|ABOUT THE HISTORY||SABALO'S NAME||SPECIFICATIONS AND EQUIPMENT
|HISTORY||Sabalo code names||Sabalo's two periods of active duty||Sabalo Commanding Officers|
|OTHER VESSELS NAMED SABALO||The first U.S.S. Sabalo||Motor Yacht Sabalo||Venezuelan diesel submarine Sabalo|
ABOUT THE HISTORY
|The 'official' histories of
Sabalo are overly brief and omit some of the major
activities that she participated in, and accomplishments
that were made by ship and crew.
Editorial comments, sources,
and questions are enclosed in brackets [ ].
The initial data for the history is given in:
INFORMATION NEEDED: [Please communicate any additional knowledge you might have, or anything you feel is missing from the descriptions on the site.]
A number of references to the various Squadrons, Flotillas and other units to which Sabalo was assigned have been found in scattered references. No continuity or understanding of the chain of these assignments is yet established. Can someone with knowledge of the command structure expand about fleet structure and how Sabalo was supposed to fit in strategically? What were the squadron and flotilla numbers at various times?Of special interest is the knowledge about changes in Sabalo's configuration as a result of the various overhaul and update periods, i.e. armament, electronics, structure, etc.
THE SABALO (sah´ bah lo)
[From the program of the 1st commissioning ceremony:]
sabalo -Tarpum \Tar"pum\, n. (Zo["o]l.) A very large
marine fish (Megapolis
Atlanticus) of the Southern United States and the West
Indies. It often becomes six or more feet in length, and has large
silvery scales. The scales are a staple article of trade, and are
used in fancywork. Called also tarpon,
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged
Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
The Atlantic tarpon (Tarpon atlanticus, alternate name
Megalops atlanticus) is found inshore in warm parts of the
Atlantic, on the Pacific side of Central America, and
sometimes in rivers. Also called silver king, grand
écaille, and sabalo reál, it habitually breaks water and
gulps air. [It was mentioned in one source that this is a left
over prehistoric trait (remnant) which might be a derivation from
amphibious ancestors. -- It's quite an appropriate trait for a
It regularly grows to 1.8 m (6 feet) and 45.4 kg (100 pounds) or larger and is a favorite game fish. The largest recorded catches weigh more than 136 kg. The Pacific tarpon, M. cyprinoides, is similar.
The first USS Sabalo retained her name. The submarine, USS Sabalo, was named for the fish, and was not named after the first Sabalo.
|Period of applicability||??||??||?? *
|Displacement- surfaced||1,525 tons||1,870 tons||1,526 tons
|Displacement- submerged||2,415 tons||2,391 tons||2,424 tons||2,415 tons
|Speed - surfaced||20 knots||20.25 knots||20 knots
|Speed - submerged||9 knots||8.75 knots||9 knots
|Maximum Depth||-||400 feet||-
|Complement||81 †||60 enl. + 6 off.||80
||6 offcrs + 60 enlistd
|Armament||1 - 5" gun; 1 - 40mm||1 - 5"/25||1 3"/50 or 1 4"/50 or 1 5"/50
||1 4-in./50-cal. or 1
||one 4"/50 deck gun,
four machine guns
|| four 5400-hp Diesel engines,
four 2740-hp (2.0 MW) electric motors, two propellers
|Torpedo Tubes||10 - 6 bow; 4 stern. 21in. dia.
CROSS SECTION DIAGRAM OF BALAO CLASS
|Balao/Tench Class (Test Depth = 400 ft)||Flank||Full||Std||2/3||1/3|
|Balao - First Launch - 1943, Qty. - 107||Calm Seas||21.0||18.9||14.3||9.2||4.8|
|Tench - First Launch - 1944, Qty. - 15||Moderate Seas||15.0||13.2||9.2||5.5||2.5|
|Maximum Speed Surfaced = 20.8 knots||Heavy Seas||9.7||8.3||5.4||2.9||1.3|
|Maximum Submerged = 8.8 knots||Submerged||8.6||7.3||6.2||4.9||2.8|
||11,000 miles surfaced
at 10 knots
||11,000 miles surfaced at 10kts
|| 11,000 nmi.
surfaced at 10 knots
||48 hours at 2 knots
||48 hours at 2 knots
||48 hours at 2 knots|
|Source of data
Four: two in forward engine room; two in after engine room
Model: 1938 8&1/8D AS (=adapted for snorkel)
Cylinders: 9; vertically opposed (most later Balao Class used 10 cylinder models)
Bore: 8 1/8"
Horsepower: 1600 @ 720 RPM
They had 2 injectors per cylinder. Each (upper & lower) crankshaft weighed 2000 lbs. The upper crank turned the blower and a vertical drive transferred the leftover horse-power to the lower crank to help turn the generator.
[Corrected data from Ned Heistermann, MM2(SS)][EN and MM can you expand on this?]
Generators, Propulsion Motors and Batteries
Four Elliot Motor Co., electric main motors with 2,740 shaft
horsepower driving two four-bladed propellors.
Sargo Batteries- with a total of 252 cells, 126 forward and 126 aft. The usable output ~ 210 to 350 volts, and a power output of as much as 15,000 amps with both batteries connected in parallel. Each cell was about 54 inches high, 15 inches deep, and 21 inches wide, and weighed about 1,650 pounds.
more about batteries: http://www.fleetsubmarine.com/battery.html
From 18 February to 28 September 1952, Sabalo underwent conversion to a "Fleet Snorkel" type at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. This included the streamlined fairwater "sail"; other mast changes, and numerous other changes. The original bow with bullnose was retained, unlike the "GUPPY" conversions. [The design of the sail has been referred to as the "Portsmouth Design", but nothing specific found proves this. Appearance wise, boats done at Portsmouth seem to be very similar. Electric Boat and other configurations were significantly different. Specific details about the conversion are needed to expand the description of the changes.] - see sail plan overall blueprint
#7 Main Ballast Tank Conversion
In the early '50's, a short time after the snorkel conversion, during a succeeding yard period, the number seven (rear most) main ballast tank was converted to a store room by welding all openings closed. [Some other modifications must have been required because the skin of the tanks would not have been thick enough to with stand the same pressures as the original pressure hull.--suggestion by Ron Scott]
Lead weights were added to offset the increased buoyancy created. It was reported that the amount of added weights to compensate were, initially, grossly under calculated. When Sabalo went out from Pearl Harbor for the first test dive she could not submerge fully, and the stern remained above water. [Conversion info from recollection of John Belew.]
