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Salmon

 

A soft-finned, gamy fish which inhabits the coasts of America and Europe in northern latitudes and ascends rivers for the purpose of spawning. Salmon are highly valued for their rich, succulent meat.

 

II

 

(SS-182: dp. 1,435 (surf.), 2,198 (subm.) ; l. 308'; b. 26'1"; dr. 14'2"; s. 21 k. (surf.), 9 k. (subm.); cpl. 55; a. 1 3", 8 21" tt., 2 .50 cal. mg., 2 .30 cal. mg.; cl. Salmon)

 

Salmon (SS-182) was laid down on 15 April 1936 by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; launched on 12 June 1937; sponsored by Miss Hester Laning; and commissioned on 15 March 1938, Lt. M. M. Stephens in command.

 

After shakedown training and trials along the Atlantic coast from the West Indies to Nova Scotia, Salmon joined Submarine Division 15, Squadron 6 of the Submarine Force, U.S. Fleet, at Portsmouth, N.H. As flagship of her division, she operated along the Atlantic coast until she relinquished the flag to Snapper (SS-185) late in 1939 as the division was shifted to the west coast at San Diego.

 

Salmon operated along the west coast through 1940 and the greater portion of 1941. Late that year, she was transferred with her division and the tender, Holland, to the Asiatic station. On 18 November, Holland with Salmon, Swordfish, Sturgeon, and Skipjack arrived at Manila and formed SubDiv 21 of the Asiatic fleet to bolster defenses in the Philippines as marked tension was growing due to Japanese militarism.

 

Salmon was conducting a patrol from Manila along the west coast of Luzon at the time of the surprise air raid by the Japanese against the Philippine bases and Pearl Harbor. Having been on defensive deployment since 27 November, in a wait-and-watch posture, she commenced war patrolling immediately upon receiving word of the attacks. On 22 December, while on the surface in the Lingayen Gulf, she encountered two Japanese destroyers and pressed home an attack which seemed to bewilder the reluctant enemy. She succeeded in damaging both targets by delivering a "down the throat" spread of torpedoes which caught them as they veered course in opposite directions. She then was able to avoid further contact by ducking into a rain squall. In January 1942, she moved south to operate in the Gulf of Davao and off the southern tip of Mindanao; and thence proceeded to Manipa Strait between Bura and Cerani in the Moluccas Islands. In February, she patrolled the Flores Sea from north of Timor to Lom-bok Strait in the Sunda Islands, then put into Tjilatjap on the south coast of Java on the 13th.

 

Losses suffered by ABDA forces in the battle at Badoeng Strait forced abandonment of Surabaja and exposed Tjilatjap as a possible trap. Holland moved her base of operations to Exmouth Gulf, Australia, on 20 February, as Salmon set out on her second war patrol.

 

Salmon spent the next month in the Java Sea on patrol between Sepandjang and the area just west of Bawean. She arrived at Fremantle, Australia, on 23 March to end her second patrol.

 

Beginning her third war patrol, Salmon departed from Fremantle on 3 May and established a barrier patrol along the south coast of Java to intercept Japanese shipping. On 25 May, she torpedoed and sank the 11,441-ton repair ship, Asahi; and, on the 28th, she sank the 4,382-ton passenger-cargo vessel, Ganges Maru. On 24 June, Salmon proudly returned to Fremantle and commenced preparations for her next assignment.

 

Salmon departed from Fremantle on 21 July for her fourth war patrol in the South China-Sulu Seas area. Sailing via Lombok and Makassar Straits, the Sibutu Passage, and the Balabac Strait, she stationed herself between North Borneo and Palawan, Philippine Islands. During this patrol, Salmon was unable to gain a favorable position for successful attack, but made numerous sightings and reports of shipping movements to sister subs in the vicinity. She returned to Fremantle on 8 September.

 

Salmon's fifth war patrol began on 10 October, and her area of operations was off Corregidor and Subic Bay. On the night of 10 November, she challenged a large sampan moving in the vicinity of Subic Bay, during the hours of darkness. After ignoring the challenge, the vessel was ordered to stop and shots were fired across its bow. Salmon then maneuvered for a closer inspection and saw that the sampan was displaying rising sun emblems on its deckhouse and that its crew was attempting to jettison objects over the side. Salmon's crew took the sampan under fire and raked it with .50 caliber machine guns. The vessel stopped and was boarded by Salmon crewmen who found that most of the Japanese sailors had gone over the side. They removed papers, radio equipment, and other articles, then set the sampan afire. As Salmon pulled away, the enemy vessel was seen to explode and sink. On 17 November, off the approach to Manila Bay, Salmon sighted three vessels and maneuvered for attack. She fired torpedoes at each of the ships and succeeded in damaging two and sinking the 5,873-ton, converted salvage vessel, Oregon Maru. Salmon ended her fifth patrol on 7 December at Pearl Harbor. She then proceeded to Mare Island, Calif., the following day, and arrived on the 13th. Salmon remained at Mare Island until 30 March 1943, undergoing alterations including the installation of new radar equipment and two 20mm. mounts to augment her firepower. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 8 April.

