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  USS Robalo SS-273
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

Click For Enlargement
USN May 9, 1943

Click For Enlargement
USN 1944
Sub History
Built by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company at Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Laid down October 24, 1942 Launched May 9, 1943, sponsored by Mrs. E.S. Root. Commissioned September 28, 1943 into the U. S. Navy (USN) assigned to Commander Stephen Ambruster. Departed down the Mississippi River then via the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor.

First War Patrol
Departed Pearl Harbor to patrolled to the west of the Philippines. Departing the patrol area, she damaged a large enemy freighter, firing four torpedoes at 3,100 yards. In total, the submarine spent 36 of her 57 patrol submerged. When she arrived at Freemantle, her commanding officer was summarily relieved by Admiral Christie and Robalo was assigned to commander Manning Kimmel.

Second War Patrol
Patrolled the South China Sea near Indochina. Sank a 7,500-ton tanker.

Third War Patrol
On June 22, 1944 departed Fremantle to patrol the South China Sea in the vicinity of the Natuna Islands. After traversing Makassar Straits and Balabac Straits, she was to arrive on station on July 6, then waited until nightfall on August 2, 1944.

Sinking History
On July 2, 1944 a contact report from Robalo stated they sighted a Fuso-class battleship with air cover plus two destroyer escort east of Borneo. No other messages were received from Robalo.

According to the crew, on July 26, 1944, Robalo sank two miles off the west coast of Palawan Island as a result of an explosion of her aft battery. More likely, Robalo struck an enemy mine. When she did not return from patrol, she was presumed lost on July 26, 1944 with the entire crew of eighty-one lost.

Fates of the Crew
Four of the crew managed to swim ashore: Ensign Samuel L. Tucker.; QM1c Floyd G. Laughlin; SM3c Wallace K. Martin, and EM2c Mason C. Poston. They made their way through the jungle to barrio northwest of the Puerto Princesa. Captured by the Japanese Kempi Tai (Military Police) and confined in a jail cell for "guerrilla activities" at Puerto Princesa POW Camp.

On August 2, 1944, one of the POWs dropped a note from the window of the prison cell where four survivors from Robalo were held. The note was picked up by an American soldier in a work detail and given to H.D. Hough, Y2c, USN, another prisoner. On August 4, Hough contacted Mrs. Trinidad Mendosa, wife of guerrilla leader Dr. Mendosa, who furnished further information about the survivors. From these sources, the fate of the submarine and the surviving crew were reported to the American forces.

On August 15, 1944, a Japanese destroyer evacuated the Robalo crew, and nothing further is known of their destination or whereabouts. The Japanese may have executed them or the destroyer may have been sunk. At any rate, they were never recovered and their note stated that there were no other survivors.

Crew lost aboard USS Robalo (SS-273) that are Missing In Action (MIA) or Prisoners Of War (POW).

Ackley, J. W. S1
Bailey, J. B. TM2
Bell, R. W. SM1
Boehles, J. P. TM1
Breeden, C. E. EM3
Brereton, W. A. MOMM1
Brokman, G. S1
Cagle, C. "L", Jr. MOMM1
Carter, H. E. LCDR
Changary, S. J. MOMM3
Clark, E. O. S1
Clifford, M. "D" "R" S1
Cooperman, H. M. RT2
Cotterman, S. N. PHM1
Cress, D. C. RM3
Dickerson, D. E. CMOMM
Dittman, C. L. TM2
Downey, W. L. MOMM2
Dvoracek, J. L., Jr. F1
Ervin, L. F. MOMM1
Fell, C. W. LCDR
Fink, D. E. RM3
Flanagan, A. J. GM3
Fondon, G. M. F1
Fricker, J. J. SC2
Gerdes, H. J., Jr. ENS
Gleaton, E., Jr. CK2
Graham, K. E. EM1
Hamilton, H. L., Jr. TM3
Hart, J. F., Jr. TM3
Hood, H. T. TM3
Jurst, J. A. MOMM2
Ivey, H. B. RT1
Jackson, N. M. TM2
Jambor, W. E. GM1
Johnson, E. H. MOMM1
Johnson, N. Y. SC1
Kesteron, W. G. MOMM2
Kimmel, M. M. LCDR
Konen, A. C. S2
Laughlin, F. G. QM1 (POW, executed)
Leahey, R. J. SC3
Lefebvre, J. W. CEMA
Levy, D. J. MOMM3
Lovell, D. W. EM1
Lutman, J. A. ENS
McKnight, H. F., Jr. LTJG
Martin, R. E. EM2
Martin, W. K. SM3 (POW, executed)
Marx, M. J. EM2
Matthews, W. G. Y1
Nichols, H.E. F1
Niclas, J. R. MOMM2
MOMM2 John J. O'Brien, 6006976 (MIA / KIA) Troy, NY
O'Rourke, E. P. F1
Paw, E. J. FC2
Phelps, B. B. TM1
Poston, M. C. TM1 (POW, executed)
Priddis, J. F. CEM
Proseus, R. J. LT
Ramsier, H. L. MOMM1
Root, C. A. MOMM1
Russell, S. J. F2
Smith, S. W. GM3
Sonemann, W. F. RM3
Speener, R. W. S1
Spencer, S. E. CTMA
Taylor, H. P. MOMM1
Ens Samuel L. Tucker, O-261863 (POW, executed MIA) MA
Usealman, H. E. S2
VanDeurzen, J. R. MOMM3
Varney, E. G. S1
Virga, C. R. F1
Vogel, F. P. TM3
Wilkerson, D. f. MOMM2
Williams, D. L. STM1
Wilson, F. J. CMOMM
Winnan, R. O. EM3
Wlodarczyk, S. J. S1
Wood, C. E., Jr. QM3
Zea, C. K. TM3

The Missing In Action (MIA) crew members were officially declared dead on January 16, 1946 and are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John J. O'Brien

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Samuel L. Tucker

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Last Updated
October 12, 2020


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