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Tullibee I (SS-284)


A species of freshwater whitefish most commonly found in the cold-water lakes of northern North America.

(SS-284; displacement 1,526 tons (surfaced), 2,424 tons (submerged); length 311'10"; beam 27'4"; draft 16'10"; speed 20.25 knots (surfaced), 8.75 knots (submerged); complement 60; 1 4-inch gun, 2 .50-caliber machine guns, 2 .30-caliber machine guns; 10 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Gato)

The first Tullibee (SS-284) was laid down on 1 April 1942 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Navy Yard.

Tullibee and a sister under construction at Mare Island, 1 July 1942. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LCM Box 540, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Tullibee and a sister under construction at Mare Island, 1 July 1942. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LCM Box 540, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Launched on 11 November 1942 and sponsored by Mrs. Lucile Dunlap Hurd, wife of Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth C. Hurd, Navy Cross recipient and former commanding officer of Seal (SS-183), Tullibee was commissioned on 15 February 1943, Cmdr. Charles F. Brindupke in command.

Tullibee near Mare Island, 1 April 1943, her 4-inch gun visible forward, as well as the two 20-millimeter mounts on the conning tower. Note barrage balloons overhead in the background. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS 42843, National Arch...
Caption: Tullibee near Mare Island, 1 April 1943, her 4-inch gun visible forward, as well as the two 20-millimeter mounts on the conning tower. Note barrage balloons overhead in the background. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS 42843, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Tullibee worked up in the waters off San Diego and San Francisco, Calif., for three weeks (8-30 April) prior to undergoing repairs and loading for her first deployment (1-7 May). On 8 May, she stood out for Pearl Harbor, T.H., where she arrived a week later. After her arrival in the Hawaiian Islands, she underwent a second period of training (17-28 May).

Tullibee’s forward torpedo tubes, this view showing the starboard bow tubes with the shutters in the closed position. Note the draft marks welded onto the hull, painted the same color as the surrounding hull, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 24 May 1943. ...
Caption: Tullibee’s forward torpedo tubes, this view showing the starboard bow tubes with the shutters in the closed position. Note the draft marks welded onto the hull, painted the same color as the surrounding hull, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 24 May 1943. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LCM Box 540, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Tullibee’s port after torpedo tube shutters in the open position, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 24 May 1943. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LCM Box 540, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Tullibee’s port after torpedo tube shutters in the open position, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 24 May 1943. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, 19-LCM Box 540, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Unfortunately, during the training period Tullibee developed multiple leaks that forced her into the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard for repairs. During her lengthy (3 June–11 July 1943) maintenance period, workers not only renewed Tullibee’s air fittings in an effort to prevent future leaks, they made numerous alterations to the submarine. Perhaps most significantly, her no. 1 periscope was moved to the conning tower. Both the tower and the bridge also received additional armor, and a 3-inch/50 dual-purpose gun replaced her 4-incher. Workers also removed her degaussing coils and generators.

Tullibee stood out of the yard and returned to the submarine base on 11 July 1943, after which, dockworkers installed four .50-caliber gun mounts aft of the conning tower fairwater, stowage in the fairwater for two .50-caliber machine guns and ammunition, and an air conditioner in the conning tower. After the completion of these changes, the submarine underwent a three-day training period (15-18 July).

At 1300 on 19 July 1943, Tullibee proceeded out to sea escorted by an unidentified patrol craft en route to Johnston Atoll, where she arrived at 1100 two days later. After refueling and repairing her gyroscope, she departed the atoll at 1400. As she sailed to her patrol area, she made trim dives and surface battle drills, including firing her 3-inch main gun as well as her 20-millimeter and .50-caliber machine guns.

At 0930 on 26 July 1943, Tullibee detected and began tracking an unidentified aircraft. She submerged as the target closed to within ten miles at 1220. Two minutes later, the first of three bombs exploded above the submarine as she reached 140 feet below the surface. Fortunately, all three failed to damage the submarine and she continued toward her patrol area.

