Nautilus file photo [3942]


CountryUnited States
Ship ClassNarwhal-class Submarine
Hull NumberSS-168
BuilderMare Island Navy Yard
Laid Down10 May 1927
Launched15 Mar 1930
Commissioned1 Jul 1930
Decommissioned30 Jun 1945
Displacement2,730 tons standard; 4,050 tons submerged
Length371 feet
Beam33 feet
Draft16 feet
MachineryFour Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines, two Westinghouse 1,270hp electric motors with 240-cell Exide batteries
Speed17 knots
Armament2x6in guns, 2x7.62mm machine guns, 6x21in torpedo tubes, 24 torpedoes
Submerged Speed8 knots


ww2dbaseAfter commissioning, submarine V-6 conducted special submergence tests near New London, Connecticut, United States until Mar 1931. Submarine V-6 was renamed Nautilus on 19 Feb 1931 and given new designation SS-168 on 1 Jul 1931. In late 1932, she arrived at Pearl Harbor and became the flagship of Submarine Division 12. Between 1935 and 1938, she was a member of Submarine Division 13 at San Diego, California, United States. Between 1939 and 1941, she was based in Pearl Harbor. In Jul 1941, she entered Mare Island Navy Yard in California for to modern her radio equipment, diesel engines, and air conditioning. This modernization proceeded through the United States' entrance into WW2.

ww2dbaseNautilus completed the modernization in spring 1942 and reached Pearl Harbor on 28 Apr. On 24 May, under the command of Lieutenant Commander William H. Brockman, Jr., she departed for her first war patrol, searching for the Japanese fleet sailing for Midway. At 0755 on 4 Jun 1942, she sighted the Japanese fleet at about the same time Japanese aircraft sighting the submarine. The aircraft strafed her with machine gun fire, but she submerged to depth of 30-meters and continued to observe the Japanese fleet. At 0800, she noted one cruiser and three destroyers (misidentified as a battleship and three cruisers) before being sighted from the air again and attacked by bombs. Two of the three spotted destroyers closed in to her position with depth charges. Nautilus escaped the attack unharmed. Some time between 0815 and 0830, she came up to periscope depth and found she was amidst the Japanese fleet. She fired two bow torpedoes at a cruiser (again misidentified as a battleship); one mis-fired and the other missed. At 0830, she was spotted by a destroyer, which attacked her with depth charges, forcing her into a dive again. At 0846 and 0900, she rose to periscope depth twice. At 0918, she was attacked by six depth charges from a Japanese destroyer, forcing her to dive again. At 0955, she rose to periscope depth again, but by then she had lost track of the Japanese ships. At 1253, she sighted the damaged carrier Kaga (misidentified as Soryu). After maneuvering into firing position, she fired four torpedoes at Kaga between 1359 and 1405 from a range of 2,700 meters or less. The first torpedo was stuck in the tube, while the second and the third missed widely. The fourth hit Kaga squarely, scaring the swimming sailors near by, but it failed to detonate. Ironically, the torpedo broke in half and provided floatation tools for the Japanese sailors. For unknown reason, the crew of Nautilus reported a torpedo hit with visible flames. The two Japanese destroyers near by attacked her with a prolonged depth charge attack, forcing her to remain deep for hours. She rose to periscope depth at 1610 to observe abandoned Kaga burning. At 1941, after surviving 42 depth charges, Brockman ordered the boat to move out of the area. Between 7 and 9 Jun, Nautilus replenished at Midway, and then continued her patrol. She reached waters off the Japanese home island of Honshu by 20 Jun and damaged a Japanese destroyer at the entrance to the Sagami Sea on 22 Jun. On 25 Jun, she sank destroyer Yamakaze and damaged an oil tanker. On 27 Jun, she sank a wooden sampan. On 28 Jun, she damaged a merchantman and survived an intense depth charge attack, though the damage sustained ended her patrol. She was repaired at Pearl Harbor from 11 Jul to 7 Aug.

ww2dbaseBrockman was awarded the Navy Cross for the Battle of Midway.

ww2dbaseNautilus departed for her second war patrol on 8 Aug. On this mission, accompanied by submarine Argonaut, she delivered Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson's Second Raider Battalion to Little Makin in the early morning of 17 Aug. At 0703 in the same morning, she provided gunfire support against targets on Ukiangong Point, sinking a troop barge and a patrol boat. She was attacked by Japanese aircraft at 1130 and 1255, forcing her to dive. She picked up less than 100 surviving raiders after the attack at the night of 18 Aug and returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving 25 Aug.

