Skip to main content
Related Content
  • Boats-Ships--Submarine
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Tautog I (SS-199)

Image related to Tautog I
Caption: Tautog (SS-199) as originally built, painted black with her name and hull number in white. Compare this photograph with the wartime view of Tambor in this volume. (80-G-456120)

(SS-199: dp. 1,475 (surf.), 2,370 (subm.); 1. 307'2"; b. 27'3"; dr. 13'3"; s. 20 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 65; a. 10 21" tt., 1 3"; cl. Tambor)

A small edible sport fish, also called blackfish or oysterfish, found on the Atlantic coast of the United States. The adult is black, with greenish-gray blotches.

The first Tautog (SS-199) was laid down on 1 March 1939 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 27 January 1940; sponsored by Mrs. Richard S. Edwards; and commissioned on 3 July 1940, Lt. Joseph H. Willingham in command.

Following brief training in Long Island Sound, Tautog got underway for the Caribbean on her shakedown cruise which lasted from 6 September to 11 November. She returned to New London and operated from that base until early February 1941 when she was ordered to the Virgin Islands.

Late in April, she returned to New London, loaded supplies, and sailed with two other submarines for Hawaii on 1 May. After calls at Coco Solo and San Diego, they arrived at Pearl Harbor on 6 June. Tautog operated in the Hawaiian area until mid-October. On 21 October, she and Thresher (SS-200) stood put to sea, under sealed orders, to begin a 45-day, full-time, simulated war patrol in the area of Midway. For 38 consecutive days, the two submarines operated submerged for 16 to 18 hours each day. Tautog returned to Pearl Harbor on 5 December.

Two days later, on Sunday, 7 December, Tautog was at the submarine base when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Within minutes of the first enemy bomb explosions on Ford Island, Tautog's gun crews went into action and, with the help of Narwhal (SS-167) and a destroyer, splashed a Japanese torpedo plane as it came over Merry Point.

Tautog's first war patrol began on the day following Christmas and took her to the Marshall Islands for reconnaissance work. After 26 days in the area gathering information, particularly of Kwajalein, the submarine returned to Pearl Harbor on 4 February and was routed to Mare Island for upkeep.

On 9 April, Tautog headed westward toward Hawaii and started her next war patrol upon leaving Pearl Harbor 15 days later. Her assigned area was again in the Marshalls. On the 26th near Johnston Island, while en route to her station, Tautog sighted the periscope of an enemy submarine which was apparently maneuvering to reach a favorable firing position. Tautog made a sharp turn and fired one torpedo which sank Japanese submarine RO-30.

Shortly after her arrival in the Marshalls, Tautog was ordered to Truk to intercept ships returning from the Battle of the Coral Sea. In the early morning darkness of 15 May, she tracked a darkened ship, but first light of dawn revealed that it bore the markings of a hospital ship. Two days later, Tautog heard the propellers of a submarine, and when it appeared, she fired two torpeodes at it. Tautog immediately went to 150 feet and remained there until she heard a loud explosion. Although the Japanese ship was not in sight when Tautog surfaced, she was not officially credited with a sinking. Later in the morning, Tautog sighted another submarine with the designation I-28 clearly discernible on its conning tower. She fired two torpedoes. One hit and disabled the enemy submarine, and a third sent I-28 to the bottom.

Tautog sighted two ships departing Truk on 22 May and made a submerged sound attack on the larger. The American submarine's crew thought that they had sunk the target, but the 5,461-ton cargo ship Sanko Maru had been only damaged. Three days later, Tautog made an attack from periscope depth against a cargo ship. Her spread of torpedoes sent Shoka Maru to the bottom. The patrol ended at Fremantle on 11 June.

Her third war patrol, conducted from 17 July to 10 September, took Tautog to waters off the coast of Indochina. Hunting there was very poor, and she contacted only one ship, Ohio Maru, which she sank on 6 August.

