USS Tarpon (SS-175)

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USS Tarpon (SS-175) USS Tarpon (SS-175).jpg
USS Tarpon (SS-175)
US flag 48 stars.svgUnited States
Builder: Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut [1]
Laid down: 22 December 1933 [1]
Launched: 4 September 1935 [1]
Commissioned: 12 March 1936 [1]
Decommissioned: 15 November 1945 [1]
Struck: 5 September 1956 [1]
Fate: Sold for breaking up, 8 June 1957; [1] foundered off Cape Hatteras, 26 August 1957 [2]
General characteristics
Class and type: Porpoise-class diesel-electric submarine [2]
  • 1,316  tons (1,337  t) standard, surfaced [3]
  • 1,968 tons (2,000 t) submerged [3]
Length: 287 ft 0 in (87.48 m) (waterline), [4] 298 ft 0 in (90.83 m) (overall) [5]
Beam: 25 ft 34 in (7.639 m) [3]
Draft: 13 ft 9 in (4.19 m) [5]
  • 19.5 knots (36 km/h) surfaced [3]
  • 8.25 knots (15 km/h) submerged [3]
  • 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
  • 21,000 nautical miles (39,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) with fuel in the main ballast tanks [3]
  • bunkerage 85,946–86,675 US gallons (325,340–328,100 L) [10]
Endurance: 10 hours at 5 knots (9.3 km/h), 36 hours at minimum speed submerged [3]
Test depth: 250 ft (76 m) [3]
Complement: 5 officers, 49 enlisted [3]

USS Tarpon (SS-175), second ship of this name, was laid down on 22 December 1933 at Groton, Connecticut, by the Electric Boat Corporation; launched on 4 September 1935; sponsored by Miss Eleanore Katherine Roosevelt, daughter of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Henry L. Roosevelt; and commissioned on 12 March 1936, Lt. Leo L. Pace (Class of 1921) [12] in command.

Groton, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Groton is a town in New London County, Connecticut located on the Thames River. It is the home of General Dynamics Electric Boat, which is the major contractor for submarine work for the United States Navy. The Naval Submarine Base New London is located in Groton, and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer is also a major employer. Avery Point in Groton is home to a regional campus of the University of Connecticut. The population was 40,115 at the 2010 census.

Henry L. Roosevelt Assistant Secretary of the US Navy

Henry Latrobe Roosevelt was an Assistant Secretary of the United States Navy and a member of the Roosevelt family.


Tarpon operated out of San Diego and Pearl Harbor with Submarine Division 13 (SubDiv 13) for several years and was then assigned to SubDiv 14. In October 1939, SubDiv 14 was transferred to the Philippines, augmenting the six old S-boats at Manila. All submarines there were then reorganized into Submarine Squadron 5. In October 1941, SubDivs 15 and 16 were transferred from Pearl Harbor to Manila, increasing the Asiatic Fleet strength to 29 submarines. They were divided into five divisions; Tarpon was assigned to SubDiv 203.

Pearl Harbor Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.

Philippines Republic in Southeast Asia

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

Manila Capital and Highly Urbanized City in National Capital Region, Philippines

Manila, officially the City of Manila, is the capital and highly urbanized city of the Philippines. It is the most densely populated city proper in the world as of 2018. It was the first chartered city by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act 183 on July 31, 1901 and gained autonomy with the passage of Republic Act No. 409 or the "Revised Charter of the City of Manila" on June 18, 1949. Manila, alongside Mexico City and Madrid are considered the world's original set of Global Cities due to Manila's commercial networks being the first to traverse the Pacific Ocean, thus connecting Asia with the Spanish Americas, marking the first time in world history when an uninterrupted chain of trade routes circled the planet. Manila has been damaged by and rebuilt from wars more times than the famed city of Troy and it is also the second most natural disaster-afflicted capital city in the world next to Tokyo, yet it is simultaneously among the most populous and wealthiest cities in Southeast Asia.

World War II


Two days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 18 submarines departed the Philippines on their first war patrols. Tarpon, under Lt. Comdr. Lewis Wallace, was assigned an area off southeastern Luzon. Since all the ships that she definitely identified as Japanese presented unfavorable firing angles, the submarine ended her patrol on 11 January 1942 at Darwin, Australia, without having fired a torpedo.

Imperial Japanese Navy Naval branch of the Empire of Japan

The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise preemptive military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

Luzon largest island of the Philippines

Luzon is the largest and most populous island in the Philippines. It is ranked 15th largest in the world by land area. Located in the northern portion of the archipelago, it is the economic and political center of the nation, being home to the country's capital city, Manila, as well as Quezon City, the country's most populous city. With a population of 53 million as of 2015, it is the fourth most populous island in the world, containing 52.5% of the country's total population.