ww2dbaseOn 15 Sep 1942, Nautilus departed for her third war patrol. She patrolled the entire length of the Japanese islands from Kurile Islands to Ryukyu Islands. Heavy seas and mechanical problems haunted her during this patrol, but she was still able to sink two cargo ships and three wooden sampans. On 12 Oct, after surviving a depth charge attack, an oil leak was discovered. On 20 Oct, as the oil leak worsened, air leaks were discovered. She moved to an area with less Japanese aerial presence so that the leaks would not expose her position, and was able to sink a cargo ship in the less-trafficked area. She reached Midway Island on 31 Oct for temporary repairs, and ended her third war patrol at Pearl Harbor on 5 Nov 1942.

ww2dbaseOn 13 Dec, Nautilus departed on her fourth patrol. On 31 Dec 1942 and 1 Jan 1943, she rescued 26 adults and three children in Toep Harbor. She went on to sink cargo ship Yosinogawa Maru and damage a tanker, a freighter, and a destroyer. On 4 Feb, she disembarked the 29 rescued civilians in Brisbane, Australia, ending her fourth patrol.

ww2dbaseFive days after arriving at Pearl Harbor, Nautilus left for her fifth war patrol on 20 Apr 1943. She arrived at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, United States on 27 Apr, and delivered 109 scouts of the 7th Army Scouts on Attu in the morning of 11 May, five hours before the main assault on the island.

ww2dbaseNautilus was sidelined at the Mare Island Navy Yard for most of summer 1943 for an overhaul.

ww2dbaseOn 16 Sep 1943, Nautilus sailed from Pearl Harbor for her sixth war patrol with the primary mission of gathering intelligence in the Gilbert Islands area. She returned on 17 Oct with valuable photographs on Tarawa, Kuma, Butaritari, Abemama, Makin, and other islands. On 18 Nov, on her seventh war patrol, she returned to Tarawa to gather last-minute weather and surf conditions. At 2159 on 19 Nov, she was mistaken for a Japanese ship and was fired upon by destroyer Ringgold, blasting a hole in her conning tower with a 5-in shell. After temporary repairs, she completed a mission of delivering 78 scouts on Abemama during the night of 20 to 21 Nov, who secured the lightly defended island in the next few days. Nautilus returned to Pearl Harbor on 4 Dec.

ww2dbaseOn 27 Jan 1944, Nautilus departed for her eighth war patrol. Off Palau Islands and Mariana Islands, she sank cargo ship America Maru and damaged three others. The patrol ended on 21 Mar, though she supported several guerrilla actions in the Philippine Islands in Apr 1944.

ww2dbaseOn her ninth patrol beginning on 29 May 1944, Nautilus carried ammunition, oil, and dry stores to guerilla fighters on Mindanao of the Philippine Islands. Her tenth patrol in Jun saw similar missions to Negros Island of the Philippine Islands.

ww2dbaseHer eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth patrols beginning on 30 Jun 1944, Nautilus landed reconnaissance parties and supplies to various islands in the Philippine Islands. On 31 Oct, during the thirteenth patrol, she was ordered to scuttle submarine Darter which was damaged and could not be recovered. Embarrassingly, Nautilus' torpedoes repeatedly missed Darter, all exploding on the reef. After the torpedo failures, it was decided Darter would be hit by so many shells from Nautilus' 6-inch gun that nothing would remain salvageable. She made port call at Darwin, Australia on 30 Jan 1945 that completed her fourteenth and final war patrol.

ww2dbaseNautilus was decommissioned in Philadelphia, United States and was sold for scrap to the North American Smelting Company of Philadelphia on 16 Nov 1945.

ww2dbaseSource: United States Navy Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

Last Major Revision: Jun 2007

Submarine Nautilus (SS-168) Interactive Map


Holland with submarines Cachalot, Dolphin, Barracuda, Bass, Bonita, Nautilus, and Narwhal, 24 Dec 1934Holland tending Nautilus, Narwhal, Shark, Dolphin, Porpoise, Pike, and Tarpon, circa 1936-1939, photo 1 of 4Holland tending Nautilus, Narwhal, Shark, Dolphin, Porpoise, Pike, and Tarpon, circa 1936-1939, photo 2 of 4Holland tending Nautilus, Narwhal, Shark, Dolphin, Porpoise, Pike, and Tarpon, circa 1936-1939, photo 3 of 4
See all 12 photographs of Submarine Nautilus (SS-168)

Nautilus Operational Timeline

1 Jul 1930 Nautilus was commissioned into service.
25 Jun 1942 USS Nautilus sank Japanese destroyer Yamakaze with 2 torpedoes 60 miles south of Tokyo Bay, Japan; all 226 aboard were killed.
27 Jun 1942 USS Nautilus sank Japanese auxiliary minesweeper Musashi Maru 60 miles south of Tokyo Bay, Japan.
16 Aug 1942 American submarine USS Nautilus departed US Marines, "Carlson's Raiders", for Makin Island; she would remain there to provide gunfire support.
15 Jul 1943 Submarine USS Narwhal shelled a Japanese airfield on Matsuwa Island, Kurile Islands, the first time the Kurile Islands were attacked by an American vessel in the war.
19 Nov 1943 At 2159 hours near Tarawa, submarine USS Nautilus was mistaken for Japanese ship and was fired upon by destroyer USS Ringgold, blasting a hole in the conning tower.
14 Jul 1944 USS Nautilus delivered two men and 30 tons of supplies at Lagoma, Leyte, Philippine Islands.
30 Jun 1945 Nautilus was decommissioned from service.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. William Eggers says:
27 Aug 2014 11:11:30 AM

