Archerfish file photo [32294]

Archerfish

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassBalao-class Submarine
Hull NumberSS-311
BuilderPortsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, United States
Laid Down22 Jan 1943
Launched28 May 1943
Commissioned4 Sep 1943
Decommissioned12 Jun 1946
Displacement1,550 tons standard; 2,415 tons submerged
Length312 feet
Beam27 feet
Draft17 feet
MachineryFour Fairbanks-Morse 38D8-1?8 9cyl diesel engines (5,400shp), four Elliott electric motors with reduction gears (2,740shp), 126-cell Sargo batteries, two propellers
Speed20 knots
Range11,000nm at 10 knots surfaced, 48 hours at 2 knots submerged
Crew80
Armament6x21in forward torpedo tubes, 4x21in aft torpedo tubes, 24x torpedoes, 1x5in 25cal deck gun
Submerged Speed8.75 knots
Recommissioned7 Mar 1952
Decommissioned21 Oct 1955
Recommissioned1 Aug 1957
Decommission1 May 1968

Contributor:

ww2dbaseThe keel of the Balao-class submarine, USS Archerfish, was laid at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Maine, United States, on 22 January 1943 and launched on 28 May. Commissioned on 4 September 1943 the Archerfish, with Lieutenant Commander George W. Kehl in command, commenced extensive trials and crew training before sailing to Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, to begin her operational career.

ww2dbaseHer first war patrol, which commenced on 23 December 1943, was plagued by heavy weather when they reached the assigned patrol area in the vicinity of Taiwan (unofficially known as Formosa) on 8 January 1944. On 22 January a radar contact was made with a convoy of four large and three smaller ships hugging the coastline off Taiwan. Closing on the target, Archerfish fired four torpedoes and hit a 9,000-ton passenger-freighter which was probably sent to the bottom. The rest of this patrol proved uneventful and Archerfish returned to Midway Island after 53 days at sea.

ww2dbaseThe second patrol to Palau, ended at Pearl Harbor without a single enemy contact. Lieutenant Commander Kehl was now replaced in command by Lieutenant Commander William H. Wright. Under her new skipper Archerfish left Pearl Harbor for her third war patrol on 28 May 1944, and reached her assigned lifeguard station on 14 June, Archerfish patrolled this area for about two weeks and on 28 June fired four torpedoes at a Japanese warship in the full view of Iwo Jima beach. Two torpedoes hit and sank the 740-ton escort vessel No. 24 (the type of warship being rushed into service to combat the US submarine offensive). A week later, Archerfish attacked a convoy and probably hit a 10,000-ton transport with troops and equipment on board. The patrol ended at Midway after 48 days.

ww2dbaseThe fourth war patrol was conducted around Japan's home islands, east of Kyushu and south of Shikoku. This uneventful mission was only notable for a gun duel with a Japanese patrol boat on 13 August 1944. Archerfish scored several hits but after two hours Lieutenant Commander Wright broke off the engagement. After 53 days on patrol, Archerfish returned to Pearl Harbor on 29 September, where Lieutenant Commander Wright was relieved as commanding officer and was replaced with Commander Joseph F. Enright. Enright, who had made his first patrol in the USS Dace, had later asked to be relieved of that command because he lacked confidence. He did shore duty for nearly a year before taking command of the Archerfish. It would befall this reticent officer to famously sink the largest warship ever sunk by a submarine in either of the World Wars.

