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1,450 Tons (Surfaced)
2,350 Tons (Submerged)
310' 6" x 26' 10" x 16' 8"
8 x 21" torpedo tubes with 24 torpedoes
1 x 3" gun
4 x .machine guns
USN December 17, 1941
USN November 1945
Built by Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. Laid down June 30, 1938 as a Sargo-class submarine. Launched May 25, 1939 as USS Sealion SS-195 named for the sea lion sponsored by sponsored by Mrs. Augusta K. Bloch, wife of Admiral Claude C. Bloch, Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet. Commissioned November 27, 1939 in the U. S. Navy (USN) with Lt. J.K. Morrison, Jr., in command.
After a shakedown, Sealion, assigned to Submarine Division 17 (SubDiv 17) and was readied for deployment with the Asiatic Fleet. In the Spring of 1940 departed for the Philippines and was based at Cavite. During October 1941 departed on a patrol of Luzon to the Sulu Islands then returned to Cavite for an overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard.
On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, Japanese aircraft bombed Cavite and during the air raid Sealion sustained two bomb hits. The first hit aft of the conning tower and exploded outside the hull over the control room. The second hit the main ballast tank and exploded the pressure hull exposing the aft engine room.
Inside the aft engine room went missing: Chief Electrician's Mate Sterling C. Foster, Melvin Donald O'Connell, Ernest Ephrom Ogilvie and Vallentyne Lester Paul. The damage caused the submarine to settle by the stern with 40% of the deck underwater and a 15° list to starboard. Sealion became the first U. S. Navy (USN) submarine lost in World War II.
On December 17, 1941 a photograph was taken of the damage at Cavite including the submarine. Due to the damage sustained to Cavite Navy Yard and the rapid advance of Japanese forces, repairs were considered impossible and the submarine was instead to be scuttled to prevent capture by the enemy. All usable equipment was removed and depth charges placed inside to destroy the submarine.
On December 25, 1941 the depth charges were detonated and was scuttled at Cavite.
The wreckage of Sealion remained at Cavite. The Japanese made no effort to salvage the submarine during the Japanese occupation. During late March 1945, U. S. forces occupied the Cavite area. In November 1945 the wreckage was raised and photographed. During 1961, the submarine was raised by the U. S. Navy (USN) and inside the wreckage the remains of the four crew killed in the aft engine room were recovered.
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, the rest of the crew of Sealion were captured by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POW) until the end of the Pacific War. Firth died in captivity at Cabanatuan POW Camp on August 9, 1942 and was buried at the camp.
Recovery of Remains
After the 1961, recovery of remains, the four crew killed in the aft engine room were recovered and next of kin contacted. The families of Foster and O'Connell requested they be buried at sea. The families of the other two requested the remains be transported back to the United States for permanent burial.
The four crew members Killed In Action (KIA) on December 8, 1941 remained listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and were officially declared dead two days later on December 10, 1941 for unknown reasons. All four are commemorated at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. Foster is listed as recovered with a rosette placed next to his name.
On November 20, 1961 aboard USS Princeton (LPH-5) in accordance with the wishes of their next of kin, the remains of Foster and O'Connell received a funeral with full military honors then were buried at sea in Manila Bay off Cavite.
Foster earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. In 1961, his remains were buried at sea, in accordance with the wishes of his next of kin. He also has a memorial marker at Round Mound Cemtery in Ceder Vale, KS.
Paul earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. In 1961, his remains were buried at sea, in accordance with the wishes of his next of kin.
Ogilvie has a memorial marker at IOOF Cemetery in Du Quoin, IL. After the 1961 recovery of remains, Ogilvie was buried in 1961 at Mound City National Cemetery Mound City, IL at section F site 5017W.
O'Connell is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery at section X site 550.
Paul is buried at ak Ridge Cemetery in Buchanan, MI.
Firth is buried at Manila American Cemetery at plot N, row 2, site 60.
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - Sealion (SS-195)
NavSource - USS Sealion SS-195
News "LPH-5 Buries WW2 Sub Crew " November 20, 1961
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sterling Cecil Foster date of death December 10, 1941 [sic] "status recovered, buried at sea at the request of his next of kin."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Melvin Donald O'Connell date of death December 10, 1941 [sic] "status recovered, buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ernest Ephrom Ogilvie date of death December 10, 1941 [sic] "status recovered, Mound City National Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Vallentyne Lester Paul date of death December 10, 1941 [sic] "status recovered, buried at sea at the request of his next of kin"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sterling C. Foster
""status recovered, buried at sea at the request of his next of kin."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard Firth
FindAGrave - Sterling Cecil Foster (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Melvin Donald O'Connell (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Ernest Ephrom Ogilvie (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Ernest Ephrom Ogilvie (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Vallentyne Lester Paul (grave photo) date of death December 10, 1941 [sic]
FindAGrave - Sterling Cecil Foster (photo, memorial marker photo) date of death December 10, 1941 [sic]
FindAGrave - MMC Howard Risdale Firth (photos)
FindAGrave - Howard Risdale Firth (photos, memorial marker photo)
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