USS TIRANTE (SS-420)
Tirante (SS-420) was laid down on 28 April 1944 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard; launched on 9 August
1944; sponsored by Mrs. William B. Sieglaff, wife
of Comdr. Sieglaff; and commissioned on 6 November 1944, Lt. Comdr.
George L. Street III in command.
training in Long Island Sound and
training in waters off Panama and off Oahu, Hawaii, Tirante departed Pearl Harbor on 3 March 1945, bound for Japanese home waters. Prowling to the westward of Kyushu, the submarine patrolled
the approaches to Nagasaki. She had
good hunting. She sank the 703-ton tanker Fuji Maru on 25 March
and followed this success with the sinking
of the 1,218-ton freighter Nase
Maru three days later. After the latter attack, Japanese escorts kept Tirante down for seven hours,
before she slipped away from her hunters, unscathed.
On 31 March, Tirante shelled
and sank a 70-ton lugger with 5-inch and 40-millimeter gunfire and, on 1 April, missed an LST-type vessel with a spread of
three torpedoes. The submarine soon
shifted to waters off the south coast
of Korea, near the Strait of Tsushima.
At twilight on 6 April, she battle-surfaced and captured a small Japanese
fishing vessel and took its three crewmen prisoner before sinking the prize.
The following day, Tirante
torpedoed a 2,800-ton cargo freighter loaded with a deck cargo of
oil drums. The submarine surfaced, looked
over the debris, and directed nearby Korean fishing craft to pick up two
survivors who were clinging to pieces of
wreckage. Nevertheless, although
observers on the submarine reported witnessing the Maru's sinking,
post-war examination of Japanese
records failed to confirm the "kill."
Having broken the
Japanese codes, American naval intelligence men were able to anticipate
Japanese movements. One intercepted
enemy message told of an important
convoy steaming toward Tirante's area. In response to this information, the submarine laid an
ambush on 9 April. Picking out two
targets, she fired three torpedoes at
each. One spread missed, but the other
struck the 5,500-ton transport Nikko Maru- carrying homeward-bound Japanese soldiers and
sailors from Shanghai. As the
important auxiliary slipped beneath
the waves, enemy escorts leapt to the offensive. To ward off the counterattack,
Tirante fired a "cutie" (homing torpedo) at one of the escorts
and heard subsequent
"breaking-up noises." But again, post-war accounting failed to confirm the sinking.
Tirante resumed her relentless prowling of the Yellow Sea between Quelpart Island (Cheju Do) and the
mouth of the Yangtze. She soon
received an intelligence report which
informed her that an important Japanese transport was at Cheju, the main port
on Quelpart Island. Under cover of
darkness, Tirante boldly began her approach on the surface. In defiance of possible enemy radar or patrolling planes or ships, she closed
the coast and penetrated the mine-
and shoal-obstructed waters within
the 10-fathom curve line. Prepared to fight
her way out, Tirante then entered the harbor where she found three targets: two escort vessels
and the 4,000-ton Juzan Maru.
The submarine launched
three torpedoes at the maru, which
blew up in an awesome explosion. The conflagration clearly illuminated Tirante and alerted the Mikura-class escort vessel Nomi and Kaibokan
No. 31 which immediately got
underway toward the invading submersible.
While she headed back out to sea at flank speed, Tirante launched a spread of torpedoes which hit and destroyed both pursuers. En route to Midway,
the submarine captured two Japanese
airmen (bringing her prisoner total to five) and concluded her first war
patrol on 25 April.
Tirante's stellar performance earned Comdr. Street the Medal of Honor. Lt. Edward L. Beach, the executive officer-and later commander of Triton (SSRN-586) during the submarine's submerged
circumnavigation of the
globe-received the Navy Cross. The ship, herself, was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
Tirante departed from Midway on 20 May as command ship of the nine-boat "wolfpack"
dubbed "Street's Sweepers." They patrolled the Yellow and East
China Seas on the lookout for enemy
targets-by then dwindling in number. Tirante located a four-ship
convoy on 11 June, in the familiar hunting grounds off Nagasaki. She evaded the three escorts long enough to get a
shot at the lone merchantman, an
800-ton cargo freighter, and pressed
home a successful attack. Post-war Japanese records, though, do not
confirm a "kill."
The next day, Tirante pulled
off nearly a repeat performance of
her hit-and-run raid at Cheju. She crept into Ha Shima harbor, some seven miles from Nagasaki and picked out the 2,200-ton Hakuju Maru moored
alongside a colliery. From a range of
1,000 yards, the submarine fired a "down the throat" shot at
the cargo-man which exploded with a roar.
The second "fish" failed to detonate, but the third completed
the destruction begun by the first. As
shells from shore guns fell around her, Tirante bent on speed and
cleared the area.
Resuming her roving patrols, Tirante and her sisters played havoc with shipping between Korea and Japan,
destroying junks carrying supplies from Korea to the Japanese home islands. Boarding parties from the
submarine would take off the skippers
for questioning, put the crew in life
boats, and set the craft afire. Tirante
bagged a dozen in this manner and also
destroyed two heavily armed picket boats with surface gunfire before returning to Guam on 19 July.
Tirante departed Guam on 12 August on what would have been her third war patrol. The end of the
war, however, cut this operation short
and the submarine put into Midway on
the 23d. Eventually sailing for the east coast of the United States, Tirante
moored at the Washington Navy Yard
in October-at which time Comdr.
Street received his Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony. Shifting to Staten Island, N.Y., on 31 October, the submarine remained there until
moving to New London, Conn., on 8
January 1946. After conducting
training operations out of New London, Tirante was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 6 July
1946 at her Connecticut home port.
Subsequently converted to greater underwater propulsive power (GUPPY) configuration, Tirante was
re-commissioned on 26 November 1952,
at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
After conducting her shakedown to Bermuda
and operating in the Atlantic as far north as Iceland, the submarine returned to the east coast of the United States to prepare for her first
deployment with the 6th Fleet.
In the ensuing two
decades, Tirante conducted six more
Mediterranean deployments, interspersed with a regular schedule of exercises and maneuvers with Fleet units in the North Atlantic, off the east coast
and in the Caribbean and the Gulf of
Mexico. The ship participated in
joint exercises with NATO forces; sometimes
served as a target for antisubmarine warfare exercises; and, on occasion, assisted the Fleet Sonar School at Key West, Fla., in the development of
ASW tactics and weapons.
Decommissioned at Key
West, Fla., on 1 October 1973, and
struck from the Navy list the same day, Tirante was sold on 11 April 1974 to Union Minerals and
Alloys of New York, for scrapping.
Tirante received two battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service.
[Note: The above USS TIRANTE (SS-420) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS TIRANTE (SS-420), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]