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Growler III SS-215 - History

Growler III SS-215 - History

Growler III

(SS-215: dp. 2,424; 1. 311'9"; b. 27'2"; dr. 15'3"; s. 20

k.;cpl.66;a.13",1021"tt.;cl.Gato) :

Growler (SS-215) was launched 2 November 1941, by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley; and commissioned 20 March 1942, Lt. Comdr. Howard W. Gilmore in command.

Growler's first war patrol began 29 June 1942 as she cleared Pearl Harbor for her assigned patrol area around Dutch Harbor, Alaska; topping off at Midway on 24 June, she entered her area on 30 June. Five days later she saw her first action, sighting three destroyers, Growler closed them for a submerged torpedo attack and then surfaced. Her torpedoes struck the first two targets amidships putting them out of action, and hit the third in the bow. but not before she had fired two torpedoes at Growler As the Japanese torpedoes "swished down each side" of Growler, she dived deep, but no depth charges followed. One of the torpedoed destroyers, Arare, was sunk, and the other two were severely damaged. Growler completed her patrol without finding any more targets, and on 17 July berthed at Pearl Harbor.

On 5 August Growler began her second and most successful war patrol, entering her area near Taiwan on "I August. Two days later she conducted a submerged night attack on a freighter, surfacing to give chase when both torpedoes ran under the target and failed to explode; the freighter's quick exit into shallow waters prevented Growler from gun attack. Patrolling amidst a large fishing fleet on 25 August, Growler sighted and fired at a large passenger freighter but all three torpedoes missed; after a 3-hour depth charge attack, in which some 53 ash cans were dropped, Growler surfaced and almost immediately spotted a convoy. After 2 hours of maneuvering, she failed to catch up with the main body of the convoy but did fire at and sink an ex-gunboat, the Senyo Maru. No more ships appeared in this immediate area for 3 days, so Growler shifted to the east side of the island. First to fall victim was Eifuku Maru' a 5,866-ton cargo ship Growler sank within 40 minutes after first sighting her on 31 August. On 4 September Growler sank by gunfire the Kashino, a 4,000-ton supply ship; 3 days later she sent two torpedoes into the 2,204-ton cargo ship Taika Maru, which broke in half and sank in 2 minutes. On 15 September Growler cleared her patrol area, and arrived back at Pearl 30 September.

During refitting, new surface radar was installed, a.s well as a new 20mm. gun; thus equipped, Growler sailed from Hawaii for her new patrol area in the Solomon Islands across the key Trok-Rabaul shipping lines. Her patrol area in these days of bitter fighting over Guadalcanal was almost continually covered by enemy planes. and only eight enemy ships were sighted with no chance for attack. Growler cleared the area 3 December and arrived in Brisbane, Australia, 10 December.

New Year's Day of 1943 saw Growler sail from Brisbane for what was to prove one of the most gallant actions in naval history. Entering her patrol area, again athwart the Truk-Rabaul shipping lanes, on ~ I January, she waited only 5 days before sighting an enemy convoy. Maneuvering inside the escorts, Growler fired two torpedoes and saw them hit; then, as her war diary reported she was in the unfortunate predicament of being about 400 yards from the destroyer and had to dive without being able to continue the attack. She was credited with sinking Chifaku Maru, a passenger-cargo ship.

The patrol continued as normal, with two further attacks, but no sinkings until shortly after 0100, 7 February when Growler stealthily approached a gunboat for a night surface attack. The small fast ship suddenly turned to ram. Gilmore then took the only move to save his ship, he brought Growler left full rudder and rammed the enemy amidships at 17 knots. Machine gun fire raked the bridge at point blank range. The courageous sub seemed lost. Gilmore cleared the bridge except for himself. Desperately wounded, he realized that he could not get below in time if his ship were to be saved. "Take her down" he ordered; and, as he floated in the sea, he wrote another stirring tale of inspirational naval history. For his heroic sacrifice to ship and crew, Comdr. Gilmore was awarded the Medal of Honor, one of six submariners to receive this medal of valor.

Severely damaged but still under control, Growler returned to Brisbane under command of her exec., Lt. A. F. Schade; she docked 17 February for extensive repairs.

Growler's fifth, sixth, and seventh patrols, out of Brisbane to the Bismarck-Solomons area, were relatively uneventful, heavy enemy air cover and a lack of targets resulted in her coming home empty-handed from all but the fifth, on which she sank the passenger cargo ship Mialadono Maru'. The seventh patrol was marred by trouble with the storage~battery and generators, and on 27 October 1943, only 11 days out of Brisbane, she was ordered to Pearl Harbor, arriving 7 November, and from there to the Navy Yard at Hunter's Point, Calif., for an extensive overhaul and refitting.

Returning to the Pacific, on 21 February 1944, Growler departed Pearl Harbor, and after refueling at Midway. headed for her patrol area. However, a week out of Midway a typhoon's high seas and wind delayed her arrival to the patrol area. Once there, Growler was again plagued by violent weather which made even periscope observation almost impossible.

Growler returned to Majuro 16 April, and departed there 14 May to take up patrol in the Marianas-Eastern Philippines-Luzon area, where the first stages of the attack on the Marianas and the Battle of the Philippine Sea were getting underway. Rendezvousing with Bang and Seahorse to form a wolfpack, she continued the patrol closing several targets but achieving firing position only once, when she sank the cargo vessel Katori Maru.

Her 10th patrol, from Pearl Harbor 11 August, found her in a new wolfpack, nicknamed "Ben's Busters" after Growler's skipper Comdr. T. B Oakley; in company with Sealion and Pampanito, she headed for the Formosa Straits area. Aided greatly by reconnaissance and guidance from planes the wolf pack closed a convoy for night surface action 31 August; their torpedoes plunged the Japanese into chaos, with their own ships ,shooting at each other in the dark, ~but no sinkings were reported. Two weeks later, 12, September, the wolfpack sighted a second convoy and closed for torpedo action. A destroyer spotted Growler and attacked her, but the sub calmly fired a spread at the destroyer. Heavily damaged by the torpedoes, the flaming destroyer bore down on Growler and only adroit maneuvering took her out of the enemy's way paint on the bridge was scared by the heat of the passing destroyer. Meantime Growler's other torpedoes and those of Sealion and Pampanito were hitting the convoy, and when Ben's Busters returned to Fremantle 26 September, they were credited with a total of six enemy ships. Growler had sunk the destroyer Shikinami and the frigate Hirado; and her companions had racked up two each. The submarines had also rescued over 150 Allied prisoners from one of the torpedoed ships which had served the Japanese as a prison ship. This difficult operation had been carried out despite rough seas caused by an approaching typhoon.

Growler's 11th and final war patrol began out of Fremantle 20 October in a wolfpack with Hake and Hardhead. On 8 November the wolfpack, headed by Growler, closed a convoy for attack, with Growler on the opposite side of the enemy from Hake and Hardhead. The order to commence attacking was the last communication ever received from Growler. After the attack was underway Hake and Hardhead heard what sounded like a torpedo explosion and then a series of depth charges on Growler's side of the convoy, and then nothing. All efforts to contact Growler for the next 3 days proved futile, and the gallant submarine, veteran of seven successful war patrols, was listed as lost in action against the enemy, cause unknown.

