USS TORSK (SS-423)
Torsk (SS-423) was laid down on 7 June 1944 at the Portsmouth
(N.H.) Navy Yard; launched on 6 September
1944; sponsored by Mrs. Allen B. Reed; and commissioned on 16 December 1944, Comdr. Bafford E. Lewellen in command.
Completed on the last day of 1944, Torsk trained out
of Portsmouth, Newport, and New London until 11 February, when she headed for Florida. On the 16th, the submarine arrived at Port Everglades where she
provided services for antisubmarine
research. She departed that Florida
port on 20 February, transited the Panama
Canal, and reached Hawaii on 23 March.
After a repair and
training period, she got underway from
Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol. Torsk paused briefly at Guam en route to an area off Kii Suido which she reached on 11 May and began lifeguard duty. Air contacts were few in this period,
and the submarine found no
opportunity to conduct rescue operations.
Toward midnight on 11 May, she set course for her patrol area off the northeastern coast of Honshu. She arrived there on the 13th and, for two
days, attempted to contact other
members of the wolf pack, "Lewellen's Looters." On the 16th,
she made rendezvous with Sandlance (SS-381)
and Cero (SS-225). For more
than a fortnight, their careful coverage of the east coast of Honshu turned up nothing more interesting than mines.
On 2 June, while patrolling between Honshu and Hokkaido, Torsk came upon a small coastal
minelayer. The submarine fired six
torpedoes-which the small vessel avoided by maneuvering-and then dove and rigged for depth charges which did not
materialize. Torsk had another disappointing encounter on the 4th
when, while patrolling off Kobe Saki, she
fired four torpedoes at a 700-ton freighter without scoring. The following day,
she set her course homeward, stopped at Midway on the llth, and returned to Pearl Harbor on the 16th.
After refitting and the
installation of new equipment, the
submarine got underway for her second war patrol on 17 July. She spent the
first two days of August at Guam and
set her course for the Sea of Japan.
She passed through the
minefields of Tsushima Strait on 10 August and, on the morning of the
llth, rescued seven Japanese merchant seamen
who had survived the sinking of the Koue
Mam some four days before. Early that afternoon, the submarine entered her
patrol area and, on the following morning off Dogo Island, Torsk made
a submerged periscope attack which sank a small coastal freighter.
On the 13th, she
patrolled off Ando Saki and, after sighting
a number of fishing boats during the morning, sighted another small freighter which she promptly sank. Later the same day, she made an unsuccessful attack on a cargo ship as it entered Wakasa Wan;
then dodged through a 75-boat
fishing fleet; and outdistanced the maru's
Off Amarubi Saki on the
morning of the 14th, Torsk sighted
a medium cargo ship and took up the chase. A 745-ton "Kaibokan"-class patrol escort vessel accompanied the freighter to seaward, presenting the submarine
with a tempting target. At 1035, as the freighter and her escort approached Kasumi Ko, Torsk launched one of the new experimental Mark 28 torpedoes at
the escorting ship. Minutes later, the "fish" found its mark; an explosion bent the stern of the frigate up to a
30-desrree angle, and shortly
thereafter the target sank. As the
freighter entered the harbor half an hour later, Torsk attempted
to sink her but was unsuccessful, possibly
because the torpedoes struck undetected reefs near the mouth of the harbor.
Around noon, another frigate appeared, apparently a reinforcement which had been called in.
Continuing her aggressive action, Torsk
fired a Mark 28 torpedo at the frigate
which had already detected the submarine's presence. Comdr. Lewellen
then initiated deep submergence procedures
and ordered the crew to rig for silent
running. After a tense five minutes, she reached 400 feet and there she launched another torpedo, this time the new acoustic Mark 27. Almost immediately, a
loud explosion announced that the first torpedo had found its mark, and a minute later a second explosion sounded, followed by strong breaking up noises.
The secret new torpedoes had proven their worth in battle, and Torsk was credited, not only with two enemy
warships, but also with sinking the
last Japanese warship sunk in World
War II. Held down by enemy planes and
patrol vessels, the submarine remained submerged more than seven hours.
Then, she surfaced and headed for the Noto
On the 15th, following
four highly successful days of aggressive patrolling, Torsk received
word of the cessation of hostilities. She
continued her patrol in the Sea of Japan, conducting visual and photo
surveillance and destroying floating mines.
On the 31st, what was thought to be a torpedo wake was sighted, an
indicator that not everyone had heard the
news of the war's ending.
The submarine set her
course for the Marianas on 1
September, passed through Tsushima Straits on the 3d, and arrived at Guam on the 9th, successfully
completing her second war patrol.
She departed the Marianas
on the next day, .proceeded via Pearl
Harbor and the Canal Zone, and arrived at New London in mid-October. For the next seven years, she operated out of that port serving as a
training ship, participating in exercises and tests, and occasionally making naval reserve training cruises. In June
1949, she was assigned to Submarine
Squadron 2; and, in the summer of
1950, she was deployed to the Mediterranean. The ship returned to New London in the fall for fleet exercises
and, the following year, extended her operations
into the Caribbean.
Early in 1952, she
completed her conversion to a fleet-snorkel
submarine and was deployed again to the Mediterranean that summer. Returning on 27 November, she continued operations out of New London ranging
from Halifax to Havana as she trained
prospective submarine personnel and
laid exercise mine fields. In 1955,
she was reassigned to Submarine Squadron 6 at Norfolk. There, her duties
included services to aircraft and surface ships to help them hone their skills
in antisubmarine warfare. She made frequent
Caribbean voyages and participated in
Operation "Springboard." In
June 1959, she proceeded via the Saint Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, visited various ports on Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan, then returned to
the Norfolk operating area in
In the early 1960's, she
made Mediterranean deployments;
joined Commonwealth countries in Exercise "New Broom X"; and continued her duties in training antisubmarine
forces in the Atlantic. During the Cuban Crisis
in the fall of 1962, she patrolled in support of the blockade of that Caribbean island.
On 4 March 1964, the
veteran submarine was decommissioned
and, following modifications at the Boston Navy Yard, was assigned to the Washington Navy Yard for use in training reserves. Torsk operated
out of Washington until 1971 and, on
15 December of that year, was struck from the Navy list. On 26 September
1972, she was turned over to the state of
Maryland to be used as a museum in the
Inner Harbor at Baltimore.
Torsk received two battle stars for World War II service.
[Note: The above USS TORSK (SS-423) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS TORSK (SS-423), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]