S-44 USS submarine

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S-44 USS submarine

Post by shipstamps » Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:03 pm

19 February 1921 laid down at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy Mass.
27 October 1923 launched under the name S-44, sponsored by Mrs. H.E. Grieshaber.
Displacement, surfaced 850ton, submerged 1.126 ton. Dim. 225.3 x 20.8 16ft (mean draught)
Powered by diesel engines 1.200 hp. surfaced, submerged electric motors 1.500 hp, speed surfaced 14.5 knots, submerged 11 knots.
Armament 1 – 4 inch gun and 4 bow torpedo tubes, Twelve 21 inch torpedoes.
Crew 51.
16 February 1925 commissioned under command of Capt. Lt. A.H.Bateman.

S-44 operated off the New England coast into the summer of 1925. In late August, she departed New London for Panama and on 5 September arrived at Coco Solo to join Submarine Division 19. With that division, she conducted training exercises, participated in fleet exercises and joint Army-Navy maneuvers. And made goodwill visits to various Caribbean and Pacific, Latin America ports until the spring of 1927. From that time to December 1930, she operated out of San Diego with her division, interrupting exercises off southern California twice for fleet problems in Hawaii waters.

In December 1930, the S-boat was transferred to Hawaii where her division was home ported for four years. The boats then returned to San Diego; and in 1937 they were shifted back to Coca Solo.

In the spring of 1941, as American involment in World War II increased, the Panama S-boats were ordered back to the east coast for overhaul. With sister ships S-42 and S-46 the S-44 proceeded to New London and thence in November to Philadelphia where the work was done.

Trials took S-44 into the New Year, 1942; and on 7 January she got underway to return to Panama, arriving on the 18 January, she departed Balboa on the 24th together with the S-21, S-26 and S-28 to conduct a security patrol in the western approaches to the canal. Within a few hours, however she was engaged in rescue operations for S-28, which had been rammed and sunk by submarine chaser PC-460.

From Panama, the division, now Sub Div. 53, was ordered to the Southwest Pacific. Sailed out early March across the Pacific, the boats reached Brisbane in mid-April, and within ten days, S-44 was underway on her first war patrol. She cleared Moreton Bay on 24 April. Three days later, her port engine broke down, but after 36 hours of hard work and ingenuity put it back in operation. On the 29th she began running submerged during the day and surfaced at night to recharge batteries and allow fresh air into the unairconditioned boat. By 2 May, she was in her patrol area, New Britain-New Ireland waters. Six days later, she sighted a ship through a haze of rain, fired two torpedoes, missed, and attempted to close for an other attempt. The surface ship soon outdistanced her. The next afternoon, she attempted to close a destroyer, east of Adler Bay, but was again easily outrun. On the 10th, off Cape St George, she closed another target but was sighted and attacked.
In the late afternoon of the 12th, 15 miles from the cape, she sighted a merchantman and a trawler escort. For the first time, the weather, her position and the target’s course were in her favor. She fired four torpedoes, scored two hits, then submerged. SHOEI MARU, a salvage vessel of over 5.000 tons went under. Her escort went after S-44 and delivered sixteen or more depth charges, none of which was close. On the 14th, S-44 headed home, arriving Brisbane on the 23 May.

Overhaul followed, and on 7 June, she again moved out of Moreton Bay on a course for the Solomon’s. Within the week, she was on patrol off Guadalcanal, operating from that island to Savo and to Florida.
A few days later she shifted south of Guadalcanal and on the 21st, sent the converted gunboat KEIJO MARU to the bottom. The force of the explosion, the rain of debris, and the appearance and attack of a Japanese ASW plane forced S-44 down. At 14.15 the S-44 fired her torpedoes at the gunboat. At 14.18, the enemy plane dropped a bomb which exploded close enough to bend the holding latch to the conning tower, allowing in 30 gallons of seawater, damaging the depth gauges, gyro-compass, and ice machine, and starting leaks. Her No 1 periscope was thought to be damaged; but when the submarine surfaced for repairs, a Japanese seaman’s coat was found wrapped around its head.

Three days later, S-44 was in Lunga Roads. On the 26th, poor weather set in and blanketed the area until the S-boat turned for home. She departed her patrol area on the 29th and arrived back in Moreton Bay on 5 July.