Tautog was refitted by Holland (AS-3) at Albany, south of Fremantle. Loaded with mines, the submarine stood out to sea on 8 October for a combination offensive and mining patrol. On 20 October, her lookouts spotted the dim outline of a ship through a rain squall. Quickly submerging, the submarine determined that the ship was a 75-ton fishing schooner. Tautog prepared for battle, surfaced, closed the range, and fired a shot across the schooner's bow which brought her to. The stranger broke the Japanese colors and hoisted a signal flag. Investigation revealed a Japanese crew and four Filipinos were on board. The Filipinos swam over to the submarine and later enlisted in the United States Navy. The Japanese were ordered to take to their boats but refused to do so. Three shells fired in the schooner's stern disabled her rudder and propeller. The Japanese then launched a boat, were given water, and directed to the nearest land. When Tautog opened fire to sink the ship, several more Japanese emerged and scrambled into the boat. Ten more rounds left the schooner a burning hulk.

On 27 October, Tautog tracked a passenger-cargo ship until dark and fired two torpedoes into her. A fire started in the target aft, her bow rose into the air, and the unidentified ship sank within a few minutes. The next day, a spread of torpedoes fired at another merchantman turned out to be duds. However, escort ships had seen their tracks, and the submarine received a thorough depth charging which caused no serious damage. During the night of 2 November, Tautog planted the mines off Haiphong, Indochina, with several exploding as they were emplaced. On 11 November, she fired a torpedo at another passenger-cargo ship. It missed and alerted an escort which gave Tautog a severe depth charge attack. Five explosions close to the submarine caused extensive minor damage. The submarine returned to Fremantle 10 days later for repair and refit.

Her fifth war patrol, from 15 December 1942 to 30 January 1943, took Tautog to the Java Sea, near Ambon, Timor, and Celebes Islands. She contacted a freighter in Ombai Strait on Christmas Eve and tracked her until 0306 the next morning when she fired a spread of three torpeodes from her stern tubes. Two hits sent Banshu Maru No, 2 to a watery grave. Tautog went deep and began retiring westward. Enemy patrol boats kept her down for 10 hours before they withdrew. That night, Tautog was headed for Alors Strait when she sighted a ship, thought to be a freighter, coming west, accompanied by an escort. They suddenly turned toward Tautog and were recognized as an antisubmarine warfare team. The submarine went deep but still received a severe pounding. On 5 January 1943, Tautog sighted a sail off her port bow and promptly closed the ship. It turned out to be a native craft with a dozen Mohammedan sailors, four women, several babies, some chickens, and a goat on board. After he had examined the ship's papers, Tautog's commanding officer, Lt. Comdr. William B. Sieglaff, allowed the vessel to resume its voyage. On the 9th at 0838, Tautog sighted a Natori-class cruiser off Ambon, at a range of about 3,000 yards. Three minutes later, the submarine fired its first torpedo. At 0943, her crew heard a loud explosion, and sound reported the cruiser's screws had stopped. In the next few minutes, as the cruiser got underway at reduced speed, Tautog fired two more torpedoes. Meanwhile, the enemy cruiser opened with such a barrage that the submarine could not track her for another attack.

Tautog sighted a freighter on 22 January in the Banda Sea, and three of the submarine's torpedoes sent her to the bottom. The victim was later identified as Hasshu Maru, a former Dutch passenger-cargo ship which had been taken over by the Japanese. Tautog then headed for Fremantle.

Her next patrol was conducted in Makassar Strait and around Balikpapan from 24 February to 19 April. On St. Patrick's Day, she sighted a grounded tanker with topside damage from an air attack. One torpedo, well placed near the stern, produced a secondary explosion; and the ship settled by the stern. On 9 April in the Celebes off Boston Island, Tautog contacted a convoy of five ships. She sank destroyer Isonami with three torpedoes and then sent the 5,214-ton freighter Penang Maru to the bottom with another spread. During this patrol, Tautog also sank a schooner, a sailboat, and a motor sampan with her deck guns.