On 20 May 2014, a Submariner passed away. My Father, CWO4 Walter E. Eggers, USN (Ret) served aboard the USS Nautilus during WWII for 9 War Patrols until the USS Nautilus was decommissioned. For his and all of the Submariners who have died, Eternal Peace. Thank you for your courage and service. May God forever hold you in His hands.q5c
2. Anonymous says:
11 Nov 2014 07:13:21 PM

To the author of this article. If you check the history records (factual) you will find that the commander of USS Nautilus during Battle of Midway was Lt. Comm. William Brockman not Anderson. this should be corrected, Google it. Thanks for your interest in this. Grandpa would be happy..
3. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
12 Nov 2014 03:38:48 PM

Thank you, anonymous of 11 Nov 2014, the name have been corrected.
4. Wanda Frecks says:
26 Mar 2015 10:29:06 AM

To William Eggers.
So sorry to hear about your father's passing.
My father Henry "Hank" Kudzik served on the Nautilus with your father. My Dad just turned 90 and is doing okay.
5. Mike Clark says:
16 Jun 2016 07:24:28 PM

My great uncle Nelson Pettebone was also on this ship during the battle of midway,his rank was MM1cl.
6. John B. Collins says:
7 Dec 2016 07:18:04 AM

Lt. Cmndr. G B Rainer was my friend &
neighbor. My understanding was that
he commanded the Nautilus before the
Pearl Harbor attack, SS-168. Can any-
one verify that fact??
7. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
7 Dec 2016 12:26:30 PM

Mr. Collins (above): has a fairly complete list of Nautilus’ commanding officers (with a gap from 1932-1937) but no Rainer listed. See:
8. pete reynolds says:
30 May 2017 05:29:28 AM

looking if anyone with info earl e lindell en1 was on ss-168 he passed way few years back
9. John W Gamertsfelder says:
15 Nov 2018 07:15:11 AM

Note: 14 July 1944 USS Nautilus delivered two men and 30 tons of supplies; Cpl Robert H Gamertsfelder and Sgt Hank Chambliss, were the two men; Robert H Gamertsfelder, my father, (passed in 2002) are mentioned in author Ira Wolferts 'American Guerilla in the Philippines' / Gamertsfelder had trained in Texas as meteorologist - weatherman; book indicates there were twenty Filipino Guerillas, on Nautilus, that were captured and executed by the Japanese, a few days later; book says Coded intelligence & weather reports, were transmitted to General McArthurs Naval battle group, at approximate 4 hour intervals leading to the Battle of Leyte Gulf; my father did not share any of the details with me, and I have been trying to establish Accurate data, for Robert Gamertsfelders grandchildren; I'm his only child, 70 in January 2019; data in www m.ww2db com was quite an eye opener today 15 November 2018
10. WES JORDAN says:
10 Apr 2019 02:53:07 AM

does anyone have a record of william Robert Glenn, known as Bob. Did service in Australia and pacific.
11. bill strickland says:
27 Jul 2019 08:59:57 PM

My uncle Foy B Hester was chief electricians mate aboard Nautilus for most of her cruises.
12. Gerald T. Milan, Jr. says:
14 Feb 2020 12:15:36 PM

My father, Gerald T. Milan, Sr., served onboard USS NAUTILUS from 1931-1933.
13. Nancy (Godsil) Becker says:
9 May 2020 07:51:39 AM

My father, Thomas Vincent Godsil, was machinist mate (USNR) on the Nautilus during the war, but I have no idea when. He told a lot of stories, and some would mean a lot to know more about his time on board. He also served on a destroyer at some point, but again, I have no dates.
14. Stephen Morast says:
21 Aug 2020 05:41:59 PM

My Dad, William Morast, served on the Nautilus from 1940 to December 1942. He was then a shakedown crewman of the USS Paddle and USS Lamprey.

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Event(s) Participated:
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands
» Aleutian Islands Campaign
» Gilbert Islands Campaign

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Submarine Nautilus (SS-168) Photo Gallery
Holland with submarines Cachalot, Dolphin, Barracuda, Bass, Bonita, Nautilus, and Narwhal, 24 Dec 1934
See all 12 photographs of Submarine Nautilus (SS-168)

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