 

Salmon departed from Pearl Harbor on 29 April for her sixth war patrol via Midway. She was assigned a special mission which took her to the coast of Honshu, Japan, at Hachijo Shima, Kantori Saki, and O'Shima. During this mission, she damaged two freighters on 3 June and returned to Midway on the 19th.

 

Salmon's seventh patrol was conducted in the Kurils to cut the Paramushiro-Aleutian supply route. She departed from Midway on 17 July; sank a small coastal patrol vessel on 9 August; and, on 10 August, sank the 2,411-ton passenger-cargo vessel, Wakanoura Maru off the northern coast of Hokkaido. She returned to Pearl Harbor on the 25th.

 

Salmon's eighth war patrol saw her return to the Kurils where she was credited with damaging two freighters. This patrol lasted from 27 September to 17 November when she returned to Pearl Harbor.

 

The ninth war patrol for Salmon was conducted between 15 December and 25 February 1944. She succeeded in damaging one freighter on 22 January.

 

On 1 April, Salmon departed from Pearl Harbor en-route to Johnston Island in company with Seadragon. She was assigned a special photo reconnaissance mission for her tenth patrol which would assist in preparing plans for gaining control of the Caroline Islands. She conducted a reconnaissance of Ulithi from 15 to 20 April; Yap from the 22nd to the 26th; and Woleai between 28 April and 9 May. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 21 May with much valuable information that was utilized in last minute changes to the assault plans.

 

Salmon's eleventh and last war patrol was conducted in company with Trigger and Sterlet as a coordinated attack group in the Ryukyu Islands. This patrol began on 24 September. On 30 October, Salmon attacked a large tanker that had been previously damaged by Trigger. This tanker was protected by four antisubmarine patrol vessels which were cruising back and forth around the stricken ship. Salmon fired four torpedoes and made two good hits, but was forced to dive deep under a severe depth charge attack by the escorts. She leveled off at 300 feet but was soon forced to nearly 500 feet due to damage and additional pounding of the depth charges. Unable to control leaking and maintain depth level, she battle surfaced to fight for survival on the surface.

 

The enemy seemed wary and held their distance while sniffing out the situation, and gave Salmon's crew a few precious minutes to correct a bad list and to repair some damage. The vessels began to close, but Salmon showing an aggressive stance, turned on the attackers and passing within 50 yards down the side of one, raked her with 20mm. gunfire and her deck gun. Apparently killing the topside personnel of the patrol escort which came to a stop, Salmon then exchanged fire with a second which again seemed to hesitate at some distance for reinforcement from the other two which were coming to the scene. Salmon began sending out plain language directions for all other subs in the vicinity to attack, giving the position of the action. This probably further discouraged the enemy who, fearing other submarines in the area, began milling around pinging on sound gear. Salmon took advantage of a rain squall and slipped away.

 

Other than the damage caused by depth charges, Salmon suffered only a few small caliber hits from the enemy vessels. Escorted by Sterlet, Silversides, and Trigger, she made it to Saipan. She was given one-third credit for the 10,500-ton tanker, Jinei Maru, which was eventually sunk by a Sterlet torpedo. On 3 November, she moored alongside tender, Fulton, in Tanapag Harbor, Saipan.

 

On 10 November, Salmon stood out from Saipan, in company with Holland, and sailed via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor to San Francisco. On 26 January 1945, she departed from San Francisco with Redfish and proceeded via the Panama Canal to Portsmouth, N.H., where she arrived on 17 February.

 

After repairs and overhaul at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Salmon was assigned as a training vessel for the Atlantic Fleet. After the war's end, Salmon was slated for disposal and was decommissioned on 24 September. Struck from the Navy list on 11 October, she was scrapped on 4 April 1946.

 

Salmon was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism against enemy surface vessels during her eleventh war patrol in restricted, enemy-held waters of the Pacific.

 

Salmon earned nine battle stars for World War II service in the Asiatic-Pacific area.

 

 


Salmon (SS-182) running speed trials in 1938. As her appearance indicates, the process of evolution that would result in the standardized “Fleet-type” submarines of World War II was well underway. Slightly larger and heavier than the classes before them, the six submarines of the Salmon class mounted four torpedo tubes in the bow and four more in the stern, two more stern tubes than the earlier post-World War I ships. From 1911 until 1931, American submarines bore letter-and-number names, as in the case of the “R-boats” and “S-boats” described earlier in this volume. In 1931, all submarines after the S-classes were given the names of fish. Ships of the same class received names beginning with the same letter in addition to their (SS- )hull number. For visual identification, submarines also bore a class number, the first letter of the name with a number indicating the boat's sequence within her class. Thus Salmon, the first of her class, wears the marking S-l. Shortly before we entered World War II, the Navy discarded class numbers and introduced the contemporary practice of painting the hull number on bow and conning tower. This was suspended during the war for security reasons, but resumed after V-J Day.


Minor corrections, 20 March 2008