USS Grunion

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USS Grunion (SS-216), 20 March 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.
United States
BuilderElectric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut[2]
Laid down1 March 1941[2]
Launched22 December 1941[1]
Sponsored byMr. Stanford C. Hooper
Commissioned11 April 1942[2]
Stricken2 November 1942
FateSunk off of Kiska around 30 July 1942, due to accidents caused/related to circular run of own torpedo[3]
General characteristics
Class and typeGato-class Diesel–electric submarine[1]
  • 1,525 long tons (1,549 t) surfaced[1]
  • 2,424 long tons (2,463 t) submerged[1]
Length311 ft 9 in (95.02 m)[1]
Beam27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[1]
Draft17 ft (5.2 m) maximum[1]
  • 21 kn (39 km/h) surfaced[4]
  • 9 kn (17 km/h) submerged[4]
Range11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 kn (19 km/h)[4]
  • 48 hours at 2 kn (3.7 km/h) submerged[4]
  • 75 days on patrol
Test depth300 ft (91 m)[4]
Complement6 officers, 64 enlisted[4]

USS Grunion (SS-216) was a Gato-class submarine that sank at Kiska, Alaska, during World War II. She was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the grunion.

Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut on 1 March 1941. She was launched on 22 December 1941, (sponsored by Mrs. Stanford C. Hooper, wife of Rear Admiral Hooper), and commissioned on 11 April 1942 with Lieutenant Commander Mannert L. Abele, USNA class of 1926 in command.

After shakedown out of New London, the Grunion sailed for the Pacific on 24 May. A week later, as she transited the Caribbean Sea for Panama, she rescued 16 survivors of the USAT Jack, which had been torpedoed by the German submarine U-558,[8] and conducted a fruitless search for 13 other survivors presumed to be in the vicinity. Arriving at Coco Solo on 3 June, the Grunion landed the survivors and continued on to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 20 June.

Departing Hawaii on 30 June after ten days of intensive training, the Grunion touched Midway Island before heading toward the Aleutian Islands for her first war patrol. Her first report, made as she patrolled north of Kiska Island, stated she had been attacked by a Japanese destroyer and had fired Mark 14 torpedoes at her with inconclusive results. She operated off Kiska throughout July and sank two Japanese sub-chasers (CH-25 and CH-27) and possibly damaged a third (CH-26) as she waited for enemy shipping. On 30 July, the submarine reported intensive antisubmarine activity and was ordered back to Dutch Harbor.

The Grunion was never heard from again. Air searches off Kiska were fruitless, and on 5 October the Grunion was reported overdue from patrol and assumed lost with all hands. Her name was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 2 November 1942. Captured Japanese records show no antisubmarine attacks in the Kiska area, and the fate of Grunion remained a mystery for 65 years, until the discovery in the Bering Sea in August 2007 of a wreck believed to be her. In October 2008, the U.S. Navy verified that the wreck is the Grunion.[9]

The Grunion received one battle star for her World War II service.

Finding the Grunion[edit]

In 1998 Lieut. Col. Richard Lane purchased for $1 a wiring diagram from a Japanese cargo ship, the Kano Maru, which had been active during World War II.[3] Hoping to authenticate the document, Lane posted it on a Japanese naval historical website, asking if anyone could help. He was contacted by Yutaka Iwasaki, a Japanese naval historian, who not only authenticated it, but suggested he knew what happened to the Grunion. Lane contacted ComSubPac, and their public affairs officer, Darrel Ames, posted the information on ComSubPac's Grunion Web site.[3]

When the Grunion disappeared in 1942, her captain, Lieutenant Commander Abele, left behind three sons — Bruce, Brad, and John. For nearly 65 years, they had been searching for information about the loss of their father's boat.[3]

When the Abele brothers encountered the post, they contacted Yutaka Iwasaki. He sent them a translation of an article written by the officer who had commanded the merchant ship Kano Maru. The article described an encounter with a submarine near Kiska Island in the Aleutians about the time the Grunion was reported missing.[3]

Several years later, John Abele, cofounder of Boston Scientific, met Dr. Robert Ballard, famous for discovering the wreck of the RMS Titanic. Ballard gave him advice on how to locate a shipwreck, and Abele decided to fund an expedition to find the lost submarine Grunion.[3]

In 2006, Williamson Associates, using side-scan sonar, located a promising target almost at the exact location indicated by the commander of the Kano Maru. The sunken object had many characteristics typical of a submarine.[3] In 2007, using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), DSSI/Oceaneering, returned to the site and took video recordings of the imploded remains of a submarine, which had markings in English, and propeller guards and limber holes identical to those of the Grunion. The following year, the U.S. Navy confirmed that the find was the Grunion.[3]

Although it is not absolutely certain, the evidence strongly suggests that the Grunion was lost as a result of multiple torpedo failures during her encounter with the Kano Maru. Her first torpedo ran low, but despite its magnetic pistol it failed to detonate. Two more bounced harmlessly off the Kano Maru without exploding. However, the remaining torpedo missed its target and circled back, striking the periscope supports on the submerged submarine without exploding.[3] The damage the torpedo inflicted, combined with a jammed rear dive plane, triggered a sequence of events that caused the loss of depth control. The Grunion lunged below her maximum operational depth, and at about 1,000 feet (300 m) would have imploded. What remained of the ship struck the seabed, breaking off about 50 feet (15 m) of her bow. The wreckage then slid two-thirds of a mile down the side of an extinct volcano, coming to rest on a notch in the underwater mountain.[3]

In 2019, the missing bow section was located a quarter mile from the rest of the submarine on a slope of an underwater volcano at a depth of over 2,000 feet.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 271–273. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  2. ^ a b c 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.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Peter F. Stevens. Fatal Dive: Solving the World War II Mystery of the USS Grunion, Regnery History, 2012
  4. ^ a b c d e f U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  5. ^ 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. OCLC 24010356.
  6. ^ U.S. Submarines Through 1945 p. 261
  7. ^ a b c U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Jack". German U-boats of WWII - Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  9. ^ "U.S. Navy Confirms Lost WWII Sub Found Off Aleutians". via AP. Fox News. 3 October 2008. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2008.
  10. ^ "Bow of WW II US submarine discovered". Fox News. 31 July 2019. Archived from the original on 2 August 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Lost 52 Project :: Expedition 2018 Japan :: Bow section of USS Grunion".{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°14′16″N 177°25′5″E / 52.23778°N 177.41806°E / 52.23778; 177.41806