Every once in a while, a request comes across my desk that I just can’t say no to.
Submarine reunions are one of my favorite past times since I know that the men who gather (and their ever faithful ever suffering wives) are going to get a chance to relive some of their younger days.
Those days were important for many of us. We were indestructible and bullet proof. There were few things we were not willing to try – at least once anyway, and that is what made us Submariners in the first place. For the most part we were all volunteers and even if that meant we just weren’t smart enough to know what we were volunteering for something as inherently dangerous that made us pretty unique.
When I got a request to allow the information for the 2019 Sennet SS 408 Reunion, I thought I would take a look at her history. I’m glad I did. The Sennet earned four battle stars in World War 2 but lived on for many years providing service to the country in some rather unique ways.
Her wartime service is recorded below but I was also intrigued by her service as one of the vessels that experimented with under ice operations. In a recent article, I relayed the history of the USS Nautilus and her exploits. That story captured another submarine named Nautilus which had tried in 1931 to operate under the ice.
The challenges of having a diesel submarine operate in an under ice environment are really daunting. The boats were limited to how long they could stay under the water and the electronic gear was pretty primitive in the post-World War 2 era. So it was interesting to read about the Senet’s contribution to the pioneering efforts related to breaking that barrier in Operation “Highjump” the third Byrd Antarctic Expedition.
I am sure the remaining crew has a lot of stories about operating out of Key West Florida also. Key West and diesel boats were the only thing I wrote on my dream sheet out of submarine school so of course I was guaranteed to never actually serve on a diesel boat and only went to Key West once as a visitor on the USS Hunley. Probably a good things since I may have never wanted to leave there.
Well, good luck to the Sennet Crew on their upcoming reunion. I hope you all have a great time and I hope to see some pictures as well.!
Balao Class Submarine: Laid down, 8 March 1944, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H.; Launched, 6 June 1944; Commissioned USS Sennet (SS-408), 22 August 1944; Converted to a Fleet Snorkel Submarine at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1952; Decommissioned, and Struck from the Naval Register, 2 December 1968; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 15 June 1973, to Southern Scrap Material Co. Ltd., New Orleans, LA. for $ 103.889.00. Sennet earned four battle stars during WWII.
Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced 1,526 t., Submerged 2,391 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, 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.
Dictionary of American naval fighting ships. v.6. United States.
Sennet: A barracuda.
Sennet (SS-408) was laid down on 8 March 1944 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard; launched on 6 June 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Roscoe W. Downs; and commissioned on 22 August 1944, Comdr. George E. Porter in command.
Sennet was fitted out by 18 September. She held training exercises and torpedo tube testing off the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island until 22 October. The submarine then tested mines and torpedoes for the Mine Warfare Test Station, Solomons Island, Md. On 11
November, Sennet proceeded to the operations area off Balboa, C. Z., and conducted further training exercises. The submarine departed .Balboa on 29 November for Pearl Harbor and arrived there on 16 December 1944.
Sennet’s topside armament was increased to two 5- inch guns, two 40-millimeter guns, and three .50 caliber machine guns before departing Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol on 5 January 1945.
Sennet patrolled north of the Bonin Islands until 28 January. She made two attacks on a large tanker with three escorts on the 21st but scored no hits. The following week, the submarine sank one 500-ton picket boat and damaged another.
Sennet refitted at Saipan from 31 January to 7 February when she began her second war patrol off southern Honshu, Japan. On 13 February, two 300-ton picket boats were sunk by the combined gunfire of Sennet, Haddock (SS-231), and Lagarto (SS-371). Three days later, the submarine attacked an enemy minelayer with an offset spread of torpedoes from her stern tubes and went deep, to 200 feet. Two torpedoes were heard to explode. While going deep, Sennet was rocked hard by two aircraft bombs which exploded beneath her. The submarine surfaced an hour later and saw a large oil slick and approximately 40 Japanese clinging to debris but no trace of Nariu which had sunk.
Sennet was refitted by Apollo (AS-25) in Apra Harbor, Guam, 9 March-2 April. Patrolling off Honshu again from 3 April to 16 May, she was surfaced off Miki Saki on 16 April when she was twice straddled by torpedoes fired from patrol boats. Three days later, the submarine torpedoed and sank the cargo ship, Hagane Mam. On the 22d, Sennet attempted to save a P-51 pilot who had bailed out near her but the man went under only 100 feet from the ship. Attempts to find him were in vain. A repair ship was attacked on the 28th with two electrical torpedoes. The first blew the bow off and the second hit under the mainmast. Hatsushima sank by her stern. On 1 May, Sennett fired five steam torpedoes at an Asashio class destroyer but it maneuvered and avoided them. At the end of this patrol, the submarine sailed to Pearl Harbor for upkeep and leave.
