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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Blower

A fish of the tetraodontidae family, often termed "swellfishes" because of their ability to inflate their bodies with air or water into the shape of a ball. The blower grows to 10 inches in length and is found along the Atlantic coast of the United States and in waters surrounding the West Indies.

(SS-325: displacement 1,525 tons (surface), 2,415 tons (submerged); length 311'9"; beam 27'3"; draft 15'3"; speed 20.25 knots (surface), 8.75 knots (submerged); complement: 81; armament 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 1 5-inch deck gun, 1 40 millimeter anti-aircraft gun; class Balao)

Blower (SS-325) was laid down on 15 July 1943 at New London, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 23 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Richard F. J. Johnson, Jr.; and commissioned on 10 August 1944, Lt. Comdr. James H. Campbell in command.


Following shakedown training off the New England coast and in Narragansett Bay, the submarine departed New London on 17 September 1944 for advanced training at the Sound School in Key West, Fla. She left Key West on 10 October, bound for the Panama Canal and the Pacific. Early the next morning, during a heavy rain squall, PC-1145 collided with the submarine. No one on either ship suffered any injuries, but PC-1145's bow was smashed back to the first water-tight bulkhead. Blower suffered a hole in her bow buoyancy tank, damage to her sail, and a sheared blade on her starboard propeller. She returned to Key West on 12 October for repairs, but the damage proved to be so extensive that the work had to be completed at New London.


Blower got underway again on 13 November 1944, bound, via the Panama Canal, for Pearl Harbor. She encountered no problems on this voyage and arrived safely in Hawaii on 16 December. The submarine spent a month training out of Pearl Harbor, steamed to Saipan where she topped off her fuel supply before getting underway on 29 January 1945 for her first war patrol, a 48-day mission most of which she spent between Hainan Island and French Indochina off Cape Tourane. Blower served as part of a scouting line of 15 boats stretched out across the South China Sea between Singapore and the Formosa Strait along the most probable track for warships returning to Japan after an oil resupply mission to Singapore. On 13 February she sighted the masts of a battleship and two cruisers and, after some maneuvering, managed to fire six torpedoes from a range of 1,800 yards. Her sound operators reported one hit on each of two targets, and she later spotted two oil slicks, but Japanese records do not indicate any damage. The submarine also tried to attack convoys off Tourane on the 15th, 22d and 24th but could not get close enough, mainly owing to Japanese air patrols and veritable fleets of small fishing boats. Groups of floating mines often forced the submarine to submerge at innopportune moments, further disrupting operations. With fuel oil running low Blower turned for home on 5 March, arriving in Fremantle for a refit on 19 March.


Following repair work alongside submarine tender Euryale (AS-22), during which Blower received new Loran (long range navigation) radio direction finding equipment, overhaul of both radars and all four main engines, the boat sailed on her second war patrol on 14 April 1945. After a brief stop to refuel at Exmouth Gulf, the submarine proceeded through Lombok Strait on the 21st and took up a patrol station in the Java Sea. The next day Blower received orders to form a coordinated attack group with Besugo (SS-321) and Perch (SS-313). The submarines set up a scouting line at 20 mile intervals across the east-west shipping routes between Macassar and Borneo, and covered the north-south lanes between Borneo and Java. Blower had poor luck, however, and her only surface contact was with Besugo, with whom she rendezvoused twice. She was also plagued by numerous Japanese patrol aircraft. Indeed, at 1130 on 25 April, her lookouts spotted two closing floatplanes and the submarine quickly dove to avoid attack. Unfortunately, the water near Solombol Island was clear, and only 150 feet deep, allowing the floatplanes to bomb and otherwise harass Blower for close to two hours as she twisted and turned along the sea bed.


