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USS S-35 (SS-140)

S-35 (SS-140) off San Diego, California, on 23 November 1923. Copyright Owner: Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 69868.

(SS-140: dp. 854 (surf.), 1,062 (subm.); l. 219'3"; b. 20'8"; dr. 15'11" (mean); s. 14.5 k. (surf.), 11 k. (subm.); cpl. 42; a. 1 4", 4 21" tt.; cl. S-1)

S-35 (SS-140) was laid down on 14 June 1918 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., San Francisco, Calif.; launched on 27 February 1919; sponsored by Miss Louise C. Bailey; and commissioned on 17 August 1922, Lt. T. E. Short in command.

Engaged in trials as improved engines were developed for her class, S-35 was ordered to New London, Conn., in September, for alterations by the prime contractor, the Electric Boat Company. Decommissioned and delivered to that company on 25 October, she was accepted and recommissioned on 7 May 1923. Exercises along the east coast and in the Caribbean followed; and, in early August, she arrived at San Diego, her home port until 1925. Then transferred to the Asiatic Fleet, she departed from San Francisco in mid-April and arrived at the Submarine Base, Cavite, P.I., on 12 July.

S-35 operated in Philippine waters, conducting patrols and participating in type, division, and fleet exercises until the spring of 1926. Then she sailed, with her division, for the China coast. Through the summer and into the fall, she conducted similar operations out of Tsingtao; and, in November, she returned to the Philippines where, after overhaul, she resumed local operations.

USS S-35 (SS-140)

Launch of S-35 (SS-140) at the Union Iron Works at San Francisco, California, 27 February 1919. Copied from a print owned by Mr. D. M. McPherson, Corte Madera, California. Courtesy of Mr. McPherson, 1968. Copyright Owner: Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 65152.

She maintained a similar schedule of winter operations in the Philippines and summer deployments in Chinese waters through 1931. On 2 May 1932, she moved east, instead of north; and, at the end of the month, arrived at Pearl Harbor where she joined the Pacific Fleet and commenced a schedule of exercises, overhauls, and fleet problems which took her into the 1940's. In April 1941, she was transferred to San Diego; and, for the remaining months of peace, she provided services for the West Coast Sound School.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, S-35 added defensive patrol work to her duties; and, in January 1942, she moved north to Mare Island for limited modernization and overhaul. In late March, she continued northward and, in early April, arrived at the newly established submarine base at Dutch Harbor.

On 12 April, she cleared Dutch Harbor and moved toward the Kurils for her first war patrol. On the 21st and 22d, snow and fog covered her approach to Paramushiro and Onekotan Strait. On the 23d, she sighted, and was sighted by, a large enemy submarine on the surface. Both submarines submerged. Explosions were felt in S-35. The blasts forced her down further than expected. But, at 220 feet, she regained control; returned to her intended depth; and maneuvered out of the immediate area.

The weather cleared on the 24th, and Paramushiro was sighted for the first time. Two days later, however, the S-boat was en route to her secondary station north of Attu. On arrival on the 27th, a ship's cook was discovered to have mumlps and a course was set for Dutch Harbor. Isolation was impossible, and half the crew had not had the disease.

Three days later, S-35 returned to her Unalaska base. The crew received medical attention; the boat was scrubbed down and refitted; and requests for modern equipment, including sonar and radar, were made. Toward the end of May, the submarine was ready for sea; and, on the 28th, she moved west in response to intelligence reports of a Japanese invasion force bound for the western Aleutians.

On station by the 30th, she patrolled on the surface, with no contacts, through 2 June. On the morning of the 3d, word of the bombing of Dutch Harbor was received. Aerial contacts, both friendly and enemy, became frequent; but the submarine was not attacked.

On the 11th, she was ordered back to Dutch Harbor to replenish; thence, she was routed to the western part of the archipelago for offensive operations near Kiska which had been taken by the Japanese. On the 14th, she approached the island and patrolled between there and Segula until the 23d. She then participated in the search for S-27, which had run aground on Amchitka Island; returned to her patrol area late on the 25th; and, on the 29th, returned to Dutch Harbor. The thick fog which had shielded the Japanese force as it crossed the Bering Sea had remained over the Aleutians during her patrol, impairing visibility and hindering her offensive efforts.