Growler received eight battle stars for her service in World War II.

USS Growler (SS-215)

USS Growler (SS-215), a Gato-class submarine, was the third ship of the United States Navy named for the growler, a large-mouth black bass. Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 2 November 1941 (sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley), and commissioned on 20 March 1942 with Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore in command.

Growler III SS-215 - History

by Eugene Mazza

This is some information that was gathered from many people and books from the United states and Australia tied together to make the report have some feeling. The only rights that I claim are the color photos showing the USS Growler riding the high seas with the Kangaroo leading the way. The "Kangaroo photos" are from an oil painting, artist unknown, that has been my personal property for the past 55 years.

I do not profess to be a writer - I just gathered the pictures and information. I sincerely thank those people that took part in the development of this report. My appreciation can only be shown by providing this report. I should also point out that this report is only about the USS Growler's fourth war patrol.


P. 1870 (surf.), 2424 (subm.) l 312' b. 27' dr. 19' 3" (mean)

s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.) td. 300 ft. a. 1-3"/50, 6-21" tt.

cpl. 5 officers - 54 enlisted men cl. GATO

Keel laid by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT 10 February 1941

Launched 22 November 1941 Sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Ghormley

Commissioned 20 March 1942 Lcdr. Howard W. Gilmore in command

Growler in post launch yard fitout at Electric Boat (EB) some time late '41 or early '42.
What appears to be shore line in the background is the construction shed over the ways at EB

(photo courtesy of Ric Hedman)

The Growler's fourth patrol started on new year's day, 1943. That day saw Growler sail from Brisbane for what was to prove one of the most gallant actions in Naval history. Entering her patrol area on 11-January, again athwart the Truk-Rabaul shipping lanes, she waited only five days before sighting an enemy convoy.

Maneuvering inside the escorts, Growler fired two torpedoes and saw them hit. Then, as her war diary reports, she was in the unfortunate predicament of being about 400 yards from the destroyer and had to dive with being able to continue the attack. She was credited with the sinking of the Chifuku Maru, a passenger-cargo ship.

The patrol continued with two more attacks but no sinkings. Shortly after 0100 on 7 February, Growler stealthily approached a gunboat for a night surface attack. The Hayasaki, a 2,500 ton fighting man-o-war, made specially to combat subs, suddenly turned to ram. Lcdr. Gilmore then took the only move he could to save his ship. He brought Growler left full rudder and rammed the enemy amidships at 17 knots, ripping her side plating wide open. Growler heeled over to 50 degrees, bending sideways 18 feet of the bow and disabling the forward torpedo tubes. The Japanese unloaded murderous gunfire, at point blank range, on the conning tower personnel killing the JOOD, Ensign W. Williams and lookout Fireman W.F. Kelley - and wounding the Captain.

The courageous sub seemed lost. Lcdr. Gilmore cleared the bridge except for himself. Desperately wounded, he realized that he could not get below in time if his ship were to be saved. "Take her down!," he ordered. The XO, Lcdr. Schade, closed the hatch and the Growler slipped beneath the surface as Lcdr. Gilmore, Ensign Williams and Fireman Kelley floated in the sea.

Lcdr. Gilmore sacrificed his life for his crew and ship. He wrote another stirring tale of inspirational Naval history. Lcdr. Gilmore became the first US Submariner to receive the congressional medal of honor - one of seven submariners to receive it.

Severely damaged but still under control, Growler returned to Brisbane, Australia, under the command of her XO, Lcdr. A. F. Schade. On 17 August, she docked along side the USS Fulton, AS-11, for very extensive repairs. Growler had spent ten days limping back to New Farm Wharf in Brisbane, pushing water up before her staved bow. The distance from Rabaul to Brisbane is about two thousand miles and Growler's speed could not exceed much more than eight knots. Torpedoes were hanging from their tubes which Lcdr. Schade said, "scared the hell out of us."

Below is a picture of the USS Growler tied up along side the USS Fulton.


The bow repairs took three months. The construction of the new bow was performed by the Australian civilian workers of the Evans Deakin Shipyard. When the work was completed, the Aussies were so proud of their work, they requested and received permission to weld a metal kangaroo on each side of the Growler's bow. The Australians dubbed her the "Kangaroo Express."

The picture below shows the new bow being lowered onto the Growler hull. Note that as yet, the metal kangaroos have yet to be welded to the bow.

This next picture show the USS Growler riding the high seas with the kangaroo leading the way.

I realize that it is difficult to see the kangaroo on the bow but believe me, there was one on the bow of the Growler when she started her fifth patrol. I'll try to show the kangaroo more clearly in the following photo.

I sincerely hope that this report and pictures bring back memories of day gone by.

Once again, thank all of you who had a share in this presentation.

[email protected]

Additional photo:

(photo courtesy of Ric Hedman)


Première patrouille (juin – juillet 1942)

Sa première patrouille de guerre débute le 29 juin 1942 , appareillant de Pearl Harbor pour opérer dans les eaux de l'Alaska. Le 5 juillet 1942 , il torpille et coule le destroyer japonais Arare et endommage les destroyers japonais Kasumi et Shiranuhi au large de Kiska, dans les Aléoutiennes. Il retourne à Pearl Harbor le 17 juillet .

Deuxième patrouille (août – septembre 1942)

Le 5 août , le submersible entame sa deuxième patrouille de guerre, opérant dans la région de Taïwan à partir du 21 août . Deux jours plus tard, il mène une attaque de nuit immergé sur un cargo, faisant surface pour le poursuivre lorsque les deux torpilles n'ont pas explosé, mais la fuite rapide du cargo dans les eaux peu profondes empêcha le Growler d'attaquer. Le 25 août , il tire trois torpilles sur un cargo, sans succès. Essuyant 53 attaques de charges de profondeur pendant près de trois heures, le sous-marin fait surface lorsqu'il repère un convoi. Malgré deux heures de manœuvres pour tenter d'attaquer le convoi, il coule la canonnière indépendante Senyo Maru. Trois jours, plus tard, il navigue vers l'est et le 31, torpille et coule le marchand japonais Eifuku Maru dans le détroit de Formose. Le 4 septembre , il envoie par le fond le ravitailleur japonais Kashino à environ 50 miles nautiques au nord-est de Keelung trois jours plus tard, il torpille à deux reprises le cargo Taika Maru qui se brise en deux et coule en deux minutes. Le 15 septembre , après avoir ratissé sa zone de patrouille, le Growler rejoint Pearl Harbor le 30 septembre .