Sennet’s most profitable patrol was from 1 July to 9 August in the Sea of Japan. During the patrol, she sank one passenger-cargo ship, two cargo ships, and one tanker totaling 13,105 tons.
Cold War Warrior
When the war ended in the Pacific, Sennet was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and operated from New London, Conn. In June 1946, she was reassigned to Submarine Squadron 6 at Balboa, C.Z. From 10 December 1946 to 13 March 1947, Sennet participated in Operation “Highjump,” the third Byrd Antarctic Expedition.
Sennet operated from Balboa until 1949 when she was assigned to operate from Key West Fla., as a unit of Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 12. The ship con ducted training for submarine and antisubmarine personnel at Key West and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 1951, Sennet was converted to a fleet snorkel submarine at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and returned to her home port.
On 4 November 1954, Sennet departed Key West on her first deployment to the Mediterranean and service with the 6th Fleet. From her return on 30 January 1955, until 1 August 1959, the submarine conducted training, local, and fleet operations with her squadron.
On the latter day, Sennett was reassigned to SubRon 4 and stationed at Charleston, S.C. For the next nine years, the submarine operated from Charleston with the Atlantic Fleet. She operated along the east coast, in the Caribbean, and in the Atlantic with her squadron until mid-1968.
In November of that year, the submarine was found unfit for further Naval service. Sennet was struck from the Navy list on 2 December 1968. On 18 Mav 1973, her hulk was sold to Southern Scrap Material Co. Ltd., New Orleans, La.
Sennett received four battle stars for World War II service.
Below is the information on the USS Sennet SS 408 reunion this fall.
The 2019 Sennet All-Hands Reunion will be at the Double Tree Inn in North Charleston on September 22 – 26, 2019
Hidden inside this newsletter is a bit of interesting new information about the Confederate submarine Hunley in Charleston. And elsewhere I have included a great sea story about a turn of the century passenger steamer. So read on.
Ahoy shipmates, Sennet’s All-Hands Reunion will be Sept. 22 -26.
Your registration must be in by August 22, and rooms are filling up. If you’re late you may find yourself hot bunking in the Torpedo Room. So it’s “Surface, Surface, Surface!” Here’s what you need to know:
We are staying at the DoubleTree Hotel in North Charleston, SC. There is more than one Double Tree in Charleston. Ours is located at 7401 N. Woods Blvd @ I-26. Make your reservations by calling 1-800-774-1500 and be sure to tell them you are with the USS Sennet Reunion to get our special group rate of $119.00 night (+ taxes, etc.). Rates are also good for 3 days before and after the reunion.
• Free shuttle service to/from the airport. Free parking at the hotel.
• Free shuttle service within 6 miles of hotel.
• Full service restaurant and breakfast buffet.
• You may cancel your reservation anytime up to 24 hours prior to arrival date without charges.
Sennet Reunion Schedule . . .
Check in day, meet the crew and their wives.
Free day to get reacquainted and shopping for the ladies.
6:30 P.M. Harbor Dinner Cruise. Cost is $70 pp. Transportation to and from the Dinner Cruise will be done by car pooling. Buses are too expensive.
8 A.M. Memorial Service conducted by David Hardy.
Immediately following the service will be our business meeting to review our financial status, future reunion plans, questions and answers.
6 P.M. Sennet reunion banquet at the DoubleTree. Cost is $50 pp.
During the reunion we will have a 50/50 drawing and a Silent Auction. So check in your bunk pan for some valuable items you can donate. All profits go into our reunion fund.
Uniform of the Day . . .
Don’t come to the reunion half-dressed. I have on hand a Golf Shirts @ $22ea, T-shirts @ $22ea, Hats @ $12ea and Hoodies @ $30ea (were $45ea). Also Challenge coins and Submarine Wife pins @ $5ea.
Prices do not include postage. Contact me for total cost. I usually ship the same day I receive payment. All revenue goes 100% into the Reunion Fund. Make checks payable to: USS Sennet SS-408 Reunion Fund and mail to:
USS Sennet SS-408
c/o Ralph Luther
PO Box 864
Summerville, SC 29484-0864
?? – In 1864 the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was lost shortly after attacking and sinking the USS Housatonic off Charleston, S.C. Conservators with Clemson University have found a new clue about a possible cause for Hunley’s loss. While cleaning the Hunley of the “concretion,” they found a broken intake pipe that may have allowed water to flood the submarine. Researchers found a 1-inch gap where the pipe was supposed to connect to the wall of the submarine. Archeologists hope to figure out if the pipe broke during the sub’s mission or if it broke over time as the vessel sat on the seafloor. They warned, “This new evidence is not conclusive.”
