The war in the Pacific was spread over a vast ocean. The Japanese started the war with many advantages due to the surprise attacks at Pearl Harbor and their use of naval air in overcoming the allied naval forces. One of the strengths that the United States was able to use very early on was its submarine forces. The S boats of the pre war era soon gave way to much more sophisticated fleet boats with longer ranges and better weapons systems. By 1944, American shipyards were building submarines that would prove to be more than a match for anything the Japanese could muster to defeat them.
One of those submarines was the USS Threadfin SS -410.
Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced 1,526 t., Submerged 2,401 t.; Length 311′ 8″; Beam 27′ 3″; Draft 15′ 3″; Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts; Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10 kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2 kts; Operating Depth, 400 ft; Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted; Armament, ten 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 5″/25 deck gun, one single 40mm gun mount, one single 20mm gun mount, two .50 cal. machine guns; Patrol Endurance 75 days; Propulsion, diesel-electric reduction gear, four Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines, 5,400 HP, Fuel Capacity, 116,000 gal., four Elliot Motor Co. electric main motors with 2,740 shp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
USS Threadfin was a was the only vessel of the United States Navy to be named for the threadfin, any of a family of fishes related to the mullets and distinguished by filamentous rays on the lower part of the pectoral fin. Her original name was the Sole but the name was changed on 24 September 1942 to Threadfin.
Threadfin was laid down on 18 March 1944 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. She was launched on 26 June 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Frank G. Fox, and commissioned on 30 August 1944 with Commander John J. Foote in command.
Training and trials out of Portsmouth followed her final completion late in September. After transiting the Panama Canal in mid-November, the submarine reached Pearl Harbor early in December and conducted intensive training in preparation for her first war patrol.
Baptism Under Fire
Threadfin received her baptism under fire on January #0, 1945 on her first war patrol off the coast of Honshu. She was depth charged by several Japanese PC’s. The first close charges were received while she was running at 300 foot depth and that impact caused serious leak in cross-connection piping between compensating line and motor cooling system in motor room. Salt water spray barely missed energized her control cubicle bus bars which would have proved catastrophic. A bucket brigade was formed to keep water the level in the bilges below the main motors. The boat sank and bottomed in 450 feet of water for the remainder of attack and the ruptured line was blanked. No other damage was sustained. The ship remained on patrol.
Following a month there for refit and training, Threadfin embarked upon her second war patrol on 14 March. She initially joined a coordinated attack group composed of herself, and submarines Sea Dog (SS-401) and Trigger (SS-237). During her five-day tour with that wolf pack, Threadfin made two attacks on enemy shipping. On the afternoon of 28 March, she came across two Japanese destroyer escort-type warships and apparently dispatched one with a single hit from a spread of six… torpedoes. The stricken warship’s screws stopped while her colleague’s depth charge attack deprived Threadfin of definite knowledge of the ultimate result. That evening, the submarine tangled with a convoy composed of two small trawlers and four luggers. During the ensuing surface gun engagement, the submarine inflicted serious damage on two of the luggers, moderate damage on the trawlers, and minor damage on the remaining pair of luggers. Though disconcerting, the Japanese return fire proved ineffectual.
Threadfin went on to gain one more War Patrol Star and lived on well after the war. She participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and was later transferred to the Turkish Navy.
The men of the Silent Service truly made an impact on the outcome of the War in the Pacific by sinking more tonnage per capita than any other ship type. Their continued service during the Cold War ensured that the threat of communist aggression was always held in check. Each of those brave men deserve our nation’s gratitude.