Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • World War II 1939-1945
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Quillback (SS-424)

1944-1973

A fish of the sucker family, widespread in the fresh waters of North America and Northern Asia.

(SS-424: displacement 1,570 (surfaced), 2,416 (submerged); length 311'8"; beam 27'2",draft 15'3"; speed 20 knots (surfaced), 9 knots (submerged); complement 66; armament 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 1 5-inch, 1 40-millimeter; class Balao)

Quillback (SS-424) was laid down on 27 June 1944 at Portsmouth, N.H., by the Portsmouth Navy Yard; launched on 1 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. John A. Tyree, Jr.; and commissioned on 29 December 1944, four days after Christmas, Lt. Cmdr. Richard P. Nicholson in command.

After training at New London, Conn., and work on an experimental ordnance project at Key West, Fla., Quillback sailed for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, and her maiden war patrol off the coast of Kyushu. During that patrol (30 May-24 July 1945) she destroyed a Japanese suicide motorboat and rescued one USAAF aviator from the water only a half mile from the enemy homeland. The Japanese surrender found Quillback refitting for her second patrol at Guam.

Peacetime duties returned Quillback to New London for duty as a unit of Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 2. From 1945 to 1951, she operated with the Submarine School in a training capacity and as an experimental unit of the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory. In April 1951, Quillback departed New London for a six-month tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet in Mediterranean waters. In April 1952, she reported to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (the redesignated Portsmouth Navy Yard) for decommissioning and conversion.

On 27 February 1953, Quillback was recommissioned and joined the Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet as a streamlined Guppy (Greater Underwater Propulsion Power) Submarine. She reported to Commander SubRon 4 at Key West. There, in local operations, with occasional trips to Guantanamo Bay, she assisted the Fleet Training Group in Destroyer Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) indoctrination. In 1956, 1957, and 1958 Quillback took part in major fleet and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercises in the North Atlantic.

In 1959 Quillback was transferred to SubRon 12. During 1960, she underwent extensive overhaul at Charleston (S.C.) Naval Shipyard to improve her offensive capabilities. She deployed to the Mediterranean in October 1961, returning to Key West in February 1962. Operating locally out of Key West from May to October, Quillback was deployed to Guantanamo Bay when the Cuban Quarantine was put into effect and remained there during the first ten days of the crisis. During 1963 Quillback operated out of Key West and rendered services to the Fleet Training Group at Guantanamo.

Quillback deployed to the Mediterranean for six months in July 1964, then the following year conducted experimental torpedo research and development projects until she deployed to Guantanamo Bay in June 1965 She continued to operate out of Key West until deploying to the Mediterranean again from August to November 1667. She spent most of 1968 and 1969 in the Caribbean, then operated with the Atlantic Fleet into 1970.

Ultimately stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 23 March 1973, she was disposed of by Navy sale on 1 February 1974.

Quillback earned one battle star for her World War II operations in support of the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto..

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

16 July 2020

Published: Thu Jul 16 15:41:06 EDT 2020