USS S-27 (SS-132)

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USS S-27
USS S-27
Career
Name: USS S-27
Ordered: March 1917
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 11 April 1919
Launched: 18 October 1922
Commissioned: 22 January 1924
Fate: Run aground 19 June 1942, abandoned 21 June 1942
General characteristics
Class & type: S-class submarine
Displacement: 854 long tons (868 t) surfaced
1,062 long tons (1,079 t) submerged
Length: 219 ft 3 in (66.83 m)
Beam: 20 ft 8 in (6.30 m)
Draft: 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m)
Speed: 14.5 kn (16.7 mph; 26.9 km/h) surfaced
11 kn (13 mph; 20 km/h) submerged
Complement: 42 officers and men
Armament: 1 × 4 in (100 mm) deck gun
4 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes

USS S-27 (SS-132) was a S-class submarine of the United States Navy. Her construction was authorized in March 1917, and her keel was laid down on 11 April 1919 by the Fore River Plant, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on 18 October 1922 sponsored by Mrs. Frank Baldwin, and commissioned at Groton, Connecticut, on 22 January 1924, Lieutenant Theodore Waldschmidt in command.

Service history[edit]

Based at New London, Connecticut through 1924, S-27 was transferred to the Pacific in 1925, and, after exercises in the Hawaiian Islands during the spring of that year, she arrived at her new homeport, San Diego, California in June. She remained based in southern California through the decade and, except for fleet maneuvers, operated primarily off that coast. Fleet maneuvers, exercises, and problems took her to the west coast of Central America; to the Panama Canal Zone; into the Caribbean Sea and to Hawaii. In 1931, she was transferred to Hawaii; and on 23 February, she arrived at Pearl Harbor, whence she operated until mid-1939. On 16 June 1939, she sailed east; and on 27 June, she arrived at San Diego and resumed operations off the southern California coast.

For the next two and a half years, she conducted exercises and tests off that coast, primarily for the Underwater Sound Training School. In late November 1941, she proceeded to Mare Island, where she was undergoing overhaul when the United States entered World War II.

World War II[edit]

On 23 January 1942, S-27 stood out of San Francisco Bay and moved south. Three days later, she returned to San Diego, California, and resumed operations for the Sound School which she continued into the spring. Then ordered north to the Aleutian Islands, she departed San Diego on 20 May; steamed to Port Angeles, Washington; thence, continued on to Alaskan waters where she commenced patrol operations.

Grounding and loss[edit]

On 12 June, a little over a week after the beginning of the war in the Aleutians, she put into Dutch Harbor, took on provisions, refueled, and then headed west with orders to patrol in the Kuluk Bay area and to reconnoiter Constantine Harbor, Amchitka. On the night of 16-17 June, she was ordered to Kiska. On 18 June, she reconnoitered Constantine Harbor, found no signs of enemy activity in that evacuated village, and moved on to round the southern end of the island, whence she would proceed to Kiska. In mid-afternoon, she rounded East Cape and that night when she surfaced, fog obscured her position. Lying to charge on both engines, she was carried about 5 mi (8.0 km) from her estimated dead-reckoned position. The fog prevented knowledge of the drift. At midnight, she got underway, slowly, on one engine and continued to charge on the other. Soon after 00:43 on 19 June, breakers were sighted about 25 yd (23 m) forward of the bow. "Back emergency" orders were given. Seconds later, she grounded on rocks off St. Makarius Point.

Waves bumped her violently against the rocks, rolling her 10-15° on each side. Her motors were continued at "back emergency", but she was held firm by a submerged rock. Fuel was blown. Efforts to back off were continued, but the lightened ship swung harder against the rocks. Her starboard screw struck a rock and was disabled. Efforts were made to force the ship ahead to clear the stern, but she could only move about 20 ft (6.1 m) forward before she was again held fast. The immediate area was sounded. No passage was found. By 03:30, the pounding of the sea had increased and plans were made to move the greater part of the crew off. Dispatches of her plight, sent first at 01:15, were continued. Six were sent in all. One, giving no position, was received at Dutch Harbor.

A ferry system, using a rubber boat and lines rigged between the ship and the beach, was set up. Men, provisions, clothing, guns, and medical supplies were transferred safely. By 11:00, all but six, the commanding officer, Lieutenant H.L. Jukes, and five others, were ashore. All equipment was destroyed. Classified material was burned. At 15:30, three of the remaining men went ashore. The side plating was now loose, the torpedo room was flooding. At 15:50, the radioman, executive officer, and commanding officer left the submarine.

The night of 19-20 June was spent in an unsheltered cove. On 20 June, camp was set up at Constantine Harbor, using the buildings and heating equipment which had survived a Japanese bombing. By 21 June, the camp was fully organized: routines, including sentries and lookouts, had been established. Trips to and from the cove continued for three days. S-27 was reboarded on 21 June and 22 June; thereafter, the presence of chlorine gas prohibited further visits to take off more supplies.

On 24 June, a PBY Catalina piloted by Lieutenant, junior grade, Julius A. Raven, USNR, on a routine flight spotted the activity at Constantine Harbor; landed; and took off 15 of the survivors. On 25 June, three planes were sent in to take off the remainder. All guns salvaged from S-27 were destroyed. Nothing was left except the submarine's abandoned hulk and canned provisions, blankets, and winter clothing.

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