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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Tilefish

 

A large, yellow-spotted deepwater food fish.

 

(SS-307: dp. 1,526; 1. Sll'10"; b. 27'4"; dr. 15'2"; s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 66; a. 10 21" tt., 1 5", 1 40mm., 2 .50-cal. mg.; cl. Balao)

 

Tilefish (SS-307) was laid down on 10 March 1943 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Navy Yard; launched on 25 October 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Wilson D. Leggett; and commissioned on 28 December 1943, Lt. Comdr. Roger Myers Keithly in command.

 

During February and March 1944, Tilefish underwent trials and shakedown off the California coast before getting underway for Hawaii. On 3 April, the submarine departed Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol, setting course for the Japanese home islands. While patrolling in the "Hit Parade" area east of Honshu, Tilefish sighted many enemy aircraft but found few targets for her torpedoes. Early in the patrol, she was hampered by the failure of her fathometer; and, throughout the mission, she was plagued by periscope fogging and overcast weather which ruled out celestial navigation. Finally, on the morning of 11 May, the novice submarine and her crew encountered their first opportunity for action. Tilefish sighted a small convoy and launched a determined attack. Choosing a passenger liner as her target, the submarine unleashed a spread of torpedoes, scoring a hit under the ship's bridge. As Tilefish dove amid the sounds of explosions, she experienced problems which caused her inadvertently to take on a large amount of water. Before the situation was brought under control, Tilefish had made a hair-raising dive to 580 feet, well below test depth. Too deep to be reached by the depth charges of her pursuers, she evaded their attack and continued her patrol. Finding contact with the enemy to be very light, Tilefish requested another patrol area and was assigned to the northern Marianas where she searched for targets on 19 and 20 May. She completed this patrol at Majuro on 29 May 1944.

 

After a refitting by Bushnell (AS-15), Tilefish departed Majuro on 22 June 1944 and headed with an attack group for the Luzon Strait area. In company with Sawfish (SS-276) and Rock (SS-274), Tilefish set course, via Batan Island and Bashi Channel, for her assigned position. On the morning of 18 July, Tilefish launched a torpedo attack on a large convoy and had the satisfaction of seeing a freighter sustain two hits. Meanwhile, Rock had joined in the attack and was being held down by a destroyer of the convoy's screen. At 1050, Tilefish made a torpedo attack on the destroyer. Seeing their menacing wakes, the enemy ship attempted to evade the torpedoes, but the first hit under its forward mount and wrapped her bow around the bridge. A second hit added to the destroyer's damage. Before Tilefish was forced down by enemy aircraft, she caught one last glimpse of the destroyer, listing and dead in the water. Nine minutes later, the submarine made a periscope sweep and found no sign of the enemy ship.

 

In the days that followed, the submarine patrolled the waters east of Formosa attempting to intercept the convoy which she had damaged on the 18th. On 26 July, Tilefish surfaced just at the moment when Sawfish launched a three-torpedo attack on a Japanese 1-52-class submarine. 1-29 exploded, leaving behind only smoke and flames. On 31 July, after Sawfish had reported a convoy contact off Luzon, Tilefish set course to intercept the enemy ships but never found the quarry. Tilefish fueled at Midway before completing her second patrol at Pearl Harbor on 15 August.

 

Tilefish departed Oahu on 10 September 1944. This patrol, conducted in the Sea of Okhotsk and off the Kuril Islands, was made difficult by rough seas which produced swells reaching heights of 30 to 40 feet. Despite the problems imposed by high seas, Tilefish sank a small trawler with her four-inch gun on the 23d. Early in October, she destroyed two small cargo vessels as they were leaving Hitokappu Wan, Yetorofu Jima. During the mid-watch on 13 October, an adventurous owl came on board. The feathered seafarer was promptly dubbed Boris Hootski and made official ship's mascot. In the following days, Tilefish claimed two more kills—a cargo ship and a wooden-hulled antisubmarine vessel. On the 17th, to prevent its being salvaged, she blew out the stern of a vessel grounded west of Shimushiru Island. Tilefish ended her third patrol at Midway on 24 October 1944.

