WWII unrestricted submarine war against Japan


  in the PACIFIC  1941 - 1945





U.S. Submarine Losses in World War II
WWII U.S. Submarines at War in the Pacific Theater
A record of American submarines lost in the Pacific Theater
during World War II due to all causes

  Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon


Submarine veterans of World War II never consider their fellow submariners "lost". Rather, because they went down with their ship in the service of their country and are now entombed in their final resting place beneath the sea, they and their boats are forever on "Eternal Patrol"



U.S. submarines paid heavily for their successes in World War II. A total of 52 submarines were lost, with 374 officers and 3,131 enlisted men. These personnel losses represented 16% of the officer and 13% of the enlisted operational personnel. Of the 52 losses, two submarines, Dorado and R-12, were lost in the Atlantic, S-26 was sunk in a collision off Panama and S-28 was an operational loss in training at Pearl Harbor. The remaining 48 were lost either directly or indirectly as a result of enemy action, or due to stranding on reefs during combat operations.S-39, S-36, S-27 and Darter were lost as a result of such strandings. In all of these events, all personnel were rescued.

In the cases of losses due to enemy action, three officers and five men from the Flier were saved and all but four of the men from Sealion were saved. The remaining submarines were lost with all hands, though some personnel from Grenadier, Perch, Sculpin, Tang, two men from S-44 and one from Tullibee were repatriated at the end of hostilities, having been held as prisoners of war by the enemy. Four are said to have survived Robalo's sinking but they have not been recovered following the end of the war, and it is assumed that they perished as prisoners of the enemy.

The 52 submarines represented 18% of all submarines which saw combat duty. This loss of 18%, while high in comparison to the losses sustained by other types of ships of the Allied Forces is considered remarkably low when considered in relation to the results achieved, or when compared with the losses sustained by enemy submarine forces. The Germans, in World War I, lost 178 submarines of a total 272 boats in commission during that war, and in World War II, they lost between 700 and 800 submarines. With but meager results to show for their submarine effort, the Japanese in WWII lost 128 submarines and had but 58 remaining at the end of hostilities, many of the remaining 58 were non-operational.

In analyzing our losses, the following factors are considered as having been responsible for the low figures as compared to our enemies:

  1. Excellent mental and physical condition of our submarine personnel and their high state of training.

  2. Superiority of our radar over that of the Japanese.

  3. Weakness of Japanese anti-submarine measures.



Submarine crews, upon their return from a war patrol, were transferred to a Rest and Recuperation Camp for a period of two weeks while their submarine was being refitted by a relief crew. During this two week period, the regular crew had no official duties to perform other than to rest and relax and divorce their minds from all thoughts of war and combat. There were some who criticized this practice as being in the nature of pampering. The submarine force commanders vigorously defended it as being a luxury but a vital part of submarine warfare. War patrols, normally lasting 45 to 60 days, introduced a protracted mental tension unknown to other types of warfare. Without the rest periods to ease this tension the personnel would have soon cracked under the strain. As a result of the rest and recuperation policy submarine crews went to sea mentally and physically alert and it is considered a primary factor in keeping our losses to a minimum. Hand in hand with the excellent mental and physical condition of our personnel, was the high state of training in which they departed on patrol. Prior to a submarine's first patrol she was given an extensive training period, on the east coast or at Panama, followed by advanced training in the Pearl Harbor area. Immediately preceding the departure upon subsequent patrols, the submarine was given an intensive refresher training period lasting from four to eight days. Training kept pace with enemy anti-submarines measures, new training methods being introduced to counter the latest trends in enemy offensive or defensive measures.


The superiority of submarine radar as compared to the Japanese anti-submarine forces was another factor contributing much to keeping our losses low. Submarines started the war without radar, but within a few months all were equipped with the SD (aircraft warning) radar. The SD, by giving early warning of the approach of planes, did much to prevent surprise air attacks on surfaced submarines. The installation of the SJ (surface search) radar a few months later did the same to prevent the undetected approach of enemy surface craft during darkness and low visibility. When it became apparent that enemy electronic science had progressed to the point where they were able to produce efficient radars, the APR was developed to warn of their presence, and later, the ST and SV radars, using shorter waves than the SD and the SJ, were installed to combat the enemy's quite successful efforts to detect our own radars.


At the start of the war, enemy anti-submarine materiel was comparable to our own; their listening and echo ranging were practically duplications of that installed in our own anti-submarine vessels. The Japanese were poor inventors at the time but great copyists, and with their espionage services cut off during the war, they rapidly fell behind in the development of anti-submarine measures. And although their original equipment was good, their techniques of employing it was faulty. They seemed to have little trouble in locating a submarine with their listening gear following a torpedo attack, but having located her, they failed in the solution of where to drop their depth charges. Their attacks were characterized by a consistent lack of persistence. They were prone to accept the most nebulous evidence as positive proof of a sinking, and being sure of a kill, they were off about their business, to let the submarine surface and thank God for the Japanese superiority complex. While 48 submarines were lost in combat operations, and of these, not more than 41 were directly due to to enemy action, the Japanese, at the end of hostilities, furnished us with with information which showed a total of 468 positive sinkings of our submarines. The U.S. Navy, by a wise policy of total censorship of submarine operations, encouraged the enemy in their belief of their anti-submarine successes. When we failed to announce the successful attacks of our submarines, the enemy naturally assumed that the submarines never got home to report them.

The above text was transcribed from
(NAVPERS 15784, 1949 Issue)


  • A total of 52 United States submarines were lost during WWII.

