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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Picuda

 

The great barracuda of the Caribbean Sea and the tropical western Atlantic. Picuda, sometimes up to seven feet long have large knife-like teeth and are quite voracious and ferocious.

 

(SS–382: dp. 1,526 (surf.), 2,391 (subm.); l. 311’6”; b. 27’3” dr. 15’3”; s. 20 k. (surf.), 9 k. (subm.); cpl. 66; a. 10 21” tt., 1 5”, 1 40mm, 1 20mm; cl. Balao).

 

Picuda (SS–382), originally named Obispo, was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., 15 March 1943; launched 12 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Robert H. English; and commissioned 16 October 1943, Lt. Comdr. Albert Raborn in command.

 

Picuda remained in the Portsmouth Navy Yard to complete fitting out until 18 November when she commenced underway trials. Torpedo tube trials were completed off Newport, R.I., 14–16 December, and she shifted to the submarine base at New London, Conn. for final training exercises. She put to sea from New London 1 January 1944, reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet at Balboa, Canal Zone, 13 January, and arrived at Pearl Harbor 27 January, joining the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force as a unit of Submarine Division 201, Submarine Squadron 20.

 

Picuda got underway from Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol 17 February, setting course for waters off the Caroline Islands, and entering her designated patrol area 29 February. In an area not far from Truk she sank 2,672-ton ex-gunboat Shinyo Maru, 2 March, going deep to evade a string of 15 depth charges dropped by searching corvettes. On 18 March Picuda changed course to patrol along the Saipan-Palau shipping lanes. She scored hits on a large enemy tanker that afternoon but was held down by two destroyers while the target escaped. She was off Yap Island a few minutes after midnight of 19 March, and sent 1,504-ton freighter Hoko Maru to the bottom with two torpedo hits. Eleven days later she closed two freighters under escort of two destroyers off the western coast of Yap Island and let go five torpedoes at the largest merchantman. The first hit stopped the target dead in the water and a second torpedo tore off the port quarter to capsize 5,873 ton cargo ship Atlantic Maru. Two destroyers came down the torpedo tracks to hover over Picuda and she was shaken by 26 exploding depth charges before she put these killers astern. With only one torpedo worth firing she returned to Midway 5 April. Upon completion of her refit, she took aboard student officers and men for indoctrination training exercises off Midway, 28–30 April. Three days later she formed a wolf-pack with Perch and Peto.

 

Picuda put to sea from Midway with the wolf-pack 4 May to conduct her second war patrol in waters off Formosa. On 22 May she sent four bow shots streaking to sink 1,200-ton river gunboat Hashidate. She also severely damaged 3,172-ton cargo ship Tsukauba Maru with the same salvo. The latter enemy was polished off by land-based Army aircraft the following day. On 2 June Picuda closed a convoy of twelve ships hugging the coast of Formosa. After sending her contact report to the other submarines of her wolf-pack, she slipped between two of the three leading escorts and pressed home an attack on a large tanker. Three hits were heard as all escorts made for Picuda. She skillfully maneuvered clear and sustained no damage from the many depth charges, which exploded on all sides and above from eight enemy vessels during the next hour. She continued to patrol the Formosa coast until 4 June then passed off Batan Island and eastward of the Nansei Shoto to a point northward of Chichi Jima by 14 June. Two days later she pointed her bow for Midway where she arrived 22 June. She put to sea the next day to arrive at Pearl Harbor 27 June.

 

Picuda, in wolf-pack with Spadefish (SS–411) and Redfish (SS–395), departed Pearl Harbor for her third war patrol 23 July in waters of the Luzon Straits between Formosa and Luzon. On 25 August Picuda spotted ten ships hugging the coast some 4000 yards off the beach of Luzon. Slipping past five escorts, and with three enemy patrol planes overhead, she sent six torpedoes streaking to sink 1,943-ton cargo ship Kotoku Maru, then skillfully maneuvered for a down-the-throat shot that spelled the doom of 1,270 ton pursuing enemy destroyer Yunagi. Picuda probed deeper in the interior of Luzon Strait 16 September, for a bold daylight attack on an eight-ship convoy, guarded by three destroyers and air cover. She sank 5,975-ton cargoman Tokushima Maru and scored hits for unknown damage to two other freighters. Searching the southern border of her assigned patrol area, Picuda found another convoy hugging the north coast of Luzon 21 September and sent 1,948-ton freighter Awaji Maru to the bottom. Picuda made rendezvous with Barb and Queenfish, then set course in company with these two submarines to terminate her third war patrol in the lagoon of Majuro Atoll, 3 October.

