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Gunnel (SS-253)

(SS-253: dp. 1,525; l. 311'9"; b. 27'3"; dr. 16'10"; s. 20 k; cpl. 80; a. 1 5", 10 21" tt.; cl. Gato)

A blennoid fish of the north Atlantic ranging south as far as Cape Cod.

Gunnel (SS-253) was launched 17 May 1942 by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; sponsored by Mrs. Ben Morell, wife of the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks; and commissioned 20 August 1942, Lt. Comdr. J. S. McCain, Jr. in command.

Gunnel's first war patrol (19 October-7 December 1942) covered a passage from the United States to the United Kingdom, during which she participated in Operation "Torch," the Allied invasion of North Africa. One of six submarines assigned to Admiral Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force, Gunnel made reconnaissance runs off Fedhala 6 November 1942, 2 days before the invasion, and at D-day 8 November made infrared signals to guide the approaching fleet to the beachheads. Missions well accomplished, the submarine reached Rosneath, Scotland, 7 December to terminate her first patrol.

Following a major overhaul at Portsmouth, N.H., Gunnel steamed to the Pacific to conduct her second patrol (28 May-3 July 1943) in waters west of Kyushu Island in the East China Sea. Success crowned her efforts when cargo ship Kayo Maru was sunk 15 June, Gunnel's first kill, and 4 days later when another cargo ship, Tokiwa Maru, was sent under.

After overhaul at Mare Island, Calif., the submarine accomplished a third war patrol (17 November 1943-7 January 1944) in homeland waters of Japan off Honshu. This, too, was successful; on 4 December Gunnel sent passenger-cargo ship Hiyoshi Maru to the bottom.

The fourth war patrol (5 February-6 April) took the boat from Midway to Fremantle and in the South China, Sulu, and Celebes Seas. Bad luck dogged Gunnel and she was forced to return to port having made no further kills. Her fifth and sixth patrols, (3 May-4 July) and (29 July-22 September 1944) found her again in the southern approaches of the Sunda Straits and cruising in the Sulu Sea-Manila area but failed to add sunken ships to Gunnel's score. During her seventh patrol (21 October-28 December) in the South China and Sulu Seas, she sank the motor torpedo boat, Sagi; passenger-cargo ship, Shunten Maru; and torpedo boat, Hiyodori. On this same patrol Gunnel evacuated 11 naval aviators at Palawan 1 to 2 December after the fliers had been protected by friendly guerrilla forces for some 2 months. She conducted her eight patrol (13 June-24 July 1945) in the Bungo Suiclo area. She attacked an unescorted Japanese submarine 9 July. The great range and speed of the enemy, however, caused Gunnel's torpedoes to miss. She returned from the patrol after duty as a lifeguard ship for B-29's flying toward Japan on bombing missions.

Gunnel was refitting at Pearl Harbor and at war's end she was ordered to New London, Conn., where she decommissioned 18 May 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy List 1 September 1958 and was sold for scrapping in August 1959.

Gunnel received five battle stars for World War II service. Her first, second, third, and seventh war patrols were designated successful.

Published: Thu Apr 21 07:09:36 EDT 2016