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  USS Grouper SS-214 (SS-214 / SSK-214 /AGSS-214)
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

Ship History
Built by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. Launched October 27, 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Albert F. Church. Commissioned February 12, 1942 with Lieutenant Commander C. E. Duke in command. Shakedown cruise in Long Island Sound, then departed for Pearl Harbor on March 30, 1942 to join the Pacific Submarine Force.

On June 4, 1942 Grouper patrolled at the fringe of the Battle of Midway and sighted two burning enemy aircraft carriers, but could not close to attack due to enemy air cover and was strafed by fighters and forced to dive deep to escape and destroyers that dropped over 170 depth charges and bombs dropped onto the submarine. On June 5, 1942 crash dived to avoid further attacks. Afterwards, to Midway to refuel and provision.

First War Patrol
On June 12, 1942 Grouper departed on her first war patrol and torpedoed and damaged two transports in the China Sea before returning to Pearl Harbor 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 departed 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 - Twelfth Patrol
Grouper’s final three war patrols found a lack of targets—American submarines had done their job on Japanese shipping too well for Grouper’s purposes. She stood lifeguard duty during several air strikes and rescued seven downed aviators during raids on the Palau in September 1944. Returning to Pearl Harbor from her 12th war patrol 26 April 1945, Grouper sailed for San Francisco and overhaul the following day. She returned to Pearl Harbor 6 August, but V-J Day canceled plans for another patrol. Grouper received 10 battle stars for World War II service.

Post War
In September 1945, Grouper, Toro and Blackfish departed for New London, CT. Afterwards, conducted four years of local operations and training along the coast to Florida and in the Caribbean Sea. 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 5 March 1950 as Grouper entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for conversion to the Navy's first "hunter-killer" submarine. Her classification was changed to SSK-214 on 2 January 1951. 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.

Grouper was reclassified AG(SS)-214, 17 May 1958, and on 28 November 1959 she entered the 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.

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

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Last Updated
June 29, 2019


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