 

On 15 November, Tilefish got underway for the Kuril Islands. During the first half of this patrol, she operated in northern waters but was hampered by bitterly cold weather, poor visibility, and hurricane-force winds. The mountainous waves forced the submarine to submerge to ride out the storm. On the 25th, Tilefish entered the Sea of Okhotsk to patrol the coast of Shimushiru. Snow frosted the periscope and prevented accurate identification of possible targets. By 16 December, Tilefish had moved south to take up a lifeguard station off Najima Saki. On the morning of 22 December, she sank Chidori, a torpedo boat, and evaded a Japanese counterattack of depth charges and aerial bombs without damage. She departed the patrol area on 24 December and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 2 January 1945.

 

After refitting by Orion (AS-18), Tilefish set course for the Marianas in company with Thresher (SS-200) and Peto (SS-265) on 31 January 1945. En route, she participated in exercises and searched for the survivors of a downed American plane. Underway from Saipan on 13 February, Tilefish proceeded independently to her patrol area in the Nansei Shoto where she prowled the traffic lanes in search of targets. She reported sinking a 90-ton cargo ship in a morning gun attack on 28 February before taking up a lifeguard station in support of planned strikes on Amami Shima. On 1 March, she rescued a flier from Hancock (CV-19) whose plane had splashed and sank only 500 yards off the starboard bow of the submarine. She sent a fishing trawler to the bottom on 4 March. On the following day, in the course of a daylong attack on a freighter, she sank a Japanese minesweeper which was escorting the cargo ship. From 10 to 19 March, she performed lifeguard duties in support of strikes on Nagoya and other Japanese targets. After patrolling the approaches to Tokyo Bay on 22 March, Tilefish set course, via Midway and Pearl Harbor, for San Francisco. After undergoing overhaul, she returned to Pearl Harbor on 11 July and was soon underway for Midway and Saipan. When the war in the Pacific ended, Tilefish was on lifeguard station off the Ryukyus. She continued lifeguard duties and patrols in the western Pacific until 7 September when she returned to Pearl Harbor.

 

Early in 1946, Tilefish returned to San Francisco and operated off the west coast throughout most of the year. In May, she participated in wolf pack exercises, and in September took part in live load training, using the hulk of the former SS Schuyler Coif ax as a target. In October, she made a brief trip to the Hawaiian Islands and then returned to the west coast. From January 1947 to September 1950, Tilefish continued to operate out of California ports with occasional voyages to Pearl Harbor. During this period, she conducted underway training and took part in fleet exercises off the west coast.

 

On 5 September 1950, Tilefish departed Pearl Harbor for Japan. From 28 September 1950 through 24 March 1951, the submarine operated out of Japanese ports conducting patrols in Korean waters in support of the United Nations campaign in Korea. She made reconnaissance patrols of La Perouse Strait to keep the Commander, Naval Forces Far East, informed of Soviet seaborne activity in that area. After this tour, the submarine resumed her routine of operations out of Hawaiian and west coast ports until 1957. Highlights of this period were convoy attack exercises in Hawaiian waters and a goodwill visit to Acapulco, Mexico, early in June 1956.

 

Following a period of reduced status and overhaul, Tilefish again got underway in April 1957 for Far Eastern waters. During this deployment, she visited ports in Japan and the Ryukyus before completing the cruise at San Diego on 27 September 1957.

 

On 16 September 1958, the veteran submarine made way via Pearl Harbor for Midway and the Marshalls. With four civilian geophysicists on board from the Hydrographic Office, the submarine completed a submerged survey of Eniwetok, Wake, and Midway, operating at sea for nearly three months. She returned to San Diego on 5 December 1958 for inactivation.

 

Tilefish was decommissioned on 12 October 1959, underwent overhaul at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, and was recommissioned on 30 January 1960. Her final decommissioning was in May of 1960. She was sold to the Venezuelan government to be known as ARV Carite. Tilefish was struck from the Navy list on 1 December 1960.

 

Carite served in the Venezuelan Navy into the 1970's. While in the service of Venezuela, during the filming of the movie "Murphy's War" in 1969 and 1970, the submarine played the part of a German U-boat hiding in the Amazon River. For the role, she was modified by the addition of a "cigarette deck" aft of her sail and was painted in a "dazzle" camouflage pattern.

 

Carite was decommissioned by the Venezuelan Navy on 28 January 1977 and scheduled to be cannibalized for spare parts.

 

Tilefish received five battle stars for World War II service. She received one battle star for Korean service.

 

 

Tilefish (SS-307)  after World War II, in a gray-and-black camouflage scheme used on  submarines toward the end of the war.