ww2dbaseOn 30 October 1944, Archerfish left Pearl Harbor to patrol off the Japanese coast near Tokyo Bay. On 9 November she moored alongside the submarine tender Fulton at Saipan to carry out some minor repairs. Archerfish left Saipan on 11 November in company with the submarine Wolf Pack "Fennomonts" (consisting of Pampanito, Seacat, Searaven, and Scabbardfish). She parted company with her companions on the following day to commence a lifeguard role to rescue any downed US airmen. On 14 November Commander Enright was ordered to be a lifeguard for US bombers from the Marianas. But the planned raid on Tokyo, Japan was delayed so that for the next days Archerfish had no guard duties to perform. When the B-29 Superfortress bombers made the first bombing runs over the Japanese mainland USS Scabbardfish and Archerfish, which were patrolling off Tokyo Bay, were once again ordered to provide lifeguard service, although neither submarine was actually called upon to rescue any aircrew from the sea, Archerfish was therefore released again and ordered to conduct her regular anti-shipping operation near Tokyo Bay. No enemy ships were sighted as Enright made his way closer to Honshu, except some small escorts or patrol boats which Enright avoided because they were too small for torpedoes.

ww2dbaseThe Sinking of the Shinano

ww2dbaseAt 1718 hours on 28 November, 1944, Archerfish surfaced and at 2034 hours sighted Inamba Shima, an islet about 90 miles south of the entrance to Tokyo Bay. That evening the visibility had decreased to such an extent that Enright decided to conduct a surface patrol. At 2048 hours Archerfish's radar detected a contact approaching from the north at a distance of about 24,700 yards. The American submarine immediately turned towards the contact and stopped to allow the plotting party to get an indication of the direction of the target's movement. Then Archerfish increased speed to 18 knots and set a course to intercept the unknown object. At 2140 hours Enright identified the contact to be an aircraft carrier and three escorting destroyers. He determined its course as roughly 210 degrees and speed of 20 knots. Little did Enright realise at the time, but this was Japan's newest 70,755-ton aircraft carrier Shinano, which had been converted from the third Yamato-class battleship, and was now rushed away from Yokosuka, Japan to keep the incomplete vessel safe from American B-29 air raids while work on her completion could be finished at Kure Naval Base. The workmen were still on board when the carrier left Tokyo Bay at 1800 hours that evening.

ww2dbaseEven though the Shinano was zigzagging at 20 knots the Archerfish was hard pressed to reach a suitable firing position. Enright gave orders to make all speed to doggedly trail the Japanese carrier. At 2330 hours Enright sent a contact message to Pearl Harbor which was immediately delivered to COMSUBPAC (Commander Submarines Pacific), Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood. He got the message early on the next morning and, with his operations officer laid the necessary plans to eliminate the Japanese carrier. All US submarines which might be in a position to intercept were ordered to strategic points and to lie in wait.

ww2dbaseBy 0241 on the morning of 29 November 1944 there seemed little chance of reaching a firing position. By now the relentless chase had lasted for about seven hours. Then, at 0300 hours, another radar plot indicated that the enemy had changed its course again. The range closed to about 11,700 yards until finally they had the target perfectly placed for a submerged torpedo attack. Enright sighted the carrier in the periscope at a distance of 7,000 yards, but had to change course because it looked as if the target would pass too close for a good shot. Indeed, at 0316 hours the carrier zigged about 30 degrees to the left. Prospects were improving for Archerfish. She had been too close to the carrier, but was now in an excellent firing position; the distance was now about 1,400 yards. One minute after the carrier's change of course Archerfish fired six torpedoes from her bow tubes.

ww2dbaseThe first hit was observed and heard near the propellers and the rudder of the huge target 47 seconds later. A large ball of fire shot into the air. Ten seconds later Enright spotted the second hit about 50 yards forward of the first. One of the carrier's escorting destroyers was now seen approaching from about 500 yards off Archerfish's quarter so Enright ordered the submarine to submerge. On her way down four more hits were heard. The destroyer dropped 14 depth charges in all and the closest exploded 30 yards from Archerfish. No damage was sustained. Breaking up noises could be heard from the carrier for about 47 minutes and Enright believed his submarine had sunk a carrier similar to the Hayatake-class. At 0405 the last of the noises was heard, Archerfish came to periscope depth at 0610 hours. Nothing was in sight. Enright presumed the carrier had sunk immediately. He sent news of his attack to Pearl Harbor and continued on his patrol. On 9 December 1944 the submarine sighted two destroyers and fired four torpedoes, but no hits were obtained. They did not know it at the time but the Archerfish had set a record for tonnage in a single kill by a submarine.