  • The United States submarine service sustained the highest mortality rate of all branches of the U.S. Military during WWII

  • 1 out of every 5 U.S. Navy submariners was killed in WWII

  • 3,505 American submariners made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of their country in World War II.








1 Sealion Richard G. Voge  12/10/41 Cavite, P. I. (1)
2 S - 36 John R. McKnight Jr 1/20/42 Straits of Makassar  (3)
3 S - 26 Earle C. Hawk 1/24/42 Gulf of Panama (4)
4 Shark Louis Shane Jr  ∆ 2/11/42 Molucca Sea (2)
5 Perch David A. Hurt 3/3/42 Java Sea (2)
6 S - 27 Herbert L. Jukes 6/19/42 Amchitka I., Aleutians (3)
7  Grunion Mannert L. Able  ∆ 7/8/42 Aleutian waters (8)
8 S - 39 Francis E. Brown 8/16/42 Rossell I., SW Pacific (3)
9 Argonaut

John R. Pierce  ∆

1/10/43 Off New Britain (2)
10 Amberjack John A. Bole  ∆ 2/16/43 Off New Britain (1)(2)
11 Grampus John R. Craig  ∆ 3/5/43 Off New Britain (2)
12 Triton George McKenzie Jr 3/15/43 Admiralty Islands (2)
13 Pickerel August H. Alston Jr. 4/3/43 Japanese home waters (2)
14 Grenadier John A. Fitzgerald 4/22/43 Malayan waters (1)
15 Runner Joseph H. Bourland 5/43 Japanese home waters (5)
16 R-12 Edward Shelby 6/12/43 Off Key West, Fla. (4)
17 Grayling Robert M. Brinker 9/12/43 Philippine waters (8)
18 Pompano Willis M. Thomas 9/27/43 Japanese home waters (5)
19 Cisco James W. Coe 9/28/43 South Pacific Ocean (1)(2)
20 S-44 Francis E. Brown 10/7/43 Kurile Islands (2)
21 Wahoo Dudley W. Morton 10/11/43 Japanese home waters (1)
22 Dorado Earle C. Schneider 10/12/43 Canal Zone, Panama (1*)
23 Corvina Roderick S. Rooney 11/16/43 Marshall Islands (6)
24 Sculpin Fred Connaway 11/19/43 Gilbert Islands (2)
25 Capelin Elliott E. Marshall 12/9/43 Celebes Sea (2)
26 Scorpion Maximilian G Schmidt 2/24/44 East China Sea (5)
27 Grayback John A. Moore 2/26/44 Ryukyu Islands (1)(2)
28 Trout Albert H. Clark 2/29/44 Ryukyu Islands (2)
29 Tullibee Charles F. Brindupke 3/26/44 Off Palau Island (7)
30 Gudgeon Robert A. Bonin 5/11/44 Marianas Islands (1)(2)
31 Herring David Zabriske Jr. 6/1/44 Kurile Islands (2)
32 Golet James S. Clark 6/14/44 Japanese home waters (2)
33 S-28 J.G. Campbell 7/4/44 Off Oahu, T. H. (4)
34 Robalo Manning M. Kimmel 7/26/44 Off Borneo (5)
35 Flier John D. Crowley 8/13/44 Off Borneo (5)
36 Harder Samuel D. Dealey 8/24/44 Philippine waters (2)
37 Seawolf Albert M. Bontier 10/3/44 Off Morotai I., N.E.I. (2*)
38 Darter David H. McClintock 10/24/44 Palawan Passage, P.I. (3)
39 Shark II Edward N. Blakely 10/24/44 Luzon Strait (2)
40 Tang Richard H. O'Kane 10/24/44 Formosa Strait (7)
41 Escolar William J. Millican 10/17/44 Tsushima Strait (5)
42 Albacore Hugh R. Rimmer 11/7/44 Japanese home waters (5)
43 Growler Thomas B. Oakley Jr 11/8/44 Philippine waters (8)
44 Scamp John Hollingsworth 11/11/44 Japanese home waters (1)(2)
45 Swordfish Keats E. Montross 1/12/45 Ryukyu Islands (2)(5)
46 Barbel Conde L. Raguet 2/4/45 Palawan (1)
47 Kete Edward Ackerman 3/20/45 Ryukyu Islands (8)
48 Trigger David R. Connole 3/28/45 Ryukyu Islands (1)(2)
49 Snook John F. Walling 4/8/45 Hainan I.,S0.China Sea (8)
50 Lagarto Frank D. Latta 5/3/45 South China Sea (1)
51 Bonefish Lawrence L. Edge 1/18/45 Japanese home waters (2)
52 Bullhead Edward R. Holt 8/6/45 Java Sea  (1)

Key to Symbols

(1) Lost due to enemy action: Aircraft

(5) Lost due to enemy action: Mines
(2) Lost due to enemy action: Surface Vessel (6) Lost due to enemy action: Submarines
(3) Lost due to enemy action: Stranding (7) Lost due to enemy action: Circular run
(4) Lost due to enemy action: Operational (8) Lost due to enemy action: Unknown

∆ Killed in Action

* Friendly Forces

Where more than one number is listed, the indicated causes are probable but not certain.




"For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
Standing Guard : by Michael Marks

"May God rest their gallant souls."
Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood Jr.
Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet




Product photo Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan
By Clay Blair
J.B. Lippincott Company
Copyright 1975
Book Cover U. S. Submarines in World War II:
An Illustrated History of the Pacific

By Larry Kimmett & Margaret Regis
Navigator Publishing
Copyright 191996


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