Troisième patrouille (octobre – décembre 1942)

Lors d'un petit carénage, un nouveau radar de surface est installé, ainsi qu'un canon de 20 mm. Le Growler rejoint la zone des îles Salomon qui est, durant la campagne de Guadalcanal, continuellement surveillée par les avions ennemis. Le submersible localise seulement huit navires ennemis avec aucune chance d'attaque. Le Growler quitte la zone le 3 décembre et rejoint Brisbane, en Australie, le 10 décembre .

Quatrième patrouille (janvier – février 1943)

Le jour du Nouvel An de 1943, le Growler appareille de Brisbane pour ce qui s'avérera être l'une des actions les plus courageuses de l'histoire navale. Entrant dans sa zone de patrouille par les voies de navigation Truk-Rabaul le 11 janvier , cinq jours suffisent avant d'apercevoir un premier convoi ennemi. Manœuvrant à l'intérieur des escortes, le Growler tire deux torpilles au cours duquel il coule le navire à passager/cargo Chifuku Maru, à environ 10 miles nautiques au nord de l'île de Waton.

Le 7 février 1943 , pendant une attaque de nuit, le Growler est endommagé par l'éperonnage accidentel du navire japonais Hayasaki (percuté à 17 nœuds) et des tirs du même navire à environ 70 milles marins au nord-ouest de Rabaul. Au cours de cette action, le commandant du Growler, le commander Howard W. Gilmore , est mortellement blessé, deux autres sont tués et deux autres blessés. Gilmore, se sachant perdu et ne voulant en aucun cas mettre la vie de ses hommes en danger, décida de se sacrifier en restant sur le pont à la mitrailleuse pendant qu'il ordonna de plonger. Pour son courage, il reçut la Medal of Honor à titre posthume.

Gravement endommagé mais toujours sous contrôle, le Growler retourna à Brisbane sous le commandement de son chef, le lieutenant-commander A. F. Schade accostant le 17 février pour y effectuer des réparations importantes.

Cinquième, sixième et septième patrouilles

Ses trois prochaines patrouilles dans la région de Bismarck-Solomon se déroulèrent relativement sans incidents. La large couverture aérienne ennemie et le manque de cibles l'obligea à rentrer au port bredouille, à l'exception de la cinquième patrouille, au cours duquel il coula le transport Miyadono Maru. La septième patrouille fut gâchée par des problèmes de batterie de stockage et des générateurs. En novembre, le submersible rejoint Bayview, en Californie, pour une révision et un réaménagement complet.

Huitième patrouille (février - avril 1944)

De retour dans le Pacifique le 21 février 1944 , le Growler quitta Pearl Harbor et, après avoir fait le plein aux Midway, se dirigea vers sa zone de patrouille, retardé par un cyclone tropical. Face au temps violent en haute mer, l'utilisation du périscope s'avère impossible, et le Growler rejoint Majuro le 16 avril .

Neuvième patrouille (mai - juillet 1944)

Le sous-marin appareille de Majuro le 14 mai pour effectuer une patrouille dans la zone des îles Mariannes, des Philippines orientales et de Luçon, où les premières étapes de l'attaque sur les îles Mariannes et la bataille de la mer des Philippines débutaient. Le submersible forme un wolfpack avec les sous-marins USS Bang et USS Seahorse, au cours duquel il torpille et coule le transport Katori Maru dans le détroit de Luçon le 29 juin 1944 .

Dixième patrouille (août - septembre 1944)

Sa 10 e patrouille débute le 11 août au départ de Pearl Harbor. Il forme un nouveau wolfpack, surnommé « Ben's Busters » composé des sous-marins USS Sealion et USS Pampanito, sous le commandement du commander T.B. ("Ben") Oakley. Le groupe se dirigea dans la région du détroit de Formose. Malgré une action nocturne conjointe contre un convoi le 31 août , aucun naufrage ne fut signalé. Deux semaines plus tard, le 12 septembre , le groupe localisa et attaqua un autre convoi ennemi. Au cours de l'affrontement contre l'escorte, le destroyer Shikinami fut coulé à environ 240 milles marins au sud de Hong Kong ainsi que la frégate japonaise Hirado, à environ 250 milles marins à l'est de l'île de Hainan. Lorsque le groupe revint à Fremantle le 26 septembre , six navires ennemis leur furent crédités. Le Growler avait coulé le destroyer et la frégate les Sealion et Pampanito deux navires marchands chacun. Les sous-marins avaient également sauvé plus de 150 prisonniers alliés présents à bord de l'un des navires torpillés. Cette opération s'était avérée difficile en raison d'une mer agitée causée par un typhon approchant.

Onzième patrouille (octobre - novembre 1944)

Sa 11 e et dernière patrouille de guerre commença à Fremantle le 20 octobre 1944 , formant un wolfpack avec les sous-marins USS Hake et USS Hardhead. Le 8 novembre , le groupe se positionna pour attaquer un convoi, l'ordre d'attaque sera la dernière communication émise par le Growler. Après l'attaque, les Hake et Hardhead entendirent ce qui ressemblait à une explosion de torpille, puis une série d'attaque de charges de profondeur à proximité du Growler, avant un grand silence. Pendant trois jours, les sous-marins tentèrent sans succès de le contacter. Il fut déclaré perdu dans l'action contre l'ennemi, de cause inconnue. Peut-être a-t-il été coulé par l'une de ses propres torpilles, mais il est probable qu'il fut coulé par les escortes du convoi, le destroyer Shigure et les navires de défense côtiers Chiburi et CD-19.

USS Growler SS-215 (1941-1944)