S-44 departed Brisbane again on 24 July. Cloudy weather, with squalls, set in. On the 31st, she commenced patrolling in the Rabaul-Tulagi shipping lanes. The next day, she sighted a convoy off Cape St. George, but heavy swells hindered depth control and speed, and precluded her attacking the convoy.
From Cape St. George, S-44 moved up the east coast of New Ireland to North Cape and Kavieng, where she waited.

On 7 August, the Allied offensive opened with landings on the beaches of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Gavutu and Florida Islands. On 9 August, off Savo Island, Cruiser Division 6 of the Imperial Japanese Navy inflicted one of the worst defeats of the war on Allied surface ships. The next morning, the victorious cruisers neared Kavieng.

At 07.50, S-44 sighted the formation, four heavy cruisers, their track less than 900 yards away. At 08.06, S-44 fired four torpedoes at the rear ship, only 700 yards away. By 08.08 all four torpedoes had exploded; heavy cruiser KAKO was sinking, and S-44 had begun her escape. By 08.12, Japanese destroyers had started depth charging without success.

Three days later, S-44 was again fighting heavy swells. Her damaged bow planes required three hours to rig, after which they remained out. On the 23d, she moored at Brisbane.

On 17 September, S-44 began her 4th war patrol. The following day a hydrogen fire blazed in her forward battery compartment, but was extinguished in three minutes. On the 22d, she began surfacing only at night, and two days later she assumed patrol operations off New Georgia to intercept Japan’s Faisi-Gudalcanal supply line. During the patrol her hunting was hindered by Japanese aerial and surface antisubmarine patrols and her own operational capabilities, which were further limited by material defects and damage inflicted during depth chargings.

On the morning of 4 October, she damaged a destroyer, and then survived an intensive depth charge attack with seemingly minor damage. The next day, however when she submerged, the submarine began taking on water. She surfaced, made repairs on the high induction valves, then submerged to 50 feet. Leaks were found in her motor room and torpedo room flappers. The latter were jacked shut, but the former continued spraying water onto both motors. Within an hour, four Japanese destroyers had moved into the area. S-44 went to 70 feet. The leak worsened. The motors were covered in canvas and sheet rubber and the crew waited for the destroyers to pass over her position. As they disappeared, S-44 moved up to 55 feet and repairs were made while the ship was surfaced off Santa Isabel Island; and by midnight. The S-44 was on route back to her patrol area.
On the 7th, bad weather set in; and on the 8th, she departed the area, arriving in Moreton Bay on the 14th.

A month later, S-44 departed Brisbane and headed back to the United States. In early January 1943, she transited the Panama Canal, then moved across the Caribbean and up the Atlantic seaboard to Philadelphia. There from April to June, she underwent overhaul; and in July, she retransited the Panama Canal en route to San Diego and the Aleutians.

She arrived at Dutch Harbor on 16 September. On the 26th, she departed Attu on her last war patrol. One day out, while enroute to her operating area in the northern Rurils, she was spotted and attacked by a Japanese patrol plane. Suffering no damage, she continued west. On the night of 7 October, she made radar contact with a small merchantman and closed in for a surface attack. Several hundred yards from the target her deck gun fired and was answered by a salvo. The small merchantman was a destroyer. The order to dive was given, but S-44 failed to submerge. She took several hits in the control room, in the forward battery room, and elsewhere.

The order was given to abandon the S-44. A pillow case was put up from the forward battery room hatch as a flag of surrender but the shelling continued.

Possibly eight men escaped from the submarine as she went down. The destroyer picked up two men, the Chief Torpedoman’s Mate Ernest A. Duva and Radioman Third Class William F. Whitmore. Taken initially to Paramushiro, then to the Naval Interrogation Camp at Ofuna, the two submariners spent the last year of World War II working in the Ashio copper mines. The Allies at the end of the war repatriated them. 56 Men were lost when the S-44 went down.

S-44 earned 2 battle stars during World War II.

The destroyer ISHIGAKI, a Shimushu class escort, sank the S-44. The submarine USS HERRING (SS-233) later sank ISHIGAKI on 31 May 1944.

Marshall Islands 2000 33c sg?, scott 754A

Source: copied from http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/submar/ss155.txt

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