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  USS Grouper SS-214 (SS-214 / SSK-214 /AGSS-214)
USN
Gato-class Submarine

1,526 Tons (surfaced)
2,424 Tons (submerged)
307' x 27.3' x 19.3'
10 × 21" torpedo tubes
(6 fwd, 4 aft)
with 24 torpedoes
1 x 3" deck gun
2 × .50cal MG
2 × .30cal MG


USN January 24, 1942
Sub History
Built by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. Laid down December 28, 1940 as Gato-class Submarine. Launched October 27, 1941 as USS Grouper (SS-214) as the first ship of the United States Navy to be named grouper after the fish sponsored by Mrs. Albert F. Church. Commissioned February 12, 1942 in the U.S. Navy (USN) with Lieutenant Commander C. E. Duke in command. Afterwards, underwent a shakedown cruise in Long Island Sound then departed March 21, 1942 via the Panama Canal before arriving at Pearl Harbor on March 30, 1942 and join the Pacific Submarine Force.

First War Patrol
On June 1, 1942 departs Pearl Harbor on her first war patrol to patrol off Midway Atoll as part of the submarine screen and spots PBY Catalinas patrolling during the three days prior to the Battle of Midway.

On June 4, 1942 at 8:16am ordered to intercept two enemy aircraft carriers 180 miles away and spotted planes on the horizon. At 8:51am while running at a depth of 55' bombed and strafed and dived to 140' with bombs exploding nearby and splashes. Afterwards, at 9:30am surfaced to periscope depth and saw anti-aircraft fire and dog fights underway. At 9:56am in the periscope spotted a "Zero" that dove and strafed with impacts on the bridge then dove to 140' with more bomb exploding nearby and dove to 250' with more explosions heard in the surrounding area. By 10:35, Japanese cruiser Tone had detected two submerged submarines, likely USS Nautilus and USS Grouper and alerted the other Japanese warships of their presence. At 11:05am attempted to surface but at 140' more explosions were heard believed to be depth charges released by a destroyer. At 12:40 surfaced to periscope depth and observed two large columns of smoke that appeared to burning ships and proceeded towards them. At 12:41 bombed again and dove to 140'. At 3:20pm surfaced to periscope depth and spotted a Hibiki destroyer turning and immediately dove to 250' and full speed as the destroyer passed overhead and released a pattern of depth charges. Afterwards, performed course changes and slowed speed as more depth charge attacks were made. By 8:25pm at a depth of 310' and believed the submarine was being targeted by several destroyers based on the number of depth charges released. Finally at 11:31 surfaced with nothing visible and recharged the batteries and found no damage to the submarine aside from a small air leak in the no. 4 main ballast tank that likely was trailing bubbles.

On June 5, 1942 resumed patrolling the eastern section off Midway Atoll and spotted friendly warships and planes in the vicinity and assessed a pump and electric cables for seawater damage. By evening, saw smoke rising from Midway Atoll with PBY Catalinas and B-17s returning from missions. On June 6, 1942 resumed patrolling and was informed by a PBY to resuce a downed plane 5 miles away. Reaching the site by 10:05am, what was observed to be a plane was a large whale. Afterwards, resumed patrolling and crossed the international date line, advancing to June 7, 1942 and the next day returned to Midway to refuel and for provisions. On June 9, 1942 at 11:50 moored at Midway for minor repairs, refuel and resupply.

On June 12, 1942 at 5:00pm departed Midway Atoll to resume her first war patrol proceeding westward across the Pacific and the China Sea and torpedoed and damaged two transports before returning to Pearl Harbor on July 30, 1942.

Second War Patrol
On August 28, 1942 departed Pearl Harbor on her second war patrol and claimed two transports. On September 21, 1942 sank Tone Maru. On October 1, 1942 torpedoed Lisbon Maru that sank the next day. Later, it was later learned the ship was s transporting 1,800 Commonwealth prisoners from Hong Kong with over 800 dead in the sinking. On October 9, 1942 Grouper returned from the patrol.

Third War Patrol
On November 12, 1942 departed on her third war patrol. On December 17, 1942 sank Bandoeng Maru, a passenger-freighter with troops bound for the Solomon Islands. On December 31 ended the patrol at Brisbane.

Forth War Patrol
On January 21, 1943 departed on her fourth war patrol. On February 10, 1943 rescued 1st Lt. Lawrence R. McKulla who bailed out from P-39 Airacobra fifteen days earlier and managed to reach Rengi Island. Afterwards, the submarine located several Japanese radar installations in the Solomon Islands and returned from the patrol on March 18, 1943

Fifth War Patrol
No ships sunk during this patrol.

Sixth War Patrol

On June 19, 1943 departed from Brisbane on her sixth war patrol. No ships sunk during this patrol.