On April 29, 1942, the Growler began her first war patrol, taking her to patrol around the Dutch Harbor, Alaska area, which she reached on June 30. Five days into that patrol, she encountered three enemy destroyers, firing torpedoes which struck the first two targets amidships. Those destroyers were put out of action while the third took a hit to its bow, though she managed to fire two torpedoes of her own, which sailed by on either side of the Growler and narrowly missed the submarine. Luckily, no depth charges followed and the enemy destroyer, the Arare, sank. Not finding any additional targets during that patrol, the Growler returned to Pearl Harbor on July 17. Her second and most successful war patrol began with her entering the area near Taiwan on August 21. Beginning her patrol of that area with near misses on two freighters, she eventually spotted a convoy which she could not catch, yet managed to sink one of the convoy’s ex-gunboats, the Senyo Maru. Shifting to the east side of the island, the Growler first sank the Eifuku Maru, a 5,866-ton cargo ship which she put down within just 40 minutes of first spotting. On September 4, the Growler sank by gunfire the Kashino, a 4,000-ton supply ship, while three days later she hit the 2,204-ton cargo ship, Taika Maru, with two torpedoes, breaking her in half and sending her to the ocean floor in two minutes. She returned to Pearl Harbor on September 30. Sailing to the Solomon Islands equipped with new surface radar and a new 20mm. gun, she was not able to make attacks on enemy vessels in this area because of the heavy enemy aircraft cover that protected the Guadalcanal area’s vessels. She arrived at Brisbane, Australia on December 10 to rest until her next patrol, which began on New Year’s Day, 1943. As she entered her patrol, the Truk-Rabaul shipping lanes area, on January 11, she waited only 5 days before sighting an enemy convoy. After firing two torpedoes and sinking the Chifuku Maru, a passenger-cargo ship, she had to dive without continuing the attack because she was only about 400 yards from an enemy destroyer. This patrol continued normally until February 7, when she approached a gunboat for a night surface attack. Unfortunately, the boat turned to ram, forcing Comdr. Gilmore to bring the Growler left full rudder and ram the enemy amidships at 17 knots. However, the enemy vessel raked the bridge of the submarine with gunfire, lethally wounding Comdr. Gilmore, who cleared the deck, except for himself, and ordered her taken down before he could make his way inside. Realizing he could not make it inside if his ship were to be saved, for his sacrifice the commander was awarded the Medal of Honor, just one of six submariners to receive this award. The seriously damaged Growler returned to Brisbane under command of her exec., Lt. Comdr. A. F. Schade, docking on February 17 for repair. Her fifth, sixth and seventh patrols out of Brisbane to the Bismarck-Solomon area were relatively uneventful, though she was able to sink the passenger-cargo ship, the Miyadono Marti, on the fifth. Heavy enemy air cover and a lack of targets slowed the progress of these patrols. Her seventh patrol was marred by trouble with the storage battery and generators, sending her to Pearl Harbor just 11 days out of Brisbane. From there she headed to the Navy Yard at Hunter's Point, California for an extensive overhaul and refitting. Upon returning to the Pacific on February 21, 1944, the Growler headed for her patrol area after departing Pearl Harbor and refueling at Midway. However, a typhoon delayed her arrival to her patrol area. Returning to Majuro on April 16, the Growler departed from there on May 14 to patrol the Marianas-Eastern Philippines-Luzon area, where the initial stages of the attack on the Marianas and the Battle of the Philippine Sea were beginning. Rendezvousing with the Banff and Seahorse to form a wolfpack, she was able sink only one cargo ship despite closing several targets. Her tenth war patrol found her in the “Ben’s Busters” wolfpack with Sealion and Pampanito as the three sailed to the Formosa Straits area. She attacked a Japanese convoy on August 31, though no sinkings were reported. Another attack on a convoy on September 12 saw the Growler hit an enemy destroyer, which attempted to ram the submarine, yet narrowly missed. Other torpedoes fired from the Growler and the other wolfpack members struck the rest of the convoy and upon returning to Fremantle, Australia, “Ben’s Busters” were credited with sinking six enemy ships. Growler sank the destroyer, Shikinami, and the frigate, Hirado, while her companion ships each sunk two vessels as well. The submarines also managed to save over 150 allied prisoners from a torpedo ship serving as a Japanese prison. The Growler’s eleventh and final war patrol saw the vessel sail in a wolfpack with the Hake and Hardhead. On November 8, the wolfpack closed on a convoy for attack headed by the Growler. Both other submarines then obeyed the order to commence attacking from the lead ship. However, during the attack the Hake and Hardhead heard the sounds of a torpedo explosion and then a series of depth charges on Growler's side of the convoy, then silence. Efforts to contact the Growler over the next three days proved futile and the submarine was listed as lost in action against the enemy, cause unknown. The Growler received eight battle stars for her World War II service.

Growler III SS-215 - History

U.S.S. GROWLER was a pioneer when she departed on her first Nuclear Deterrent Patrol in 1960. Armed with Regulus nuclear cruise missiles, she helped usher in a new era of strategic defense. She was one of the predecessors which led to the deployment of a large fleet of sophisticated submarines armed with Polaris nuclear missiles. The concept of strategic deterrent was revolutionized when these missiles were sent out to sea in large numbers. Hidden deep in the oceans, they were nearly undetectable. Even more significant, underwater-positioned missiles greatly reduced the risk of nuclear attack against the U.S. mainland. It was suicide for a hostile power to strike at population centers while retaliatory missiles were poised beneath the sea. Prior to GROWLER and her companions, all of America's strategic nuclear weapons had been based on land, relatively close to people.

Sending the missiles out to the sea on submarines like GROWLER proved to be the most effective nuclear deterrent ever used. All of the world powers followed the example, thereby greatly reducing the possibility of all-out war.

Compared to today's awesome Trident nuclear missile submarines, which have replaced the aging Polaris vessels, GROWLER is rudimentary and undersized. However, she is historically significant because of the vital role she played as a deterrent to nuclear war. That concept continues to be a cornerstone of America's strategic defense today.

As such, GROWLER is still relevant to the everyday lives of all Americans. GROWLER is on permanent display as part of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum at 46th Street and 12th Avenue in New York City. Visit the museum via the link at the bottom of this page.


On August 8, 1988, Congress awarded Zachary Fisher, Chairman of the INTREPID Sea-Air-Space Museum, the former USS GROWLER (SSG-577), a diesel-electric powered submarine that was decommissioned on May 25, 1964. At the time of its acquisition by Mr. Fisher, GROWLER was moored at the Inactive Fleet section in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington and was scheduled to be used a torpedo target by the U.S. Navy.

When GROWLER was commissioned on August 30, 1958 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, she joined her sistership GRAYBACK and became the fourth submarine in the Navy designed and built to launch strategic deterrent cruise missiles armed with a nuclear warhead. Unlike today's nuclear-powered submarines that can launch cruise missiles and ballistic missiles while submerged, GROWLER and GRAYBACK along with the earlier TUNNY and BARBERO had to surface in order to launch their missiles. Although primitive when compared to missile submarines patrolling all the oceans of the world today, GROWLER patrolled the vastness of the Pacific Ocean during the early days of nuclear deterrent to preserve the peace and ensure the United States could instantly retaliate if we were attacked. This deterrent strategy has been the cornerstone of America's security for more than thirty years and will remain so, far into the future.

GROWLER's name is steeped in naval tradition, going all the way back to the War of 1812 when the first two GROWLER's fought against the British. The third GROWLER, the first U.S. submarine so named, fought throughout the Pacific during WWII and the fourth GROWLER was built and commissioned to continue the legacy during the post-WWII days.

Mr. Fisher, anxious to expand his "Navy" on New York's West Side, arranged for GROWLER to be towed from the shipyard in Bremerton, through locks in the Panama Canal and into New York Harbor via George Steinbrenner's Tampa Shipyard, where she would be converted to a museum.

The 6,500 mile tow (one of the longest in history of a naval vessel) began on October 6, 1988 and withstanding a few minor technical difficulties and heavy seas, GROWLER passed through the locks in the Panama Canal in early November, 1988 and proceeded to the Tampa Shipyard where she was placed in drydock and combed over by a team of experts who renovated her interior, painted her exterior and converted all steep ladders into stairways.

Six months since her departure from Bremerton, thirty-one years since her commissioning and one-hundred and seventy- seven years since the first two GROWLERS fought against the British, GROWLER is prepared to commence her final, and perhaps most prominent patrol, moored opposite the aircraft carrier Intrepid (Pier 86), as the first guided missile submarine to open her doors to the American public.