Tarpon got underway on 25 January for her second patrol which took her to the Moluccas. On the 30th, she sighted a convoy; but, since the enemy ships were well escorted, the submarine abandoned the chase. On 1 February, Tarpon fired a spread of four torpedoes at a freighter. One hit. She then fired two more; both hit. Her victim was apparently sinking when the submarine left the scene of the attack, but postwar analysis of Japanese records did not confirm the kill. On 11 February, while investigating a surface contact. Tarpon was illuminated by the enemy's searchlight. She dived and went deep but was severely jolted by four depth charges that knocked out her bow planes, rudder angle indicator, and port annunciator. On the night of 23 February – 24 February, Tarpon ran aground while attempting to navigate Boling Strait, west of Flores Island. Jettisoning ammunition, fresh water, fuel, and torpedoes failed to lighten the ship enough to float her off. A native boat then took an officer ashore on the island of Adonara, later returning with the only white man on the island, a Dutch missionary, Pastor H. von Den Rulst. He informed Wallace the next high tide would occur between 16:00 and 18:00. His warning that Japanese planes had been over the island during each of the past four days caused the crew a bit of uneasiness until flood tide. Then, with three engines backing, she slid off the bottom, returning to Fremantle on 5 March.

Maluku Islands Archipelago in eastern Indonesia, also called the Spice Islands

The Maluku Islands or the Moluccas are an archipelago in eastern Indonesia. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north and east of Timor.

Convoy group of vehicles traveling together for mutual support and protection

A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support. It may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas. Arriving at the scene of a major emergency with a well-ordered unit and intact command structure can be another motivation.

Depth charge anti-submarine weapon

A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon. It is intended to destroy a submarine by being dropped into the water nearby and detonating, subjecting the target to a powerful and destructive hydraulic shock. Most depth charges use high explosive charges and a fuze set to detonate the charge, typically at a specific depth. Depth charges can be dropped by ships, patrol aircraft, and helicopters.

Tarpon began her third patrol on 28 March and ended at Pearl Harbor on 17 May with no contacts except a hospital ship. Her next mission, which took her north of Oahu for defense during the Battle of Midway, lasted only ten days, from 30 May to 9 June; but the submarine contacted no enemy shipping. She was then routed back to San Francisco for an overhaul which was completed on 30 September.

Oahu The third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and site of the state capital Honolulu

Oʻahu anglicized Oahu, known as "The Gathering Place", is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is home to roughly one million people—about two-thirds of the population of the U.S. state of Hawaii. The state capital, Honolulu, is on Oʻahu's southeast coast. Including small associated islands such as Ford Island and the islands in Kāneʻohe Bay and off the eastern (windward) coast, its area is 596.7 square miles (1,545.4 km2), making it the 20th-largest island in the United States.

Battle of Midway World War II naval battle in the Pacific Theater

The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II that took place between 4 and 7 June 1942, only six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea. The United States Navy under Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Frank Jack Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chūichi Nagumo, and Nobutake Kondō near Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that proved irreparable. Military historian John Keegan called it "the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare", while another naval historian, Craig Symonds, called it "one of the most consequential naval engagements in world history, ranking alongside Salamis, Trafalgar, and Tsushima, as both tactically decisive and strategically influential."

On 22 October, Tarpon stood out of Pearl Harbor to begin her fifth war patrol which took her to waters north of Bougainville. She sighted many fishing boats which were not worthy of a torpedo and terminated the patrol at Midway on 10 December 1942.

Bougainville Island main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea

Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. Its land area is 9,300 km2. The population of the province is 234,280, which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands including the Carterets. Mount Balbi at 2,700 m is the highest point.


Tarpon then returned to Pearl Harbor for a refit and began her next patrol from there on 10 January 1943, with Tom Wogan at the helm. [13] Her assigned area was in Japanese home waters, south of Honshū. At 21:30 on 1 February, approximately 27 miles (43 km) south of Mikura-jima, the submarine fired four torpedoes at a ship and scored one hit. A follow-up attack with two torpedoes broke the 10,935-ton passenger-cargo ship Fushimi Maru in two. Four days later, Tarpon began patrolling the sea lanes leading to Truk. On 8 February, she made radar contact on a large, unidentified ship. She fired a spread of four torpedoes, and all hit the target. The submarine was forced to go deep by escorts and could not watch the 16,975-ton transport sink. The victim was the Tatsuta Maru , bound for Truk with a load of soldiers. Tarpon made no further contacts before returning to Midway on 25 February, with the highest-scoring patrol of the war so far. [14]

Her seventh patrol, conducted from 29 March to 15 May, produced no ship contacts; but Tarpon did bombard the radio station at Taroa with her deck gun until return fire from Japanese batteries ashore prompted her to withdraw from the area.

