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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Saury

 

A long-beaked relative of the flying fish found in the temperate zones of the Atlantic.

 

(SS-189: dp. 1,450 (surf.), 2,340 (subm.); l. 310'6"; b. 27'1"; dr. 13'8" (mean); s. 20 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 55; a. 8 21" tt., 1 3", 4 mg.; cl. Sargo)

 

Saury (SS-189) was laid down on 28 June 1937 by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; launched on 20 August 1938; sponsored by Mrs. James Paul Casbarian, who headed the Navy's Ships Names and Sponsors Office; and commissioned on 3 April 1939, Lt. G. W. Patterson, Jr., in command.

 

Following commissioning, Saury conducted tests in the New London area and as far south as Annapolis before visiting New York City in late April for the world's fair. In mid-May, she conducted tests with experimental periscopes; then prepared for her shakedown cruise which, between 26 June and 26 August, took her from Newfoundland to Venezuela and the Canal Zone and back to southern New England. In September, she entered the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard, for post-shakedown overhaul.

 

After overhaul and final trials, Saury got underway on 4 December for the west coast. On the 12th, she transited the Panama Canal and, nine days later, joined Submarine Division (SubDiv) 16 of Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 6, at San Diego. Upkeep, exercises, and services as a target for surface units took her through March 1940. In April, she sailed west to participate in Fleet Problem XXI, an eight-phased problem simulating an attack on the defense of the Hawaiian area and the destruction of one fleet prior to the concentration of another.

 

Based afterward at Pearl Harbor, Saury conducted exercises in the Hawaiian Islands and as far west as Midway until she returned to the west coast in September for overhaul at Mare Island. From March to October 1941, she operated out of both Pearl Harbor and San Diego; then departed the former for her new base, Cavite, P.I.

 

Assigned to SubDiv 21, SubRon 2, after 1 June 1941, Saury arrived in Manila Bay in mid-November. On 8 December (7 December east of the International Date Line), she got underway for her first war patrol.

 

Clearing Manila Bay, Saury moved north to search for and intercept ships of the Japanese invasion force. Lack of emergency identification systems and radio problems complicated her job. During the next two weeks, she patrolled near Vigan and along a north-south line at longitude 120° E. Then, on the 21st, she was ordered into Lingayen Gulf in response to Stingray's report of Japanese forces there.

 

Prior to dawn on the 22d, she took up patrol duties off San Fernando in the northern approaches to the gulf and moved south. At 0411, she sighted an enemy destroyer and, at 0424, she fired. Although the "fish" headed "right at" the destroyer, there was no explosion. At 0426, a second destroyer appeared; and, the hunter became the hunted. Saury commenced evasive tactics in the relatively shallow waters of the gulf. Depth charges were dropped, but none within 1,000 yards of the submarine. Saury continued on evasive courses, working her way to the northwest and out of the destroyer-patrolled area. By noon, she was clear. After dark, she moved back into the gulf, past the enemy patrol line between San Fernando and Cape Bolinao.

 

At about 0210 on the 23d, an enemy destroyer sighted Saury. The submarine went to 120 feet. By 0216, three depth charges had exploded within 200 yards. Two more depth charges followed, but Saury escaped and continued to hunt for targets. Early afternoon brought more depth charging, but Saury was not damaged. On the 24th, she sighted a transport, running fast and very close in shore. The submarine was unable to close and attack.

 

That evening brought a change in orders; and, in preparing to clear the area, Saury found herself between two enemy ships. She headed out "playing tag with enemy destroyers all night." The next evening, she was again closed by an enemy destroyer. She went to 140 feet and evaded the enemy's depth charges. On the night of the 27th and 28th, she interrupted battery charging to avoid a division of enemy destroyers. On 1 January 1942, she sighted an enemy convoy, but was unable to close the range. On the 8th, she received orders to proceed to the Netherlands East Indies.

 

Moving south, Saury patrolled the Basilan Strait area on the 11th and 12th. By then, Tarakan had fallen and the submarine headed south to patrol the enemy's Davao-Tarakan line. By the 16th, she was 30 miles east of the Tarakan lightship; and, on the 18th, she crossed the equator into the southern latitudes.

