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Robalo (SS-273)


USS Robalo (SS-273)

Robalo (SS-273) underway near Panama, 19 November 1943. Photographed from a Naval Air Station Coco Solo aircraft flying at an altitude of approximately 550 feet. Official U.S. Navy photograph from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 98273.

(SS-273: displacement 1,525 (surfaced), 2,424 (submerged); length 311-9-; beam 27-2-; draft 15-3-; speed 20 knots (surfaced), 9 knots (submerged); complement 60; armament 1 3-, 2 20mm., 10 21- torpedo tubes; class Gato)

A warm water sport and food fish resembling a pike.

Robalo (SS-273) was laid down 24 October 1942 by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. at Manitowoc, Wis.; launched 9 May 1943; sponsored by Mrs. E. S. Root; and commissioned 28 September 1943, Lt. Cmdr. Stephen H. Armbruster in command.

After passage by inland waterways and being floated down the Mississippi, Robalo deployed to the Pacific. On her first war patrol, she hunted for Japanese ships west of the Philippines, where she damaged a large freighter. During her second patrol in the South China Sea near Indochina, she damaged a 7,500-ton tanker.


Lieutenant Commander Manning M. Kimmel, USN

Lieutenant Commander Manning M. Kimmel, USN, was commanding officer of Robalo (SS-273) and was lost with her in July 1944. Photograph taken circa 1943. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photograph. Catalog#: NH 48590.

Robalo departed Fremantle 22 June 1944 on her third war patrol. She set a course for the South China Sea to conduct her patrol in the vicinity of the Natuna Islands. After transiting Makassar and Balabac Straits, she was scheduled to arrive on station about 6 July and remain until dark on 2 August 1944. On 2 July, a contact report stated that Robalo had sighted a Fuso-class Japanese battleship with air cover and two destroyers for escort. The ship was then just east of Borneo, no other messages were ever received from the submarine and when she did not return from patrol, she was presumed lost.

On 2 August a note was dropped from the window of a cell of Puerto Princessa [sic; Puerto Princesa] Prison Camp on Palawan Island in the Philippines. It was picked up by an American soldier who was on a work detail nearby. The note was in turn given to H. D. Hough, Yeoman Second Class, who was also a prisoner at the camp. On 4 August he contacted Trinidad Mendosa, wife of guerrilla leader Dr. Mendosa who furnished further information on the survivors.

From these sources, it was concluded that Robalo was sunk on 26 July 1944, 2 miles off the western coast of Palawan Island from an explosion in the vicinity of her after battery, probably caused by an enemy mine. Only four men swam ashore, and made their way through the jungles to a small barrier northwest of the Puerto Princessa [sic; Puerto Princesa] Camp, where Japanese Military Police captured them and jailed them for guerrilla activities. On 15 August, they were evacuated by a Japanese destroyer and never heard from again. Robalo was struck from the Navy list on 16 September 1944.

Robalo earned two battle stars for World War II service.

14 October 2005

Published: Thu Aug 26 13:37:46 EDT 2021