On 30 July, Tarpon again headed for Japanese home waters. On 16 August, she sighted a Japanese task force which reportedly included an aircraft carrier of the Otaka-class (there was, in fact, no such class; intelligence had misidentified Taiyo), but its high speed prohibited an attack. [15] On the 21st, the submarine contacted two large, escorted, cargo ships. She fired a spread of three torpedoes at each and damaged both targets. [16] Seven days later, Tarpon damaged another freighter as it was leaving Mikura-jima. On 4 September, she sank a patrol ship with all hands and then returned to Midway on 8 September.

Tarpon conducted her ninth war patrol off the coast of Honshū from 1 October to 3 November. On the night of 16 October, she was patrolling the approaches to Yokohama when she sighted a ship which she tentatively identified as a large auxiliary. The submarine tracked the target until 01:56 the next morning when she attacked it with four torpedoes which stopped it dead in the water. However, it soon got underway again and headed straight for Tarpon. The submarine submerged, went under the ship, and attacked the target from the other side with three more torpedoes which produced one hit in the stern. The enemy still did not sink, so Tarpon fired again with a torpedo which struck the target in the same place as the first. The vessel exploded and disappeared. Postwar examination of enemy records revealed that the victim was the German raider Michel (Schiff 28) which had been preying on Allied shipping in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Michel was the only German raider sunk by a United States submarine in the Pacific.

Four days later, Tarpon contacted an aircraft carrier and a destroyer. She made a submerged approach and fired four torpedoes at the carrier. However, both ships speeded up and avoided. On the morning of 23 October, the submarine made radar contact on two ships and fired five torpedoes at the larger target. All apparently passed under the freighter. The submarine returned to Pearl Harbor on 3 November.

Tarpon's next war patrol, a photo reconnaissance of various atolls in the Marshall Islands group from 4 December 1943 to 12 January 1944, was largely uneventful. She did get an opportunity at an inter-island tanker and fired two torpedoes, but both missed and the vessel escaped.


From 19 June to 8 August, Tarpon performed lifeguard duty in the Truk area, but made no rescues. On 14 July, she fired three torpedoes at what was thought to be an inter-island freighter. All missed, and the ship turned out to be a disguised antisubmarine ship. Tarpon went deep to evade the depth charges and cleared the area. On the 25th, she made radar contact on a small convoy and fired three torpedoes at the largest ship. All missed, and the submarine closed to engage with her deck guns. After the second shot, the gun jammed, and only the machine guns continued firing. Tarpon withdrew to clear the gun and then returned to the attack. She inflicted considerable damage on the enemy ship before she was outgunned and forced to break off the engagement.

Tarpon's final war patrol, from 31 August to 14 October, consisted of lifeguard duty in the Truk area. When she returned to Pearl Harbor, she was ordered to the east coast of the United States. The submarine departed Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1944, and arrived at New London, Connecticut, on 17 January 1945.


After operations on the east coast, Tarpon was decommissioned at Boston on 15 November 1945. Early in 1947, the submarine was scheduled for duty as a Naval Reserve training ship. Tarpon left Boston under tow on 28 March and arrived at New Orleans on 9 April and was placed in service there on the 17th. She served as a training submarine in the 8th Naval District until placed out of service and stricken from the Navy list on 5 September 1956.

Tarpon foundered in deep water, south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on 26 August 1957, while under tow to the scrap yard. Her wreck is located at 34°45.195′N75°46.025′W / 34.753250°N 75.767083°W / 34.753250; -75.767083 Coordinates: 34°45.195′N75°46.025′W / 34.753250°N 75.767083°W / 34.753250; -75.767083 . [17]

Tarpon received seven battle stars for World War II service.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN   1-55750-263-3.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 268–269. ISBN   0-313-26202-0.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  4. Lenton, H. T. American Submarines (New York: Doubleday, 1973), p.45.
  5. 1 2 3 Lenton, p.45.
  6. Alden, John D., Commander, USN (retired). The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1979), p.210.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Alden, p.210.
  8. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp.261–263
  9. Alden, p.211.
  10. Alden, p.58; Lenton, p.45, puts it at 347 tons.
  11. Lenton, pp.39 & 45.
  12. Later commander of Submarine Division 20. Blair, Clay, Jr. Silent Victory (New York: Bantam, 1976; reprints Lippincott 1975 edition), p.889.
  13. Blair, p. 405.
  14. Blair, p. 406.
  15. Blair makes no mention of the sighting at all, and an aircraft carrier contact was sufficiently rare he would.
  16. Not confirmed by JANAC. Blair, p. 932.
  17. Huddy, Paul M. (2007). "Wreck of the Tarpon". Retrieved 2008-07-31.

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships .The entry can be found here.