Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

U.S. Submariners Rode Japanese Boats Back To Japan At End Of WWII?

This story from the Florida Times-Union about the Kings Bay World War II Submarine Veterans Memorial Service, held ysterday, had one particular passage that caught my eye:
He was serving on the USS Bluefish, an American submarine, when his crew learned the Japanese surrendered. But he still had one more mission.
Hiatt, 85, of Lansing, Mich., visiting Kings Bay for the 20th submarine veterans reunion Friday, was one of four crew members who boarded a Japanese submarine to accompany it back to its home port. The sub was on its way to attack the Panama Canal when the crew was ordered to surrender. Haitt arrived to Japan in time to witness the signing of the surrender documents that formally ended the war.
This is fascinating; I'd never heard that this happened. This is one reason why it's so important for the Submariners of today to learn as much as they can from the heroes who fought and won WWII under the sea -- while they're still with us. This is also why it's important for WWII submarine (as well as veterans of the Cold War) to record their recollections for public use -- whether it's through an oral history project or just as a post on your boat's webpage. This history is too important to lose.


Blogger Vigilis said...

BH, for interested readers ...
I-400, I-401 and I-14 were ordered to sail to Pearl Harbor in late 1945 with an American prize crew, who smuggled Japanese war souvenirs in the aircraft hangars. Also along to be evaluated were I-201 and I-203, two top-secret Imperial Navy submarines that were twice as fast as American designs.
... within a few months it was decided to scuttle the Japanese designs, partly because Russians scientists were demanding access to them. On May 31, 1946, I-401 and the other four top-secret Japanese submarines were sunk by torpedoes from ... USS Cabezon. I-401 was last seen sinking by the stern, vanishing until last week.
FROM: The Honolulu Star Bulletin -

Painting ... "The Final Act"

11/08/2008 2:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope we learned a few things from these captured boats before they were understandably sunk.

As for the Russians, life would have been so much more simple if we'd denied them access to anything. Why couldn't we have just pointed to Eastern Europe, and tell them to go home Now, Right now! Did we really have to give them anything? Why did Truman feel that we owed the Russians in after war reparations?

If FDR had lived long enough to finish his 4th presidential term, he would have kept everything for the U.S. and the U.K. Am I wrong about that?

Thanks, J.

11/08/2008 3:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heads up:

Sounds like 20 Ruskies passed when a fire suppression system lit off.

11/08/2008 6:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I-400, I-401, and I-402 Sen-Toku (special Submarine) type were 400 feet long, displaced over 5,200 tons, carried three aircraft, a 5.5inch deck gun, and 6 torpedo tubes, with a 20 fish load. Their surface range was 30k nautical miles, speed 18+ surfaced, 6.5 submerged. I-400 and I-401 were enroute to Ulithi Atoll our major fleet anchorage when the war ended. they returned to Japan for demilitarization. there's a well known photo of the two boats alongside USS Proteus in September 1945. I-402 never saw action. I-400 and 401 were taken to Pearl Harbor with US crews. they were sunk as targets in May and June 1946. I-402 was scuttled in April 1946 off Japan. Source-IJN Submarines 1941-1945, Mark Stille, Osprey Publishing, 2007.

I attended a USSVI meeting today in Redding CA. I talked to one of the WWII SubVets who rode USS Nautilus SS-168 early in the war when Carlson's Raiders were put ashore on Makin Island, and Army Scouts were put ashore on Kiska and Attu Island. For battle stations gun-action he was the rammer-man for the forward 6 inch gun. I didn't know until today when he told me the 6 inch projectile weighed 100 pounds, and took two bags of powder (thats right--bagged powder in silk bags!!!). That just blew me away. As sensitive as bagged powder charges are, to carry on a submarine, then get them to the main deck from the magazine, wheew!!! I'm hoping he'll let me do his oral history.

Keep a zero bubble.......


11/08/2008 10:24 PM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

I think I found the pic you are speaking of: the two boats alongside USS Proteus in September 1945.

By the way, the Tendertale page is good find in itself.


Here is a link that describes the Makin raid:

At first I was very skeptical about six inch guns being on a submarine. I thought sure he must mean five inch guns, but it turns out that Nautilus and her sister Argonaut were loaded for bear.

6 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (four forward, two aft; 24-26 internal torpedoes) (four external tubes {two each bow and stern, four torpedoes} added 1941; provision for 8-12 additional torpedoes externally) 2 × 6-inch (152 mm)/53 caliber Mark XII Mod. 2 wet type deck guns.

Pic of Nautilus showing the two deck guns.

11/09/2008 6:39 AM

Blogger Chap said...

Dude, didn't you and I go over this back in '05? In that post is a link to an excellent first-person of the mission from Thomas O. Paine, written for Proceedings and expanded for the net.

If you get a chance, check out Paul Schratz's book Submarine Commander for some of that story. I don't know precisely why, but Schratz and some of the senior WWII submariners I guess really didn't get along. That said, his book's got a good story about taking the I-401 (IIRC) back to Pearl. It wasn't an easy trip.