Seventh War Patrol

On September 28, 1943 landed 43 men and 3,000 pounds of gear on New Britain to support coastwatcher Malcolm Wright and rescued Captain Arthur L. Post who bailed out from F-5A Lightning 42-13070 and was being hidden by the coastwatcher for three months awaiting rescue. No ships sunk during this patrol. On October 11, 1943 arrived at Pearl Harbor ending the seventh war patrol.

On October 13, 1943 departed bound for San Francisco and entered dry dock at Hunter's Point Naval Drydocks for a major overhaul. On November 12, 1943 Lt. Commander F. H. Wahlig took command. By December 29, 1943 the overhaul was completed. On January 1, 1944 departed bound for Pearl Harbor arriving six days later and assigned to Submarine Section Four administratively and a PPI installed and the 3" deck gun replaced with a 4" deck gun.

On January 15, 1944 began a period of training from Pearl Harbor. The next day while training, the conning tower, control room and pump room were accidentally flooded causing extensive damage that required repairs and replacement of equipment and alterations to the bridge until February 15, 1944. Training resumed on February 19, 1944 for day and night exercises and was completed six days later with final preparations made by the end of the month.

Eighth War Patrol

On March 1, 1944 departs Pearl Harbor on her eighth war patrol but experienced rough seas that required slowing her speed to only six knots and was unable to submerge. On March 6, 1944 arrived at Midway to refuel, replace a battery and take on fresh water before departing the next day bound for her patrol area. No ships sunk during this patrol. On April 28, 1944 completed her eight war patrol at Majuro Lagoon mooring alongside USS Sperry (AS-12).

Ninth Patrol
On May 22, 1944 departed Majuro Lagoon on her ninth war patrol. On June 24, 1944 sank Kumanoyama Maru during a night surface attack, this was the last ship this submarine sunk during the Pacific War.

Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth Patrol
Grouper’s tenth, eleventh and twelfth war patrols had a lack of targets and she performed lifeguard duty. During September 1944, rescued several aviators downed after strikes on Palau. On April 26, 1945 returns to Pearl Harbor ending her twelfth war patrol and the next day departed for San Francisco. On August 6, 1945 returns to Pearl Harbor but the surrender of Japan canceled plans for another patrol.

Memorials
For her World War II service, Grouper earned ten battle stars.

Post War
During September 1945, Grouper, Toro and Blackfish departed for New London, CT. Afterwards, conducted four years of local operations and training along the East coast to Florida and the Caribbean. During this period she chalked up two "firsts:" in 1946 she became the first submarine to have a Combat Information Center installed, and the following year she effected the first discharge and recovery of men from a submerged and underway submarine.

These operations ended March 5, 1950 as Grouper entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for conversion to the Navy's first "hunter-killer" submarine. On January 2, 1951 reclassifiied SSK-214. With the addition of a snorkel and extensive sonar and radar facilities, Grouper emerged from the yard 27 June 1951 to pioneer in research on the deadly submarine-versus-submarine warfare. For the next 8 years, as a unit of Submarine Development Group 2, Grouper worked to develop and test concepts of hunter-killer antisubmarine warfare. In this duty she ranged along the East Coast from Nova Scotia to Florida as well as participating in Caribbean exercises. In 1953 and 1955 exercises took Grouper across the Atlantic to Rothesay, via Iceland. In the fall of 1957 she then participated in NATO maneuvers.

On May 17, 1958 reclassified as AG(SS)-214. On November 28, 1959 entered Portsmouth Navy Yard for extensive modification. Her forward torpedo room was converted into a floating laboratory, work benches and additional berths for scientists were installed, and various types of sonar gear were added topside. Thus equipped, Grouper departed Portsmouth 23 June 1960 to embark on the fourth phase of her long career, research vessel for the Naval Research and Underwater Sound Laboratories. Her duties as a floating laboratory took her frequently to the Caribbean and Bermuda, although she retained New London as her home port and engaged in operations there and as far north as Nova Scotia. Her efforts were focused on the study of sound propagation in water. In December 1962 Grouper entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for overhaul and modification to prepare for further work in this field. Grouper left the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in May 1963 to resume her investigation of waterborne sound.

In June of 1964 Grouper was awarded the coveted Battle Efficiency "E". In November 1965 the submarine again entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for overhaul and equipment modifications to increase her usefulness as a floating underwater sound laboratory. She departed Philadelphia 1 May 1966, reached New London 1 June, and headed for the Caribbean for intensive research. Her studies during 1966 also took her to Narragansett Bay and twice to Bermuda. At the beginning of 1967 Grouper was at New London preparing to resume the study of sound propagation underwater. Until late 1968 served as a floating laboratory. Decommissioned on December 2, 1968.

Fate
On August 11, 1970 sold for scrap and broken up.

References
USN Ship's Narrative and History - USS Grouper (War History)
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - USS Grouper (SS-214/SSK-214/AGSS-214)
NavSource - USS Grouper (SS-214/SSK-214/AGSS-214) (photos)
Combined Fleet - Submarine Operations Research Group Attack Data USS Grouper (SS-214)

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Last Updated
June 11, 2021

 

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