USS Tirante (SS-420)
Tirante (SS-420) at her launch from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
|Builder:||Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine|
|Laid down:||28 April 1944|
|Launched:||9 August 1944|
|Commissioned:||6 November 1944|
|Decommissioned:||20 July 1946|
|Recommissioned:||26 November 1952|
|Decommissioned:||1 October 1973|
|Struck:||1 October 1973|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, 21 March 1974|
|General characteristics As completed|
|Class & type:||Tench-class diesel-electric submarine|
|Displacement:||1,570 long tons (1,600 t) surfaced
2,416 long tons (2,455 t) submerged
|Length:||311 ft 8 in (95.00 m)|
|Beam:||27 ft 4 in (8.33 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft 0 in (5.18 m) maximum|
4 × Fairbanks-Morse Model 38D8-⅛ 10-cylinder opposed piston diesel engines driving electrical generators
|Speed:||20.25 knots (38 km/h) surfaced
8.75 knots (16 km/h) submerged
|Range:||11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h)|
|Endurance:||48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h) submerged
75 days on patrol
|Test depth:||400 ft (120 m)|
|Complement:||10 officers, 71 enlisted|
|Armament:||10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
(six forward, four aft)
1 × 5-inch (127 mm) / 25 caliber deck gun
Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
|General characteristics (Guppy IIA)|
1,848 tons (1,878 t) surfaced
|Length:||307 ft (94 m)|
|Beam:||27 ft 4 in (8.33 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft (5.2 m)|
USS Tirante (SS-420), a Tench-class submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tirante, a silvery, elongated "cutlass fish" found in waters off Cuba. Her keel was laid down on 28 April 1944 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard of Kittery, Maine. She was launched on 9 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. William B. Sieglaff, wife of Commander Sieglaff, and commissioned on 6 November 1944 with Lieutenant Commander George L. Street III in command.
First War Patrol
Following shakedown training in Long Island Sound and training in waters off Panama and off Oahu, Tirante departed Pearl Harbor on 3 March 1945, bound for Japanese home waters. Prowling to the westward of Kyūshū, the submarine patrolled the approaches to Nagasaki. She had good hunting. She sank the 703-ton tanker Fuji Maru on 25 March and followed this success with the sinking of the 1218-ton freighter Nase Maru three days later. After the latter attack, Japanese escorts kept Tirante down for seven hours, before she slipped away from her hunters, unscathed.
On 31 March, Tirante shelled and sank a 70-ton lugger with five-inch (127 mm) and 40-millimeter gunfire and, on 1 April, missed an LST-type vessel with a spread of three torpedoes. The submarine soon shifted to waters off the south coast of Korea, near the Strait of Tsushima. At twilight on 6 April, she battle-surfaced and captured a small Japanese fishing vessel and took its three crewmen prisoner before sinking the prize.
The following day, Tirante torpedoed a 2800-ton cargo freighter loaded with a deck cargo of oil drums. The submarine surfaced, looked over the debris, and directed nearby Korean fishing craft to pick up two survivors who were clinging to pieces of wreckage. Nevertheless, although observers on the submarine reported witnessing the Maru's sinking, post-war examination of Japanese records failed to confirm the "kill."
Having broken the Japanese codes, American naval intelligence men were able to anticipate Japanese movements. One intercepted enemy message told of an important convoy steaming toward Tirante's area. In response to this information, the submarine laid an ambush on 9 April. Picking out two targets, she launched three torpedoes at each. One spread missed, but the other struck the 5500-ton transport Nikkō Maru, carrying homeward-bound Japanese soldiers and sailors from Shanghai. As the important auxiliary slipped beneath the waves, enemy escorts leapt to the offensive. To ward off the counterattack, Tirante fired a "cutie" (homing torpedo) at one of the escorts and heard subsequent "breaking-up noises." But again, post-war accounting failed to confirm the sinking.