After she escaped the encounter with an aircraft, Tullibee only made contact with the enemy twice over the next two weeks. The first of the two occurred as she neared Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, just before daybreak on 28 July 1943. At 0630, the submarine sighted and began tracking a 5,000-ton cargo ship escorted by a patrol craft and an aircraft flying overhead. Unfortunately, she was unable to maneuver closer than 10,000 yards and abandoned the effort at 0756.

Tullibee made contact with the enemy again on 4 August 1943. As she proceeded submerged toward her patrol area at 0745, she detected the sound of echo ranging at bearing 026°T. Approximately 45 minutes later, a periscope sweep sighted ship masts bearing 324°T five miles distant. As she closed on the target, she determined it to be a “killer” type patrol vessel, which she maneuvered to avoid.

Just after midnight the next morning, Tullibee began tracking and proceeded toward multiple targets bearing 305°-015°T, 3,500 to 4,350 yards distant. At 0017, she detected an enemy destroyer “close aboard,” 1,480 yards distant. As she dove to 100 feet a minute later, a second unidentified ship steamed overhead. She came to radar depth at 0050 and surfaced ten minutes later. At 0102, she detected and began tracking a new group of contacts bearing 126°-196°T, 8,000-9,000 yards distant. However, she abandoned that chase approximately 40 minutes later when she detected a new, larger, target sailing at 174°T. As she closed to within 11,900 yards, the still unidentified target began signaling “SK” in Morse code. The response proffered by six other Japanese ships in the area prompted Tullibee to vacate the area at flank speed. A later plot of radar and sonar contacts determined that she had ventured into the port screen of an unknown enemy task force. Upon calculating that she would not be able to maneuver ahead of the screen prior to daybreak, the submarine broke contact and proceeded toward her assigned patrol area.

Tullibee entered her assigned patrol area located between the Marianas and Caroline islands at 1955 on 5 August 1943. Five days after she entered her patrol area, at 1506 on 10 August 1943, Tullibee detected and began approaching a convoy of three cargo ships escorted by a lone patrol vessel or minelayer. As the convoy zigged towards her at 1629, she fired tubes no. 7-9. As she fired, one of the cargo vessels rammed the submarine, damaging her no. 1 periscope. Despite the damage, she dove deeper as the convoy escort steamed overhead and launched multiple depth charges at 1644. Two minutes later, the explosion of a depth charge close aboard sprung leaks in her radio antenna trunk and an engine outboard exhaust valve. She surfaced and began chasing the convoy several hours later at 2002. Unfortunately, she did not regain contact and gave up the chase at 0621 on 11 August.

On 14 August 1943, Tullibee sighted smoke at bearing 243°T. At 1233, the rain squall the submarine had run into at 1150 lifted enough to allow her to determine her target was a convoy of three cargo ships escorted by a converted yacht. At 1300, she maneuvered under the escort vessel and came right for a bow shot on the cargo ship at the back end of the convoy formation. As she sailed 2,500 yards off her target at 1318, she fired torpedoes from her no. 3-5 tubes on a 120° port track. Unfortunately, the target turned away from the submarine and all three torpedoes missed. Immediately after firing, Tullibee rigged for depth charge and went deep. At 1324, the convoy escort launched the first of nine depth charges, none of which detonated near the boat. Approximately 35 minutes after the depth charge attack ended at 1341, she began her ascent back to the surface. Unfortunately, when she reached periscope depth at 1453, she found the convoy escort stationed approximately 3,000 yards off her bow, preventing her from surfacing and chasing her target. Several hours later, the convoy escort finally departed the area. Tullibee surfaced for the evening at 1840. She would not detect another enemy convoy for several more days.