 

At Majuro, Picuda formed a new wolf-pack with Queenfish and Barb, and departed 27 October. Topping off with fuel at Saipan, 1–2 November, the wolf-pack set course to range over the northern waters of the East China Sea, westward of Kyushu. Picuda sent 9,433-ton passenger-cargoman Maya8an Maru to the bottom of the sea 17 November in the area southwest of Nagasaki. On 23 November, closing a convoy off the Korean Archipelago and stealing between two lead escorts, Picuda sank, 6,933-ton cargoman Shuyo Maru and 5,296-ton passenger-cargoman Fukuju Maru. She departed her patrol area six days later and returned from her fourth patrol to moor in Apra Harbor, Guam, 2 December.

 

On 29 December Picuda put to sea for her fifth war patrol in the Formosa Straits and the East China Sea off the east coast of China from Shanghai to Kam Kit. On 7 January 1945, Picuda received a contact report from Barb and closed a convoy in the straits of Formosa to inflict severe damage with four torpedo hits on 10,045-ton tanker Munakata Maru. On the afternoon of 8 January she again received a convoy contact report from Barb and slipped between two escorts of the starboard screen about four hours before midnight to pick out two large passenger-freighters. Three bow tubes fired at each target resulted in one hit on each. She swung and fired stern shots at a tanker, then discovered an escort dead ahead, 700 yards range, and was forced to clear the area. The 2,854-ton coastal tanker Hikoshima Maru, hit by both Picuda and Barb, was disabled and ran aground. The freighter Meiho Maru had a similar experience, and severe damage was inflicted on 6,600-ton freighter Hisagawa Maru as well as 6,516-ton coastal tanker Manju Maru. Picuda, having flashed a contact report as she cleared the area, set course for lifeguard station in support of the 3rd Fleet airstrikes on Formosa. In the early morning darkness of 29 January Picuda made out at least three large ships in the rain and commenced tracking. The rain slacked as she approached dead ahead of a troop transport, overlapped by a freighter. One hit on the transport and two hits on the freighter were observed by Picuda’s officer of the deck. The transport, almost dead in the water, commenced shrill whistle blasts, and the mist dropped down to reveal the freighter enveloped in a huge cloud of steam and smoke. An enemy float plane interrupted the view and Picuda was forced to abandon further attack. The victim sunk in this attack was 5,497-ton passenger-cargo ship Clyde Maru. Picuda touched at Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, 5–6 February, and arrived at Pearl Harbor 15 February.

 

Picuda spent much of her sixth war patrol on lifeguard station off the coast of China. She got underway from Pearl Harbor 15 March and cleared the replenishment base of Apra Harbor, Guam, on the 29th. She entered her patrol area off Kii Suido 2 April for uneventful lifeguard duty in support of B–29 strikes. On 6 May Picuda made rendezvous with Scabbardfish off the Nansei Shoto and received five members of an Army B–29 bomber and debarked these survivors at Tanapag Harbor 10 May, transferring them to the Headquarters of the Twenty-First Bomber Command. After voyage repairs alongside Orion, she departed 11 May for the east coast of the United States. She touched at Pearl Harbor, San Francisco, and transited the Panama Canal to arrive at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, N.H., 22 June.