On 14 July, S-35 got underway again and, through the end of the month, patrolled the Japanese supply lanes to Kiska. She then headed back toward Dutch Harbor, but was diverted north and west of the island to provide weather reporting services to the force scheduled to bombard Kiska on 7 August. After the raid, she returned to Dutch Harbor, thence proceeded to San Diego, where for six weeks she underwent overhaul and provided services to the sound school. On 20 October, she returned to Unalaska; and, on the 26th, she cleared the harbor for her 4th war patrol. From then until her return on 22 November, she battled heavy seas, storms, and problems arising from her inadequate and outmoded equipment as she hunted the Paramushiro-Attu-Kiska convoy routes. On the 25th, she returned to Dutch Harbor.

Cold weather added icing to the climatic hazards of the northern Pacific; but, on 11 December, S-35 headed out of Dutch Harbor again. On the 15th, she commenced operations to intercept enemy traffic to Attu and Kiska; but, on the 17th, a case of acute appendicitis forced her to Adak where she was to transfer the sick man to Gillis for treatment. On the 18th, she approached the rendezvous point but was sighted by enemy planes. On the morning of the 19th, she completed the transfer; then resumed patrol east of Kiska. On the afternoon of the 21st, she ran into a storm while surfaced off Amchitka; and, by early evening, waves were smashing over the bridge and cascading into the control room. The conning tower hatch was ordered shut. Almost simultaneously, another huge wave crashed over the bridge, flinging the captain, Lt. H. S. Monroe, into the hatch. Injured, Monroe retired to his quarters, only to be roused a short time later, about 1830, by cries of fire in the control room.

Electric arcs and blue flames spewed out of the main power cables coming from the forward battery. Smoke filled the room; and water, which had caused the fire by soaking cables and causing a short, rose in the control room bilges.

The fire was extinguished in the control room but immediately broke out in the forward battery. Fire extinguishers had no effect. The forward two compartments were abandoned and the battery was secured. Fire again broke out in the control room; and, as in the forward battery, extinguishers were of little help. Smoke filled the control room. The engines were stopped. The room was abandoned and sealed.

Short circuits spread. Electrical equipment was disabled. A hole was burned in the top of the No. 2 main ballast tank and lines from two air banks were severed.

At about 1855, unsuccessful attempts to reenter the control room, using escape lungs, were made. Shortly thereafter, two volunteers, using oxygen charged lungs, entered the room; flooded the magazines; partially blew the No. 3 main ballast tank to gain more freeboard; and shut the auxiliary induction to seal the forward battery.

The fight to save the submarine continued. The engines were started again; a fire extinguisher watch was set over the section of cable still arcing; and a bucket brigade was organized to assist in keeping down the water level. By 2000, all extinguishers had been emptied. But, S-35, under manual control, was moving east.

The morning of the 21st brought new fires. Twice, at 0700 and at 1100, eruptions forced the crew to the bridge. But the same flares apparently contributed to the fire's burning itself out. After the second, the forward battery was sufficiently discharged and the cables sufficiently ruptured to prevent further fire in the control room. Smoke from the forward battery compartment, however, continued to be a problem until she entered Kuluk Bay and the battery was disconnected. Arriving at noon on the 24th, the boat was ventilated; medical help was obtained; four men were hospitalized; and mattresses, bedding, and clothing were dried.

On the 29th, S-35 made her way, under escort, into Dutch Harbor. Usable equipment was removed for installation in other S-boats; and, on 14 January 1943, she began the long trip to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs. Arriving at Bremerton on the 29th, repairs took her into the spring. From 20 to 31 May, she conducted post repair trials; and, on 3 June, she moved north again.

