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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Kingfish

 

A fish found along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

 

(SS-234: dp. 1,526; l. 311'8" ; b. 27'4" ; dr. 15'3" ; s. 20 k.; cpl. 60; a. 13", 1021" tt.; cl. Gato)

 

King-fish (SS-234) was launched by Portsmouth Navy Yard 2 March 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Harry A. Stuart, wife of Read Admiral Stuart; and commissioned 20 May 1942, Lt. Comdr. V. L. Lowrance in command.

 

Kingfish arrived Pearl Harbor from New London 31 August 1942, and sailed on her first war patrol 9 September. Patrolling close to Japan's coast Kingfish sighted a three-ship convoy and fired a three torpedo spread at the last freighter, scoring one hit. Unable to determine the extent of the damage due to an uncomfortably efficient barrage of depth charges which lasted 18 hours, Kingfish successfully outwitted her attackers and cleared the area. Sighting freighter Yomei Maru 1 October, Kingfish fired a three torpedo spread which sent her to the bottom. Going deep for the inevitable depth charging, Kingfish rearmed her tubes and continued scouting shipping lanes. Four days later she sighted and torpedoed a freighter off Muroto Zaki but could not verify the sinking. Two weeks of frustration followed due to lack of targets. On 23 October a freighter was sighted; immediately her able crew went into action and sent Seiko Maru to the bottom with two torpedoes. Completing her first war patrol, Kingfish arrived Midway 3 November.

 

After refit Kingfish sailed 25 November to Chichi Jima on her second war patrol. Entering the South China Sea 5 December, she sighted freighter Hino Maru No. 3 and sank it 2 days later. Then, on 28 December, she sent another freighter Choyo Maru to the bottom. Two trawlers were attacked by gunfire early in January. The first was riddled and set afire and the second sunk by gunfire. Kingfish sailed for Pearl Harbor from her second war patrol, arriving 23 January 1943.

 

Kingfish was underway for her third war patrol 16 February. En route Formosa she sank a trawler off Bonins and torpedoed a passenger freighter. Damage to this ship could not be ascertained as the submarine was immediately attacked by enemy bombs and depth charges. On 17 March, a freighter was tracked and a precise torpedo spread damaged it considerably. Two days later she sighted, tracked, and sank a troop transport as enemy troops scrambled down her sides. On 23 March Kingfish was subjected to a severe depth charge attack. The attack was so intense and the damage so great that secret codes and material were burned in preparation to abandoning ship. The last string of depth charges bashed in the main induction piping allowing a huge bubble to escape to the surface, apparently causing the enemy to think the ship had sunk. Kingfish cautiously surfaced, cleared the area and set course for Pearl Harbor, arriving 9 April with a grateful crew. The submarine then proceeded to Mare Island Navy Yard, where entire sections were rebuilt and installed.

 

Battle damage repaired, Kingfish sailed to Pearl Harbor, arriving 23 June 1943. She sailed 1 July for her fourth war patrol in the Babuyan Channel, north of the Philippines, off southern Formosa, and near Manila. King-fish was ordered to depart the patrol area due to lack of enemy activity and to report to Fremantle, Australia, for refit.

 

Assigned the South China Sea as her fifth patrol area, Kingfish sailed 24 September. While on this patrol, she accomplished two special missions. The first entailed planting mines on enemy shipping lanes and the second, the secret and successful landing of a party of Allied personnel and equipment on the northeast coast of Borneo. Continuing on her patrol, she sank a gunboat by gunfire and damaged a tanker with torpedoes 9 October off Sibutu Islands. She sank cargo ship Sana Maru off Cape Varella 20 October. Her patrol a success, Kingfish sailed into Fremantle 14 November 1943.

 

Kingfish departed Fremantle on 16 December 1943 with a new commanding officer, Lt. Comdr. H. L. Jukes. Threading her way in the South China Sea, she made first contact on 3 January when she sent tankers Ryuei Maru and Bokuei Maru to the bottom and sank tanker Fushimi Maru No. 3 7 January. Having navigated brilliantly through extremely dangerous waters and having outwitted the enemy escort vessels, Kingfish headed for Pearl Harbor with a proud record, arriving 26 January 1944.

 

Kingfish's seventh war patrol was in the Mariana Islands area from 19 February to 9 April 1944. No attacks were possible during this patrol, although the boat underwent a bombing and depth charge attack. Kingfish departed her patrol area, arriving Majuro, Marshall Islands, 9 April for refit.

 

The submarine's eighth war patrol was made in the Bonins. Since this patrol was unfruitful because of the lack of worthwhile targets, Kingfish received orders to return to Midway, arriving there 19 June. While there she was ordered to Mare Island, Calif., for overhaul.

 

Her overhaul completed, with a new commanding officer, Oomdr. T. E. Harper, Kingfish sailed for Pearl Harbor on her ninth war patrol 12 October. The day Kingfish entered her patrol area she spotted freighter IKutagawa, Maru and sent her to the bottom oft Chichi Jima Retto 24 October. Three days later she sank the cargo ship Tokai Maru No. 4 and a landing craft transport off Kita, Iwo Jima. Changing patrol areas to Okinawa, Kingfish tracked a convoy but was unable to attack. Dropping anchor at Guam, she completed her patrol 28 November.

 

On 23 December 1944 Kingfinh steamed out of Guam toward the Japanese home islands for her 10th war patrol. A convoy was sighted 2 January 1945, but heavy weather prevented the submarine from attacking. The following night the submarine made up for lost time and sent the freighter Yaei Maru and the passenger-cargo ship Shibo-zono Maru to the bottom. For the remainder of the patrol Kingfish was assigned the additional task of lifeguard duties. She returned to Guam 1 February.

 

The submarine refitted at Guam and sailed 6 March, operating in a coordinated attack group with Icefish and Sawfish. Despite thorough coverage, no targets worthy of torpedo fire were encountered. However, late in March Kingfish experienced the great pleasure of rescuing four downed aviators from a British task force. Leaving the area Kingfish debarked the British aviators at Saipan and set course for Pearl Harbor, arriving 25 April.

 

Departing Hawaii 17 June with a new commanding officer, Lt. Comdr. T. D. Keegan, the submarine sailed via Guam for the Japanese island of Honshu. In smartly executed night gun attacks, she sank two sampan picket boats off Honshu 5 August, also exploding several drifting mines during this patrol. Having completed her 12th and last war patrol, Kingfish arrived Midway 2 hours before the war ended.

 

Kingfish got underway for Galveston, Tex., 27 August via Pearl Harbor and Panama Canal, arriving 23 September. She sailed to Orange, Tex., 25 October for Navy Day.

 

Kingfish sailed 30 October to New London, Conn., arriving 5 November, was decommissioned, and placed in reserve 9 March 1946. She was struck from the Navy List on 1 March 1960, sold to Albert Heller 6 October 1960, and scrapped.

 

Kingfish made 12 war patrols, sinking 14 enemy ships totaling 48,866 tons, and was awarded 9 battle stars for World War II service.

 

 

Extract from Kingfish (SS-234)'s Third War Patrol