ww2dbasePost War

ww2dbaseArcherfish would make two more war patrols before, early in August 1945, two mushroom clouds at Hiroshima and Nagasaki put an end to Japan's Imperial ambitions. After a refit at Guam Archerfish sailed on 19 January 1945 to the South China Sea, Hong Kong and the southern tip of Taiwan. She damaged one unidentified target and claimed a submarine on 14 February 1945 before heading home to San Francisco, California, United States (via Saipan and Pearl Harbor) for a much needed overhaul. The final war patrol got underway from Pearl Harbor on 10 July and took Archerfish to the east coast of Honshu to provide lifeguard services for Superfortresses striking the Japanese home islands. She was off Hokkaido on 15 August when word of the Japanese capitulation arrived. Archerfish was one of twelve Allied submarines that entered Tokyo Bay on 31 August. After the formal Japanese surrender on 2 September, Archerfish returned to Pearl Harbor and arrived there on 12 September. After the war Commander Enright would be awarded the Navy Cross for his outstanding success. Archerfish received seven battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service.

ww2dbaseUSS Archerfish was decommissioned in 1946 and placed in the Pacific Reserve Group berthed at Mare Island, California. Recommissioned at the time of the Korean War the submarine operated out of Key West, Florida, United States, until decommissioned for a second time in 1955. Reactivated in July 1957, Archerfish served with the Fleet Training Command at Key West and Guantánamo Bay. In early 1960, Archerfish was chosen to participate in a scientific study of marine weather conditions, water composition, ocean depths, and temperature ranges. Embarking a team of scientists, she carried a series of cruises in the Atlantic and (later) Western Pacific oceans. In early 1968, Archerfish was declared unfit for further naval service and was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 May 1968. She was towed to a target position off San Diego and sunk by a torpedo fired from the submarine USS Snook on 19 October 1968.

ww2dbaseSources:
GĂĽnter Schomaekers: "End of the Shinano" (War Monthly Magazine, Marshall Cavendish)
Warships of World War II (Collins-Jane's, 1996)
Wikipedia - USS Archerfish (SS-311)