11/09/2008 9:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my first boat (1961) there was a EM1(SS) who was in the prize crew of U-2513 and rode that boat back from Lisahally Northern Ireland to Portsmouth Navy Yard in summer of 1945. He would talk about that experience occasionally. In 1991 I met a retired EMC(SS) who also was in the 2513 boat prize crew. I was fortunate to record and transcribe his oral history of that experience. It was published in the 2003 Winter edition of the American Submariner. I also donated it to the USN PG School Library. What was really interesting was looking at a photo he showed me of the crew at their 1945 Christmas party held at the PNSY EM club. Standing behind and to the left of him was the Electrician I had served with on my first boat.

I attended the local Marine Corps League Birthday celebration last night. I met a WWII sailor there who was landing craft Coxswain at Tarawa and Roi-Namur invasions. He was also on one of the LST's that blew up and burned at West Loch Pearl Harbor in 1944. the remains of Two are still there today as a reminder to all about the hazards associated with handling munitions. I will be meeting with him this week to start collecting his oral history.

This is such fun stuff to do!!! Your so right Bubblehead, collecting these oral histories of enlisted submariners (and others) really does give you the unvarnished "deckplate" viewpoint of their service.


Clay Blair exposed the WWII Submarine Skipper "problem" in great detail in his outstanding book "Silent Victory". He goes into great detail about relief of skippers who were "charlie tuna's" or non-productive. For example in 1942, 40 skippers out of 135 were relieved for cause. In 1943 there were 25 out of 178 relieved for cause. In 1944 35 out of 250 were relieved for cause. In a number of these cases the XO's got "across the breakers" with their non-productive skippers as Schratz recounted in his autobiography Submarine Commander.

Keep a zero bubble......


11/10/2008 11:55 AM

Blogger Chap said...


Good point. I was thinking about a chance meeting I had as an LT in DC, when I was reading the book in line for a restaurant in Alexandria. A few folks in their later years showed up in line behind me. Turns out from talking with them that at least one, maybe two or three, in the party were WWII era submariners, retired flags but not ones I recognized. One of them noticed my book and snarled his distaste for Schratz without providing any details.

I wonder what the real story was.

11/10/2008 12:48 PM

Blogger Chap said...

Unrelated, by the way: The tendency to not name names in those days makes for intriguing questions. CDR Compton-Hall (IIRC) did heavy work identifying how we institutionally screwed up in BuOrd for the Mk 14, but one name not appearing in the book Baa Baa Black Sheep is of a sailor identified as a submariner who didn't behave in captivity as Boyington thought correct to do. That's another one of those interesting questions.

11/10/2008 12:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Blair does name a lot of Skippers who were relieved as "non-productive." He doesn't go into a lot of detail Re; their behaviors for most, however he does for several including Mort Mumma, and "Dizzy" Rainer.

Blair's book was first published in 1975. It's in reprint as soft cover now. It's The "Bible" about US Submarine Service in WWII.

A few years ago I had the USN Retired Activities Office in my facility at Moffett Field. This was after the Navy departed. One of the RAO "watch standers" was a retired submarine Rear Admiral. He was a WWII guy. I had read about him in Blairs book and knew he was not a "star" performer. He was a nice enough fellow, particularly with former boat sailors. He received his promotion to flag rank because as a combat vet he was entitled to promotion one grade upon retirement. The "tombstone promotion law" expired in 1959 I believe. All the officer "watch standers" except for one who was a retired four striper and WWII submariner, would fall all over themselves when the Admiral was in the house. The four striper, Guy Googliatta (now deceased) Used to tell a story about meeting the skipper of USS Halibut SS-232 Pete Galantin when he reported aboard as the new XO. The skipper asked him about his submarine service. guy told him S-39 which was lost in 1942, all crew rescued by Aussie ship, S-28 which foundered off Hawaii with a loss of 49 men, Guy was transferred off shortly before her loss. Galantin told Guy,"Googliatta, your a Jonah, I'm getting off Halibut before you." As it turned out while both were on board Halibut was so badly damaged in a Depth Charge attack she was unrepairable and was scrapped. Anyway, Guy and the Admiral had what is best described as a "cool" bordering on chilly relationship when both were in the house.

Googliatta's wife Bobette wrote a great book "Pigboat 39" about the S-39 and duty in submarines in pre-war Asiatic Fleet. It's a great read. Rickover is mentioned in her book.

Keep a zero bubble.....


11/10/2008 2:46 PM

Blogger Chap said...

Moffett, eh? I spent a day up there recently with the USNL. Good folks.

Pigboat 39 is a darn good read, with interesting insights into the China Navy and prewar life.

As for good reads, so is Clay Blair's definitive history--as required reading for us back in the day, it was the book from which we would read in formation while awarding fish to qualified guys (although "Thunder Below" made several appearances in that role). I only wish we--and Blair--didn't have to rely so heavily on the CO's patrol reports for the history. The E-gang could have used a story collector about that time.

Another story that could use retelling: the submariner who invented the Bowfin Museum.

11/10/2008 4:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit off the subject but my sister has a friend who will be 101 years old and he was a WWII submariner...

She would like to know if there is any way to acknowledge him for his sub service...etc..

He lives in the LA area of California and is very we all are, to have served on submarines..


Clark Hill

1/07/2011 1:30 PM

Anonymous Gertrude said...

Oh my god, there's so much useful material in this post!

9/12/2012 7:51 AM


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