The storeroom was for the purpose of storing spare parts for all departments. Control of the parts was the duty of the Supply Officer and at least one storekeeper. There was a 'storekeeper's shack' where inventory records were kept and paperwork accomplished. This consisted of a very small space in the forward, starboard corner of the after torpedo room that had space for one man to enter and sit in a chair, but no other room to move about. [It has been reported that prior to the storeroom creation, and during the first commissioned period that this space was known as the "engineering log keeper's shack".]
The Navy supply system was responsible for specifying what parts were stocked based on equipment installed on board, and overall usage data from the fleet. Records were kept on shore side computers to track parts usage, create some uniformity and efficiency, and to reduce waste from over stock or excessive consumption. Printouts were periodically provided for on board usage. Previously, spares were more or less each department's own responsibility. Most engine spares, for instance, were kept in large bags stowed outboard of the engines. Stocking levels were based on individual crew members 'feel' for what was needed rather than any technical analysis of what would provide the most readiness and quick repair in case of problems. However, even with this new, 'scientific' system, most departments still kept off-the-books spares according to their desire. The system recommendations were less than perfect regarding what might be needed, or what might fail most often.Gun Armament
The recollection from a few crew members regarding early gun
armament varies, but a photocopy of an early photo
[submitted by Charley Odom & Cliff Murr] shows one 40mm gun
mounted forward on the bridge superstructure, one 20mm gun mounted
aft of the shears on the superstructure on what was known as the
"cigarette deck", and a 5 inch/25 gun mounted on the after deck.
[The recollection of Cliff Murr and Orrin Kreps is that the 20mm
was changed to a 40mm, possibly while at Electric Boat between
July and October '45. Close examination of the photo taken in Oct 1945 at
Chester, PA Navy Day celebration verifies that the rear gun
appears to be a single barreled 40 mm.]
The 40mm was
the Bofors, and the 20 mm
was the Oerlikon.
Addtl. Link to complete manual and description of the Bofors 40 U.S. Navy Submarine version. and another link to pics and info about the 40mm
Addtl. Link to pics and info about Oerlikon 20 mm
After recommissioning in 1951, and some time before leaving
Connecticut to be transferred to Pearl Harbor the forward 40 mm
gun was removed, and later, during the snorkel conversion at the
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in 1952, the remaining mounted deck
guns were removed. [This sequence of events seems to be
confirmed from various photos and recollections.]
[Source of above and a color photo of the gun on Bowfin SS-287,
now a museum boat at Pearl, can be seen at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5"/25_caliber_gun_(United_States)
PHOTO of Lewis “Carl” Smith on Sabalo’s 5”25 gun ca 1951-52.
Addtl. link to pics and info about the 5"-25
In 67-69, for Viet Nam deployment, the gun armament was supplied by the USMC armory at San Diego, and consisted of: Two .50 caliber M1A1, and two .30 caliber Thompson M1919 machine guns. The individual side arms included a number of .45 caliber M1929A1 Thompson submachine guns, .30 cal. Garand M-1 rifle's, and .45 caliber M1911A1 semi-auto pistols.
The above portable weapons and all ammunition were stored in the 'armory' which in later years was a locked space in the forward, port corner of the after torpedo room.
When the fixed deck guns were installed, the armory was in the
after battery compartment, in the forward end; below deck under
the galley, in the space which was later to become the sonar
room. Ready ammunition storage topside was accomplished by
two cylindrical watertight lockers which were built into the side
of the bridge superstructure. [A photo taken Oct. 1945 shows the
lockers in the lower center of the image.]
[Early specifications for others in the class indicate the armory was below the control room in some boats, in what was also the pump and auxiliary machinery room, but no recollection about Sabalo indicates the latter.]
[TM's please help out with this. What was the usual mix and
total load of torpedoes?
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/SS/SS-302_Sabalo.html states the load was (8 aft, 16 forward), type not indicated.
http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/1592/balao.html shows the "max load = 24".]
Types carried '67-'69
Mk 14 Mk 16 Mk 37
[See the links page for details and specs of torpedoes.]
Patrol report # 2 (late 1954-early '55) refers to Mark 28's being aboard.
USS Sabalo (SS-302)
The keel was laid down on 5 June 1943 by Cramp Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, Pa..
Sabalo was launched on 4 June 1944 during a joint ceremony with
the USS Sablefish (SS-303). She was sponsored by Mrs.
Charles M. Oman, wife of Rear Admiral Charles E. Oman, Commanding
Officer of the Naval Convalescent Hospital for Officers at
Harriman, NY. She was dedicated to the memorial of George E.
Muhs, the first Philadelphia policeman killed in action during WW
II. Her construction was financed by the sale of War Bonds through
the efforts of the Philadelphia City Police. The amount
raised, which "was sufficient to pay for the submarines", was
variously quoted as $16.5 and $16.8 million combined total
for both boats. [News articles] [Photos]
After launching Sabalo was moored at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for completion. These activities took longer than planned due to a combination of two main factors. Internal financial problems and labor shortages at Cramp caused delay, and also equipment for installation provided from other Naval contractors was late, or shunted to other sub builders.
During April of 1945 the crew started involvement in the
new construction process. [reported by Orrin Kreps] On 11 June she
arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to prepare for the
commissioning ceremony. Sabalo was commissioned on 19 June 1945 at
the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Lt. Comdr. James G. Andrews in
command. She was assigned to Division 341, Squadron 34
WORLD WAR TWO OPERATIONS
On 24 June 1945 she got underway for the first time; had sea
trials and her first dive off Cape May, NJ., and later anchored in
the Delaware River overnight; returning to P.N.S.Y. the next
day. On the 29th, Sabalo then proceeded to the Submarine
Base, New London, Conn., arriving on 30 June.