Last Major Revision: Aug 2022

Submarine Archerfish (SS-311) Interactive Map

Archerfish Operational Timeline

22 Jan 1943 The keel of Archerfish was laid down at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, United States.
28 May 1943 Archerfish was launched at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, United States, sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt's personal secretary Malvina Thompson.
4 Sep 1943 USS Archerfish was commissioned into service with Lieutenant Commander George William Kehl in command.
29 Nov 1943 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
23 Dec 1943 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for her first war patrol.
27 Dec 1943 USS Archerfish refueled at Midway.
18 Jan 1944 USS Archerfish fired four torpedoes at a Japanese patrol craft in the East China Sea; all torpedoes missed.
22 Jan 1944 USS Archerfish made a radar contact with a 7-ship convoy in the East China Sea north of Taiwan. She fired four torpedoes and struck a freighter, possibly sinking her.
25 Jan 1944 USS Archerfish fired four torpedoes at a cargo ship two files off of the east coast of Taito Prefecture, Taiwan; all torpedoes missed.
16 Feb 1944 USS Archerfish arrived at Midway, ending her first war patrol.
16 Mar 1944 USS Archerfish departed Midway, starting her second war patrol.
25 Mar 1944 In the Pacific Ocean about 150 miles east of Guam, USS Archerfish detected an aircraft with her SD radar and dove. The Japanese aircraft had already detected the submarine and attacked with depth charges, causing no damage.
27 Apr 1944 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, ending her second war patrol.
18 May 1944 While at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, Lieutenant Commander William Harry Wright was made the commanding officer of USS Archerfish, relieving George Kehl.
28 May 1944 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for her third war patrol.
14 Jun 1944 USS Archerfish arrived at her assigned lifeguard station.
28 Jun 1944 USS Archerfish fired four torpedoes at a Japanese escort vessel No. 24 in the Philippine Sea 50 miles west of Iwo Jima, Japan. Two struck, sinking her.
2 Jul 1944 USS Archerfish fired nine torpedoes at a Japanese convoy 5 miles west of Ogasawara, Chichi Jima, Japan, scoring five hits, damaging two cargo ships.
4 Jul 1944 USS Archerfish was assigned lifeguard duty during the strikes on Iwo Jima, Japan, rescuing naval aviator Ensign John B. Anderson.
15 Jul 1944 USS Archerfish arrived at Midway, ending her third war patrol.
7 Aug 1944 USS Archerfish departed Midway for her fourth war patrol.
13 Aug 1944 USS Archerfish exchanged gunfire with a Japanese patrol boat in the Pacific Ocean south of Japan. The Japanese patrol boat was struck several times but did not sink.
29 Sep 1944 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, ending her fourth war patrol. Lieutenant Commander Joseph Francis Enright, Sr. was made the submarine's commanding officer, relieving William Wright.
30 Oct 1944 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, beginning her fifth war patrol.
9 Nov 1944 USS Archerfish moored alongside the submarine tender Fulton at Saipan, Mariana Islands for minor repairs.
11 Nov 1944 Submarine wolf pack Fennomonts departed Saipan, Mariana Islands (USS Archerfish, USS Pampanito, USS Seacat, USS Searaven, and USS Scabbardfish).
12 Nov 1944 USS Archerfish left submarine wolf pack Fennomonts to perform lifeguard duties.
14 Nov 1944 USS Archerfish was ordered to perform lifeguard duties for a planned Tokyo, Japan bombing raid on the following day.
28 Nov 1944 USS Archerfish surfaced south of Tokyo Bay, Japan at 1718 hours. At 1800 hours, the incomplete Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano departed Yokosuka, Japan, 2,175 officers and crew, 300 shipyard workers, and 40 civilians on board; she was escorted by destroyers Hamakaze, Yukikaze, and Isokaze and submarine chaser Cha-241. At 2034 hours, Archerfish sighted Inamba Shima about 90 miles south of the entrance to Tokyo Bay. At 2048 hours, Archerfish's radar detected a contact approaching from the north. At 2140 hours, commanding officer Commander Joseph Enright identified the target as an unknown aircraft carrier. A message was sent to Commander Submarines Pacific Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii., who on the following day would order all submarines in the area to converge on this target.
29 Nov 1944 At about 0315 hours, after seven hours of silent pursuit after the zigzagging Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano, USS Archerfish fired six torpedoes at the target from her bow tubes. After observing two hits, the submarine dove; while diving, the carrier was seen beginning to list, and two more detonations were heard. An escorting Japanese destroyer dropped 14 depth charges, causing no damage. In the mean time, Shinano suffered uncontrollable flooding on the starboard side. Escorting destroyers Yukikaze, Hamakaze, and Isokaze rescued survivors. While underwater, the crew of Archerfish reported observing breaking up noises for 47 minutes. The carrier sank after about 7 hours.
9 Dec 1944 USS Archerfish fired four torpedoes at two Japanese destroyers in the Pacific Ocean east of Japan; all torpedoes missed.