At 1758 on 22 August 1943, Tullibee sighted a convoy of five Japanese cargo ships escorted by two Fubuki-class, Hibiki-group destroyers. Rather than “boring in” on the convoy, the submarine proceeded to its port flank and sank the 4,164-ton cargo ship Kaisho Maru with two torpedoes fired from her bow tubes. Immediately after firing a second spread at 1857, the submarine went deep and rigged for the depth charge attack that began four minutes later. From 1902-1954, the convoy escorts launched 28 depth charges, ten of which detonated close enough to damage the outer door on the submarine’s no. 2 tube, cause flooding in her antenna trunk and rupture bellows in her Bendix Underwater Log system. Tullibee finally came to periscope depth at 2232 and surfaced at 2307. Rather than attempt to chase the remaining ships in the Japanese convoy, the submarine returned to the scene of the attack. At 2342, she sighted a large debris field comprised of over 1,000 50-gallon oil drums. Unfortunately, she was unable to find anything of intelligence value amongst the wreckage and set course for Gaferut Atoll, Yap at 0800 the next morning.

Tullibee sighted the atoll and proceeded on toward the Caroline Islands at 1944 on 23 August 1944. She arrived in the islands at 1007 two days later. From 29 August-1 September she tested the camera attached to her no. 2 periscope. She surfaced and departed her patrol area en route to Midway Atoll at 1918 on 1 September. As she proceeded toward the atoll the next day, an unidentified Japanese submarine fired on her at 1225. Fortunately, both torpedoes missed and she reached Midway at 1500 on 7 September.

After her arrival at Midway, the submarine tender Sperry (AS-12) refitted Tullibee from 7-21 September 1943. During the refit, she received a new no. 1 periscope as well as pad eyes and turnbuckles on her deck hatches. After the completion of her refit, she underwent a four-day training period (22-25 September). Three days later, she stood out en route to her patrol area at 1630.

As she proceeded toward her patrol area, Tullibee held regular training dives and battle problems each day. The submarine finally reached her patrol area in the midst of a developing storm at 1400 on 9 October 1943. Weather conditions worsened throughout the afternoon. Just after 1800, the submarine began taking on water through her open hatch, knocking out her gyrocompasses and multiple electrical systems. An hour later, she put on 5° right rudder and began riding the waves generated by the storm. Fortunately, the heavy seas subsided at 0800 the next morning.

After she returned to her patrol area, Tullibee submerged to conduct repairs and maintenance at 0603 on 11 October 1943. She repaired her electrical systems, but was unable to remove a torpedo jammed in her no. 10 torpedo tube. Several hours later, she sighted her first two contacts of the patrol. Unfortunately, she was unable to close on her first contact at 1618. She sighted and closed on her second contact, an unescorted single stack freighter, at 1730. As she maneuvered into a firing position approximately an hour and a half later, she determined her target “wasn’t worth” an expenditure of torpedoes, surfaced, and set a course for the western end of her patrol area at 1857.

Tullibee made her next contact with enemy ships three days later. At 0700 on 14 October 1943, she sighted and approached smoke on the horizon. The contact developed into a convoy of ten ships sailing in three columns escorted by the destroyer Shiokaze. Unfortunately, the submarine was unable to maneuver into a suitable firing position and chose to allow the convoy to pull ahead of her at 0845. She surfaced a little over four hours later at 1259 and began an “end run” around the convoy at flank speed. Several hours later at 2030, she slowed to one-third to allow the convoy to close on her position. Tullibee began tracking the convoy for the second time as it sailed to within 12,000 yards of her position at 2330. She submerged and began maneuvering into a firing position a little over an hour later. As the convoy turned away from her at 0053, the submarine went to periscope depth and selected the 5,866-ton transport Chicago Maru as her target. Five minutes later, she fired her no. 1-3 tubes at the transport. Just before 0100, the Mk. XIV torpedo she fired from tube no. 1 struck the enemy vessel in her port side engine room. Crowded with the 1,364 men of the Japanese Imperial Army 4th Division, Chicago Maru quickly sank at 24°30'N, 120°26'E.