Beginning on 2 July she left New London for shake down
operations; anchoring near Block Island at night she had diving
practice until the 5th and returned, mooring at Electric
Boat. On the 7th she was underway for more ops, and on 8
July she had a deep dive to 490 feet [as reported by Orrin Kreps -
This was an accidental exceeding of maximum operating depth,
reportedly due to gross trim miscalculations causing a heavy
forward condition. The deck log records this only as
"DEEP".]. On the 9th she moored over night at SBNLon, and
was underway again 10-14, and returned to SBNLon.
On the 27th Sabalo was placed on a marine railway at Electric Boat and hauled out. She was relaunched on 3 Aug and moored at E.B. until 16 Oct. [As stated above, possibly due to these delays or problems at Cramp the boat was sent to New London/Electric Boat for installation of a new radar, some electronic equipment, additional armament and other repairs. This may have been due to late delivery of equipment to be installed, or due to new designs introduced near the end of the War. --In the official history report this was referred to as a "modernization overhaul."]
On 16 Oct the boat left E.B. and went to Sub Base at New
London and moored at the degaussing pier. On 20 & 22nd
Oct she had some additional shakedown and training; returned at
night and moored at SBNLon.
[V-E Day was on 8 May 1945 and V-J Day was 15 Aug 1945.
Sabalo was not a participant in any war patrols.]
POST WORLD WAR TWO ACTIVITIES
Sabalo departed New London on 24 Oct 1945, and on the 25th she arrived at the Ford Motor Co. pier in Chester, Pennsylvania for a Navy Day celebration. Forty members of the Philadelphia Police Department made a special visit to the boat on the 28th as a thank you for their fund raising support. It was reported that over the three day weekend of 27, 28 & 29 Oct there were 39,000 visitors to make a tour of inspection. She left Philadelphia on the 31st, and was back at New London on the 1st of November. [News articles] [Photo]
On 2 Nov the boat was underway, and had sound tests returning to
mooring at NLon that night. From the 5th through the 8th she
conducted operations off New London, and on 7 Nov had another deep
dive. Mooring overnight the 8th she was again underway until the
13th when she anchored overnight, and then the 14th moored at
Gould Island, Newport, RI to load torpedoes. Between 14-17
Nov she fired 30 torpedoes in the Newport Firing Range area, and
then returned to N.L. On the 19th she was again underway for
engine testing which she completed successfully with 4 hours and
fifteen minutes of full power running. On the 20th she
moved to the ammo loading pier and took on .50 cal. and 40mm ammo.
23 Nov 1945- Sabalo left for Panama, arriving there after four
days transit. On the 28th, during gun practice, the forward
port mount of the .50 cal broke, and two men were injured,.
Earl Kelly and Wm. Buckbee suffered minor injuries..
On the 29th, Sabalo anchored awaiting her turn for passage through the canal, and then proceeded. During this time she suffered a gyro failure, and was forced to anchor at one point but made finally passage through the Canal, and then moored at NavSta Balboa, C.Z.
30 Nov- Gun practice was conducted with the .50 cal. and 40 mm
guns, and then anchored overnight. [For an idea of the
precise location of subsequent ops in this area, the anchor posit
was recorded as 7deg 25.5 min N / 79 deg 10 min W.] On 1 Dec
she moored at Sub Base Balboa. Underway again 3 Dec she had
diving practice and torpedo firing exercises consisting of radar
tracking exercises and approach practice. On the 4th the
boat anchored off Saboga Island, and some of the crew was let
ashore for four hours for a recreational party.
5-8 Dec- Sabalo operated with surface craft in simulated ASW
exercises on the Pacific side near Saboga Island, and near
Contadora Island, and in the general area of the Las Perlas
(Pearl) Islands in the Gulf of Panama. She was moored at Sub
Base Balboa from 8-10 and on the 10th off loaded her practice
torpedoes. [details from personal log kept by Orrin Kreps.]
[After these operations it was planned that Sabalo was to report
to Pearl Harbor, as she had been assigned to Division 142,
Squadron 14 in November, for anticipated participation in
Pacific operations. However, during operations, likely on 8
Dec, she reportedly developed serious leak problems with the after
torpedo room hatch. She was directed to return to New London
for repairs . --Details from two crew members recollection.]
On 11 Dec Sabalo made transit back through the Canal and left Panama. During transit she encountered rough weather and was rolling up to 45 degrees. Somewhat slowed in transit she arrived in New London on the 17th. On the 18th the 5" gun was removed. 19 Dec - Left for Portsmouth on the 19th; anchored in the Cape Cod Channel overnight, and on the 20th moored to a buoy in the Lower Harbor. She moored at Pier 6, Portsmouth on the 21th.
Sabalo was scheduled to start the deactivation process, but on 11 Jan 1946 it was announced she would briefly return to the fleet. On the 22nd she shifted berth, and on 1 March loaded ammo. During this period the 5" gun was reinstalled. Underway on 6 March she made a deep dive to test depth. Before returning to Portsmouth the 5" gun was test fired, and suffered a catastrophic failure which was later determined to be a result of failure of yard personnel to replace the oil in the shock absorber. [There are a couple recollections that some men may have been injured in this gun mishap, but nothing was recorded in the deck log.]
After ops she moored at Portsmouth on March 7th. On the 8th
she left Portsmouth, anchored again in Cape Cod Channel overnight,
and arrived at New London on the 9th.
On 11 March it was announced that she was again being sent back
for inactivation. She changed piers on the 14th, and
off loaded all ammo on the 18th.
17 April underway to Portsmouth; moored on the 18th. The
ship was defueled on the 25th.
3 June Into drydock at Portsmouth, where on the 10th she had a
small fire in the after torpedo room.
