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Grampus V (SS-207)

The grampus is a large cetacean (Grampus griseus) of the "blackfish family" commonly referred to as Risso's dolphin. Found in warm seas throughout the world, the dolphin has a blunt head, barrel-shaped body and ranges in color from grey to black. Risso's dolphins swim in groups of 3-50 animals and prefer offshore waters, where they hunt squid, octopi and fish.


(SS-207: displacement 1,475 tons; length 307 feet 2 inches; beam 27 feet 3 inches; draft 13 feet 3 inches; speed 20 knots; armament 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, one 3-inch/50 deck gun ; complement 59; class Tambor)

The fifth Grampus (SS-207), built by the Electric Boat Co. of Groton, Conn., was launched 23 December 1940; sponsored by Mrs. Clark H. Woodward; and commissioned 23 May 1941 at New London, Lt. Comdr. Edward S. Hutchinson in command.

After shakedown in Long Island Sound, Grampus sailed to the Caribbean with Grayback on 8 September to conduct a training war patrol, returning to New London 28 September. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor found Grampus undergoing post-shakedown overhaul at Portsmouth, N.H., but soon ready for war. On 22 December, she sailed for the Pacific, reaching Pearl Harbor on 1 February 1942 via the Panama Canal and Mare Island.

On her first war patrol (8 February - 4 April 1942) Grampus reconnoitered Kwajalein and Wotje atolls, tracking tidal currents and other environmental data needed for future amphibious landings. While searching enemy shipping routes in the region, Grampus came across Japanese tanker No. 2 Kaijo Maru and sank her about 145 miles south of Truk.

Grampus's second war patrol (28 April - 17 June 1942) off Truk was marred by plentiful antisubmarine patrol craft in the area and the submarine hit no targets. Her third patrol (8 July - 30 August 1942) sent the submarine to the Philippines where poor visibility owing to heavy rains made spotting Japanese shipping along the Luzon and Mindoro coasts very difficult. The submarine made several contacts but made no successful torpedo shots. Both patrols terminated at Fremantle, Australia.

Taking aboard four Australian coast watchers, Grampus sailed to the Solomon Islands for her fourth war patrol (2 October - 23 November 1942). Despite the presence of Japanese destroyers, she landed the coast watchers on Vella Lavella and Choiseul Islands (14-19 October) while conducting her patrol. Enemy traffic was heavy and Grampus sighted numerous Japanese warships, including several large convoys. Although she conducted a series of attacks, receiving 104 depth charges over her in return, Grampus was not credited with sinking any ships.

Grampus fifth war patrol (14 December 1942-19 January 1943) took her across access lanes frequented by Japanese submarines and other ships. Air and water patrol of this area was extremely heavy and although she conducted several daring attacks on the 41 contacts she sighted, Grampus again was denied any kills.

In company with Grayback, Grampus departed Brisbane on 11 February 1943 for her sixth war patrol from which she failed to return. A post-war review of records indicate Grampus operated off New Britain by 18 February, damaging Japanese aircraft ferry Keiyo Maru that same day. The submarine closed the damaged ship and torpedoed her again the following day. The attacks provoked an aggressive Japanese response and naval aircraft from 958th Kokutai may have sunk the submarine southeast of New Britain on the 19th. The other possible scenario for her loss is an attack by Japanese destroyer Minegumo in Blackett Strait on the night of 5-6 March, where a heavy oil slick was sighted the following day. In either case, after repeated radio messages failed to produce any response from Grampus, the submarine was declared missing and presumed lost with all hands on 3 March. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 21 June 1943.

Grampus received three battle stars for World War II service. Her first, fourth, and fifth war patrols were designated successful.


03 September 2004

Published: Tue Jul 14 08:39:12 EDT 2015