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Barbero (SS-317)

(SS-317: dp. 1,525 (surf.), 2,415 (subm.), l. 311'9", b. 27'3", dr. 19'3"; s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 81; a. 1 5", 1 40mm. 3 20mm., 10 21" tt.; cl. Balao)

A fish, one of those in a family of fishes commonly referred to as surgeon fish.

Barbero (SS-317) was laid down on 25 March 1943 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 12 December 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Katherine R. Keating; and commissioned on 29 April 1944, Lt. Comdr. Irvin S. Hartman in command.

Following shakedown training in the vicinity of Block Island and Long Island, Barbero sailed south in early June to Key West, Fla., where her crewmen improved their combat skills while their ship served as the object of training searches carried out by students at the Fleet Sonar School. In July, the submarine received orders to join the Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, in prosecuting the war against Japan. Proceeding by way of the Panama Canal, she arrived in Pearl Harbor on 15 July. After a short period of additional training and upkeep, Barbero embarked on her first war patrol on 9 August. She made a brief stop at Midway Island to top off her fuel tanks and load provisions to capacity and then resumed her voyage west.

She reached her patrol area, located east of the central Philippines off San Bernardino Strait, on 24 August. Though she had been stationed there to report an to interdict any attempt by the Japanese to use the strait to contest the Allied invasion of the Palau Islands, they tried no such move. Moreover, during the 31 days that she spent in the area, she encountered no large target. She fired but one torpedo, and it missed the small trawler at which it had been aimed. She stopped several native boats but allowed them to proceed after inspection disclosed no contraband. The high point of the patrol came when Barbero lobbed 25 rounds at a radar station on Batag Island with her 5-inch deck gun. Though she obtained no definite results, her failure to detect radar activity the following night prompted her claim to have neutralized the station. The submarine cleared the area on 24 September 1944 and headed for western Australia, concluding a disappointing, 56-day patrol at Fremantle on 4 October.

After refit and a brief training period, Barbero departed Fremantle on her second war patrol on 26 October. On this patrol, Comdr. Hartman also assumed command of a coordinated attack group consisting of Barbero, Haddo (SS-255), and Redfin (SS-272). The first phase of this two-part patrol lasted from 26 October until 15 November. It was conducted in the Makassar Strait and in the area west of Mindoro. On 2 November, after a lively passage of Lombok Strait during which picket boats and shore batteries fired on her, Barbero sank her first ship, a 2,700-ton transport loaded with troops. On 8 November, she sent a 7,500-ton tanker to the bottom during a coordinated attack on a small convoy carried out in cooperation with Redfin. Redfin received credit for sinking the other tanker in the convoy.

Following a three-day stop at Mios Woendi to rearm with torpedoes and perform minor upkeep, the submarine embarked on the second portion of the patrol. That longer phase lasted from 18 November 1944 to 2 January 1945 and was conducted in the South China Sea northeast of Borneo. On 24 December in an attack on an escorted four-ship convoy, a 7,500-ton gasoline tanker was sunk and a second tanker grossing about 5,000 tons was damaged. On Christmas day, the submarine claimed her gift from the Japanese in the form of a 4,000-ton cargo ship that she sank. On 27 December, while she attempted the perilous repassage of Lombok Strait, fragments from an aerial bomb that narrowly missed Barbero close aboard aft damaged her port reduction gear. The damage forced her to cover the distance remaining to Fremantle on a single screw. In 68 days away from Fremantle, Barbero returned having sunk four ships totalling 21,700 tons and claiming damage to a fifth of 5,000 tons.

The damage to her port reduction gear required Barbero to return to the United States for repairs. She arrived at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard for overhaul on 7 March 1945. After the repairs, an overhaul and some additional training at the Submarine Base at New London, Conn., she set out to rejoin the Pacific Fleet. During the Panama-to-Pearl Harbor leg of her voyage back into the war, hostilities ended. After spending two weeks at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, Barbero received orders to return to the west coast in September 1945 for deactivation. The submarine arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 6 September 1945. She underwent preinactivation overhaul and was placed out of commission, in reserve, early in October 1946.

On 1 March 1948, Barbero was towed from her berth with the reserve fleet in California's Napa River down to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for conversion to a cargo carrying submarine. During that work, she was redesignated SSA-317 and then, on 26 July 1948, Barbero was recommissioned, Comdr. J. A. Bogley in command. Assigned to the Pacific Fleet for duty, she departed Mare Island on 29 October and reported for duty at San Diego soon thereafter to begin evaluating her capabilities as a cargo carrier. The experimental program in which she took part lasted from October 1948 through March 1950. The Navy concluded the program early in 1950, and Barbero was placed out of commission, in reserve, again on 30 June 1950.

On 1 February 1955, Barbero returned to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard to undergo a second, somewhat more strategically significant, conversion. About nine months into the alterations that rendered her capable of carrying, launching, and controlling a pair of “Regulus” missiles, she was reclassified a guided-missile submarine and was redesignated SSG-317. On 28 October 1955, Barbero was recommissioned, Lt. Comdr. Samuel T. Bussey in command. She completed conversion to a guided-missile submarine on 18 January 1956 and departed San Diego on the 29th for special missile-related, shakedown training out of Port Hueneme, Calif. Barbero fired her first “Regulus” successfully on 14 March 1956 from a point off San Clemente Island. Her second shot came off equally well two weeks later. In May, she was reassigned to the Atlantic Fleet as a unit of Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 6 based at Norfolk, Va.

On 1 July 1959, Barbero was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet's SubRon 1, based at Pearl Harbor. From there, she served as an integral part in the nation's defense against nuclear war by carrying out early versions of the deterrent patrols that later became a regular feature of the submarine Navy after the introduction of the fleet ballistic missile submarine. In January 1962, Barbero entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for an extensive five-month overhaul. During that time, members of her crew pursued various fields of training and education at service schools in Hawaii and on the west coast. After concluding the overhaul in June, Barbero carried out local operations and conducted refresher training. She then completed a single deterrent strike mission in the latter half of 1962. Barbero conducted another two deterrent missions 1963, making liberty calls in Far Eastern ports at the conclusion of each.

The submarine was placed in commission, in reserve, on 9 June 1964 in preparation for inactivation and disposal. On 1 July 1964, Barbero was placed out of commission, and her name was struck from the Navy list simultaneously. She was sunk as a target on 24 October 1964.

Barbero received two battle stars for her service during World War II.

Raymond A. Mann

7 March 2006

Published: Thu Apr 21 01:55:59 EDT 2016