21 June CO Andrews was relieved by LT William C. Logan.
15 July - Left drydock. Towed to Berth 11-B at
Portmouth. 30 July towed to Berth 6-C.
2 Aug- Undertow by USS Wandank ATO-26. First troubled by a
towline problem, the line finally parted forcing the boat to
anchor. After rerigging, she was finally towed to Pier 1, S.
Boston. Again undertow on the 3rd of August by Wandank and
tugs YTB-542 & YTB-364.
4 August - Moored at Pier 9 SubBaseNewLondon.
6 Aug Final defueling
7 Aug Decommissioning.
[Many details of Sabalo's early operations are from a personal
log kept by Orrin Kreps. The official deck logs have also
been abstracted regarding the recorded movements and activities.]
JOINS THE MOTHBALL FLEET
In June 1946, Sabalo finally began preparations for inactivation. She was decommissioned at the Portsmouth Navy Base on 7 August 1946, and was placed in reserve.
[Update Feb 2007-The exact mooring place has now been determined, but various accounts use Portsmouth, N.H.or Kittery, ME when giving the location. The actual location of Portsmouth Naval Base is on an island in the Piscataqua River which separates the two towns. Maine and New Hampshire battled for years, all the way to the US Supreme Court, before the justices ruled in 2001 that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard lay within Maine's boundaries.]
Sabalo remained in 'mothballs' until recommissioning on 1 June 1951 at New London, CT with Lt. Comdr. Lawrence Savadkin as CO.
On 13 August 1951, Sabalo departed New London for Pearl Harbor,
Territory of Hawaii, her new home port. She transited via the
Panama Canal and arrived in P.H. on 6 September. She was
assigned to Submarine Squadron 7, Division 72, and conducted local
operations until 18 February 1952. From 18 February to 28
September, she underwent conversion to a "Fleet Snorkel" type at
the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Following this conversion, she
participated in local operations, and then was deployed to the
KOREAN WAR ZONE PARTICIPATION
Sabalo departed Pearl Harbor the day after Christmas for her first extended deployment of 26 December 1952 to 26 June 1953. During this assignment Sabalo's activities were primarily of a reconnaissance nature in which she monitored and recorded ship movements in her patrol sector in the Sea of Japan. The actual patrol period was 2 Mar 1953-5 Apr 1953. After the patrol period she engaged in services and type training in the WesPac area until departure for Pearl Harbor. [Official Patrol Report] During this cruise the Sabalo made a stop on Chi Chi Jima, a small island in the Bonin Islands, and also some visits to Yokosuka, Japan for repairs and replenishment, additionally she was at Naha and Buckner Bay, Okinawa. After her return to Pearl Harbor the peace accords with North Korea ended fighting on 27 Jul 1953. This is referred to as Sabalo's first simulated war patrol.
|Simulated war patrol defined
In light of the growing tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, emphasized by President Truman’s 12 March 1947
message to Congress articulating American willingness to provide military aid to countries threatened by communism, the Navy began planning for a possible confrontation with the Soviet Union. One of the training measures devised to give submarine crews experience in case of such a conflict was the “simulated war patrol”.
POST KOREAN WAR PERIOD
[There are two sites on the links page that incorrectly detail Sabalo's Korean War participation. One of them incorrectly mentions "two patrols" with no details. The other seemingly has a typo which indicates a period in 1952 as Sabalo's participation period for the awarding of the Korean Service Medal which is incorrect because it conflicts with the dates given in other histories and accounts as the yard period for fleet snorkel conversion. The single, correct period for which she is credited is 10 Jan 1953-10 Jun 1953, and is found at: http://www.history.navy.mil/medals/kormedal/korea-s.htm
For many details about the movements, activities and ports of call during the cruise of 1953 see:
[Personal account of the Korean Patrol by LT Robert Bell]
and [U.S.S. Sabalo Returns to Pearl Harbor After Six Months Tour in Korean Area -news story and photo.]
[ Can anyone add further details on the activities during this patrol?]
During Dec 1954 Sabalo was assigned to SubRon 7. [info found at U.S. Submarine Force Library, Groton]
19 May 1955 Change of Command Lcdr G.H. Mahoney relieved Lcdr
After recreation and refit period of approx one month resumed local ops in the P.H. area. In early August, Sabalo visited Kona, Hawaii for the annual outrigger canoe races. [Info from ship's history dated 6 Jan 1958]
Between May 1955 and September 1955 had normal upkeep periods and
conducted local operations in the Hawaiian area.
On 1 Sep 1955 Sabalo was assigned to Submarine Squadron One.
Her third deployment, 17 September1955 -4 November 1955, was
conducted in northern Siberian waters. Enroute proceeded via
Amukta Pass in the Aleutians to rendezvous with the USS Carp
SS-328 15 miles west of Cape Chibukak, St. Lawrence Island on the
29th of Sept. Then proceeded to the Bering Strait - Cape
Chaplina - Provideniya - Gulf of Anadyr area. Patrol ops
terminated on 26 October and she returned to P.H. on 4 Nov.
[Alaskan training cruise and third simulated war patrol =
"Northern Run" - off Kamchatka Peninsula-per L. Douglas]
Upon return she resumed local ops until near Christmastime when a recreational and refit period was conducted. After this she resumed local ops for type training and services to other commands until 9 Mar 1956. [Info from ship's history dated 6 Jan 1958]
25-26 Feb 1956 Sabalo made a recreational visit to
Nawiliwili, Kauai. There was an afternoon open house for visitors.
[Patrol Newspaper, Run 9 Dive 31, 10 Mar 1956]
From 9 March 56-3 August 56 underwent overhaul at Pearl
Harbor. Shortly after overhaul she visited Kahului, Maui for
two days in August, then continued to conduct refresher and type
training, and services in the Hawaiian area until 19 Oct
1956. From 1 Nov until departure for patrol was in P.H Naval
Shipyard for main generator repairs.