Japanese and U.S. Navy sources differ on Tullibee’s next action. According to her patrol report, she immediately swung to port and fired her no. 4-6 tubes at an unidentified 6,000-ton transport. At 0101, she reported torpedo explosions that “shook the ship up considerably,” followed by the sounds of a ship breaking apart as it sank. The source of these noises is unclear, as Japanese sources examined after the war indicated the submarine did not successfully strike a second vessel in the convoy.

In an effort to evade an “inevitable” depth charge attack by Shiokaze, the submarine dove to the bottom of the ocean at 0104. The depth charge attack she expected began ten minutes later at 0114. Over the course of nearly an hour, the submarine endured the explosion of eleven depth charges, three of which severely shook Tullibee, and “sent paint chippings raining down on [the sailors’] heads and bounced the ship up and down on the bottom.” Two hours after the depth charge attack ended at 0210, she surfaced and cleared the area.

Despite having cleared the immediate vicinity of her attack on the Japanese convoy, Tullibee expected the enemy to order an air search of the area and submerged at 0633. A little over two hours later at 0850, she heard the first in a series of explosions, each of which crept ever closer to the submarine. At 1153, two explosions that she judged to be bombs dropped by an undetected Japanese aircraft, rocked the boat but failed to cause any damage. She heard the last of the over 50 bombs or depth charges dropped that day at 1555. After darkness fell, she surfaced and closed on Formosa (Taiwan), China.

From 16-24 October 1943, Tullibee patrolled the area northeast of Formosa. During the eight-day patrol, she detected and maneuvered to avoid multiple Japanese patrol boats and Chinese merchant vessels. After eight days of relative inaction, at 1535 on 25 October, she sighted and sailed toward smoke on the horizon. The contact developed into a seven-ship merchant convoy escorted by three warships. Rather than attack immediately, the submarine fell in behind the convoy and prepared for an attack after nightfall. Unfortunately, she lost sight of the convoy at 1820, forcing her to surface and chase it at flank speed a half hour later. At 2011, she regained contact with the convoy, which had split into two groups. Tullibee chose to attack the tanker Teisho Maru and her escort, the auxiliary minesweeper No. 11 Misago Maru sailing on bearing 243°T. She maneuvered into a firing position, slowed to one-third speed and fired all six-bow tubes 2223. Unfortunately, three of the six torpedoes ran erratically. One sank approximately 50 yards after exiting its tube, while two others curved 40°-50° to port and missed their target. According to the submarine’s patrol report, Tullibee saw and heard one of its torpedoes strike Teisho Maru at position 22°27'02"N.

Despite the apparently successful attack, the cargo ship only decreased its speed to 11 knots, and with her target still seaworthy, the submarine reloaded her bow tubes and maneuvered into position for a second attack at 2314. As she closed to within 1,400 yards eight minutes later, she fired tubes no. 1-4. According to intercepted Japanese communications declassified after the end of the war, No. 11 Misago Maru reported sighting torpedo tracks at position 26°05'N, 121°03'E. Unfortunately, the torpedoes did not strike the tanker or its escort.

Immediately after she fired, the submarine dove and rigged for depth charge. Fortunately, the enemy escort vessel abandoned its attack after launching a single depth charge, which shook the boat but did not do any significant damage, at 2330. Approximately a half hour after the submarine surfaced at 0136, the blower on her no. 3 engine malfunctioned, which forced her to place the engine out of commission for the remainder of the patrol.

With an engine out of commission and low on fuel, Tullibee worked toward the western end of her patrol area and did not engage the enemy again for the next several days. On 5 November 1943, a routine periscope sweep revealed a 150 foot long, three-story building on the island of Okinoerabujima, Satsunan Islands. Rather than bypass a structure she believed might be a Japanese military barracks, Tullibee surfaced approximately 3,800 yards off the island and began a bombardment at 1813. While her crew “got a tremendous kick out of the bombardment,” she only hit her intended target with three of the 55 rounds fired from her 3-inch gun. Despite the absence of enemy opposition, she retired from the battle at 1824 and left her patrol area en route to Midway early the next morning.