Zachary Fisher is a patriotic American who, through his generosity and insight, has displayed historical artifacts such as aircraft carrier Intrepid, and now GROWLER, for the benefit of the American people whom, he strongly believes, must have the opportunity to learn about the people and events that have shaped our country's history.

GROWLER was one of three submarines built to carry the Regulus II nuclear guided missile, designed to provide a seagoing strategic deterrent capability.

The submarine was commissioned at Portsmouth on August 30, 1958. After shakedown, GROWLER underwent Regulus I and II training in the Caribbean.

She was transferred to the Pacific and reported to Pearl Harbor on September 7, 1959. Assigned as flagship of Submarine Division 12, she carried out a series of battle and torpedo exercises, as well as missile practice drills.

On March 12,1960 she departed on her first Nuclear Deterrent Patrol, carrying Regulus missiles armed with nuclear warheads. During the next three years GROWLER performed nine strategic deterrent patrols.

With the introduction of the Polaris missile submarine, GROWLER was replaced by a considerably more capable and survivable submarine deterrent, one that would revolutionize the concept.

Departing Pearl Harbor, GROWLER returned to Mare Island and was decommissioned on May 25, 1964 at the early age of six. She was held in reserve for nearly 25 years until declared excess for the navy's needs and designated to be used as a target. It was at this time that Mr. Zachary Fisher, chairman and founder of the Intrepid Museum, undertook to save this unique and significant vessel for posterity. GROWLER was turned over to the Intrepid Museum in the fall of 1988 for conversion into an exhibit.

SSG-577 Basic Information

GROWLER Heritage:

The Intrepid Museum's USS GROWLER (SSG-577) is named after another very historic vessel, also a submarine, which was lost in World War II. She was commissioned on March 20, 1942 as USS GROWLER (SS-215). Her first captain was Lieutenant Commander Howard W. Gilmore. His deeds would be immortalized when he became the first submariner to be awarded the nation's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

GROWLER's first war patrol put her up against a formation of three Japanese destroyers on July 5, 1942. She torpedoed two amid-ships, the third in the bow. One of her targets sank, the other two were severely damaged.

On her second war patrol GROWLER sank four Japanese ships totaling 14,000 tons.

During a night surface attack on February 7, 1943, GROWLER became engaged in a life and death struggle with a Japanese vessel which attempted to ram the submarine. Commander Gilmore was able to turn the tables and rammed the enemy instead. Now close alongside the Japanese ship, GROWLER's bridge was sprayed by deadly machine gun fire. Gilmore got everyone below to safety except himself. Badly wounded, he knew that it would take too long to be carried below and anyone attempting to do so would be exposed to enemy fire. Every second that GROWLER remained on the surface increased her vulnerability to attack and sinking. Gilmore ordered "Take her down,' without him. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for this selfless act of heroism.

GROWLER's eleventh and final war patrol began on October 20,1944, accompanied by HAKE and HARDHEAD. The wolfpack attacked a Japanese convoy on November 8, from two sides. GROWLER closed alone on one side and fired torpedoes. HAKE and HARDHEAD heard one of her torpedoes strike, followed by a series of Japanese depth charge attacks. GROWLER was never heard from again.

U.S.S. GROWLER Photo Gallery

USS Growler Photo Gallery Thirty-five present day images Regulus Cruise Missile Photo Gallery Eight archival images

C.O.B. U.S.S. GROWLER - Ken Onley

For more information on GROWLER, GRAYBACK and the Regulus Guided Missile Program, the book "Regulus: The Forgotten Weapon" by David K. Stumpf, Ph.D. is available direct from David Stumpf via e-mail: [email protected]

Author David Stumpf has set up the "Tom Stebbins Memorial Fund" in honor of the GROWLER's first COB who passed away in 1995. 36% of the royalty from the GROWLER/GRAYBACK book will be donated to the fund which supports the educational and exhibit costs onboard GROWLER.

Fifth, sixth, and seventh patrols

Growler’s fifth, sixth, and seventh patrols, out of Brisbane to the Bismarck-Solomons area, were relatively uneventful, heavy enemy air cover and a lack of targets resulted in her coming home empty-handed from all but the fifth, on which she sank the passenger/cargo ship Miyadono Maru. The seventh patrol was marred by trouble with the storage battery and generators, and on 27 October 1943, only 11 days out of Brisbane, she was ordered to Pearl Harbor (arriving 7 November) and from there to the Navy Yard at Hunter's Point, California, for an extensive overhaul and refitting.

USS Growler (SS-215)

Early in November 1944, GROWLER, HAKE and HARDHEAD were operating together west of the Philippine group as a coordinated search and attack group under command of Commander T. B. Oakley, Jr., Commanding Officer, GROWLER. The patrol was GROWLER's eleventh. On 7 November, GROWLER reported having made temporary repairs to her SJ radar, which made it usable, but that she urgently needed spare parts for it. A future rendezvous was arranged with BREAM for the purpose of delivering the parts.

In the early morning hours of 8 November, GROWLER, then in 13° 21'N, 119° 32'E, made SJ radar contact on an enemy target group, and reported it to HARDHEAD, Commander Oakley directed HARDHEAD to track and attack from the convoy's port bow. Shortly thereafter, HARDHEAD made contact with both the target group and GROWLER. After about an hour had passed HAKE heard two distant explosions of undetermined character, and HARDHEAD heard an explosion, which sounded like a torpedo. At the same time, the targets zigged away from GROWLER. Shortly after, HARDHEAD heard three distant depth charges explode.

A little over an hour after these explosions, HARDHEAD attacked the target from the port bow, obtained three or four hits, and HAKE saw a tanker sink. HARDHEAD was subjected to a severe counter attack from which it emerged undamaged, while HAKE was worked over thoroughly later in the morning. All attempts to contact GROWLER after this attack were unsuccessful, and she has never been seen or heard from since. The rendezvous with BREAM for the delivery of SJ spare parts was not accomplished. Since GROWLER had tracked targets by radar for at least an hour, it appears that her temporary SJ repairs must have been satisfactory.

Although Japanese records mention no anti-submarine attacks at this time and place, it is evident that depth charges were dropped in the vicinity of GROWLER, but in the absence of more conclusive evidence the cause of her loss must be described as unknown. The Japanese admit that a tanker was sunk that night, which checks with HARDHEAD's sinking. HARDHEAD was heavily depth charged following her own attack and later that morning HAKE was expertly worked over presumably by the same escorts. This leads to the belief that if GROWLER were sunk by depth charging it was at hands of a skillful anti-submarine group.

The explosion described by HARDHEAD as "possibly a torpedo" may have been a depth charge or a torpedo explosion. It is unlikely that a torpedo hit was made on the convoy at this time because if the tanker had been hit she probably would either have burst into flame, as she subsequently did when hit by HARDHEAD, or slowed down if hit in the engine room. She did neither, nor was there any evidence that any of the three escorts were hit. However, since only three subsequent explosions were heard by HAKE, and a number of depth charges generally are dropped in an accurate or persistent anti-submarine attack, a number of possibilities exist as to GROWLER's end.