 

On the 19th, the Japanese landed at Sandakan in North Borneo; and Saury arrived at Balikpapan to fuel and provision. The next day, the submarine-fueled but not provisioned-departed and, after patrolling toward Cape William, Celebes, took up station in the approaches to Balikpapan.

 

On the 23d, as other Allied units moved into Makassar Strait to delay the Japanese, Saury shifted north to the Koetai (Mahakam) River Delta in hopes of impeding enemy shipping moving south to Balikpapan. On the morning of the 24th, she was illuminated, forced to go deep, and was unable to attack.

 

After the Japanese took Balikpapan, Saury was ordered to patrol off Cape William. On the 27th, she moved toward Java. On the 30th, she rendezvoused with a Dutch patrol vessel off Meinderts Reef; thence proceeded through Madoera Strait to Soerabaja.

 

On 9 February, as the Japanese were taking Makassar City, Saury departed Soerabaja for her second war patrol. The submarine headed east to patrol along the north coasts of the Lesser Soendas. On the 13th, she headed north-northwest for a three-day patrol between Kabaena and Salajar off the Celebes coast. From there, she moved southwest to patrol the entrance to Lombok Strait. On the night of the 19th and 20th, she received word of the Japanese landing on Bali; sighted her first enemy ships of the patrol; and commenced 18 hours of submerged evasive tactics to avoid enemy destroyers' depth charges. On the 24th, she shifted northward to an area southeast of Sepandjang Island where she sighted and attacked, unsuccessfully, an enemy convoy.

From 26 February to 8 March, Saury patrolled from Meinderts Reef to Kangean Island, the eastern entrance to Madoera Strait. However, the Japanese moved on Soerabaja from the north and west. Batavia and Soerabaja fell. On the 9th, Saury began making her way to Australia. The submarine arrived at Fremantle on the 17th. Her torpedoes, Mark 14's, had not damaged the enemy.

 

On 28 April, Saury cleared Fremantle for her third war patrol; but, three days later, a crack in the after trim tank caused her to return to Australia. On 7 May, she again departed Fremantle and headed north. By the 14th, she was off Timor; and, by the 16th, she was in the Flores Sea, en route to the Banda Sea and the eastern Celebes coast. On the 18th, off Wowoni, she fired three torpedoes at an enemy cargo-passenger ship without effect. She remained in the area for two days to intercept enemy traffic to Kendari; then moved north to hunt in Greyhound Strait and the Molucca Passage. On the 23d and 24th, she was off Kema, whence she rounded North Cape to patrol off Manado on the northern Celebes coast.

 

On the 26th, Saury commenced hunting in the eastern Celebes Sea. On the 28th, she sighted and fired on a merchantman which had been converted into a seaplane carrier but again was unsuccessful.

 

On 8 June, the submarine turned south and began retracing her route through the Molucca Passage and Greyhound Strait. From the 12th to the 14th, she again patrolled off Kendari. On the 15th, she searched Boeton Passage; then moved into the Flores Sea, whence she headed via Timor for Australia. Saury returned to Fremantle on 28 June.

 

On 2 July, she sailed for Albany where tests were to be conducted on the Mark 14 torpedo. On the 18th, Saury fired four torpedoes at a net 850 to 900 yards away. The torpedoes were set for 10 feet. The first passed through an area from which the net had been torn during the night. The other three penetrated the net at 21 feet.

 

From the 23d to the 25th, Saury escorted Holland back to Fremantle, then prepared for her fourth war patrol which would take her back to the Philippines.

 

Sailing at the end of the month, Saury transited Lombok Strait on 6 August and, by the 16th, was running up the Iloilo-Manila sea lane. On the 17th, she investigated Ambulong Strait and Mangarin Bay. On the 18th, she moved up the Mindoro Coast to Cape Calavite, whence she took up station west of Corregidor.

 

On the 20th, the submarine moved into the presumed enemy convoy route. The next day, she sighted and attempted to close a tanker; then shifted her patrol to a line five miles off the coast.

