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V-5 Class Submarine
Narwhal Class Submarine
2,730 Tons (surfaced)
3,900 Tons (submerged)
349' / 33' 3 1/4" x 16' 11 1/4"
8 x 21" torpedo tubes
with 24-26 torpedoes
2 x 6" deck gun
USN April 15, 1942
Built by Mare Island Navy Yard at Mare Island as V-6 but before construction began redesignated SC-2. Laid down May 10, 1927 as a V-5 class submarine. Launched March 15, 1930 sponsored by Miss Joan Keesling. Commissioned July 1, 1930 in the U.S. Navy (USN) with Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Doyle Jr. in command. On February 19, 1931 renamed USS Nautilus and designated as a Narwhal Class Submarine. On July 1, 1931 designated SS-168.
During July 1941 entered Mare Island Navy Yard at Mare Island for modernization with updated radio equipment, external torpedo tubes (two bow and two stern firing) and a newer Winton diesel engines plus air conditioning. The modernization continued until the spring of 1942. On April 21, 1942 departs San Francisco and seven days later arrives at Pearl Harbor.
First War Patrol
On May 24, 1942 departs Pearl Harbor under the command of Lieutenant Commander William H. Brockman Jr. on her first war patrol bound for Midway Atoll to patrol against Japanese forces expected in the area.
On June 4, 1942 at the start of the Battle of Midway at 7:55am while approaching the northern boundary of her patrol area, spotted masts on the horizon and was spotted by Japanese planes that made a strafing attack forcing the submarine to crash dive to 100' then resumed observation spotting Battlecruiser Kirishima, Heavy Cruiser Nagara plus two other cruisers [sic, two destroyers] but was again bombed and the destroyers closed and made a depth charge attack but failed to cause any damage. Afterwards, surfaced to periscope depth and was surrounded by warships and fired her two bow torpedoes at Kirishima but one misfired and the other missed. When a destroyer was spotted heading towards the submarine, again crash dove to 150' then surfaced to periscope depth again at 8:46am and at 9:00am raised the periscope and spotted an aircraft carrier and changed course to make an attack but the same destroyer Arashi chased and made another depth charge attack.
By 9:55am, the submarine again surfaced and the sea was clear. Unknown to Nautilus, the destroyer Arashi chasing them had departed to rejoin the carrier and was spotted and tracked by SBD Dauntlesses from VB-6 and resulted in the Americans finding the Japanese task force. At 12:53pm a damaged aircraft carrier they identified as Soryu [sic likely Kaga] with two escorts were spotted and Nautilus moved into position to attack. At 1:59pm until 2:05pm launched four torpedoes at the damaged aircraft carrier but one failed to run, two ran erratically and the fourth impacted amidship but was a dud. Afterwards, dove to 300' as escorts made a depth charge attack. At 4:10pm surfaced to periscope depth and saw the carrier burning and abandoned. At 7:41pm resumed patrolling having fired five torpedoes and survived 42 depth charges but failed to cause any damage but regardless LtCdr Brockman earned the Navy Cross.
On June 7, 1942 returned to Midway to replenish then resumed patrolling to the west. On June 20, 1942 patrolling off Honshu and two days later damaged a destroyer guarding the entrance to the Sagami Sea off Ōshima. On June 25, 1942 sank destroyer Yamakaze and damaged an oil tanker. On June 27, 1942 sank a sampan and the next day damaged a cargo vessel but was depth charged.
Afterwards, returned to Pearl Harbor and between July 11, 1942 until August 7, 1942 under repair.
Second War Patrol
USS Argonaut (SM-1) and USS Nautilus (SS-168) were selected to transport Marine Raiders for the "Makin Raid" against Makin Island. On August 8, 1942 at Pearl Harbor, the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion "Marine Raiders" (Carlson Raiders) under Commanding Officer (C. O.) Lt. Col. Evans Carlson with Executive Officer Major James Roosevelt (son of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt) and the Marines of Company A and Company B embarked aboard USS Argonaut (SM-1) and USS Nautilus (SS-168) that departs for the upcoming "Makin Raid" arriving off Makin Island by August 16, 1942.
On August 17, 1942 at 3:30am the submarines surfaced and the Marines used rubber rafts to land on Makin. This was the first U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) operation launched from submarines. Ashore, the "Makin Raid" destroyed installations, disrupt the enemy and divert reinforcements to Guadalcanal. After killing 83 Japanese and destroying installations, ships and two flying boats by Sgt Buck Stidham and Sgt Walter Carroll using their Boys Anti-Tank rifle. By midnight on August 18, 1942, the surviving Marines returned to the submarines then departed for Pearl Harbor arriving August 26, 1942.
On September 28, 1942 sunk Tamon Maru No. 6 a cargo vessel of 4,994 Tons.
On October 1, 1942 sunk Tosei Maru a cargo vessel of 2,432 Tons..
On October 24, 1942 sunk Kenun Maru a cargo vessel of 4,643 Tons.
On January 9, 1943 spots a convoy off Kieta on Bougainville. During the night, Yoshinogawa Maru spots the submarine and made an unsuccessful attack. Early in the engagement, Yoshinogawa Maru depth charges USS Nautilus (SS-168), but the latter escapes unharmed. At 3:00am, the submarine fires a spread of torpedoes that hit Yoshinogawa Maru that cause damage and attempts to tow the ship fail and sinks.
On June 30, 1945 decommissioned. On July 25, 1945 struck from the Naval Register.
On November 16, 1945 sold for scrap to North American Smelting Co. in Philadelphia, PA and broken up.
Nautilus earned the Presidential Unit Citation and 14 battle stars for her service during World War II. Nautilus was credited with a total of six ships: Yamakaze, Tamon Maru No. 6, Tosei Maru, Kenun Maru, Yoshinogawa Maru and America Maru) with a total tonnage of 21,149.
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - Nautilus III (SS-168)
NavSource - V-6 (SC-2) Nautilus (SS-168)
NHHC Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II by All Causes pages 2 (Yamakaze), 33 (Tamon Maru No. 6, Tosei Maru), 37 (Yoshinogawa Maru), 123 (index), Appendix 26 (USS Nautilus)
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