Arriving at Dutch Harbor on the 11th, she once more made her way west on the 17th. Despite numerous material casualties, which slowed her to an average speed of a little more than 5 knots, she continued toward the Kurils and arrived in her patrol area on the 25th. On the 26th, she transited Onekotan Strait; and, on the 27th, she sighted her first target of the patrol, a large Japanese freighter. The target, however, soon outdistanced the World War I-design submarine and disappeared into the everpresent fog.

Material defects continued to cause problems. Her starboard engine soon went out of commission; and, as repair work was started, a freighter and a destroyer were sighted approaching on a course which would bring them over her position. A half hour later, the two enemy ships passed overhead, one to port, the other to starboard. Repair work was then resumed.

By dawn of the 29th, the engine was again operable; and, on the 30th, S-35 shifted north to Araido, thence proceeded to the Kamchatka Peninsula, whence she moved back down the coast and covered Shimushu, Paramushiro, and Araido Straits.

On 1 July, she found a clear area in the fog and sighted a fishing tender awaiting the return of its trawlers. At 1802, she fired two torpedoes at ten-second intervals; watched the first hit; and saw the second porpoising haphazardly through the water toward the target. At 1806, she fired a third torpedo and watched the target explode and list heavily to starboard. By 1821, the 5,430-ton Banshu Maru #7 had disappeared, but others remained in the area where she had been. S-35 reloaded and turned to firing position; but, by 1825, the new targets had receded into the fog. Five minutes later, fast screws were heard; and the submarine began evasive tactics and cleared the area.

On 2 July, S-35 received orders to shift to the convoy routes leading to southern Paramushiro. Arriving on the 4th, she remained through the 16th. Clear weather arrived with dawn of the last day; and, that afternoon, the submarine sighted a destroyer patrolling in concert, apparently, with a flying boat. As the flying boat disappeared toward its base, S-35 prepared to attack. At 1541, she began her approach on the destroyer. At about 1542, the destroyer sighted her. She went deep. For the remainder of the day and well into the night, the two adversaries maneuvered for position: S-35 evading depth charges and attempting to gain a favorable firing position; the destroyer keeping the submarine on evasive tactics and attempting to pinpoint her location and deliver a decisive depth charge. Success went to neither side.

On the morning of the 17th, S-35 cleared the area and headed back toward the Aleutians. On the 21st, she arrived at Attu; and, on the 25th, she moored in Dutch Harbor. During the patrol, she had had only five clear days; four had been partially clear; the remainder had been foggy with poor to very poor visibility.

On 6 August, S-35 began her 7th war patrol. Standing out of Dutch Harbor, she made for Attu; topped off in Massacre Bay; then proceeded to her patrol area. On the 11th, she sighted a ship, but was unable to close. On the 19th, cracks developed in the port engine crankshaft and couplings; and she turned back for Dutch Harbor. Overhaul followed her return; and, on 26 November, she was again ready to hunt in the Kurils. Underway that day, she arrived on station on 8 December, and for the next ten days, encountered heavy seas, snow, and "mild icing" as she searched waters off Onekotan and in the Soya-Araido and Omintao-Mushashi-Kashiwabara shipping lanes. On the 19th, she shifted north; reconnoitered the Kamchatka coast; then, headed home. En route, engineering defects again became critical, and almost 20 hours were spent in repairs. On the 25th, she arrived at Attu; and, on the 30th, she entered Dutch Harbor to complete her last war patrol.

Fleet submarines now replaced the World War I-designed types. The Aleutian S-boats, as with those operating in other areas, were reassigned to training duty or designated for inactivation. S-35 was assigned to Pearl Harbor where she arrived in mid-February 1944 and immediately commenced training operations. In the spring, she was ordered to the Marshalls. Through the summer, she provided training services out of Majuro and Eniwetok, then returned to Pearl Harbor. In January 1945, she proceeded to San Diego for inspection and repairs; and, in February, she returned to Oahu for use as a damage control school ship. Decommissioned on 19 March 1945, she served as a school ship and then as a target ship. Her hulk was sunk by torpedo fire on 4 April 1946.

S-35 was awarded one battle star for her service during World War II.

Published: Tue Aug 27 08:11:49 EDT 2019