 

On the 24th, the submarine again closed Manila Bay. At 0645, she sighted masts; but heavy rain soon moved in and obscured the target. At 0952, she fired two torpedoes. Her periscope began vibrating, hindering visibility and precluding the firing of two more torpedoes. At 0954, an explosion was heard and the target, a small tanker, was seen to take on a 5° list to port. Saury proceeded to 200 feet to avoid detection by enemy air patrol units. At about 1047, a bomb exploded close by the submarine. Depth charges followed and, at 1150 and 1152, two more bombs exploded.

 

The hunt for the submarine continued through the afternoon. At 1810, the sounds of propellers and pinging died out. At 1921, Saury surfaced, started recharging and headed out to sea on her three available engines. An hour later, she was sighted by an enemy destroyer, which closed in fast. Saury submerged, and her elusive tactics were again successful.

 

The next night, she sighted another enemy warship, a destroyer or a torpedo boat. The submarine, badly in need of a charge, did not attack. The 29th brought extremely poor weather. On the 31st, she sighted a hospital ship. On 3 September, the day she headed south, the weather began to clear.

 

On the 7th, Saury received orders to patrol off Makassar City and, while surfaced on the night of the llth, she sighted a cargoman. At 2058, she sent three torpedoes at the target. At 2100, an explosion rocked the target. Flames enveloped the center of the ship. Its superstructure and deck cargo blazed. Eighteen minutes later, the target blew up. Japanese records identified the victim as the 8,606-ton aircraft ferry, Kanto Maru.

 

On the 17th, Saury cleared Lombok Strait and headed for Exmouth Gulf where she delivered excess fuel to a barge; thence continued on to Fremantle, arriving on 23 September.

 

From 24 September to 18 October, she underwent upkeep and repairs. She then shifted to Brisbane, whence she departed on 31 October for her fifth war patrol. Her 27-day patrol was conducted off western and northern New Britain where she had 27 contacts; was able to develop 4; and fired 13 torpedoes, of which only one was a possible hit.

 

On 21 December, Saury arrived at Pearl Harbor; and, on the 29th, she moored at Mare Island. During her ensuing overhaul, she received a bathythermograph and a high periscope.

 

Saury returned to Pearl Harbor on 16 April 1943; and, on 7 May, she departed for her sixth war patrol which would take her into the East China Sea to operate off the northern Ryukyus and in the coastal waters of Kyushu. During the patrol, she would also test the effectiveness of the high periscope in daytime attacks and the usefulness of the bathythermograph in locating thermal layers to hide in.

 

On 11 May, Saury topped off on fuel and lubricating oil at Midway; then continued west. On the 19th, she ran into the edges of a typhoon. On the 20th, “the bottom dropped out of the barometer”; but, the next day, the storm abated. On the 25th, the submarine entered her assigned area and headed toward Amami 0 Shima, a naval base some 200 miles south of the industrial port of Kagoshima on southern Kyushu.

 

Patrolling to the west of the island, Saury sighted her first enemy maru soon after 0900 on the 26th; but, the ship was too distant to catch. About an hour later, she abandoned the approach; then sighted a five-ship convoy on the port quarter. At 1030, she fired tubes 1, 2, and 3. One minute and 44 seconds later, a torpedo exploded against the stern of a transport. Nine seconds after that, another hit broke the target's back and sent debris high into the air. The 2,300-ton Kagi Maru went under.

 

At 1034, Saury went deep. By 1038, nine depth charges had been dropped; but, none was close.

 

On the afternoon of the 28th, Saury, patrolling on the surface with her high periscope in operation, sighted the masts of a steamer and moved to intercept. Fourteen minutes later, at 1643, she submerged. At 1724, she fired four torpedoes at the target, the unescorted, empty, 10,216-ton tanker, Akatsuki Maru. Three missed, one hit. The tanker's speed had been underestimated. The tanker dropped two depth charges. Saury fired six more torpedoes. Four scored, and the tanker went under.

 

In the late afternoon of the 29th, Saury, again on the surface and using the high periscope, sighted smoke about fourteen miles off. At 1913, she submerged and began tracking a convoy of four cargo ships and three tankers. At 2058, she surfaced and attacked. Japanese records show that she sank Takamisan Maru, 1,992 tons, and Shoko Maru, 5,385 tons.

