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Archer-Fish (SS-311)

Image related to Archer fish
Caption: Archer-Fish (SS-311), off Hunters Point, 5 June 1945, in Measure 32/3SS-B camouflage: light gray, medium gray, and dull black.


A small, silvery fish, found between India and Australia, with dark spots on its flanks, that is unusual in it’s ability to project a powerful spout of water at it’s insect prey.

(SS-311: displacement 1,525 (surfaced), 2,415 (submerged); 1ength 311'8"; beam 27'3"; draft 15'3"; speed 20.25 knots (surfaced), 8.75 knots (submerged); complement 80; armament 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 1 5-inch, 1 40 millimeter; class Balao)

Archer-Fish (SS-311) was laid down on 22 January 1943 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard; launched on 28 May 1943; sponsored by Miss Malvina C. Thompson, secretary to Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt; and commissioned on 4 September 1943, Lt. Cmdr. G. W. Kehl in command.

The submarine held shakedown training through the first part of November off the New England coast, and headed via the Panama Canal for Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 29 November 1943, and joined the Pacific Fleet.

After receiving voyage repairs and undergoing training exercises, Archer-Fish got underway on 23 December for her first war patrol. She paused at Midway on the 27th to refuel before proceeding on to her patrol area north of Formosa. During this patrol she attacked three ships, but scored no kills before returning to Midway on 16 February 1944 for repairs and training.

The submarine stood out of Midway on 16 March 1944 on her second war patrol but encountered no Japanese targets during her 42 days at sea, mostly near the Palau Islands. She returned to the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base, via Johnston Island, on 27 April to commence refitting.

A month and a day later, Archer-Fish left Pearl Harbor, bound for the Bonin Islands area and her third patrol. Assigned lifeguard duty during the strikes against Iwo Jima on 4 July, she rescued one drowned aviator before returning to Midway on 15 July.

After a refit alongside tender Proteus (AS-19) and training exercises, Archer-Fish got underway again on 7 August to begin another patrol. After prowling the waters off Honshu for more than a month without bagging any enemy ships—which by then had become scarce--the submarine returned to Pearl Harbor on 29 September, ending 53 days at sea.

Archer-Fish left Hawaii on 30 October, visited Saipan on 9 November for quick voyage repairs, and departed two days later to carry put her next patrol on which her primary mission was to provide lifeguard services for the first B-29 strikes against Tokyo. On the 28th, she received word that no air raids would be launched that day. That evening, the submarine sighted a large Japanese aircraft carrier screened by four escorts leaving Tokyo Bay. After a dogged six and one-half hour surface pursuit of the elusive, high-speed target, she finally obtained a position ahead of her quarry, took careful aim, and unleashed six torpedoes. Moments later, a great glowing ball of fire climbed up the Japanese ship's side and the Americans soon heard a series of tremendous explosions while the enemy vessel disintegrated. Not until after the end of the war did the Americans learn that Archer-Fish had sunk the still unfinished Shinano, a 59,000-ton Japanese aircraft carrier, probably the largest warship ever sunk. Archer-Fish received the Presidential Unit Citation for this action. The patrol ended at Guam on 15 December after 48 days on station.

While her officers and crew spent the holidays at a rest and recreation camp located on Guam, Archer-Fish underwent refit at the island. On 10 January 1945, the submarine got underway for her sixth patrol. This mission took her to waters in the South China Sea off Hong Kong and the southern tip of Formosa. She damaged one unidentified target during this patrol which she terminated on 3 March, three days earlier than scheduled, due to bow plane problems. Archer-Fish touched at Saipan and Pearl Harbor before arriving back in the United States at San Francisco on 13 March. She then proceeded to the Hunters Point Navy Yard for overhaul and drydocking.

Following completion of the yard work, Archer-Fish sailed on 14 June 1945 for Oahu. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 22 June and commenced voyage repairs and training exercises. The submarine got underway on 10 July for her seventh and last war patrol, which she conducted in the area off the east coast of Honshu and the south coast of Hokkaido, providing lifeguard services for B-29 bombers striking the Japanese home islands. She was still off Hokkaido on 15 August when word of the Japanese capitulation arrived. Archer-Fish was one of 12 submarines that entered Tokyo Bay on 31 August and moored alongside the tender Proteus, near the Yokosuka Navy Yard. After the Japanese surrender ceremony on board battleship Missouri (BB-63) on 2 September, Archer-Fish departed Tokyo Bay, bound for Pearl Harbor, and arrived there on the 12th. She was then assigned to Submarine Squadron 1 for duty and training.

The submarine left Pearl Harbor on 2 January 1946, bound for San Francisco. From her arrival on 8 January until 13 March the ship's force was busy carrying out her preinactivation overhaul. On the latter day, she proceeded to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard where the final stages of inactivation were completed. Archer-Fish was decommissioned on 12 June 1946 and placed in the Pacific Reserve Group berthed in the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

On 7 January 1952, because of the necessity of augmenting the Fleet resulting from the communist invasion of South Korea, the submarine began preparations for reactivation. She was recommissioned on 7 March and reported for duty to the Pacific Fleet on the 26th. The next day she sailed for three weeks of shakedown training out of San Diego. However, a fire broke out in her maneuvering room on 28 March, and the ship returned to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard under her own power for a restricted availability to have the damage corrected.