 

Picuda was assigned to Submarine Division 201, Squadron 20, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. She remained in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for major overhaul until 18 October. She shifted to the Submarine Base at New London on 31 October for duty as a training ship for the Submarine School. Picuda put to sea from New London 12 November for a training cruise which included visits to Key West, Fla., and Havana, Cuba. Upon her return to New London, 26 November, she was assigned to the New London Group of the 16th (Inactive) Fleet. She shifted to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard 12 December to commence preservation incidental to being placed in inactive status. On 15 January 1946 Picuda was ordered to cease inactivation and report to the 2nd Fleet for duty as a unit of Submarine Division 81, Squadron 8, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

 

Picuda prepared for active service in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard until 18 February and shifted to the Submarine Base at New London the next day. In company with five other submarines of the New London Group, she cleared that base 25 February for a tour of duty out of the Submarine Base at Balboa, returning by way of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, to New London 27 March. Picuda again entered the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for inactivation 27 March and was towed by a fleet tug to New London, 19 September 1946. She was placed out of commission, in reserve, 25 September 1946.

 

Picuda was assigned to the New London Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until late in the year 1952 when she was towed to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for snorkel conversion. She recommissioned 19 June 1953, Lt. Comdr. Ted N. Swain in command. Her conversion was complete by 24 August and she shifted to the Submarine Base at New London. She reported for duty to Submarine Division 122, Squadron 12, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

 

Picuda steamed by way of Norfolk and Nassau in the British West Indies, to arrive at Key West, Fla., 17 September. She was assigned to duty as a training ship for Submarine Refit Training Group and based her operations for that command at Key West through September 1959. This duty included almost daily exercises in the Key West operating area, visits to Gulf ports of the United States, and periodic training cruises to the waters of Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti. This service was intervened by special cruises from Key West and two tours of duty in the Mediterranean. On her first special cruise she operated off Norfolk, 24 April–20 May 1954, participating in anti-submarine development exercises. On her second special cruise, she cleared Key West 3 September and set course for waters of Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. She arrived at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on 24 September for joint maneuvers with ships of the British Admiralty, then arrived at Gibraltar on 29 October to join units of the Sixth Fleet for operation “Bright Bonfire.” She returned to Londonderry 14 November to resume hunter-killer and other anti-submarine warfare tactics with units of the British Fleet, and cleared that port 25 November to resume her training duties at Key West 11 December. She again sailed from Key West 6 January 1958 and arrived at Gibraltar 18 January. Her tour with the Sixth Fleet included participation in operation “ASCENDEX” and visits to the ports of Palma and Barcelona, Spain; Port de Monaco; and Genoa, Italy. She sailed from Gibraltar 18 August and conducted hunter-killer exercises with destroyers in waters off Cuba and Jamaica before returning to Key West 11 October.

 

Picuda underwent overhaul in the Charleston Naval Shipyard (13 October 1958–12 March 1959), followed by a brief period of refresher training in the New London-Newport area. She resumed her former duties at Key West on 27 March 1959 and put to sea from that port 1 June for her third Mediterranean tour. She touched at Norfolk 4 June and reached Gibraltar on the 15th. Operations in the Mediterranean during this tour included visits to Naples and Genoa, Italy; Marseilles, France; and Lisbon, Portugal. She departed the latter port 26 August to resume training duties at Key West, Fla.

 

In 1961 Picuda visited Guantanamo Bay and underwent a five-month overhaul at Charleston Naval Shipyard. During 1962 Picuda visited Guantanamo Bay twice before making a circumnavigation of the South American continent, conducting joint operations with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru. This operation was terminated due to the Cuban crisis, and Picuda proceeded to Key West, Fla. Picuda spent most of 1963 operating out of her homeport of Key West, making one trip to Guantanamo Bay.

 

During 1964 Picuda operated out of Key West in the Atlantic and Caribbean, winding up the year with an overhaul in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Picuda made another visit to Guantanamo Bay in 1965. She began 1966 with a three month Mediterranean tour with the 6th Fleet, participating in fleet ASW exercises and NATO exercises with French and Italian naval forces. She wound up the year with another visit to Guantanamo Bay.

 

During the 1967 North Atlantic NATO operation “Quick Pursuit” Picuda lost two men at sea. She visited Bergen, Norway and Portsmouth, England before returning to KeyWest. As of 1969 Picuda is still operating with the Atlantic Fleet.

 

Picuda received six battle stars for World War II service.