Early the next morning, the submarine picked up two slow-moving radar contacts at about 15,000 yards. Concluding they were "sea trucks," a type of slow cargo ferry, Blower closed to engage on the surface. At 0322, however, one target turned and increased speed to 19 knots, convincing the boat to start bearing away. Ten minutes later, at a range of 12,750 yards, the Japanese ship opened fire with a three gun salvo, bracketing the submarine with two shots landing within 75 yards. The war diarist later noted "On target - this boy had nice radar ranges. Submerged." Blower then maneuvered to try and launch a submerged attack but the enemy warship would have none of it, moving in a fast search pattern until motoring off northwest toward Perch's position at 0530. Just over 12 hours later, Blower rendezvoused with Perch (Comdr. Francis B. McCall), who said the Japanese warship "had worked him over plenty about noon and put his radar and attack periscope out of commission."


Moving to a nearby patrol position on the 27th, the attack group cruised off southern Borneo for over a week did not find any worthwhile targets, just the ever present schools of small native sailboats. At one point the war diarist wrote "Sailboat in sight. They are even up here. Would certainly like to practice with the 40 mm's." Turning northwest on 6 May, the boat proceeded to Cape Varella off the Malay Peninsula, arranging for a rendezvous with Baya (SS-318) at 1230 on the 9th, just after exchanging calls with Perch. The entry in the war diary reads: "Received mail from Baya. What a commentary on the vaunted Jap [sic] air power in the South China Sea. Three fleet submarines within five miles of each other; two exchanging mail and movies, and one proceeding unconcernedly on its way." Targets were no more apparent here than off Borneo, however, and the boat turned to providing lifeguard duties for US AAF Boeing B-29 (Superfortress) four-engine bomber strikes on Nha Trang and Saigon on 12 and 21 May. She also conducted a submerged reconnaissance of Van-phong and Nha Trang Bays on the 16th but saw nothing other than local fishing sailboats. Perhaps the most exciting moment took place on 19 May, when the crew exchanged recognition signals by flashing light with a Consolidated B-24 (Liberator) four-engine search plane, which passed 50 feet overhead. An event commemorated by the diary entry "They are damn big and look bigger when they are headed in on you." Turning for the Philippines four days later, Blower moored alongside Anthedon (AS-24) in Subic Bay on 24 May.


Following a two-week refit, Blower departed Luzon on 23 June 1945, Lt. Comdr. Nelson P. Watkins in command. Bound for the Gulf of Siam, the submarine sighted the island of Pulo Tenggol off the Malay Peninsula on 28 June and began patrol operations there. She made rendezvous with Bluefish (SS-222) on the night of the 30th, and the two boats agreed to coordinate their patrol coverage. Taking the area south of the island, Blower sighted an empty lifeboat the next morning, sparking an impromptu target practice with the aft 40mm gun. The crew fired eleven (11) rounds, getting one hit at a range of 1,000-1,500 yards, a result memorialized in the war diary as "The practice was justified by the caliber of the shooting. Terrible." The boat then moved "close aboard and let Gunnery Officer have a go at it with grenades. Result - sore arm. No damages. All in all a very sorry exhibition, so secured, leaving lifeboat bloody and sinking."


On Independence Day 1945, the two boats rendezvoused again to lay out a plan to investigate a ship spotting report sent in by patrol aircraft. Unfortunately, the aviators' plot "of position showed ships anchored in the mountains." Just in case, the two submarines approached the Malay coast and, as the war diarist reported laconically, "had a good look at all possible anchorages and inasmuch as no ships were sighted zoomie position must have been correct." Later that day Blower had a good scare when three lookouts spotted a periscope at 800 yards and closing. The war diarist later noted the crew were surprised no attack came as they dived to escape and wondered if their would-be assailant was friendly. The next day British submarine Sleuth reported attacking a large enemy boat with no results, suggesting Blower had indeed made a lucky escape.


On the evening of 9 July 1945, after rendezvous with Bluefish, the two boats followed and closed to attack two submarine chasers off the Malay coast. Bluefish managed to sink one of the small ships but Blower broke off her attack run when the target turned away. The American boats surfaced to try a gunnery attack but the submarine chaser fled into a minefield and escaped. Two days later, Blower tried a second night attack, this time against a medium-sized cargo or escort ship. She fired three torpedoes at a range of 3,500 yards. Unfortunately, the first two torpedoes "leapt clear of the water and chased each other off in a direction not that of the target." The third torpedo missed ahead.