 

On the 30th, Saury headed back to Midway. On 7 June, her number 4 main engine went out of commission. The next day, she arrived at Midway; and, on the 13th, she moored at Pearl Harbor for repairs and refit.

 

A month later, on 13 July, the submarine departed Hawaii on her 7th war patrol. On the 21st, her number 4 main engine again went out of commission, and remained out for the duration of the patrol. Poor weather then slowed her westward progress still further ; and, on the night, of the 30th, while half way between Iwo Jima and Okinawa, she made her first contact of the patrol.

 

The contact was made by radar at about 2225. Saury set a course to intercept the targets, two large warships and a destroyer. At 0303 on the 31st, Saury submerged. At 0325, she turned to attack; losing, regaining, losing, and then regaining depth control. By then, the targets had passed firing bearing. A few seconds later, at 0338, the sound operator reported a bearing of 180° relative. Almost simultaneously, the periscope revealed a destroyer with a 0° angle on the bow. The commanding officer ordered Saury deep. A few seconds later, two jolts shook Saury. She took on a 5° list to port. She continued to go deeper, then retired to the east. No depth charges were heard. Saury remained at 175 to 200 feet all day. At 2020, she surfaced. Her periscope shears were bent 30" from the vertical to starboard. All equipment mounted therein was damaged. Both periscopes and both radars were out of commission. Saury had been blinded.

 

Temporary repairs were made; and, at 0403 on 1 August, Saury headed home, arriving at Midway on the 8th and at Pearl Harbor on the 12th. Her patrol had ended before she had reached her assigned area, but she was credited with causing damage to an enemy destroyer.

 

During repair and refit, Saury was given an enlarged conning tower, new periscope shears, and new radar equipment. Her number 4 engine was completely overhauled. On 4 October, she was ready for sea.

 

On' her eighth and ninth war patrols, 4 October to 26 November 1943 and 21 December 1943 to 14 February 1944, Saury inflicted no damage. Much of the latter patrol was spent in fighting extremely bad weather in the East China Sea, during which proper navigational positions were unobtainable. At the end of that patrol, one day out of Midway, she was swamped by an oversized swell while her hatches were open. The wave overtook Saury from the quarter; pushed her over to a 40° list to port; turned her 140° from her course; and sent green water through the conning tower hatch and main induction. Electrical equipment grounded out and small fires were started but quickly extinguished. Auxiliary power was restored in half an hour, but repairs to main control required almost a full day, and repairs to the master gyro took even longer.

 

Saury arrived at Pearl Harbor from Midway on 21 February and continued on to Mare Island where she underwent overhaul and re-engining during March and April. On 16 June, she returned to Pearl Harbor; and, on the 29th, she departed on her 10th war patrol.

 

On 3 July, she topped off at Midway. On 5 July, a cracked cylinder liner forced her back to Midway for repairs; and, on the 6th, she headed out again. On the 11th, another cylinder liner cracked; but she continued on toward her assigned area, San Bernardino Strait in the Philippines, which she entered on the 18th.

 

On 4 August, the submarine shifted north in hope of better hunting; and, on the 6th, she sighted an unescorted freighter. However, the glassy sea, unlimited visibility, and enemy, land-based, patrol planes combined against her; and she broke off the attack. Four days later, she departed the area, arriving at Majuro on the 23d.

 

From 20 September to 29 November 1944, Saury conducted her eleventh and last war patrol. She patrolled in the Nansei Shoto area from 20 September to 4, November, rescuing a downed pilot of VF-8 but sinking no enemy ships as she hunted in the wake of the fast carrier forces. After stopping at Saipan from 5 to 10 November, she proceeded on the second phase of the patrol-an anti-patrol vessel sweep north of the Bonins. Extremely poor weather again interfered; but, on the 18th, she damaged a tanker. On the 29th, she returned to Pearl Harbor.

 

For the remainder of the war, Saury served in the Hawaiian area as a target and training submarine. On 19 August 1945, she sailed for San Francisco and inactivation. Saury was decommissioned on 22 June 1946, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 19 July. She was sold and delivered to the Learner Co., Oakland, Calif., in May 1947; and was scrapped the following October.

 

Saury earned seven battle stars during World War II.