Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

NH 98043:  USS Balao (SS-285), off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, October 25, 1944.  NHHC Photograph Collection.

USS Balao (SS-285, later AGSS-285), 1943-63

USS Balao (SS-285, later AGSS-285), 1943-63

The lead ship of her class, USS Balao (SS-285) was commissioned on February 4, 1943, at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine.  Deployed to the Pacific, she was based out of Brisbane, Australia, and Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, where she patrolled for enemy ships and rescued downed aviators.   Following an overhaul in California in December 1944, Balao returned to the Pacific and served until Japan's surrender.   Decommissioned in August 1946, she became part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.  Recommissioned in March 1952, Balao became as a training ship for antisubmarine and Special Deployment Forces at both Key West, Florida, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.   In 1959, she starred as the "pink submarine" in the motion picture "Operation Petticoat".  In April 1960, she was reclassified as AGSS-285.  A year later, Balao simulated a disabled submarine while testing a new device for individual escape, the "Steinke Hood."  During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October and November 1962, she was sent to patrol the western Atlantic.  Decommissioned on July 11, 1963, her hulk was sunk off northern Florida on September 6.  Beforehand, Balao's fairwater was removed and sent to the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., where it can still be seen on display.  

A model of Balao can be found in the Dive, Dive, Dive! exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.   

Image:  NH 98043:  USS Balao (SS-285), off Mare Island Navy Yard, California, October 25, 1944.  NHHC Photograph Collection.