Other things to see and do in Charleston . . .
Charles Towne Landing
Magnolia, Middleton and Boone Hall Plantations
CSS Hunley Museum & restoration (weekends)
Tanger Outlet Mall
Historic Charleston & the Battery
The South Carolina Aquarium
Legendary golf courses
Patriots Point Naval Museum
And miles and miles of beautiful beaches
Eternal Patrol . . . Don’t miss this reunion and your friends. Just since our 2017 reunion, we have lost these shipmates:
Milton D. Alley (1947-51)
John M. Gurley (1945)
Leo A. Amero (1956)
Bennet Hale (1966-68)
Anastacio “Joey” Amposta (1965-66)
John S. Heintzmann (1945-46)
Willitts D. Anzel (1954-56)
David G. Hellwig (1968)
Michael H. Bailey (1960-63)
Gary W. Jahn (1967-68)
Harvey O. Bird (1945-46)
William L. Jones
A. Dewayne Catron (1967-68)
Ralph X. Klotz (1959-63)
John B. Cook (1959-64)
James F. Maloney (1966-68)
Jerdon “Jerry” Dean (1945-47)
Robert B. McComb (1955-57)
William C. Dotson (1958-60)
Lucian “Lu” Radd (1961-66)
Freddy L. England (1962-63)
David J. Ristau (1963-64)
Raymond C. Etcitty (1960-61)
Robert B. St. John (1961-63)
Angelo J. Gennaro (1946)
James F. Tidd (1967-68)
Jack O. Gent (1955-1957)
Wayne Winans (1964-66)
Don’t wait until it’s too late to see your friends. Come to the Sennet reunion. Remember – Time waits for no man.
Before you get to my sea story you need to know this. Sennet crossed the equator and the Internatonal Date Line several times in her career, but not at the same time. And when it’s summer north of the equator, it’s winter south of the equator. The International Date Line is where each day begins and ends. So now, you’re all ready to understand and appreciare my sea story. Keep reading.
Future Sennet Reunions . . .
As I have mentioned in the past newsletters, Stan Pollard is assisting me in getting everything organized and on track. My health makes this very important. We need someone to step forward to assume reunions in the future. Stan and I will assist anyone willing to fill this billet. Remember, submarining is an “all hands” evolution.
We are open to any and all suggestions, recommendations and ideas. Contact me by email at email@example.com or phone: 843-851-7064. Be sure to leave a message so my wife, Sharon, can return your call. My hearing is such that I have very much difficulty hearing on a phone.
And here’s my sea story. On December 31, 1899 the passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was in the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. Captain Phillips took take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational feat of a lifetime. He changed course slightly and adjusted engine speed so as to bear directly on his mark. At midnight the SS Warrimoo lay dead in the water on a southeast heading on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line.
Thus, the forward part of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere and in the middle of summer. The stern was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899, and forward it was 01 January 1900.
The SS Warrimoo was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different seasons and two different years, but it was also in two different centuries – all at the same time.
Just thought you’d like to know.
Looking forward to seeing you and “hearing” from all y’all.
A Registration Form is attached. Fill it out and return to me.
We’re going to have a great reunion.
USS Sennet SS-408 2019 Reunion
September 22-26, 2019
Tuesday: Dinner Cruise from Patriots’ Point. Cruise boards at 1830
(6:30 PM) and returns at 21:30 (9:30 PM). Transportation to / from Patriots’ Point is NOT included.
A buffet dinner is served during the harbor cruise. Their sample menu includes she crab soup, house salad, shrimp & grits, southern chicken saltimbocca, porterhouse cut pork chops, wood fire grilled rib-eye.
Wednesday: Low Country BBQ Buffet Banquet at the Double Tree. On the menu: garden salad, potato salad, cole slaw BBQ Chicken, Ribs, Pork, corn on the cob, braised collard greens, red beans & rice.
Make check Payable to: USS Sennet SS-408 Reunion Fund
Please fill out the form and return with check to:
USS Sennet SS-408
c/o Ralph Luther
PO Box 864
Summerville, SC 29484-0864
Don’t forget to make your hotel reservations at the Double Tree by calling 1-800-774-1500. The cut off date for hotel reservations is 8/22/2019