She could have been sunk as the result of a premature or circular run of her own torpedo, and the three depth charges heard by HAKE may have been only a token attack by the escort. Although there was a quarter moon, the night was somewhat misty, and she might have made the approach at radar depth. If so, she could have been rammed, thus making it unnecessary for the escort to drop many depth charges. She could have been caught at either radar or periscope depth and the antisubmarine group, evidently a good one, might have verified the results of their attack immediately. An escort could have hit her with a torpedo and only dropped a few depth charges to insure a kill. In any event, sinking by her own torpedoes is only a slight possibility. It is doubtful whether a report by the escorts of this convoy would help to decide this question. In the cases of TUILIBEE and TANG, where surviviors' statements leave little doubt that destruction was by their own torpedoes, the Japanese ships which picked up survivors claimed to have sunk the submarines themselves.

GROWLER was the ship commanded by Cdr. Howard W. Gilmore on her fourth patrol when, mortally wounded by machine gun fire after GROWLER had rammed a patrol vessel, he ordered the ship submerged while he lay on the bridge. The Commanding Officer, the assistant officer of the deck and a lookout were lost, and Cdr. Gilmore was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

During her first ten patrols GROWLER sank 17 ships, for a total tonnage of 74,900 and damaged 7 ships, for 34,100 tons. Her first patrol began in June 1942, and was in Aleutian waters. She began her career by sinking a destroyer and severely damaging two. The one sunk was ARARE, sunk while at anchor on 5 July 1942. GROWLER's second patrol was off Formosa here she sank a large tanker, two medium freighters, a transport and sampan. In her third patrol, this ship sighted eight vessels, but none could be closed for an attack. The area was near Truk. GROWLER's fourth patrol was on the traffic lanes from Truk to Rabaul. She sank a freighter and a large gunboat, also damaging a second freighter. The fight with the gunboat was the incident, which cost the Commanding Officer and two other men their lives.

GROWLER's fifth patrol, in the Bismarck Archipelago, was productive of but two attack opportunities she sank a medium freighter and damaged a large freighter. From mid-July to mid-Septeinber 1943 GROWLER made her sixth patrol in the same area as her fifth, but was unable to do any damage to the enemy, having only one opportunity to attack. She returned to this area for her seventh patrol, but this run was cut short by battery and generator difficulties, and no attacks were made. In March and part of April of 1944, GROWLER made her eighth patrol in the East China Sea area. In this patrol she sank a small patrol craft and damaged a medium freighter. GROWLER covered the Marianas, the Eastern Philippines and the Luzon Strait areas on her ninth patrol, and was credited with sinking a large tanker and damaging a destroyer escort. She patrolled the Luzon and Formosa Straits in her tenth war patrol. She sank a large tanker, a freighter, a destroyer, a coast defense vessel, and an unidentified escort type vessel. She also damaged two more freighters. The destroyer she sank was SHIKINAMI, sent to the bottom on 12 September, while the coast defense vessel was HIRATO, sunk in the same day.

See also Ed Howard's Final Patrol page on USS Growler (external link).

The Los Angeles Pasadena Base of the USSVI is the officially recognized custodian of the National Submarine Memorial, West.

Old Bottle Trademark Identification Made Easy

A common 1880-1890 whiskey bottle with no label or embossing can be identified by its trademark on the bottom of the bottle.

Photo courtesy of Michael Polak

When selling at Bottle and Collectibles shows, the most asked questions are: “What makes a bottle old?” and “What makes a bottle valuable?” But, the question that usually leads to a discussion about the importance of trademark identification is: How can I identify a bottle when it has no label or embossing?

While bottle collectors rely on certain factors to determine age and value, such as condition, color and rarity, in addition to mold types, seam lines, and pontil marks, trademarks are often overlooked. Trademarks can provide the collector with additional valuable information toward determining history, age and value of the bottle, and provide the collector a deeper knowledge of the glass companies that manufactured these bottles. I have been collecting bottles for 47 years and on many occasions, trademarks have been a big factor toward unlocking the mysteries of the past.

The bottom of a common whiskey bottle shows it was manufactured in San Francisco, as shown by the SF & PGW trademark.

Photo courtesy of Michael Polak

An excellent example is a common ($20-25) 1880-1890 𠇊mber Whiskey” bottle . The front and back are absent of a label or embossing, but embossed on the bottom is SF & PGW. Pacific Glass Works (PGW), founded in 1862 in San Francisco was very successful but encountered financial problems years later. Carlton Newman, a former glass blower at PGW and owner of San Francisco Glass Works (SFGW), bought PGW in 1876, and renamed it San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works (SF &PGW). With that trademark, you have unlocked the mystery. Now, you know you have an 1880-1890 Whiskey bottle, manufactured by SF & PGW between 1876 and 1880, in San Francisco.

“Union-Clasped Hands-Eagle With Banner” whiskey flask, 1860-1870.

Photo courtesy of Michael Polak

Another great example is shown above, an Aqua Blue 1860-1870 “Union-Clasped Hands-Eagle With Banner” Whiskey Flask. While there is the embossing of the Stars above Union, Two-Hands Clasped, and an Eagle and Banner, it doesn’t appear to provide any additional information. Or does it? What about the letters “LF & CO” embossed in an oval frame under the Clasped Hands, and, “Pittsburgh, PA” on the reversed side under the Eagle and Banner? Author Jay W. Hawkins, Glasshouses & Glass Manufacturers of the Pittsburg Region, 1795-1910, researched the mark as Lippincott, Fry & Co, 1864-1867 (H.C. Lippincott and Henry Clay Fry, Operators of the Crescent Flint Glass Co.).

This Civil War era bottle, circa 1864-1865, was made after Fry returned from military service with the 5th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Cavalry during the Civil War where he served since August 1862. Now you have the entire picture from just a few letters and one word.

Earlier I discussed color as being a major factor in determining value. Here’s the approximate range for this flask: Aqua Blue, $100-150 Yellow Green, $1,000-$2,000 Golden Yellow, $400-600 and Amber, $900-1,200. Another note about this historical 1860-1870 Flask is that it was found in 1973, during a major dig behind a house of the same period in Youngstown, Ohio, in the trash dump located in the back yard. Five additional bottles from the same time period were also found.

In 1998 I was fortunate enough to meet the bottle collector who dug this very cool bottle, and after some very tough negotiating, I was fortunate enough to take home the treasure. 

The trademark of this Old Quaker bottle provides valuable information in determining history, age and value of the bottle.

Photo courtesy of Michael Polak

So, what is a trademark? By definition, it is a word, name, letter, number, symbol, design, phrase, or a combination of items that identify and distinguishes the product from similar products sold by competitors. Regarding bottles, the trademark usually appears on the bottom of the bottle, possibly on the label, and sometimes embossed on face or backside of the bottle. With a trademark, the protection is in the symbol that distinguished the product, not in the actual product itself.

