Gato Class Submarine
1,525 Tons (surfaced)
2,424 Tons (submerged)
311' 9" x 27' 3" x 17"
10 × 21" torpedo tubes
(6 fwd, 4 aft)
with 24 torpedoes
3" 50 cal deck gun
2 × 20mm MG
2 × 40mml AA
USS Finback Sept 2, 1944
Built by Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Laid down February 5, 1941. Launched August 25, 1941. Commissioned January 31, 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Jesse L. Hull.
Finback departed New London via the Panama Canal then arrived at Pearl Harbor on May 29, 1942 and two days later departed to patrol for the Japanese fleet but saw no action during the Battle of Midway before returning on June 9, 1942.
First War Patrol
On June 25, 1942 departed on her first war patrol proceeding northward to the Aleutian Islands. On July 5, 1942 attacked two Japanese destroyers and was depth charged. On July 11, 1942 conducted a reconnaissance of Vega Bay on Kiska Island and on August 11, 1942 a survey operation off Tanaga Bay on Tanaga Island and the next day arrived at Dutch Harbor concluding the patrol.
Second War Patrol
Departed on her second war patrol in the South China Sea off Formosa (Taiwan). On October 14, 1942 spotted a convoy of four transports escorted by a patrol vessel. Finback fired two torpedoes at the two largest targets, sinking Teison Maru (Ville De Verdun). After the attack, dove then surfaced finding two destroyers in the area and departed for the coast of China. On October 18, 1942 heavily damaged a large freighter and on October 20, 1942 contacted three ships in transit from Saigon bound for Yokohama and sank Africa Maru and Yamafuji Maru. Finally, on November 3, 1942 engaged in a surface engagement with a sampan, sinking it with gunfire then returned on November 20, 1942 to Pearl Harbor.
Third War Patrol
On December 16, 1942 departed on her third war patrol providing escort for a carrier task force and was forbidden from making attacks. Afterwards, patrolled freely. On January 17, 1943 surfaced to engage Yachiyo Maru with gunfire and claimed the vessel as abandoned and sinking. On February 6, 1943 to Midway for a refit.
Fourth War Patrol
On February 27, 1943 departed on her fourth war patrolling under the command of LtCdr John A. Tyree the shipping lanes between Japan and Rabaul. On March 21, 1843 damaged the troop transport Sanuki Maru when one of two torpedoes that hit failed to explode. During March 24-26, 1943 chased a convoy before reaching an attack position and fired three torpedoes at two ships and was fired and forced to dive deep to avoid depth charges and broke off the attack low on fuel. On April 5, 1943 passed south of Wake Island and spotted Suwa Maru that was beached after sustaining damage from two other submarines. Skillfully, Finback managed to torpedo the vessel sinking it by the stern and evade a patrol boat and an aircraft. On April 14, 1943 ended the patrol at Midway the underwent a refit at Pearl Harbor until early May 1943.
Fifth War Patrol
On May 12, 1943 departed on her fifth war patrol off Formosa (Taiwan) and the shipping lanes between Japan and the Marshall Islands. On May 27, 1943 sank Kochi Maru. On June 8, 1943 sank auxiliary minelayer Kahoku Maru and a merchant vessel four days later. Afterwards, to Fremantle for refit until the middle of July 1943.
Sixth War Patrol
On July 18, 1943 departed on her six war patrol off Java. On July 30, 1943 intercepted Ryuzan Maruon spotted the ship fired at Finback but was torpedoed and sank. On August 3, 1943 sunk another cargo vessel. On August 11, 1943 evaded an escort and aircraft and damaged auxiliary minelayer Tatsumiya Maru. On August 19, 1943 engaged small minelayers, tug and steamer , and engaged all but the tug with gunfire, damaging two and sinking CHA-109 (formerly Dutch patrol vessel Kawi). Low on ammunition, returned to Pearl Harbor an overhaul and refit between September 12, 1943 until December 15, 1943.
Seventh War Patrol
On December 15, 1943 departed on her seventh war patrol in the South China Sea but experienced bad weather and made few contacts and was spotted by patrol planes. On January 1, 1944 sank Isshin Maru in a surface attack that was lagging behind her convoy due to a rudder problem. On January 30, 1944 sank a fishing trawler with gunfire and damaged another the next day then returned to Pearl Harbor on February 11, 1944 for refit until March 6, 1944.
Eighth War Patrol
On March 6, 1944 departed on her eighth war patrol to performing lifeguard duty for carrier air strikes off Truk. On April 12, 1944 spotted a convoy with three escorts, attacked four vessels before having to dive. On April 16, 1944 performed a reconnaissance of Oroluk Atoll and fired on a steamer and lookout tower. On April 19, 1944 sank a sampan then ended the patrol at Pearl Harbor. Afterwards, refitted until May 30, 1944.
Ninth War Patrol
During her ninth war operated off Palau then west of the Mariana Islands and provided lifeguard duty. On July 21, 1944 returned to Majuro for a refit.
Tenth War Patrol
On August 16, 1944 departed on her tenth war patrol under the command of Lieutenant Commander Robert Russell Williams, Jr., to perform lifeguard duty in the Bonin Islands and rescued five downed aviators guided by aircraft. Guided by friendly aircraft, she rescued a total of five downed Naval aviators.
On September 2, 1944 rescued Lt(jg) George H. W. Bush after he bailed out of TBM Avenger 46214 damaged by anti-aircraft fire over Chichi Jima (Father Island). Carrier aircraft circled his raft and radioed his position to lifeguard submarine Finback nearby. Four hours later, Capt. Robert R. Williams Jr. sighted him on the periscope about seven miles away off the island and surfaced to rescue him. The rescue was filmed from the coning tower as Torpedoman First Class, Donnet Kohler and other crew members on the bow helped him aboard. Afterwards, Finback continued her war patrol.
During September 10-11, 1944 tracked a convoy and twice attempted attacks thwarted by escorts but managed to sink Hassho Maru and Hakuun Maru No. 2 before returning to to Pearl Harbor.
Eleventh War Patrol
On her eleventh war patrol, she was again detailed to lifeguard duty in the Bonin Islands. During this patrol, on December 16, 1944 sank troop transport Jusan Maru then returned to Midway on December 24, 1944.
Twelve War Patrol
On January 20, 1945 departed on her twelve war patrol in the East China Sea but found no targets and on March 25, 1945 returned to Pearl Harbor and began an overhaul that lasted until the end of the Pacific War.
On August 29, 1945 departed Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal then to New London for five years of additional service as a training vessel. During 1947 and 1948 participated in fleet exercises in the Caribbean Sea. On April 21, 1950 decommissioned and placed into reserve at New London. On September 1, 1958 stricken from the register.
On July 15, 1959 scrapped.
NavSource - USS Finback (SS-230)
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
October 23, 2019