USS Grayling (SS-209)

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USS Grayling (SS-209)
United States
BuilderPortsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine[1]
Laid down15 December 1939[1]
Launched29 November 1940[1]
Commissioned1 March 1941[1]
Honors and
Silver-service-star-3d.png Bronze-service-star-3d.png 6 × battle stars
FateLost off Manila around 9 September 1943[2]
General characteristics
Class and typeTambor-class diesel-electric submarine[2]
  • 1,475 long tons (1,499 t) standard, surfaced[3]
  • 2,370 long tons (2,410 t) submerged[3]
Length307 ft 2 in (93.62 m)[3]
Beam27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[3]
Draft14 ft 7+12 in (4.458 m)[3]
  • 20.4 knots (38 km/h) surfaced[3]
  • 8.75 knots (16 km/h) submerged[3]
Range11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)[3]
Endurance48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h) submerged[3]
Test depth250 ft (76 m)[3]
Complement6 officers, 54 enlisted[3]

USS Grayling (SS-209) was the tenth Tambor-class submarine to be commissioned in the United States Navy in the years leading up to the country's December 1941 entry into World War II. She was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the grayling. Her wartime service was in the Pacific Ocean. She completed seven war patrols in the following 20 months, and is credited with the sinking of over 20,000 tons of Japanese merchant shipping and warships. Grayling received six battle stars for her World War II service. She was declared lost with all hands in September 1943. Of the twelve Tambor-class submarines, only five survived the war.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Grayling′s keel was laid down at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, on 15 December 1939. She was launched on 4 September 1940, sponsored by Mrs. Marion Barnes Bryant Leary, wife of Rear Admiral Herbert F. Leary, and commissioned on 1 March 1941.

Pre-World War II[edit]

After conducting tests and sea trials, she was called upon 20 June 1941 to assist in the search for submarine O-9 (SS-70), which had failed to surface after a practice dive off Isles of Shoals. O-9 was subsequently discovered on the bottom, but rescue efforts failed; Grayling participated 22 June in the memorial services for those lost.

Joining the Atlantic Fleet, Grayling sailed on shakedown cruise on 4 August to Morehead City, North Carolina, and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, returning to Portsmouth on 29 August. After final acceptance, she departed 17 November, armed at Newport, Rhode Island, and sailed for duty with the Pacific Fleet. Grayling transited the Panama Canal on 3 December and moored at San Diego, California, on 10 December.

Admiral Chester Nimitz assumes command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on 31 December 1941 on board Grayling (SS-209)

Start of War, and Raising of Nimitz's Flag[edit]

Grayling sailed for Pearl Harbor on 17 December, arrived 24 December, and had the honor of being chosen for the Pacific Fleet change of command ceremony on 31 December 1941. The ceremony would normally have taken place on a battleship, but all the fleets battleships had been either sunk or damaged during the attack 3 weeks earlier. On that day, Admiral Chester Nimitz hoisted his flag aboard Grayling as Commander, Pacific Fleet and began the United States Navy's long fighting road back in the Pacific.

USS Grayling (SS-209) Memorial plaque

COMSUBPAC Patrols, 1942[edit]

After the ceremonies, Grayling stood out of Pearl Harbor on her first war patrol 5 January 1942. Cruising the Northern Gilbert Islands, Grayling failed to register a kill, but gained much in training and readiness, returning to Pearl Harbor on 7 March.

Her second patrol, beginning 27 March, was more successful. Cruising off the coast of Japan itself, Grayling sank her first ship 13 April, sending the cargo freighter Ryujin Maru to the bottom. She returned to Hawaii on 16 May.

Grayling returned to action in June as all available ships were pressed into service to oppose the Japanese advance on Midway Island. As part of Task Group 7.1, Grayling and her sister submarines were arranged in a fan-like reconnaissance deployment west of Midway, helping to provide knowledge of Japanese movements. During this deployment the Grayling was mistaken for a Japanese cruiser by Army Air Force B-17s which attacked her. A quick crash dive avoided damage.

As Naval planners established a submarine blockade of Truk in connection with the offensive in the Solomon Islands, Grayling began her third war patrol 14 July 1942 around the Japanese stronghold. She damaged a Japanese submarine tender 13 August, but was forced to return to Pearl Harbor 26 August by fuel leaks.

At Pearl Harbor, Grayling repaired and was fitted with surface radar, after which she began her fourth patrol on 19 October. Although attacked by gunfire and six separate depth charge runs by Japanese destroyers, Grayling succeeded 10 November in sinking a 4000-ton cargo ship southwest of Truk. She also destroyed an enemy schooner on 4 December before putting into Fremantle submarine base, Western Australia, 13 December.

Deployment to Australia, 1943[edit]

Changing her base of operations to Australia, Grayling stood out of Fremantle on 7 January 1943 on her fifth patrol, this time in Philippine waters. She sank cargo ship Ushio Maru west of Luzon on 26 January and damaged another Japanese ship the next day. After sinking a schooner on 24 February, Grayling returned to Fremantle.

Grayling left Australian waters on 26 March on her sixth war patrol and cruised in the Tarakan area and the Verde Island Passage. There, she attacked and sank cargo ship Shanghai Maru on 9 April and damaged four other ships before returning to Fremantle on 25 April.

Her seventh war patrol, commencing 18 May, took Grayling into the waters off northwest Borneo, where she damaged a freighter and two smaller ships before returning to her base 6 July.


Grayling began her eighth and last war patrol in July, 1943, from Fremantle. She made two visits to the coast of the Philippines, delivering supplies and equipment to guerrillas at Pucio Point, Pandan Bay, Panay, 31 July and 23 August 1943. Cruising in the Philippines area, Grayling recorded her last kill, the passenger-cargo Meizan Maru on 27 August in the Tablas Strait, but was not heard from again after 9 September. She was scheduled to make a radio report on 12 September, which she did not, and all attempts to contact her failed. Grayling was officially reported "lost with all hands" 30 September 1943.

On 27 August 1943, Japanese ships witnessed a torpedo attack, and the next day a surfaced submarine was seen, both in the Tablas Strait area, and then on 9 September a surfaced American submarine was seen inside Lingayen Gulf. All of these sightings correspond with Grayling's orders to patrol the approaches to Manila. On 9 September 1943, Japanese passenger-cargo vessel Hokuan Maru reported a submarine in shallow water west of Luzon. The ship made a run over the area and "noted an impact with a submerged object". No additional data are available.

Assuming she survived this incident, no other recorded Japanese attacks could have sunk Grayling. Her loss may have been operational or by an unrecorded attack. The only certainty, therefore, is that Grayling was lost between 9 September and 12 September 1943 either in Lingayen Gulf or along the approaches to Manila. ComTaskFor71 requested a transmission from Grayling on 12 September, but did not receive one.

Grayling was credited with five major kills, totaling 20,575 tons. All but the first of Grayling's eight war patrols were declared "successful". She received six battle stars for World War II service.

USS Grayling (SS-209) Memorials


  1. ^ a b c d 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. ^ a b Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 270. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311
  4. ^ a b c d e Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 270–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9.
  5. ^ U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 261–263
  6. ^ a b c U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311

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