Tautog stood out of Fremantle on 11 May and headed for a patrol area that included the Flores Sea, the Gulf of Boni, the Molucca Sea, the Celebes Sea, and the Moru Gulf. On 20 May, she sank a sampan with her deck guns. On 6 June, the submarine fired a spread of three torpedoes at a cargo ship off the entrance to Basalin Strait. The first torpedo scored a hit 20 seconds after being fired and a yellowish-green flash went up amidships of Shinei Maru as she went down. Tautog sank the 4,474-ton cargo ship Meiten Maru on the 20th, prior to ending her 53-day patrol at Pearl Harbor. The submarine was then routed back to the United States for an overhaul at the Hunter's Point Navy Yard. She held refresher training when the yard work was completed and got underway for Hawaii.

On 7 October, Tautog departed Pearl Harbor to patrol in waters near the Palau Islands. On the 22d, she surfaced near Fais Island to shell a phosphate plant. She sank Submarine Chaser No. SO on 4 November and subsequently damaged a tanker and three cargo ships. With all her torpedoes expended, Tautog tracked a convoy for two days while radioing its position back to Pearl Harbor before she returned to Midway on 18 November.

Tautog's ninth war patrol began on 12 December 1943 and took her to Japanese home waters, southeast of Shikoku Island and along the southern coast of Honshu. On 27 December, she fired a spread of three torpedoes at a freighter and made a similar attack on a passenger ship. However, she never learned the results of these attacks since enemy escorts forced her to go deep and kept her down for four hours while they rained 99 depth charges down on her. On 3 January 1944, Tautog tracked a cargo ship off the mouth of the Kumano Kawa River, approximately one-half mile from the seawall. She fired a spread of three torpedoes, turned, and headed for deep water. The submarine ran up her periscope, but an explosion filled the air with debris and obscured Saishu Maru from view as the freighter sank. The sound of approaching high-speed propellers and a closing patrol plane convinced the submarine that it was time to depart.

The next day, Tautog made radar contact with a ship and tracked the target while working toward a good firing position. A spread of six torpedoes produced four hits which broke Usa Maru in half. When last seen, the cargoman's bow and stern were both in the air. On 11 January, she intercepted two freighters and fired three torpedoes at the first and larger, and one at the second. Escorts forced Tautog deep, but timed explosions indicated a hit on each ship. The submarine was later credited with inflicting medium damage to Kogyo Maru. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 30 January for a refit by Bushnell (AS-15).

Tautog's assignments for her 10th war patrol took her to the cold waters of the northern Pacific near the Kurils, from Paramushiro south to the main islands of Japan and the northeast coast of Hokkaido. The submarine topped off with fuel at Midway and entered her patrol area on 5 March. The submarine's only casualty of the war occurred that day. While several members of her crew were doing emergency work on deck, a giant wave knocked them all off their feet and swept one man overboard.

On 13 March, Tautog tracked a freighter until she reached a good position for an attack and then fired two torpedoes which sent Ryua Maru under, stern first. She then sighted another ship coming over the horizon and began a submerged approach. The submarine closed the range and fired a spread of three torpedoes that sank the cargo ship Shojen Maru. As she headed homeward on the night of 16 March, Tautog made radar contact on a convoy of seven ships off the coast of Hokkaido. She maneuvered into position off the enemy's starboard flank so that two ships were almost overlapping and fired four torpedoes. After watching the first one explode against the nearer ship, Tautog was forced deep by an escort, but heard two timed explosions and breaking-up noises accompanied by more explosions. Tautog pursued the remaining ships and attacked again from their starboard flank. She fired three torpedoes at a medium-sized freighter and four at another ship. A Japanese destroyer closed the submarine, forced her deep, and subjected her to a depth charge attack for one and one-half hours. Tautog was officially credited with sinking destroyer Shirakumo and the passenger-cargo ship Nichiren Maru. She returned to Midway on 23 March.