Tirante resumed her relentless prowling of the Yellow Sea between Quelpart Island (Cheju Do) and the mouth of the Yangtze River. She soon received an intelligence report which informed her that an important Japanese transport was at Cheju, the main port on Quelpart Island. Under cover of darkness, Tirante boldly began her approach on the surface. In defiance of possible enemy radar or patrolling planes or ships, she closed the coast and penetrated the mine- and shoal-obstructed waters within the ten-fathom curve line. Prepared to fight her way out, Tirante then entered the harbor where she found three targets: two escort vessels and the 4000-ton Juzan Maru.
The submarine launched three torpedoes at the Maru, which blew up in an awesome explosion. The conflagration clearly illuminated Tirante and alerted the Mikura-class escort vessel Nomi and Kaibokan Number 31 which immediately got underway toward the invading submersible. As she headed back out to sea at flank speed, Tirante launched a spread of torpedoes which hit and destroyed both pursuers. En route to Midway Island, the submarine captured two Japanese airmen (bringing her prisoner total to five) and concluded her first war patrol on 26 April.
Tirante's stellar performance earned Commander Street the Medal of Honor. Lieutenant Edward L. Beach, the executive officer—and later commander of Triton (SSRN-586) during the submarine's submerged circumnavigation of the globe—received the Navy Cross. The ship, herself, was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
Second and Third War Patrols
Tirante departed from Midway Island on 20 May as command ship of the nine-boat "wolfpack" dubbed "Street's Sweepers". They patrolled the Yellow Sea and East China Sea on the lookout for enemy targets—by then dwindling in number. Tirante located a four-ship convoy on 11 June, in the familiar hunting grounds off Nagasaki. She evaded the three escorts long enough to get a shot at the lone merchantman, an 800-ton cargo freighter and pressed home a successful attack. Post-war Japanese records, though, did not confirm a "kill".
The next day, Tirante pulled off nearly a repeat performance of her hit-and-run raid at Cheju. She crept into Ha Shima harbor, some seven miles (11 km) from Nagasaki and picked out the 2200-ton Hakuju Maru moored alongside a colliery. From a range of 1,000 yards (900 m), the submarine fired a "down the throat" shot at the cargoman which exploded with a roar. The second "fish" failed to detonate, but the third completed the destruction begun by the first. As shells from shore guns fell around her, Tirante bent on speed and cleared the area.
Resuming her roving patrols, Tirante and her sisters played havoc with shipping between Korea and Japan, destroying junks carrying supplies from Korea to the Japanese home islands. Boarding parties from the submarine would take off the skippers for questioning, put the crew in life boats, and set the craft afire. Tirante bagged a dozen in this manner and also destroyed two heavily armed picket boats with surface gunfire before returning to Guam on 19 July.
Tirante departed Guam on 12 August on what would have been her third war patrol. The end of the war, however, cut this operation short and the submarine put into Midway Island on 23 August. Eventually sailing for the east coast of the United States, Tirante moored at the Washington Navy Yard in October–at which time Commander Street received his Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony. Shifting to Staten Island, New York, on 31 October, the submarine remained there until moving to New London, Connecticut, on 8 January 1946. After conducting training operations out of New London, Connecticut, Tirante was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 6 July 1946 at her home port.
Post World War II and fate
Subsequently converted to greater underwater propulsive power (GUPPY IIA) configuration, Tirante was recommissioned on 26 November 1952, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. After conducting her shakedown to Bermuda and operating in the Atlantic as far north as Iceland, the submarine returned to the east coast of the United States to prepare for her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet.
In the ensuing two decades, Tirante conducted six more Mediterranean Sea deployments, interspersed with a regular schedule of exercises and maneuvers with Fleet units in the North Atlantic, off the east coast and in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The ship participated in joint exercises with NATO forces; sometimes served as a target for antisubmarine warfare exercises; and, on occasion, assisted the Fleet Sonar School at Key West, Florida, in the development of ASW tactics and weapons.
Decommissioned at Key West, Florida, on 1 October 1973, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register the same day, Tirante was sold on 11 April 1974 to Union Minerals and Alloys of New York, for scrapping.
- 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.
- Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 280–282. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
- U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 261–263
- U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
- Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 11–43. ISBN 1-55750-260-9.
- U.S. Submarines Since 1945 pp. 242
- Photo gallery of Tirante at NavSource Naval History