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"Still at Sea, on Eternal Patrol"


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DISPLACEMENT* 2350 tons (submerged)

LENGTH *311 feet

BEAM* 27 feet

SPEED* 20 knots (surf), 8.75 knots (submerged)


ARMAMENT* Four 21 inch torpedo tubes forward and aft

CREW *Approx. 55

LAUNCHED *August 15, 1939

COMMISSIONED *December 1, 1939

DECOMMISSIONED* Lost at Sea, October 1944

Commanding Officers

1939 - 1942 * LCDR F. B. Warder, USN

1943 - 1944 * LCDR R. L. Gross, USN

1944 - 1944 * LCDR R. B. Lynch, USN

1944 * LCDR A. L. Bontier, USN

The keel was laid by Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, NH on 27 September 1938 and Launched on 15 August 1939. She was sponsored by Mrs. Edward C. Kalbfus.  USS SEAWOLF (SS-197) was commissioned 1 December 1939 with LCDR Frederick B. Warder in command.

During her 14 wartime patrols, USS SEAWOLF sank 27 and damaged 13 enemy ships for a total ships sunk tonnage of 108,600 and 69,600 for ships damaged. On the first day of the war she started patrolling off northern Luzon and returned with no damage to her credit. On her 2nd patrol through the passage from Manila to Port Darwin she did not encounter any enemy ships. On her 3rd patrol in January 1942, SEAWOLF transported a cargo of .50 caliber anti-aircraft ammunition to Corregidor and passengers to Surabaya.

However, on her 4th patrol in the Lompoc Straits, SEAWOLF sank an enemy transport and damaged three light cruisers, two transports and a freighter. For this she received the Navy Unit Commendation. On her 5th patrol, she sank a freighter in the Philippines area, and on her 6th patrol she sank a tanker and freighter-transport and damaged another tanker in the Makassar Strait.

On her 7th patrol, SEAWOLF made the passage from Fremantle to Pearl Harbor and patrolled at Davao Gulf, Palau, and YAP enroute. On 3 November 1942 she sank the Japanese freighter-transport Sagami Maru 40 miles inside the mouth of Davao Gulf. On this same patrol, she also sank two freighter-transports and damaged a freighter. On her 8th patrol in the Bonins-Formosa area, SEAWOLF sank a large freighter, tanker, and two sampans. On 23 April 1943 she sank a converted Japanese destroyer. On her 9th patrol while in transit to the Chinese coast off northern Formosa, she sank a freighter-transport, a sampan and damaged a destroyer escort.

During August and September 1943, SEAWOLF patrolled the East China Sea for her 10th patrol and sank three large freighters, two sampans and damaged a third sampan. On her 11th patrol in the South China Sea she sank a large freighter transport, an unidentified ship and damaged a freighter.

On her 12th patrol, in the East China Sea north of Formosa, SEAWOLF sank a freighter transport, three freighters and damaged three other freighters. Her 13th patrol was a photographic reconnaissance mission of Palau, where she also rescued two downed aviators from a U.S. carrier raid.

To begin her 15th and final patrol, USS SEAWOLF, under the command of LCDR A. M. Bontier, left Brisbane on 21 September 1944 and arrived at Manus on 29 September. She was directed to carry certain stores and Army personnel to the east coast of Samar, and she left Manus that same day.

On 3 October 1944, SEAWOLF and USS NARWHAL (SS-167) exchanged SJ radar recognition signals at 0756. An enemy submarine attacked and sank the USS SHELTON (DE407). Three of the four friendly submarines in the vicinity of this attack reported their positions as directed, but SEAWOLF was not heard from. On 4 October 1944, when again directed to report her position, SEAWOLF did not respond.

Unaware of other friendly submarines in the area, the USS ROWELL (DE403) and U. S. aircraft had attacked a submarine in the vicinity of the SHELTON, and it was thought that SEAWOLF must be held down by these antisubmarine operations. It is possible that SEAWOLF had been the attacked submarine.

The report from ROWELL indicates that an apparently lethal attack was conducted in conjunction with a plane that marked the spot with dye. ROWELL established sound contact on the submarine, which sent long dashed and dots which ROWELL states bore no resemblance to the existing recognition signals. After one of several hedgehog attacks a small amount of debris and a large air bubble were seen.

It has been established that the Japanese submarine RO-41 sank SHELTON on 3 October 1944 and was able to return to Japan. In addition, there is no attack listed in the Japanese report of antisubmarine attacks which could account for the loss of the SEAWOLF. In view of these facts, it is possible that SEAWOLF was sunk by friendly forces in an antisubmarine attack on 3 October 1944. It is also possible that she was lost to an operational casualty or as a result of an unrecorded enemy attack.

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