The repairs were completed on 27 May 1952, and Archer-Fish held shakedown off the west coast. She then transited the Panama Canal and joined the Atlantic Fleet on 3 July. Attached to Submarine Squadron 12, she operated out of Key West, Fla., visiting such places as Santiago and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Trinidad, British West Indies. The vessel departed Key West on 25 April 1955 and proceeded to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for decommissioning. After completing her inactivation overhaul, the ship was towed to New London, Conn., and was decommissioned on 21 October 1955.

The submarine was reactivated at New London in July 1957, placed back in commission on 1 August, and again joined Submarine Squadron 12 at Key West. On 13 January 1958, she got underway for a cruise under the technical supervision of the Navy Hydrographic Office. On this deployment, she visited Recife, Brazil, and Trinidad. Upon completion of that mission, she provided services for the fleet training commands at Key West and Guantanamo Bay.

In early 1960, Archer-Fish was chosen to participate in Operation "Sea Scan," a scientific study of marine weather conditions, water composition, ocean depths, and temperature ranges. She entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in January to be specially equipped for this new mission. During this time, the vessel was redesignated an auxiliary submarine, AGSS-311. Embarking a team of civilian scientists, she commenced the first phase of Operation "Sea Scan" on 18 May. On the cruise, the submarine visited Portsmouth, England; Hammerfest and Bergen, Norway; Faslane, Scotland; Thule, Godthaab, and Juliane-haab, Greenland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Halifax, Nova Scotia, before mooring at New London on 3 December.

After six weeks of upkeep, Archer-Fish got underway on 20 January 1961 for the Pacific phase of Operation "Sea Scan," transited the Panama Canal on 6 February, and proceeded via San Diego to Hawaii. She left Pearl Harbor on 27 March. During her operations the submarine visited Yokosuka and Hakodate, Japan; Hong Kong; Subic Bay, Philippines; Bangkok, Thailand; Penang, Malaya; Colombo, Ceylon; and Fremantle, Australia, and closed out 1961 moored at Yokosuka.

Phase two of Operation "Sea Scan" continued during the early months of 1962 with operations in the western Pacific area and port calls at Sasebo, Japan; Guam; and Cebu City, Philippines. Early in March, the submarine completed phase two and proceeded via Pago Pago to Pearl Harbor. On 27 April she entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for overhaul. After completion of overhaul, the submarine moved to San Diego for a two-week upkeep. She then commenced phase three of Operation "Sea Scan" in the eastern Pacific area, with stops in Pearl Harbor and Midway, and returned to San Diego for the Christmas holidays.

Archer-Fish departed San Diego on 10 January 1963, bound for Yokosuka, where she began a three-week upkeep period. Following two and one-half months of operations she returned to the United States for a brief visit to San Francisco before reentering Pearl Harbor early in May. Late May and most of June were devoted to surveying off the northwest coast of the United States and Canada, with port calls in Portland, Oreg.; Seattle, Wash.; and Vancouver, B.C. The submarine was back in Yokosuka for drydocking in July and August before beginning three months of continuous surveying in the mid-Pacific, broken only by brief fueling and upkeep stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor. She departed Yokosuka on 25 November for an extended cruise to the southern hemisphere, arrived in Australia in mid-December, and took a three-week holiday in Newcastle and Sydney. From the latter port, Archer-Fish traveled to Guam for a two-week upkeep in late January 1964 and finally reached Pearl Harbor on 5 March.

Departing Pearl Harbor on 30 March, the ship continued "Sea Scan" operations in the eastern Pacific. She visited San Francisco in April and Vancouver, B.C., in May before returning to Pearl Harbor on 25 May, ending the third phase of Operation "Sea Scan."

Archer-Fish began an extended fourth and final phase of Operation "Sea Scan" when she left Pearl Harbor on 17 June and headed for the eastern Pacific. She made port calls during July at Seattle and Olympia, Wash., and returned to Pearl Harbor on 19 August for a three-week upkeep and drydocking before undertaking a cruise to the South Pacific. The submarine sailed on 9 September for the Fiji Islands. After briefly touching Suva, she headed for Auckland, New Zealand, for an 11-day visit. Her next stop was Wellington, New Zealand, but she left New Zealand on 19 October and arrived in Yokosuka on 6 November. Shegot underway again on 27 November to continue survey operations in the Caroline Islands area. After spending New Year's Eve in Guam, the ship sailed for Subic Bay, Philippines, where she closed the year in upkeep.

For the remaining three and one-half years of her Navy career, Archer-Fish continued carrying out various research assignments throughout the eastern Pacific region. In early 1968, Archer-Fish was declared unfit for further naval service and was struck from the Navy list on 1 May 1968. She was sunk off San Diego as a torpedo target by Snook (SSN-592) on 19 October 1968.

Archer-Fish received seven battle stars and one Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service.

20 October 2005



Published: Tue Feb 02 13:39:35 EST 2016