7 November 56 departed for WesPac, enroute completed fourth
simulated war patrol, another "Northern Run", passing St. Lawrence
Island, Little and Big Diomede Islands, up to the Bering Strait,
almost to the Arctic Circle, then passing through the Aleutian
chain on the way up, and then down along the Kamchatka Peninsula
(Petropavlosk) to Japan; arrived Yokosuka 23 Dec 56.
Following a three week upkeep period, she departed for hong Kong
on 11 Jan 1957. After conducting ops with Japanese Defense Force
and U.S. Fleet units Sabalo visited Hong Kong 17-22 Jan, and was
originally scheduled to later visit Singapore. However, she
was reassigned, and 23-25 Jan was enroute to Buckner Bay,
Okinawa. Three days of services were provided to Army
Special Operations Det 8321 in Buckner Bay. Sabalo departed
Buckner Bay on 31 Jan, arriving at Subic Bay 3 Feb. After 7
days upkeep, she departed on her Fifth Special Patrol on 11 Feb
1957. . This consisted of approximately one month of snorkel
operations for the purposes of gaining intelligence on ship
movements in and out of North Viet Nam, and in locating coastal
radar sites. After the patrol she went to Manila, P.I. arriving on
9 Mar 1957. Sabalo qualified for the second time for the
China Service Medal (Extended) during this period. She returned to
Pearl Harbor on 4 May 1957. Folowing a period of rest and
refit she resumed local ops. [Info from
ship's history dated 6 Jan 1958 & Official Patrol Report
After return to P.H. Sabalo had a period of recreation and refit
for about one month, then resumed local ops in the P.H. area.
8 Jun 1957 Change of Command - Lcdr W. Masek, Jr. relieved Lcdr G.H. Mahoney.
In Sep 1957 Sabalo made a weekend visit to Nawiliwili, Kauai, and in October she visited Kahului, Maui for the annual Maui County Fair.
After Christmas leave and recreation period, Sabalo conducted type training and services to other commands in the P.H. area until 8 August 1958.
[Info from ship's history dated 6 Jan 1958]
29 May 1958 - Sabalo participated in the rescue of the crew and
attempted salvage of Stickleback (SS-415) which had collided
with Silverstein (DE-534) while conducting ASW training with
Silverstein and the torpedo retriever boat Greenlet (ASR-10) in
the Hawaiian area. Stickleback's crew of 82 was successfully
removed mainly by the torpedo retriever boat. Sabalo was
also joined on the scene by Sturtevant (DE-239), and a little
later by the rescue ship Current (ARS-22), and combined efforts
were made by all to save the stricken submarine. The rescue ships
put lines around her, and the Current was in the process of
attaching a tow line to the Stickleback's stern, but compartment
after compartment flooded and, at 1857 hours, Stickleback sank in
1,800 fathoms of water approximately 15 miles south of Barber's
[See also Personal accounts by James Braun and Robert "Dutch" Schultz on T.I.N.B.S. page which includes link to photos and additional accounts.]
[Additional details about the collision can be found by following the Stickleback links on the links page. ]
8 Aug 1958 Departed Pearl Harbor for WesPac for training
patrols. Port visits included Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan,
and Hong Kong, B.C.C. Departing Yokosuka on 24 Nov 1958 she
returned via Hong Kong and arrived at Pearl on 22 Dec 1958.
[Info from ship's history dated 6 Jan 1958]
In December 1961 Sabalo was transferred to Submarine Sqdrn One, Division 12. [Info from visitors pamphlet ca. 1965.]
1 Jan 1962 - 1 Mar 1962 Sabalo conducted type training and services in the Hawaiian area. [Ship's History Report]
2 Mar 1962 - 30 Aug 1962 Sabalo made a WesPac cruise. She
provided services to the British Navy, Japanese Maritime Self
Defense Force, and the Royal Thai Navy as well as the U.S. Pacific
Fleet. During March '62 she was in Yokosuka for repairs, in
April she stopped in Okinawa, later was at Subic Bay. In
July she visited Hong Kong and in July or August visited Bangkok.
[port info from photo album of Jim Cramer.] She visited both Naha
and Buckner Bay in Okinawa. [ship's history]
During the Bangkok stay Sabalo hosted a two day open house which attracted 3,000 visitors to the boat. [News Article w/photos]
Following a recreation and refit period of one month in P.H. Sabalo resumed local operations in the P.H. area. [Ship's History Report]
14 Dec 1962 - Lcdr Jess L. Cariker, Jr. relieved Lcdr H.R. Hunter
1 Jan 1963 - 31 Mar 1963 Sabalo conducted type training and services in the Hawaiian area. [Ship's History Report]
1 Apr - 24 Jun 1963 Departed Pearl Harbor to provide services to ASW aircraft, and also conducted MK-37 torpedo evaluations and acceptance exercises along the western U.S. coast. Additional operations may have included patrol in the North Pacific which involved extended periods of snorkeling. Ports-of-call included: Hunter's Point Shipyard in San Francisco, Port Angeles, Bangor/Dabob Bay, and later: Portland (Rose Festival); Seattle & Vancouver, BC. [recollections of Bob Frick, Ted Storie & CO Jess Cariker] and [Ship's History Report].
3 May 1963: A practice MK-37 torpedo, with a dummy warhead, which
was fired by the Sabalo, malfunctioned, and struck the USS
Medregal (SS-480) while she was conducting joint exercises with
Sabalo. Damage was not major.
