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Re: I have often times wondered

June 6 2010 at 4:42 PM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to I have often times wondered


The boats you mention were largely not promising ones, either too large, underpowered, and unwieldy (V-1 through V-6), problem-ridden (V-7), or too small (V-8, V-9). Six of them spent virtually all of the war in New London and adjacent waters as training and school boats, though to be sure, two of the former V-boats, NARWHAL (V-5) and NAUTILUS (V-6) did compile decent war records. In quick order:

The three B-class boats, large at 341+ feet and woefully underpowered, V-1 (later BARRACUDA), V-2 (later BASS), and V-3 (later BONITA), briefly made patrols in what were considered safe waters of the Pacific near the Panama Canal, before shortly heading east to New London. No way was the navy going to send these unsuccessful submarines west into harm's way.

In addition to carrying marine raiders and army scouts on various occasions, two of the former V-boats, very large at 371+ feet, NARWHAL (V-5) and NAUTILUS (V-6), were used in the later half of the war precisely as you suggest, to carry supplies, ordnance, and personnel to the Philippines, and bring evacuees off--but NEVER into the dangerous confines of Manila Bay. Both subs did torpedo and sink enemy ships during their active war patrol phase, and one of them got to unlimber her light cruiser-sized 6-inch guns for a little shore bombardment.

After being rebuilt like near-sister NAUTILUS to carry troops, former minelaying sub ARGONAUT (V-4) was sent on a war patrol out of Darwin, and on this first occasion since the Makin raid, the large and unwieldy boat was easily sunk by IJN destroyers, with the loss of her entire crew of 105 men.

DOLPHIN (V-7) was only slightly longer than the average fleet sub, but had propulsion problems. With her two overly diminutive and cramped successors, CACHELOT (V-8) and CUTTLEFISH (V-9), they were sent to New London quite soon after war began, along with the earlier B-class boats.

For the various reasons cited, none of these nine boats would have been good candidates for sneaking into the close waters of Manila Bay. And if one could not have gotten them that near, given the sorry history revealed previously in this thread, chances were excellent that the food, medicine, and ammo they carried would NOT have reached Fort Mills, Corregidor, much less Bataan, the far more difficult final leg.

For some excellent photos of these boats, either building or recently completed, may I be so forward to suggest Lawry, Williford, and Polaski, PORTSMOUTH HARBOR'S MILITARY AND NAVAL HERITAGE (Arcadia, 2004), pp. 92-95. Some samples: Between two photos on page 93, is this single caption: "In 1924, the submarine V-1 (named BARRACUDA seven years later) appears on the building ways at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in both the upper (stern) and lower (bow) views. Although the first V-boats were beautifully streamlined and sleek in design, in actual use they were underpowered, slow, and unwieldy. Recalled to duty at Portsmouth in 1940, the three subs were sent to relatively safe patrol areas southwest of Panama. In 1942 they returned to New London, Connecticut, and spent the remainder of the war there, until they were sold in 1945." Page 94 has two overhead views of V-3 (BONITA), before and after the mounting of her two 6-inch guns, and page 95 has two views of the ill-fated V-4 (ARGONAUT), at dockside and in Drydock No. 2, truly dwarfing her drydock mate, the small wartime-built (WWI) O-2.


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