (SS-326) reported their departure but was unable to maneuver into an attack position, but her report was received by Royal Navy (RN) submarines HMS Trenchant and HMS Stygian at the northern end of Bangka Strait between Sumatra and Bangka Island.

Sinking History
On June 8, 1945 in the morning in Bangka Strait, destroyer Kamikaze spotted HMS Trenchant and exchanged fire then lost contact with the submarine then engaged HMS Stygian. Meanwhile, HMS Trenchant submerged and at at 11:48am spotted Ashigara heading northward and moved into position for a difficult torpedo attack from a poor firing position off the cruiser's starboard beam. At 12:12pm fired a spread of eight torpedoes at a range of 4,700 yards. Ashigara spotted the torpedoes and attempted to turn to starboard to avoid them but was trapped between Sumatra to port and a shoal to starboard and was hit by five. Afterwards, HMS Trenchant fired two more torpedoes from her stern tubes that both missed and submerged to escape from Kamikaze that turned to intercept. At 12:30pm sank at Lat 01°59′S Long 104°56′E. Officially struck from the Navy List on August 20, 1945.

Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, Kamikaze and two fishing vessels rescued 853 crew including Captain Rear Admiral Miura plus 400 passengers. The rest died in the sinking.

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Blueback SS-326 - History

John Thomas Beahan was born on June 10, 1921. According to our records Indiana was his home or enlistment state and LaPorte County included within the archival record. We have Michigan City listed as the city. He had enlisted in the United States Navy. Served during World War II. Beahan had the rank of Ensign. Service number assignment was 0389351. Attached to USS Blueback (SS-326). During his service in World War II, Navy Ensign Beahan experienced a traumatic event which ultimately resulted in loss of life on July 10, 1945 . Recorded circumstances attributed to: Non hostile death, accident. Incident location: Java Sea. John Thomas Beahan is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.

Pre/Post Cold War Boats

The Cold War Boats Association is limited by its core mission to submarines of the Cold War, which is generally considered bounded by the 1947 Truman Doctrine and the 1991 demise of the former Soviet Union.

For clarity, the Cold War Boats Association defines the beginning of the Cold War as 28 FEB 1946, which encompasses the period following George Kennan's "Long Telegram" that helped articulate the US government's increasingly hard line against the Soviets, which would become the basis for US strategy toward the Soviet Union for the duration of the Cold War.

The end of the Cold War is perhaps more clearly delineated as 26 DEC 1991 which marks the date of the dissolution of the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). (For more information on the Cold War, and to understand how our cut-off dates were determined, click here to read the Wikipedia article "Cold War".)

The criteria for including a submarine in the Cold War Boats Association is rigorously defined. For a submarine to be included in the Cold War Boats Association:

    • It must have been commissioned on or before 26 DEC 1991, AND
    • It must either be decommssioned on or after 28 FEB 1946 OR still be in active commission.

    If you are reading this, having selected a particular non-Cold War boat, it is because the submarine that you have selected was not in commission during the Cold War period as specified, and consequently is not an active part of the www. coldwarboats.org website.

    That depends. If you served on Cold War submarines in addition to the non-Cold War boat, you can still record your tour on the non-Cold War boat in your User Profile. While your service on the non-Cold War boat will be displayed as part of your profile, there is currently no collection of history or subset of the www.coldwarboats.org website to honor that particular submarine.

    If you did not serve on a Cold War boat, don't despair. Plans are in the works to create another organization specifically for those who served following the Cold War. When, who knows? If you are registered with the Cold War Boats Association you will be among the first to know.

    In the meantime, grab a cup of joe, visit the other boats of the Cold War Boats Association and learn your way around.


    Watch the video: USS Blueback - Fast Attack Submarine in Portland Oregon (December 2021).