[http://www.peacelink.it/webgate/armamenti/msg00252.html shows the date of this event as "10/03/63"]
Following a brief upkeep period Sabalo conducted type training
and services until 8 Nov 1963. During this period Sabalo
received an interim docking in USS ARD-30 and visited Lahaina,
Maui. [Ship's History Report]
14 Aug 1963 Members of Sabalo's crew were detailed to take the
USS Queenfish (SS/AGSS-393) out from Pearl Harbor where she was
sunk as target by USS Swordfish (SSN-579) for torpedo testing
purposes. The Queenfish was set at about 10 knots crusing
speed as those on board jumped to a torpedo recovery vessel
following close alongside. Course direction was accomplished
by remote control from a helicopter overhead which controlled the
rudder using a set of signal lights on deck which indicated rudder
position. Sabalo remained on scene, and was observer, along
with at least one large surface craft, of the final disposition of
Queenfish. [recollection of Paul J. O'Reilly]
8 Nov 1963 - 13 March 1964 Overhaul at P.H. Naval Shipyard. [Ship's History Report]
14 Mar - 19 Apr 1964 Sabalo conducted type training and services
in the Hawaiian area. [Ship's History Report]
20 Apr - 2 Jun 1964 Sabalo deployed to the eastern Pacific area where she provided ASW services. During the last few days of April and early May Sabalo conducted operations with the 1st Recon Batt Fleet Marines off the coast of Calif. She also visited San Francisco and San Diego, Calif. [ship's history and info found at U.S. Submarine Force Library, Groton as reported in Periscope 8 May 1964.-- Jess Cariker reports that these ops were off Camp Pendleton.]
Jun - Jul 1964 Following return to P.H. and a brief upkeep period Sabalo participated in several fleet ASW exercises in the Hawaiian area. [ship's history]
VIET NAM ERA ACTIVITIES
In early August, 1964, the destroyers USS Maddox (DD-731) and Turner Joy (DD-951) were attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats in "The Tonkin Gulf Incident". This event precipitated air attacks against North Vietnam, and was the beginning of large increases in war actions beyond the previously covert activities of limited ground forces, and the announced role of the U.S. as only "advisors" to the South Vietnamese. Official documents on the events can be found here: http://www.history.navy.mil/docs/gulfoftonkin.htm
Following soon thereafter on 10 Aug 1964, Sabalo was deployed to Westpac on short notice (although she was due to depart about a month later). After stopping at Subic Bay, P.I. for refueling and stores, she then deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin. During the period of 2 Sep-3 Oct 1964 Sabalo is credited with activities within the Viet Nam Combat Zone. While up near Haiphong on 18 September, Sabalo received reports about the US destroyers, Richard S. Edwards (DD-950) and Morton (DD-948) being under attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats. Although Sabalo was nearby, she was not able to affect any intercept of the fleeing boats. This is referred to as the "September Incident".
"During the attack, aircraft from carriers lit up the sky with flares. I was at periscope depth in 100 feet of water off Haiphong and could see my periscope shadow across the calm waters. The destroyers and the firing on PT boats were south of me, so I did not see any of that. The next day we headed south to get out of the gulf before an intense typhoon moved in."
[quote from CO, Lcdr Jess L. Cariker, Jr.]
[From the web site of the Edwards:http://www.dd950.com/]
..."Not until mid-September did American leaders authorize another "Desoto Patrol" into the Gulf. On the 17th and 18th, Morton (DD 948) and Richard E. Edwards (DD-950) cruised along a track no closer than 20 miles to the North Vietnamese mainland without incident. On the night of September 18, 1964 however, both destroyers opened fire on what their crews believed were attacking high-speed surface vessels. While a subsequent naval investigation concluded that at least one unidentified, hostile-acting fast craft was in the area, the validity of an attack was called into question by the lack of firm evidence. Following this incident, never again were Desoto Patrols conducted in the Gulf of Tonkin. Thus, from a military standpoint, the naval actions in August initiated a temporary downturn rather than an escalation in the Southeast Asian crisis." ...
[The complete chronology of this historic event is found in the official report including the tracks of all veseels involved. Note that the track information does not include specific position information showing the location of the 'attack' even though the document has been declassified: http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/107/1070808001.pdf ]
[It is noted that both of the "Incidents" related above have been the subject of numerous inquiries by many, including the military, Congress and the news media. These events, which were at the core of reasons given for escalating actions against North VietNam, are even today still subject to inconclusion regarding the actual scenarios and their details. ]
On this page http://www.history.navy.mil/docs/vietnam/tonkin-7.htm contained in, STATEMENT OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT S. McNAMARA BEFORE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE 20 FEBRUARY 1968, under the section heading, "Was There Indeed A Second Attack" there are some definitve statements:
"As for the second attack, the incident occurred on a very dark, moonless, overcast-night."
"...another incident which occurred on the 18th of September 1964, i.e., about 45 days later. At that time, the US destroyers Morton and Edwards were patrolling, at night, in the Gulf of Tonkin, and initially reported themselves under attack. While the ensuing situation reports indicated the probability of hostile craft in the area of the patrol, it was decided at both Washington and field command levels that no credible evidence of an attack existed. It should be noted that the intelligence source that confirmed the attacks of August 2nd and 4th provided no evidence of any enemy action on September 18th. In view of our unresolved doubts, no retaliatory action was taken. Many individuals who were not aware of all of the facts about all three incidents, i.e., 2 August, 4 August and 18 September, have made the mistaken assumption that descriptions of the 18 September incident were referring to the second Tonkin Gulf incident. Aware of the negative findings on 18 September, they have mistakenly assumed that there is serious doubt as to whether the "second" Tonkin Gulf attack in fact took place."
Later during the same cruise in 1964, port visits included Hong
Kong, and then Bankok and Sattihib, Thailand. Exercises were
conducted with some Thai Marines. After that the boat went
to Singapore, and then conducted a patrol through the Java
In January 1965, Sabalo arrived in Yokosuka, Japan where on 2 Jan there was a change of command from Lcdr Jess L. Cariker, Jr. to Lcdr Harold D. Barker. [Ship's History Report & recollection of CO Jess Cariker, and also see personal recollections of Ned Heistermann]
"Sabalo next headed south with upkeep
in Subic Bay. With combat intensity increasing in Viet Nam
and all other ships in Subic departing for the war zone, and with
crew enthusiasm, Sabalo volunteered to extend its
deployment. The ship was immediately sent to operations off
Haiiphong to observe the enemy and act as life guard for ditched
aviators. Finally the boat returned to Pearl Harbor flying a
flag with a cow's udder and the phrase, "We stayed till the cows
came home." Viet Nam Service Medal earned during this period."
