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Blueback I (SS-326)

(SS-326: dp. 1,525 (surf.), 2,415 (subm.); l. 311'9"; b. 27'3"; dr. 15'3"; s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 81; a. 10 21" tt., 1 5", 2 20mm.; cl. Balao)

A form of the rainbow or steelhead trout found only in Lake Crescent on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state. The fish lives in deep water and is bluish black along its upper sides and whitish underneath.


Blueback (SS-326) was laid down on 29 July 1943 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 7 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. William Brent Young; and commissioned on 28 August 1944 at New London, Conn., Lt. Comdr. Merrill K. Clementson in command.

Following shakedown training off New London and Newport, R.I., the new submarine got underway on 2 October for Key West, Fla. Upon her arrival there, she began making sound training runs for ships being trained in the Fleet Sound School. She sailed for the Canal Zone on 20 October, transited the Panama Canal on the 24th, and engaged in further training at Balboa, before continuing on to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where she arrived on 22 November. The submarine underwent voyage repairs and another two weeks' training in Hawaiian waters.

On 16 December, Blueback commenced her first war patrol in company with Puffer (SS-268). Sea Fox (SS-402) joined them at sea on the 23d. While this coordinated attack group patrolled north of Saipan on 27 December 1944, an Army B-24 crashed into the sea a few thousand yards away from the American submarines, and Blueback managed to rescue four of the bomber’s crew members. She put in at Saipan that same afternoon to drop the survivors off and then resumed the patrol on the 29th. On 2 January 1945, Blueback reached the area off Tori Shima, where she patrolled for the next 24 days. She transmitted regular weather reports as part of the lengthy preparations for the attack on Okinawa, occasionally dived to avoid enemy planes, and searched for targets. On 26 January, she left the area and headed southwest into the South China Sea to patrol off Camranh Bay.

On 4 February, Blueback spotted a convoy heading south toward Camranh Bay and immediately tried to close for an attack but was unable to get near enough to fire her torpedoes. She encounteired the same convoy again the next day but failed to close range for an attack once more. The submarine began lifeguard duties on the 7th, taking station 200 miles to the southeast of Camranh Bay on the Hong Kong to Singapore sea route. This duty ended the next day, and Blueback set a course for Fremantle, Australia. During the next three days, she took part in a search for a Japanese battleship task force headed north from Singapore but never detected the enemy ships. On 14 February, she received orders changing her destination from Fremantle to Subic Bay in the Philippines and arrived there the next day.

The submarine moored alongside Griffin (AS-13) for a refit. She got underway a few days later for exercises in Philippine waters. Operating in a coordinated attack group with Bergall (SS-320), Blackfin (SS-322), Hawkbill (SS-366), and Flasher (SS-249), Blueback began her second patrol on 4 March and headed for the area off the Indochinese coast. In the early morning of 12 March, an enemy patrol boat opened fire on Blueback while she ran on the surface. Going deep immediately to evade her attacker, the submarine escaped with only superficial damage.

Later that same day, she opened fire with her deck guns on a Japanese sailing vessel and sank the target. Thereafter, her patrol passed uneventfully until the 22d, when she sank another small Japanese sailing ship with gunfire. Her next action occurred on the 26th, when Blueback fired five stern shots at a destroyer escort in a convoy. However, all missed their target. During her attempt to leave the area, she endured a heavy depth charge barrage before losing her pursuers.

The next day, a search plane reported a Japanese convoy to the south of her attack group. On 28 March, Blueback sighted the ships and began tracking them. At 1058, she brought her stern tubes to bear and fired a three-torpedo spread at a destroyer. One broached and the rest ran wide of the mark. Again, the submarine weathered a depth charge attack before getting clear of the area and resuming her search for enemy shipping. Two days later, Blueback attacked three Japanese sailboats with her deck guns and sent two of them to the bottom.

On 3 April, Blueback set a course for the Java Sea. She patrolled off Sumbawa and Lombok Islands in the Netherlands East Indies until 12 April without making any contacts and then headed for Australia. The warship concluded her patrol at Fremantle, Australia, on the 17th and commenced refit alongside Clytie (AS-26).

After a series of post-refit training exercises, Blueback embarked on her third war patrol on 12 May. She entered Lombok Strait on the 17th and spotted her first target on 21 May. She opened fire with her 5-inch gun but inflicted only minor damage on the sailboat. A week later, she sighted an enemy subchaser and maneuvered into position for an attack. The submarine fired five bow shots at her target and then swung her stern tubes to bear for two more. The Japanese vessel was not damaged by the attack and returned remarkably accurate fire with her deck guns. Blueback then departed the area and set a course for the Sunda Strait.

She later sighted several Japanese vessels that seemed to be unworthy targets before zeroing in a convoy of two large freighters with three escorts on 2 June. She loosed three torpedoes at the nearest freighter and heard one hit. However, loss of depth control prevented Blueback from pursuing the attack. The submarine came to rest on the ocean bottom while undergoing a depth charge barrage and remained there almost two hours before surfacing.

On 3 June, Blueback sank a small boat with her deck guns. Thereafter, her patrol passed uneventfully until 9 June, when she launched a lone torpedo at a merchant ship. Once again the shot missed. At that, the submarine shaped a course for Fremantle and arrived on the 14th. In addition to refit, she took up investigations into torpedo accuracy problems. This work was completed on 20 June, and the submarine resumed her patrol the next day.

On 26 June, Blueback entered Lombok Strait and received a contact report on targets sighted north of Bali. At 0150 on the 27th, she fired a series of five torpedoes. One hit a few minutes later and stopped the enemy ship dead in the water. Another hit the victim amidships caused her to disappear from sight. Blueback attacked a sailboat without success on 9 July to the east of the Thousand Islands. Four days later, while patrolling north of the Thousand Islands, she spotted five small coastal freighters. Although she launched three torpedoes at one of the ships, all missed the target. The submarine set course for the Philippines on the 15th and arrived in Subic Bay on 20 July.

During her upkeep and training at Subic Bay, news of the Japanese capitulatson arrived. On the last day of August, Blueback sailed for Guam, where she arrived on 4 September. The submarine was assigned to Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 36 and conducted daily underway traininq. On 28 November, the warship left Guam in company with SubRon 3 for a training cruise to the Caroline and Admiralty Islands. They returned to Guam on 15 December.

Blueback shaped a course for San Diego, Calif., in January 1946. The submarine conducted operations locally from that port unti1 12 August, when she embarked upon a cruise to the Far East. Her ports of call included Pearl Harbor; Truk; Subic Bay, Philippines; and Tsingtao and Shanghai, China. She returned to San Diego on 29 November and resumed local operations. In mid-February 1947, the submarine set out on a training voyage to Pearl Harbor. After several weeks of operations in Hawaiian waters, she returned to San Diego on 4 April and resumed local operations through February 1948.

On 4 March 1948, Blueback left San Diego, bound for Izmir, Turkey. The submarine transited the Panama Canal, paused briefly at New London, Conn., and finally arrived at Izmir on 11 May. Blueback was decommissioned and transferred to the government of Turkey on 23 May 1948, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 28 May 1948. The submarine served the Turkish Navy as Ikinoi Inönü.

Blueback (SS-326) received two battle stars for her World War II service.

Luanne Parsons
27 January 2006

Published: Thu Jun 25 15:23:15 EDT 2015