She arrived at Midway at 0905 on 14 November 1943. As she took on 22,950 gallons of fuel, the submarine tender Bushnell (AS-15) made repairs to her SJ radar. At 0900 the next morning, she stood out for Pearl Harbor, where she moored and ended her second war patrol at 1030 on 19 November.

After her arrival in the islands, Tullibee underwent a significant refit conducted by Submarine Division 42 and the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard from 14 November to 3 December 1943. During the refit, her bridge was lowered to accommodate a new sonar technician shelter and a new .50-millimeter machine gun mount replaced the .20-millimeter machine gun mount aft of her conning tower. She also received an upgraded SJa radar system and a Plan Position Indicator.

After completion of the refit, Tullibee stood out for post repair trials 4-7 December 1943. Her crew returned the next day and underwent a four-day training period, which included simulated coordinated attacks in company with Haddock (SS-231) and Halibut (SS-232). Commander, Task Force 17 subsequently formed the three boats into a coordinated attack group, with Cmdr. Brindupke designated group commander.

Tullibee and her attack group proceeded out of Pearl Harbor en route to Midway escorted by the submarine chaser SC-1006 at 1302 on 14 December 1943. The group released their escort and continued toward the atoll at 1900. Over the next three days, the boats conducted multiple exercises and tested communications and attack doctrine.

Tullibee arrived at Midway at 1215 on 18 December 1943. As his boat took on 14,890 gallons of fuel and Bushnell made voyage repairs, Brindupke distributed plans and instructions to Haddock and Halibut, after which the group departed Midway en route to its patrol area at 0830 the next morning. Tullibee entered the patrol area at 0945 on 27 December.

Awaiting the rest of her patrol group, Tullibee submerged at 0654 the next morning to conduct training and routine maintenance on her engines and torpedoes. After several hours of maintenance, she surfaced and proceeded toward the attack group’s designated rendezvous point at 1628. The submarine sighted and joined with Haddock approximately a half hour later. Hallibut arrived at the rendezvous point at 0220 on 29 December 1943. Just over six hours later at 0830, the three submarines began their patrol.

As Tullibee conducted a surface patrol in heavy seas at 0950 on 30 December 1943, a large wave slammed the submarine’s port forward lookout, TM3c Lawrence E. Kidwell into a railing. Unfortunately, Kidwell succumbed to his injuries at 0330 the next morning. Several hours later at 1815, the boat buried the fallen sailor at sea approximately 276 miles northwest of the Northern Marianas Islands at 19°13'15"N, 143°09'45"E.

Two days later, Tullibee engaged her first enemy target of the patrol. At 0925 on 2 January 1944, she heard the sound of a Japanese Type C3 submarine at bearing 055°T, only 4,500 yards distant. She immediately sounded a general alarm and approached her prey at flank speed. As she closed to within 3,000 yards eleven minutes later, she fired her no. 3-6 tubes. Unfortunately, the enemy boat immediately spotted the torpedo tracks, increased speed, turned away and narrowly escaped the attack. Anticipating a counterattack, Tullibee dove and rigged for depth charge at 0940. Two minutes later, an unidentified Japanese aircraft dropped six bombs, fortunately, all six failed to damage the submarine. Rather than attempt another attack on the enemy boat, she secured from battle stations, came to course 280°T and cleared the area.

Late on 3 January 1944, Cdr. John P. Roach, Haddock’s commanding officer and Lt. Cmdr. Guy F. Gugliotta Halibut’s commanding officer, conferred with Brindupke on board his boat from 1823-1900. During their brief meeting, the three officers lamented the paucity of enemy targets in their patrol area and discussed various proposals intended to lure Japanese vessels away from the protection of their harbors while still maintaining the integrity of their coordinated attack group. At the conclusion of their discussion, the three submariners agreed to sail down the western side of the Marianas during daylight and close on the islands after dusk each evening.