15 Dec 1944 USS Archerfish arrived at Guam, ending her fifth war patrol.
10 Jan 1945 USS Archerfish departed Guam, starting her sixth war patrol.
14 Feb 1945 USS Archerfish fired eight torpedoes at a Japanese submarine or patrol ship in the Philippine Sea, scoring one hit and claimed a sinking.
3 Mar 1945 USS Archerfish ended her sixth war patrol.
13 Mar 1945 USS Archerfish arrived at San Francisco, California, United States.
5 Jun 1945 USS Archerfish underwent a sea test off California, United States after refitting.
14 Jun 1945 USS Archerfish departed San Francisco, California, United States.
22 Jun 1945 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
10 Jul 1945 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, starting her seventh war patrol.
31 Aug 1945 USS Archerfish entered Tokyo Bay, Japan.
12 Sep 1945 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
15 Nov 1945 While at Honolulu, US Territory of Hawaii, Joseph Enright stepped down as the commanding officer of USS Archerfish.
2 Jan 1946 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
8 Jan 1946 USS Archerfish began a period of overhaul in preparation for inactivation in San Francisco, California, United States.
13 Mar 1946 USS Archerfish completed her preinactivation overhaul in San Francisco, California, United States and proceeded to the nearby Mare Island Navy Yard.
12 Jun 1946 USS Archerfish was decommissioned from service and was placed in the Pacific Reserve Group berthed at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, United States.
7 Jan 1952 Archerfish was selected for reactivation.
7 Mar 1952 USS Archerfish was recommissioned into service.
26 Mar 1952 USS Archerfish was assigned to the US Navy Pacific Fleet.
27 Mar 1952 USS Archerfish began a period of shakedown training at San Diego, California, United States.
28 Mar 1952 USS Archerfish suffered an accidental fire in the maneuvering room.
27 May 1952 USS Archerfish held a post-repair shakedown cruise off California, United States.
3 Jul 1952 USS Archerfish was assigned to the US Navy Atlantic Fleet.
25 Apr 1955 USS Archerfish departed Key West, Florida, United States.
21 Oct 1955 USS Archerfish was decommissioned from service at New London, Connecticut, United States; she was assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
1 Aug 1957 USS Archerfish was recommissioned into service.
13 Jan 1958 USS Archerfish set sail for a cruise under the technical supervision of the US Navy Hydrographic Office.
2 Oct 1959 USS Archerfish bottomed at 322 feet at about 15 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, United States. Commander George F. Bond and Chief Engineman Cyril Tuckfield safely completed a 52-second, 302-foot buoyant ascent from the forward escape trunk.
18 May 1960 USS Archerfish began her service with Operation Sea Scan, a scientific mission.
3 Dec 1960 USS Archerfish arrived at New London, Connecticut, United States.
20 Jan 1961 USS Archerfish departed New London, Connecticut, United States.
6 Feb 1961 USS Archerfish transited the Panama Canal.
27 Mar 1961 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. United States.
27 Apr 1961 USS Archerfish arrived at San Francisco, California, United States for a scheduled overhaul.
10 Jan 1963 USS Archerfish departed San Diego, California, United States.
25 Nov 1963 USS Archerfish departed Yokosuka, Japan.
5 Mar 1964 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. United States.
30 Mar 1964 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. United States.
25 May 1964 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. United States.
17 Jun 1964 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. United States.
19 Aug 1964 USS Archerfish arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. United States.
9 Sep 1964 USS Archerfish departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. United States.
19 Oct 1964 USS Archerfish departed New Zealand.
6 Nov 1964 USS Archerfish arrived at Yokosuka, Japan.
27 Nov 1964 USS Archerfish departed Yokosuka, Japan.
1 May 1968 USS Archerfish was decommissioned from service and was struck from the US Naval Register.
19 Oct 1968 Nuclear submarine USS Snook sank target ship Archerfish with a torpedo off San Diego, California, United States.

Photographs

Malvina Thompson (sponsor), Mrs. Charles E. Lund (matron of honor), and Eleanor Lund (flower bearer) at the launching ceremony of Archerfish, Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, United States, 28 May 1943.USS Archerfish underway, probably in the San Francisco Bay area, California, United States, 30 May 1945, photo 1 of 2USS Archerfish underway, probably in the San Francisco Bay area, California, United States, 30 May 1945, photo 2 of 2USS Archerfish departing Hunter
See all 14 photographs of Submarine Archerfish (SS-311)



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Submarine Archerfish (SS-311) Photo Gallery
Malvina Thompson (sponsor), Mrs. Charles E. Lund (matron of honor), and Eleanor Lund (flower bearer) at the launching ceremony of Archerfish, Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, United States, 28 May 1943.
See all 14 photographs of Submarine Archerfish (SS-311)


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