Rescue of the Squalus: Squalus Reborn
Navy memorial of the bridge and conning tower of the Sailfish (former Squalus) (Milne Special Collections and Archives
Department, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH)
When the Squalus was inspected in drydock, it was found
to be generally in good shape. The electrical equipment needed replacement,
but some of the other sensitive hardware still worked.
The vessel was recommissioned on May 15, 1940, as the USS Sailfish. President Roosevelt suggested the name because he thought of a leaping
sailfish when he saw the photograph of the Squalus bobbing
to the surface bow first.
In the fall of 1941, the Sailfish was assigned
to the Asiatic fleet out of a naval base in the Philippines. Interestingly,
four of the original crew members were assigned to the sub. After
Pearl Harbor was attacked and war on Japan declared, the vessel went
on patrols to protect friendly ships and attack enemy surface ships.
It endured a depth charge attack successfully early in the war. However,
the attack so rattled the captain that he requested permission to
return to base and was relieved of his command.
In November 1943, the sister submarine Sculpin, that had
found the sunken Squalus soon after it sank, was on its
ninth war patrol as part of the Asiatic Fleet. It was caught in
a five-destroyer trap by the Japanese. Unable to dive in time, Sculpin had to fight on the surface. A shell hit the bridge, killing the
captain and three other officers. Later, the remaining officer had
to order the ship to be abandoned and scuttled. Twenty-one of the
sailors were picked up by the Japanese and transferred to one of
their aircraft carriers.
On December 3, 1943, the Sailfish attacked Japanese ships
during a violent storm. When it came to periscope depth, it located
a Japanese carrier motionless in the water. Three torpedoes finished
the ship, which ironically held the captives rescued from the sinking Sculpin. All but one of them drowned when the carrier sank.
In 1945, the Navy decided to decommission the Squalus/Sailfish. On October 27, 30,000 spectators watched at the Portsmouth Navy
Yard as she completed a cermonial final dive, surfaced and sailed
toward the dock. On Veteran's Day 1946, a section of the submarine,
including her bridge, conning tower and a piece of the deck, were
established as a memorial in the Portsmouth shipyard, dedicated
to the accomplishments of the submarine service.