[recollection of CO Hal Barker]
19 Mar 1965 Sabalo returned to P.H. after completing a seven and
one half month deployment to the western Pacific.
23-25 April 1965 Visited Hilo, Hawaii during the Second Annual
Merry Monarch Festival, and hosted a visit from the Festival
Chairman, and the Queen and Princesses.
16 Aug - 5 Dec 1965
The boat was recorded on station in the Tonkin Gulf from 16
Sep-11 Oct 1965.
6 Dec - 17 Dec 1965 Sabalo provided ASW services, and operated
with the Fleet Marine Force, and conducted type training during
April 1967 - Sabalo participated in an exercise with a large amphibious force group which simulated an extensive landing operation. There were in excess of two dozen surface ships, and 2 or 3 other subs involved. This took place on the shores of Camp Pendleton, CA. Sabalo embarked about 15 Marines before leaving Ballast Point Sub Base. They later made a night reconnaissance practice. This was done by Sabalo maneuvering submerged to fairly close inshore; coming to a broached depth, and then the Marine team debarked through the forward trunk and went ashore by raft. [See Ron Gorence's story about this exercise.]
At some time between the completion of overhaul in Mar '67 and the Jul '67 deployment, Sabalo was sent to Dabob Bay, Washington for compass calibration, and TDC (Torpedo Data Computer) testing. In between operations she tied up at the Ediz Hook Coast Guard Station for liberty in Port Angeles, Washington. [recollection of Jeff Owens]Jul67-Jan68: WesPac / Viet Nam deployment.
The ship made four trips into the Combat Zone during this cruise:
1 Feb-20 Feb 69; 14 Mar 69; 25 Mar-26 Mar 69; 9 Apr-17 Apr
Ports of call:
Pearl Harbor; Yokosuka, Japan; Buckner Bay, Okinawa;
Subic Bay, Philippines; Manila, Philippines; Hong Kong, B.C.C.; Sasebo, Japan;
Bangkok, Thailand [Map: http://www.seasiatravel.com/tland/tlandmap.htm]
Kaohshiung, Taiwan [Map: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/middle_east_and_asia/Taiwan.GIF]
10 Oct briefly at Long Beach
11 Oct underway
31 Oct UW for Pearl Harbor
8 Nov Moored Sub Base P.H.
12 Nov UW for Yokosuka, Japan
17 Nov Crossed the international dateline
25 Nov Moored Yokosuka
29 Nov Underway
16 Dec Moored Sasebo, Japan
17 Dec UW for Yokosuka
19 Dec Moored Yokosuka
20 Dec UW
21 Dec Moored Yokosuka
26 Dec UW for Okinawa
31 Dec Anchored Buckner Bay, Okinawa
6-8 Feb 1969 Operations with USS Fletcher DD-445 in the Tonkin Gulf [from Fletcher web site]
~14-21 Mar 1969 - During the deployment of late 68-early 69
Sabalo participated in simulated ASW operations in the Gulf of
Siam with two or three ships of a small destroyer escort type
belonging to the Thai Navy. After operations, Sabalo, along
with the Thai units, anchored off Songklha, Thailand where the
crew was let ashore for an afternoon of liberty. However,
the wind picked up and prevented small boats from bringing many of
the men back before dark, so some had an overnight liberty and
some spent the night aboard one of the Thai ships.
[recollection of Jeff Owens]
In anticipation of later making port of call at Bangkok, Thailand, Sabalo's pay records and some mail were transferred to the Thai units for transfer to a Thai Naval air facility somewhere in the southern peninsula of Thailand to be ferry flighted to Bangkok. The aircraft, a Thai Navy S-2F, subsequently crashed into the Gulf of Siam, and the crew of 3 Thais, and a US Navy Advisor were lost. Sabalo assisted the Thai Navy units in a two day, systematic search of the flight path, but nothing was reported found. Sabalo docked in Bangkok on the 21st. All pay records were lost which caused some confusion and minor hardship for the paymaster and crew.
[News Article & Photos]
14 Apr. 1969 - A Navy EC-121M aircraft from Squadron VQ-1
was shot down by North Korean aircraft over the Sea of
Japan. Thirty Naval personnel and one Marine were
killed. Sabalo was on station in the Tonkin Gulf at the time
and shortly afterward was dispatched with a large battle group of
surface craft, and possibly two or three other subs, to the Sea of
Japan in waters off the coast of North Korea as a response to this
act of aggression.
During the two deployments of '67-'68
& '68-'69 Sabalo made a number of trips to the combat zone and
"Yankee Station" in the Tonkin Gulf, but was not engaged in active
hostilities or enemy action. Other than the possibility of being
utilized for other missions, Sabalo's main occupation during these
periods in the Gulf was providing ASW training exercises for
destroyers and other ship types which were receiving a respite
from 'gun line' or other active assignments. However, during
at least one trip some special ECM and communications monitoring
equipment was temporarily installed in the sonar room, and a
specialist from the ELINT group in either Pearl Harbor or San
Diego was aboard to perform specific electronics intelligence
[ During ASW exercises, the ships would have two or three days of chasing us around (or sometimes we'd chase them) in directed and pre-planned exercises. These activities usually were engaged between 0600 and 2200. During the remainder of the night all units were allowed to stand down for rest. Of course, Sabalo had battery charges and the other necessary evolutions to accomplish after being submerged most of the day. -recollections of Jeff Owens]
~Jul 1969 Change of command from Lcdr J.P. Wood to Lcdr Allan L.
Aug 1969 Sabalo left San Diego and reported to the Mare Island shipyards in San Francisco for an interim docking period.
