USS SEA OWL (SS-405)
Sea Owl (SS-405) was laid down by the
Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard on 7 February 1944; launched on 7 May
1944; sponsored by Mrs. Thomas L. Gatch; and commissioned on 17 July
1944, Lt. Comdr. Carter L. Bennett in command.
After shakedown off Portsmouth, N.H., and New London,
Conn., Sea Owl transited the Panama Canal and arrived
at Pearl Harbor on 23 October 1944. Her first war patrol commenced on
19 November and was conducted in the East China Sea as part of a
coordinated attack group with Sea Poacher (SS-406) and Piranha
(SS-389). After three weeks of searching for worthwhile
targets, Sea Owl sank her initial victim, a Japanese
escort destroyer. The remainder of the patrol was uneventful, and the
submarine put into Guam on 15 January 1945.
For her second war patrol, Sea Owl joined Piranha
and Puffer (SS-268) in patrolling in Luzon Strait and the
South China Sea. She was off Wake Island early on the
morning of 18 April and sent a Japanese submarine of the
RO-35 class to the bottom. Her second patrol ended at Midway on 21
Sea Owl got underway for her third and
final war patrol on 20 May in concert with Puffer and Tirante
(SS-420). This patrol was concentrated in the Yellow and East
China seas and was devoted to both lifeguard duties and offensive patrol. After
19 days, two Japanese destroyers were contacted and six torpedoes were
fired from a perfect set-up. The first torpedo hit one of the destroyers
in her magazine amidships, blowing her up in the water and allowing the
other torpedoes to pass under the target and miss. The other destroyer joined forces
with two patrol craft and vengefully dropped 84 depth charges during
the following 14 hours but inflicted no material damage. Four days later, Sea Owl,
in a gun attack, destroyed a large, rice-laden, four-masted
schooner from which she captured two prisoners of war. On 2 July, she
rescued six downed aviators after a 135-mile race against darkness. All six
were treated for wounds and were included in the crew for the
remainder of the patrol.
When the Japanese surrendered on 15 August, Sea Owl was in
Pearl Harbor preparing for her fourth war patrol.
Upon returning to the United States in September, Sea
Owl was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and was based at
Balboa in the Canal Zone as a unit of Submarine Squadron (Sub Ron) 6. From
October 1946 through March 1947, she made a cruise along the west coast
of South America and joined the other submarines of SubRon 6 in fleet
exercises off Culebra Island in the West Indies. She next supported
antisubmarine training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Key West, Fla.
Sea Owl underwent overhaul at the Philadelphia
Navy Yard from September 1947 to January 1948 followed by a brief
period of, refresher training in the Caribbean. She resumed her duties
at Balboa on 12 January and, for the next 18 months, operated in the Panama area
and Caribbean Sea participating in fleet training exercises.
On 27 June 1949, Sea Owl arrived at the Portsmouth (N.H.)
Naval Shipyard for a regularly scheduled overhaul and, upon completion in
October, was assigned to SubRon 8 in New London, Conn. For the next two years,
she operated in the Atlantic participating in fleet exercises and
Sea Owl was converted to a fleet snorkel
submarine in the Philadelphia Navy Yard from April to August 1951
and, for the next year, she participated in Atlantic Fleet
exercises in the Caribbean area. Early in 1953, the submarine entered
Charleston (S.C.) Naval Shipyard for overhaul and, unon completion, sailed to
New London and then to the Caribbean as part of operation "Springboard."
After returning to New London in March, she departed for her first tour
of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean participating in fleet
exercises and in operation "Kevstone" and visiting
France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey in a three-month tour.
Returning to New London in August 1954, Sea Owl spent
the next two years in Atlantic and Caribbean waters training submarine
school students and reserve personnel. After engaging in special operations in
the late fall of 1956 and early 1957, the submarine resumed
normal duties in the New London area until 1 September when she departed to
engage in NATO exercises Fishplay and Strikeback in the northern Atlantic,
returning to New London in October.
In April and May 1958, Sea Owl participated in NATO
exercise New Broom and, upon returning to New London, engaged in local
operations for the remainder of the year. After a five-month overhaul
early in 1959, she participated in NATO exercise Fishplay and
spent the latter months of 1960 in her second deployment to the Mediterranean.
Sea Owl commenced 1961 with an extended
upkeep period followed by local operations in the New London area. On
6 March, she departed for another Mediterranean tour followed by a
scheduled overhaul in the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard.
After the 1962 Christmas holidays, Sea Owl departed
for the Caribbean to take part in the second phase of operation
Springboard including antisubmarine warfare exercises and visits to
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Immediately following, she was engaged in a
two-week antisubmarine warfare exercise with surface and air
units of the Royal Canadian Navy in the vicinity of Berumda. In April 1963,
she participated in exercise New Broom XI with joint forces of the United
States and Canada. The remainder of the year consisted of submarine
school operations and training exercises in the New London area.
On 8 February 1964, Sea Owl commenced a five-week
availability at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard followed by
participation in exercise Long Hook with joint forces of the United
States, British, Canadian, and Dutch Navies and in exercise Canus Silex with Canadian
and United States Naval forces. In September, the submarine
participated in exercise Master Stroke and exercise Canus Slamex with
United States, Canadian, and British forces and returned to the
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 2 November for a five-month overhaul.
On 7 July 1965, Seal Owl put to sea for a
four-month deployment to the Mediterranean and, after returning to New
London, engaged in local exercises for the remainder of the year.
Sea Owl spent 1966 providing services for the Submarine
School and Operational Test and Evaluation Force in New London with time
out for participation in operation Springboard in the Caribbean. During
1967, she participated in various fleet and training exercises;
and, on 22 May, deployed to northern European waters for a training and
good will tour, returning in July.
During a discharge physical examination, one of the crewman
was discovered to have an active case of tuberculosis in an advanced
stage. Due to the close environment and isolated atmosphere of the submarine, the crew
was transferred to the United States Naval Hospital, St. Albans, N.Y., for
three days of intensive tests. Following laboratory analysis, it was found
that no other active cases existed, and the crew was returned to the
submarine. Because of the unique living conditions of submarine life, Sea
Owl served as a control group for clinical research for the Tuberculosis
Service, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
Operations for the year 1968 included various fleet exercises,
including antisubmarine warfare operations with destroyer units and various
NATO and United States ASW naval air squadrons. Training exercises included
both officer submarine school and weekend reserve training cruises.
On 30 June 1969, Sea Owl was reclassified as an auxiliary
submarine (AGSS). She departed New London on 7 July for her final
deployment to the Mediterranean. Upon return, the submarine was
ordered to commence preparations for deactivation. On 15 November, after
more than 25 years of dedicated service, Sea Owl was decommissioned
and struck from the Navy list.
Sea Owl received five battle stars for
World War II.
[Note: The above USS SEA OWL (SS-405) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS SEA OWL (SS-405), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]