Tullibee’s role in this plan got off to a rough start the next afternoon. At 1435 on 5 January 1944, she sighted and dove to avoid an unidentified aircraft. Unfortunately, during the dive, her stern planes jammed and she broached out of the water. Fortunately, the aircraft apparently did not detect her.

After several more days of inaction, Tullibee finally received a contact report from Halibut at 1340 on 14 January 1944. Unfortunately, despite hearing multiple explosions and sighting a Japanese escort vessel at bearing 161°T, the submarine failed to make contact with the enemy. She abandoned her search at 0800 on 16 January and ordered the attack group to rendezvous south of Ifalik atoll, Caroline Islands.

Because she was low on fuel, Tullibee detached Halibut from the attack group and ordered her to patrol off Saipan, while she and Haddock proceeded to the southwest. The two boats patrolled the area without success from 21-24 January 1944. After surfacing for the evening on 24 January, she received orders to patrol off Saipan until sunset on 31 January.

Tullibee arrived off Saipan and began her patrol at 0637 on 25 January 1944. Unfortunately, she detected little enemy activity until the afternoon of 31 January. At 1445, a periscope sweep sighted multiple Japanese merchant ships move to Garapan Anchorage off Saipan, indicating their imminent departure. Five hours later, her radar identified two targets bearing 355°T, 10,000 yards distant. She maneuvered ahead of the two vessels and identified them as a cargo ship escorted by an unidentified warship. At 2203, she struck the cargo ship with two of the three torpedoes fired from her stern tubes at a range of 2,100 yards. Three minutes later, she fired a single torpedo at the escort vessel at a range of only 1,000 yards. Shortly after firing, the escort dropped the first of five depth charges as the submarine dove deeper and cleared the area.

According to Japanese records examined after the end of the war, Tullibee attacked the 542-ton auxiliary net tender Hiro Maru and her escort, the minesweeper W-22. Approximately an hour after the attack, the submarine surfaced and set a course out of her patrol area en route to Pearl Harbor. She arrived in the islands and ended her third war patrol at 0700 on 10 February 1944.

Tullibee stood out of Pearl Harbor and began her fourth war patrol on 5 March 1944. She refueled at Midway nine days later and then proceed to her patrol area, located off Palau, South Pacific Mandate, where she received orders to support U.S. carrier strikes scheduled for 30-31 March. She arrived on station and began patrolling on 25 March. The next evening, she made radar contact on a large convoy, consisting of a large troop transport, a cargo ship and two medium sized freighters escorted by three warships, including a destroyer.

Over the next several hours, the submarine attempted to maneuver into a firing position. Unfortunately, the poor weather and the convoy’s escorts, which dropped 15-20 depth charges throughout the night, forced the submarine to abort several attacks on the convoy. Finally, despite not being able to see her target, Tullibee fired two of her bow tubes at approximately 3,000 yards. A minute after she fired, a large explosion rocked the boat and launched GM2c Clifford W. Kuykendall off the bridge into the ocean. According to Kuykendall, because his boat knew the range and bearing of the enemy escort vessels, a circular run of one of her own torpedoes was the cause of the blast.

At 1000 on 27 March 1944, the Japanese destroyer Wakatake picked up Kuykendall and took him prisoner. From early April until late September he was a prisoner of war (POW) at the Ōfuna Camp in Kamakura, Japan. On 30 September, the Japanese transferred him to a POW camp in Ashio, Japan, where he worked in the nearby copper mine until his liberation on 4 September 1945.

Stricken from the Navy Register on 29 July 1944, Tullibee received three battle stars for her service in World War II.

Commanding Officer Dates of Command
Cmdr. Charles F. Brindupke 15 February 1943-26 March 1944

Christopher J. Martin

8 August 2019

Published: Thu Aug 08 15:09:53 EDT 2019