Trademarks had their beginnings in early pottery and stone marks. The first use on glassware was during the first century by glassmaker Ennion of Sidon and two of his students, Jason and Aristeas, identifying their products by placing letters in the sides of their molds. Variations of trademarks have been found on early Chinese porcelain, pottery and glassware from ancient Greece and Rome, and from India dating back to 1300 B.C. Stonecutters marks have been found on Egyptian structures dating back to 4000 B.C. In the late 1600s, there was the introduction of a glass seal applied to the bottle on the shoulder while still hot. While the seal was hot, a die with the initials, date, or design was pressed into the seal. This method allowed the glassmaker to manufacture many bottles with one seal, then change to another, or possibly not use a seal at all.

The trademark of this Old Quaker bottle provides valuable information in determining history, age and value of the bottle.

Photo courtesy of Michael Polak

Prior to the beginning of the 19th century, the pontil mark still dominated the base of the bottle. In England through the 1840s, and the 1850s in America and France, glass houses identified their flasks by side-lettering the molds. By the 1880s, Whiskey, Beer, Pharmaceuticals and Fruit Jars were identified on the base of the bottles or jars. Following the settling of the Europeans in North America, trademark use was well established. The trademark became a solid method of determining the age of the item providing the owner of the mark is known, or can be identified by research, along with knowing the exact date associated with the mark. If the mark has been used for an extended period of time, the collector will need to reference other material to date the bottle within the trademark’s range of years. If the use of the trademark was a shortened time frame, then it becomes easier to determine the age and manufacturer of the bottle. The numbers appearing with the trademarks are not a part of the trademark. They are usually lot manufacturing codes not providing any useful information. The only exception is that the manufacturing year may be stamped next to the codes or the trademark.

Overbrook’s Premium Old Fashioned Egg Nog (rum, brandy and whiskey), 1945. Trademark B (in circle) Brockway Glass Company, 1933-1988.

Photo courtesy of Michael Polak

While the U.S. Constitution provided for rights of ownership in copyrights on patents, trademark protection did not exist. Registration of trademarks on glassware began in 1860, and by the 1890s there were trademarks used by all glass manufacturers. Trademark registration guidelines were enacted with legislation by the U.S. Congress in 1870 resulting in the first federal trademark law. The trademark law of 1870 was modified in 1881, with additional major revisions enacted in 1905, 1920, and 1946. The first international trademark agreement, accepted by approximately 100 countries, was formalized at the Paris Convention in 1883 titled at the Protection of Industrial Property.

The next time you find that special bottle without a label or embossing, check out the base, or the lower side of the bottle. You never know what treasure you may have found.

And as always, keep having fun with the hobby of bottle collecting.

Hawkins, Jay W – Glasshouses & Glass Manufacturers of the Pittsburg Region, 1795-1910, iUniverse, Inc., New York, 2009

Lindsey, Bill - SHA/BLM Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website, Email: [email protected] Williamson River, Oregon

Lockhart, Bill Serr, Carol Schulz, Peter Lindsey, Bill – Bottles & Extra Magazine, “The Dating Game,” 2009 & 2010

McCann, Jerome J – The Guide to Collecting Fruit Jars-Fruit Jar Annual, Printer: Phyllis & Adam Koch, Chicago, IL, 2016

Rensselaer, Steven Van, Early American Bottles & Flasks, J. Edmund Edwards, Publisher, Stratford, CT, 1971

Toulouse, Julian Harrison, Bottle Makers and Their Marks, Thomas Nelson Inc New York, 1971

Whitten, David, “Glass Factory Marks on Bottles,” www.myinsulators.com/glass-factories/bottlemarks.html 

Known widely as The Bottle King, Michael Polak has been a passionate collector, historian and bottle hunter for nearly 50 years. He has written more than a dozen books on bottle collecting, including the highly respected reference Antique Trader Bottles, Identification and Price Guide, now in its eighth edition.

USS Growler (SSG-577)

Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 05/30/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

USS Growler (SSG-577), a submarine powered by conventional diesel engines, carried nuclear cruise missiles and was built and operated by the United States Navy. Growler was the second of the Grayback-class laid down in February of 1955 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. She was launched in April 1958 and commissioned in August of that year with Lieutenant Commander Charles Priest, Jr. at the helm. This two-submarine class was originally scheduled to be built as attack submarines like the Darter before them but by this time, the Navy shifted to new technology so both were converted to SSG's during construction - this accomplished by adding two cylindrical tube hangers in the bow section. The length was increased by 54 feet for the Growler and 50 feet for the Grayback. Each missile cylinder was 70 feet long and 11 feet high and could contain two Regulus missiles.

USS Growler began her sea trials in November of 1958 in the Navy's submarine test area off the Isles of Shoals, a group of small islands ten miles off the eastern coast of the United States - directly across from New Hampshire and Maine. A normal first day was spent on the surface conducting runs at various speeds, testing all ship systems and lifting and lowering the masts and scopes. At dawn the next day, the Growler's crew prepared to conduct the first test depth dive. This consisted of submerging the vessel to periscope depth, then deeper still in 50-foot increments while the crew checked all systems and sea pressure on values and fittings. Growler passed the fleet-type submarine test depth of 475-feet with flying colors. After training exercises off the Isles of Shoals she sailed south for the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station on her shakedown cruise, arriving in Puerto Rico, on February 19th, 1959.

After the shakedown trials she was ordered back to Portsmouth to receive her missiles. Returning to the Caribbean Sea, her job was to train the crew in launching Regulus I and II guided missiles. The Latin name assigned to these missiles meant the "little king", and Regulus was named for one of the great constellations of the Zodiac - the heart of Leo the Lion. The Regulus missile was a turbojet-powered weapon system having a barrel-shaped fuselage that looked more like a small fighter aircraft of the era minus the cockpit. The missile had short swept wings and a rear fin used to stabilize the Regulus in flight. When the missile was ready for launch, it needed additional lift and was therefore fitted with two booster rockets on the aft end of the fuselage. The submarine would have to surface to fire her Regulus missiles.

The crew was ready to begin this time consuming launch process that took from 15 to 30 minutes as soon as the upper tube casing was clear of sea water. The water tight door would be opened, exposing the missiles fixed on a short rail Mark 7 SR MK 7 launcher. The process was overly complicated due to a system of automatic sequencing and safety controls. Elevation was controlled by limit switches that were positioned to prevent the elevation screws from becoming over extended on the track. The missiles were removed from the tube and fixed on the Mark 7 launch ramp that were fitted between the sail and the tube doors. Before launch, the missile was rotated so the booster afterburner blast was directed to the side of the boat towards the sea with the missile facing in a 10 o'clock position to the side of the bow.