During her next patrol, from 17 April to 21 May, Tautog returned to the Kurils. On 2 May, she sighted a cargo ship in a small harbor between Banjo To and Matsuwa To. The submarine fired four torpedoes from a range of 2,000 yards. One hit obscured the target. An hour later, she fired two more and scored another hit. The 5,973-ton Army cargo ship Ryogo Maru settled into 24 feet of water with her decks awash. The next morning, Tautog made radar contact in a heavy fog. She closed the enemy ship and fired four torpedoes with two hitting the target. The submarine circled for a follow-up shot, but this was difficult as the water was covered with gasoline drums, debris, and life rafts. When Tautog last saw Fushima Maru through the fog, her stern was submerged and her bow in the air. On 8 May, the submarine contacted a convoy headed toward Esan Saki. She fired three torpedoes at the largest ship. One hit slowed the target, and two more torpedoes left Miyazaki Maru sinking by the stern. Escorts forced Tautog deep and depth charged her for seven hours without doing any damage. Four days later, the submarine fired three torpedoes at Banei Maru No. 2 and watched her disappear in a cloud of smoke.

On 23 June, Tautog departed Pearl Harbor for Japanese waters to patrol the east coasts of Honshu and Hokkaido. On 8 July, she stopped a small freighter dead in the water with one spread of torpedoes and followed with another that sank the ship. A lone survivor, taken on board the submarine, identified the ship as Matsu Maru which was transporting a load of lumber from Tokyo to Muroran. The next day, Tautog was patrolling on the surface, near Simusu Shima, when she sighted a ship coming over the horizon. She submerged, closed the range, identified the ship as a coastal steamer, and surfaced. She fired 21 5-inch shells into the target, starting a fire and causing an explosion that blew off the target's stern. She then rescued six survivors from a swamped lifeboat who identified their ship as the Hokoriu Maru, en route from the Benin Islands to Tokyo laden with coconut oil.

On 2 August, Tautog sighted several ships off Miki Saki. She fired three torpedoes at a freighter from a range of 800 yards. The first hit caused a secondary explosion which obscured the target, and the second raised a column of black smoke. When the air cleared, the cargo ship Konei Maru had sunk. The submarine was briefly attacked by escorts but evaded them and set her course for Midway. Tautog arrived there on 10 August and was routed to the United States for an overhaul.

Tautog was back in Pearl Harbor in early December and, on the 17th, she began her 13th and last war patrol. She called at Midway and Saipan before taking her patrol position in the East China Sea. On 17 January 1945, Tautog sighted a ship heading toward her. She attained a good angle on the bow and fired a spread of three torpedoes at the oncoming target. One hit blew off the enemy's bow. Tautog fired another torpedo from a range of 700 yards; and the loaded troopship, Transport No. 15, disintegrated. The bright moonlight of 20 January disclosed an enemy ship at a range of 10,000 yeards. Tautog attacked from the dark side with two torpedoes and then watched the ship sink. The submarine approached the wreckage and rescued one survivor who identified the ship as the motor torpedo boat tender Shuri Maru. The tender was en route from Tsingtao to Sasebo and had a complement of 120. The next day, Tautog damaged a tanker but could not evaluate the damage as she had to evade enemy escorts that were approaching. On her way back to Midway, the submarine sank a wooden trawler with her deck guns.

Tautog completed her patrol at Midway on 1 February and was assigned to training duty. On 2 March, the submarine shifted her operations to Pearl Harbor to assist aircraft in autisubmarine warfare for one month before heading for the United States. She reached San Diego on 9 April and operated in conjunction with the University of California's Department of War Research in experimenting with new equipment which it had developed to improve submarine safety. On 7 September, she headed for San Francisco to join the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Her orders were subsequently modified, and she got underway on 31 October for the east coast. Tautog arrived at Portsmouth, N.H., on 18 November and was decommissioned on 8 December 1945.

Plans to use Tautog as a target during atomic bomb tests at Bikini in 1946 were cancelled, and she was assigned to the 9th Naval District on 9 May 1947 as a reserve training ship. The submarine was towed to Wisconsin and arrived at Milwaukee on 26 December 1947. She provided immobile service at the Naval Reserve Training Center for the next decade. Tautog was placed out of service and struck from the Navy list on 11 September 1959. On 15 November 1959, she was sold to the Bultema Dock & Dredge Co., Manistee, Mich., for scrap.

Tautog received 14 battle stars and the Navy Unit Commendation for World War II service.

Published: Fri Sep 25 12:04:57 EDT 2015