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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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S-29

 

(SS-134: dp. 854 (surf.), 1,062 (subm.); l. 219'3"; b. 20'8"; dr. 15'11"; s. 14.5 k. (surf.), 11 k. (subm.); cpl. 42; a. 4 21" tt., 1 4"; cl. S-l)

 

S-29 (SS-134) was laid down on 17 April 1919 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, Mass.; launched on 9 November 1922; sponsored by Mrs. Ronan C. Grady; and commissioned on 22 May 1924, Lt. James P. Conover, Jr., in command.

 

After duties in the U.S. northeast area operating from New London, Conn., in 1924, S-29 visited Hawaii from 27 April to 30 May 1925. Operating mainly from Mare Island, San Diego, and San Pedro into 1931, S-29 visited Hawaii in the summers of 1927, 1928, and 1930. She also served in the Panama Canal area from February into March 1926, and during February 1929. Sailing from Mare Island on 14 February 1931, she arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 23rd. From then into 1939, S-29 operated at Pearl Harbor. Departing from there on 16 June 1939, S-29 returned to New London on 23 August.

 

Following duty in the U.S. northeast area and also at Key West from December 1940 into May 1941, S-29 served in the Panama Canal area from late December into March 1942. Returning to New London on 1 April, S-29 decommissioned there on 5 June 1942, and was transferred on that date to the United Kingdom in whose navy she became HMS P. 556. Returned to the U.S. Navy on 26 January 1946, S-29 was struck from the Navy list that year and sold on 24 January 1947 to H. G. Pound, Great Britain, for scrapping.

 

(SS-135: dp. 854 (surf.), 1,062 (subm.); 1. 219'3"; b. 20'8"; dr. 15'11" (mean); s. 14.5 k. (surf.), 11 k. (subm.); cpl. 38; a. 1 4", 4 21" tt.; cl. S-l)

 

S-30 (SS-135) was laid down on 1 April 1918 by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif.; launched on 21 November 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Edward S. Stalnaker; and commissioned on 29 October 1920, Lt. Comdr. Stuart E. Bray in command.

 

Based at San Pedro, with her home yard at Mare Island, S-30 conducted tests and exercises off the California coast into the summer of 1921. Then, on 15 August, she was placed in ordinary. Recommissioned in full on 14 February 1922, she was ordered to New London, Conn., where she was placed in ordinary again on 21 June for engine alterations by the prime contractor, the Electric Boat Co.

 

Trials and exercises off the southern New England coast followed her recommissioning in full on 21 November; and, in January 1923, she moved south to the Caribbean to participate in winter maneuvers and Fleet Problem I, conducted to test the defenses of the Panama Canal Zone. In April, she returned to California and resumed operations off that coast with her division, Submarine Division (SubDiv) 16. During the winter of 1924, she again participated in fleet exercises and problems in the Canal Zone and in the Caribbean; and, in the winter of 1925, she prepared for transfer to the Asiatic Fleet.

 

S-30 departed Mare Island, with her division, in mid-April. During May, she conducted exercises and underwent upkeep in the Hawaiian Islands; and, on 16 June, she continued on to the Philippines. On 12 July, she arrived at the Submarine Base, Cavite, Luzon, whence she operated until 1932. Her division rotated between exercises and patrols in the Philippines during the winter and operations off the China coast during the summer. In 1932, her division was ordered back to the eastern Pacific; and, on 2 May, she departed Manila for Pearl Harbor, her home port until transferred back to the east coast in 1937.

 

Sailing from Pearl Harbor on 19 May 1937, S-30 arrived at New London on 8 August. For the next year and one-half, she trained along the Atlantic seaboard. Then, in May 1939, she was placed in commission, in reserve. On 1 September 1940, she was returned to full commission. World War II was beginning its second year. German U-boats were then raiding shipping in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean. American S-boats—designed in World War I—were assigned to Submarines, Patrol Force (Submarines, Atlantic Fleet after February 1941) and were carrying out multipurpose missions which involved training and development of tactical skills.

 

S-30, homeported at New London, operated along the mid-Atlantic and northeast coasts into the spring of 1941. She then served briefly in the Bermuda area; returned to New London; and, in early July, proceeded to Philadelphia for overhaul. In September, she emerged from the navy yard; returned to New England; and resumed submarine and antisubmarine warfare training operations.

 

She continued those duties-in the Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Casco Bay, and Placentia Bay areas-until after the United States officially entered the war. With 1942, however, defensive patrols were added to her duties, and her division, SubDiv 52, was reassigned to the Panama Canal Zone. Departing New London on 31 January, she hunted for enemy submarines along her route which took her via Bermuda and Mona Passage into the Caribbean. On 16 February, she arrived at Coco Solo, whence she conducted two defensive patrols in the western approaches to the canal, from 10 to 31 March and from 14 April to 13 May, before she was ordered to California to prepare for service in the Aleutians. Into July, she underwent repairs at San Diego; and, at mid-month, she started for Alaska. While en route, engine trouble forced her into Mare Island; and, on 1 August, she headed north again.

 

On 12 August, S-30 departed the submarine base at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, on her first offensive war patrol. Moving through fog, she arrived off Attu on the 16th; sighted only the hazy outline of Cape Wrangell; and continued on to patrol across the anticipated Japanese shipping lanes between that island and the northern Kurils. On the afternoon of 7 September, she was attacked by three enemy destroyers some ten miles north of the cape and, in that two and one-half hour encounter, gained her first close experience with Japanese depth charges. Three days later, she turned for home.