Standing eastward the following day to join a "wolfpack" led by Charr (SS-328), Blower began patrolling near the Natuna Islands. On 15 July 1945, after tracking Japanese submarine I-351 in the early hours of the morning, Blower fired four torpedoes at the zig-zagging boat from a range of 1,000 yards. Instead of the expected "blinding flash" though, the crew heard "only a sickly thump followed shortly after by another thump both loud enough to be heard throughout the boat. The first two had hit - duds." After a short drop down to avoid any torpedoes fired back down her torpedo track, Blower started up to fire stern tubes but was shaken by three nearby explosions. Sound operators reported fast screws nearby and, worried that an escort had shown up, the American submarine stayed low until the enemy had moved off. Although unsure of what had happened, Blower radioed a contact report and an hour later was rewarded by a terrific explosion over the horizon. This was followed shortly thereafter by a report from Bluefish that they had sunk an enemy submarine.


Following this encounter, Blower shifted to the Java Sea near Batavia but encountered only sailboats. Those contacts proved nerve-wracking nonetheless, as constant night radar contacts and poor visilibilty produced several near collisions. To make matters worse, Blower had at least one encounter with two unidentified Allied submarines, avoiding a friendly-fire incident when she flashed a recognotion signal to them. Seeing as the area was overly crowded, she passed south through the Sunda Strait to patrol off the south coast of Java. At 1345, the executive officer remarked "Well, the only thing we need to make the patrol complete is to get bombed." Fifteen minutes later, lookouts spotted a Mitsubishi G4M (Betty) Type 97 land-attack bomber that dropped two bombs near the boat. With no targets in sight and low on fuel, Blower sailed east, arriving in Fremantle, Australia, on 28 July.


The war ended while the submarine was still in Fremantle. She received orders to sail to Guam, via Sydney, Australia, and arrived there on 16 September 1945. She remained at Guam for three months carrying out a series of training exercises. On 11 January 1946, Blower proceeded via Pearl Harbor to San Diego, where she arrived on 30 January.


From 1946 through 1949, the submarine operated out of San Diego, conducting torpedo exercises, submerged sound school operations, and general training programs. She made a cruise to Yokosuka, Japan, starting on 14 October 1946 and participated in fleet operations near Guam and Saipan before returning to San Diego on 3 January 1947. After local operations out of San Diego for the rest of the year, and an overhaul in San Francisco in early 1948, Blower cruised to Alaskan waters that summer. The boat departed Bremerton, Wash., on 2 August and, in company with Carp (SS-338), collected radar and sonar tracking data along the edge of the polar ice pack in the Chukchi Sea for use in future submarine operations in the Arctic. Returning to San Diego on 25 September 1948, the boat resumed routine operations in the Pacific.


In February 1950, Blower was selected for transfer to Turkey under the terms of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. On 12 February, she departed San Diego, bound for the east coast, and arrived at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 3 March to begin overhaul. Upon completion of the yard work, the submarine sailed for New London, where she arrived on 27 September and immediately began training her prospective Turkish crew. Blower was decommissioned at New London on 16 November 1950 and transferred to the Turkish government that same day. She was struck from the navy list on 20 November 1950.


Renamed Dumlupinar, the former United States submarine served in the Turkish Navy, operating in the Aegean and Black Seas. While returning from Canakkale to Istanbul, the Turkish boat was rammed by Swedish freighter Naboland in the Dardanelles in the early morning darkness of 4 April 1953. Struck on the starboard side forward, Dumlupinar sank within two minutes, with only the five crewmen on the bridge thrown clear and recovered. The boat came to rest on the sea floor, 228 feet down. Although intermittant phone contact through a buoy line indicated 22 sailors survived in the aft torpedo room for a time, the deep water and swift currents hampered diving operations and the rescue effort was called off on 5 April 1953.



Updated Dr. Timothy L. Francis, 03 March 2008