DECOMMISSIONING & DISPOSITION
Between and after the deployments of the late 60's and 1970 Sabalo continued to serve in various training activities described above as a unit of the 1st Fleet. During her last months, including all of the period of Jan-Jun 1971, she remained moored at Ballast Point, San Diego, CA as part of Submarine Flotilla One where she was readied for decommission by removal of critical parts and cannibalization to support the remaining fleet. She was decommissioned on 1 July 1971 in a triple ceremony involving the Sabalo, USS Ronquil (SS396) and USS Catfish (SS339). Admiral Edward A. Cooke was the principal speaker. Each of the commanding officers also made brief remarks. This was the first time that a triple decommissioning ceremony involving submarines was held in the San Diego area. [decommissioning details from 1971 official annual history report.]
Sep 2010: As a result of
communication with persons knowledgeable about
Sabalo's final disposition, new information has come
forth with different details than previously reported.
Sabalo remained moored in San Diego until she was selected for her final mission. Among other preparation, the boat had all of its deck planking removed, and apparatus was rigged to allow manual opening of the ballast tank vents from atop the pressure hull. Sabalo was escorted (or towed) to a position SW of San Diego. Once in position at sea, tanks and ballasting arrangements were done in a strategic manner to cause partial internal flooding. Navy divers on the topside of the ballast tanks opened the vents, and then left the boat via an inflatable launch, and subsequently Sabalo was intentionally flooded and sunk on 21 February 1973. The USS Bolster (ARS-38) provided diver transport and recovery, and assisted in the operations. Sabalo was sunk in 3,400 feet of water, enough depth to insure hull implosion would take place, but still allowing later photographic exploration by submersibles once on the bottom. This procedure was part of an experiment to record the sounds of the hull implosion. The sound data from this test was used as part of the investigation into the cause of the sinking of the USS Scorpion SSN-589.
Personal recollection of LT Robt F. Lynch (recd 17Feb2016): "I visited the ship at one of the 32nd St. docks and went aboard with 1 or 2 inspectors. The superstructure was completely removed and all that remained outwardly was the ship's sail and hull. It was eerie looking. I was told at that time it was going out to sea to be used as a target.
Of course I didn't go with it, but I vividly remembered thinking how sad it was to see it in this condition and that I was probably the last crew member to see my old boat. At that time I was stationed at Ballast Point, as a diving officer at the newly-formed Saturation Diving School."
[The USS Blackfin SS-322 was sunk
in much the same manner, as part of the same experiments,
shortly after on 13 May 1973.]
[A number of internet sources indicates this was part of a program called "SubSinkEx / Project Thurber". All of these sources have the same false assumption about the sinking that Sabalo and Blackfin were torpedo targets. No torpedos were involved in the sinking of either boat. ]
Photo of Sabalo in her final
resting place(377Kb) [This is scan of a photocopy, so not
the best quality. Submitted by John A. Baker]
|There is a poetry in ships'
names. It can still be heard in the quiet watches of the
night..., when mist obscures the waterfront and foghorns
call mournfully through the darkness. Out across the
bay, blinking lights mark the channel down which Navy
ships have sailed for a hundred years, and bells sound a
knell for those that never came back. There is no quiet
Arlington for ships; their bones rust in unknown lands
beneath the sea. The names that entered history in
minutes filled with fire and thunder are soon forgotten,
except in long hours of the night when the bells call
the roll of missing ships.
--- Fletcher Pratt
Sabalo's Commanding Officers
The first USS Sabalo participates in a rescue at sea.
The Revenue Cutter, Mohawk, was built in 1902 in Richmond, Virginia. She was commissioned on May 10, 1904, and was owned by the Treasury Department. The Mohawk was 205 feet, six inches long, 32 feet wide, powered by steam and displaced 980 tons. On April 6, 1917, she was temporarily transferred to the Navy. The Mohawk served coastal duty for convoy operations.
On October 1, 1917, this single screw cutter was sunk due to a collision with the British tanker, SS Vennachar. According to the Navy's report of the incident, " The British vessel struck the Mohawk nearly at right angles, her stem cutting into the side amidships, abreast the engine room, between the launch davits, smashing the surf boat and cutting into the ship's side to such an extent that the use of a collision mat was out of the question.... Pumps were started at once, the general alarm sounded and all hands called to take stations for abandoning ship". The ship filled rapidly and began settling by the stern. She took one hour to go down which left plenty of time for all 77 crew members to be rescued by the USS Mohigan and USS SABALO. The USS Bridge arrived on the scene and attached a cable to the Mohawk's bow bit. She then attempted to tow the Mohawk into shallow water. Before rescuers were able to generate any forward movement, it was noticed that the Mohawk had begun to sink rapidly and list heavily to port. The commanding officer of the Bridge was forced to cut the tow line and throw both engines into full speed ahead to get clear. " With her bow high in the air, the Mohawk settled slowly emitting quantities of smoke".
[[Note the ironic similarities
between this and the futile attempt by submarine Sabalo and
others to save the submarine Stickleback.]]
|Venezuelan diesel submarine
|Class:||Sabalo - SSK - consisting of 2 active, coastal submarines|
| German type
U-209-A/ 1300 built for Venezuela by Howaldtswerke
Deutsche Werft AG, Kiel.
|Displacement:||1,390 tons submerged, 1,285 surfaced|
|Dimensions:||59.5 x 6.2 x 5.5 meters (195 x 20 x 18 feet)|
|Propulsion:||Diesel-electric, 4 diesels, 1 shaft|
|Speed (kts):||22 knots submerged; 10.9 knots surfaced (surface speed variously reported as 10.9 - 12 knots)|
|Diving depth:||800 ft.|
|Sonar:||SNT Atlas Electronik CSU-3-32 intercept; Thomson-Sintra DUUX 2 passive|
||Thomson CFS Calypso; Thomson CFS DR-2000
|Armament:||8 - 21 inch torpedo tubes (14 - Mk 37 or SST-4 torpedos)|
|Hull Number||Ship Name||Date Launched|
|S-31||Sabalo||6 Aug 1976 (refitted mid 1990's.)|
|S-32||Caribe||11 Mar 1977
A couple photos of the Sabalo S-31 photos - not very high quality, but small, fair images. |Alongside| |Underway| originally from: http://www.fav-club.com/images/subs31.jpg & http://www.fav-club.com/images/armada03.JPG