 

On 24 September, S-30 got underway for her fifth war patrol, her second in the Aleutians. A cracked cylinder in her port engine forced her back to Dutch Harbor on the 27th; and, on the 30th, she again moved west. On 3 October, she entered her patrol area and commenced hunting enemy ships along traffic lanes west of Kiska; but, by the 9th, additional engineering casualties, cracks, and leaks had developed and forced her to return to Unalaska. From there, the submarine was ordered to San Diego for an overhaul. During her yard period, she received a fathometer, a new distilling unit, and more up-to-date radar equipment. Then, from mid-February 1943 into March, she provided training services to the West Coast Sound School. On 16 March, she sailed for Dutch Harbor.

 

Following the submarine's arrival in the Aleutians on 21 March, air compressor failure and malfunctioning of her fathometer delayed her departure until 13 April. She then headed for Attu. On the 15th, she crossed the 180th meridian and, keeping Dutch Harbor dates, arrived at her destination on the 17th. For the next few days, she reconnoitered and, when possible, photographed the island's principal coves, bays, and harbors. On the 26th, she was ordered to the east of 176° E and south of 52° 40'N, where she remained until after an Allied strike against Attu. The next afternoon, she returned to the island but was unable to determine the extent of damage inflicted.

 

On 2 May, S-30 departed the area; returned to Dutch Harbor for refit; and, on the 24th, sailed west again, this time for the northern Kurils. On the 31st (Dutch Harbor date), she entered her assigned area; and, on 5 June, off the Kamchatka coast, she attacked her first target, a large sampan. Her guns set the enemy vessel on fire; but, as it burned, a Japanese destroyer appeared on the horizon and began closing the surfaced submarine at high speed. Three minutes later, the destroyer opened fire on the diving S-boat.

 

S-30 commenced an approach on the destroyer; but, just as she reached firing bearing, she lost depth control. A few seconds later, depth charging started. In the next 20 minutes, 33 “ashcans” were dropped by the destroyer. Others followed sporadically over the next five hours. S-30 was then able to clear the area. On the 6th, the ship's force repaired all minor damage and commenced -efforts to remove two torpedoes which had been crushed in the No. 3 and No. 4 tubes. The one in the latter tube was removed on the 7th; but the one in the No. 3 tube remained until the completion of the patrol.

 

On 8 June, S-30 headed down the Paramushiro coast; approached Onekotan; then transited Onekotan Strait and set a course for Araito. During the next two days, she sighted four targets but was able to close only the last two, merchantmen in column, contacted on the 10th (11th local date). Fog closed in rapidly as she made her approach; then blanketed the area as she fired three torpedoes. Two explosions were heard, but nothing could be seen. Post-war examination of Japanese records revealed that she had sunk Jinbu Maru, a 5,228-ton cargo ship.

 

During the ensuing depth charging, S-30 began to move out of the area. Within two and one-half hours, she had left the pinging of the searchers behind and had resumed her own hunting. On 12 June, she retransited Onekotan Strait. The following day, she fired on a convoy, but missed. On the 14th, she departed the area; and, on the 22d, she returned to Dutch Harbor to begin extracting the damaged torpedo and commence refitting.

 

On 5 July, S-30 got underway on her 8th war patrol, which took her back to the Kurils and into the Sea of Okhotsk. She patrolled on both sides of the island chain and across the traffic lanes leading to Soya Strait and to Yokosuka. She took periscope pictures of facilities on various islands. She sighted several targets, but was unable to close on most and was unsuccessful on those she attacked. On the 20th, she attacked what appeared to be an inter-island steamer, but which turned straight down the torpedo track and dropped six depth charges in quick succession. S—30 went deep; reloaded; and prepared to reattack. The target, however, was lost in the fog.

 

S-30 continued her patrol. A week later, she sent three torpedoes against a Japanese merchantman estimated at 7,000 tons. Two hits, breaking-up noises, and distant depth charging were reported by the sound operator, but the damage went unverified. Four days later, she attacked another cargoman under similar circumstances. One torpedo was reported to have hit. Screw noises from the target stopped, breaking-up noises were heard, and periscope observation showed no ship at the site of the attack. But any damage which might have been inflicted was never verified.

 

S-30 left the Kurils behind and headed east on 7 August. Two days later, she arrived in Massacre Bay, Attu, whence she conducted her last war patrol. On that patrol, from 26 August to 23 September, she again hunted in the shipping lanes along the eastern and western sides of the Kurils. Again, several targets were lost in fog; nevertheless, she took pictures of the islands. Then, in mid-September, she added a new dimension to her activities and attempted to shell the enemy garrison on Matsuwa. Fog had interfered with an earlier attempt to bombard that post, but cleared off early on the morning of the 15th (local date) as she neared the firing point with her crew at battle stations. But, when the order to fire was given, the gun failed to respond. A new firing pin was a fraction of an inch too short, and the effort had to be abandoned.

 

The following day, S-30 was ordered home. En route, on the 17th, she was sighted and bombed by a Japanese patrol plane. Failure of the port motor at that moment caused anxiety; but the submarine escaped serious damage. On the 23d, she arrived at Dutch Harbor. Within the -week, she headed south to San Diego, where, with others of her class, she provided training services for the West Coast Sound School for the remainder of World War II. In mid-September 1945, she proceeded to Mare Island, where she was decommissioned on 9 October. Fifteen days later, her name was struck from the Navy list; and, in December 1946, she was sold and delivered to the Salco Iron and Metal Co., San Francisco, for scrapping.

 

S-30 was awarded two battle stars for her World War II service.