At its extreme range of 500 nautical miles (930 km), the Regulus missile was expected to impact within 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) of its target 50% of the time flying at Mach 0.85. The missile design itself was 30 feet (9.1 m) long, 10 feet (3.0 m) in wingspan, 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter, and weighed 10,000 to 12,000 pounds (4,500 and 5,400 kg). After launch, it would be guided toward its target by two control stations on two separated submarines - one being the launch boat. The Regulus had a Mark 5 nuclear bomb warhead weighing 3,000-pounds 1,400 kg. The nuclear weapon design dated back to the early 1950s and saw service into the early 60's, having a 1.5 megaton warhead. The Mark 5 had a 39-inch diameter design and was the first American nuclear weapon smaller than the 60-inch (150 cm) diameter "Fat Man" nuclear bomb design used in World War 2. The Mark 5 design used a 92-point implosion system having a Uranium/Plutonium fissile material.

After the missile test firing (utilizing dummy warheads), Growler stopped at Fort Lauderdale, Florida before returning to Portsmouth in April. Growler was then assigned to her duty port and preceded to the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal, docking in Pearl Harbor on September 7th to serve as the flagship of Submarine Division 12.

At Pearl Harbor, the guided missile sub took part in a number of exercises along with completing her round of post-shakedown tests for missile practice before the start of her official missions with armed Regulus missiles aboard. Growler's first tactical missile operations took place in late October with two successful and accurate terminal dives to impact. Her first unsuccessful launch occurred December 8th, 1959, when the missile did not program over to cruise settings and splashed astern. Over the next three months, she launched three more missiles, two for tactical warhead development testing. Growler was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" for excellences while she was assigned to Squadron 1.

These missile boats went on to form the US Navy's deterrent shield in the Pacific region against the Russian submarine units and her Pacific navy bases and were the newest weapon to maintain peace against the threat of mutual destruction. At Pearl Harbor, the boats were top secret and the crew was instructed that no one was to know the Growler's mission - such was the secrecy surrounding the new vessel of the Cold War.

In mid-May, USS Growler departed Hawaii with four Regulus sea-to-surface missiles, armed with nuclear M-5 warheads. The patrol was classified as secret due to the weapons load. As the operating range of the Growler was about 300 miles, the SSG's had to operate close to Soviet shores if launching was to be required. This placed Growler in harm's way of being in Ivan's back yard. With the missiles, Growler's secret patrols lasted up to two months or more and required the submarine to remain submerged for hours or days at a time - a true submarine mission normally assigned to nuclear boats and proving unusually difficult for a congested diesel-type boat.

Diesel boats were small and without the comforts of the nuclear-powered, air-conditioned boats. The crew of the Growler was out at sea for 60 days when a radio message from the USS George Washington SSBN-598 was received upon returning to port. The announcement stated that her 42-day mission was deemed the limit of human endurance for the crew. This proved a moral boost to the Growler's own crew. Thusly, Growler returned to Pearl Harbor in May of 1961. Growler was awarded a Submarine Force Unit Citation by ComSubPac for her previous work. She then immediately entered Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard for overhaul and to receive a Sperry Gyroscope Mark I Mod 0 Ships Inertial Navigation System (SINS) and the first LORAN C navigation system installed on US Navy boats. Due to Growlers poor sea characteristics a modification was needed to improve her rough water handling. The problem was the top of the missile hangar was one-half the height of the sail, at periscope depth the Bernoulli effect occurred, forcing the missile hanger to create lift, much like an airplane wing - resulting in a roller coaster-type effect. While adding 10 feet to the height of Growler's sail, the hangar surfaces would be 10 feet deeper at periscope depth reducing the problem. This fix also required the periscopes to be 10 feet longer along with the electronic countermeasures equipment and snorkel - these proving not a quick fix. The added height of the sail changed the ship's stability to prevent rolling on the surface additional ballast tanks were required.

The crew welcomed the modification made to the missile launching equipment. The original transversal launcher had been designed to launch both Regulus I and II missiles was removed and replaced with a launcher that simply switched to either missile hangar. The removal of numerous micro switches and hydraulics created a significantly simplified launcher operation and made this launcher much more reliable. Growler completed her overhaul in early December 1961. Through December 1963, Growler had made nine such deterrent mission patrols, the fourth ending at Yokosuka, Japan, on April 24th, 1962, and was used by the Navy to display its newest weapons for all to see - especially the Soviets.

The most notable mission for the Growler took place in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The Navy was about to deploy the Polaris SSBN submarines but, as history goes, they were not ready in time. The deterrent to the Soviets fell to the Regulus-armed boats with their nuclear weapons. For 14 days the Growler was on alert with all 4 missiles armed and ready to launch. The Growler sweated it out waiting for the shoot order but all hands were relieved when that stand down order came that 14th day in October.

Growler left Adak Alaska on July 23,1962, departing for Pearl Harbor the next day. Lt. Commander Gunn, now the Executive Officer, had a battle flag that read "Black and Blue Crew, No Relief Required" The banner was flying upon return to Pearl Harbor on August 1st, 1962. Rear Admiral Clarey Commander of ComSubPac welcomed Growler as she returned to Pearl Harbor. Noticing the flag flying on the mast, Clarey asked Henderson if he really meant it. Henderson responded that he did and he and his crew took pride in the fact that they did not need, nor did the Navy assign them, the Blue and Gold two-crew system used in the Polaris submarines. Growler received a ComSubPac Unit Commendation for both the fourth and fifth patrols. Lieutenant Commander Robert Owens relieved Henderson on 1 June 1963. Growler conducted two more deterrent missions under his command. In 1964, with the Polaris boats on station, the decision was made to decommission USS Growler and USS Grayback. Both boats sailed for Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California and were decommissioned together in May of 1964.

After decommissioning, Growler was placed in the Inactive Reserve Fleet at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Washington. There, she was moored for 25 years and was seen as a burden to the annual Navy budget. As such, it was scheduled to use her as a torpedo test target for other nuclear attack submarines. Mr. Zachary Fisher of New York requested to take ownership of the boat so, with an act of Congress in August 1988, Growler was allowed to become part of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. In early 1989, Growler was towed from Puget Sound through the Straits of San Juan de Fuca for six thousand nautical miles. After transiting the Canal, Growler was towed to a civilian shipyard on the west coast of Florida. While in the shipyard, Growler received exterior and interior hull changes in the missile hangars and the hull. These changes were made to allow access for visitors once at the museum. On April 18, 1989, Growler was moored to the north side of Pier 86 in the Hudson River, her final "Home Port."

In 2007, it was found that the hull had rusted through. This inevitably complicated matters and pushed repair costs past $1 million. The Growler returned to Pier 86 in late February and returned in the spring of 2009 in time for Fleet Week in May.

Deployed during some of the most trying times of the Cold War, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Regulus SSGs formed a defensive shield for the Pacific Coast of the United States. Before the Tomahawk and the Trident- and Polaris-armed ballistic missile submarines, Regulus-armed boats were on patrol 365 days a year protecting America.

Watch the video: Wikipedia USS Growler SS-215 (January 2022).