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  USS Amberjack SS-219
USN
Gato Class Submarine

1,526 Tons (surfaced)
2,424 Tons (submerged)
311' x 27'3" x 16'10"
1 x 3" deck gun
6 bow, 4 stern torpedo tubes
24 x 21" torpedoes

Ship History
Built by Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut. Laid down May 15, 1941. Launched March 6, 1942. Commissioned June 19, 1942. Afterwards, the submarine undertook a shakedown cruise off New London, Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island. During the middle of August, departed for the Pacific via the Panama Canal, arriving at Pearl Harbor on August 20, 1942 and underwent additional training exercises.

First War Patrol
Departed Pearl Harbor on September 3 and arrived at Johnston to refuel and began patrolling between the northeast coast of New Ireland and Bougainville. On September 15, patrolling off Kavieng Harbor. Three days later fired four torpedoes at a transport and destroyer, but hit none. Next, patrolling the Bougainville Strait on September 19 fired two torpedoes that hit and sunk Shirogane Maru. On September 25 spotted a destroyer and cruiser but was unable to attack. The destroyer gave chase forcing the submarine to dive deep and launching depth charges, but caused no damage. Afterwards performed reconnaissance at Tau, Kilinailau, Greenwich, and Ocean Island.

On September 30, spotted a cruiser and launched four torpedoes from her bow tubes. None hit, so she fired another two forward tubes shortly thereafter. These went wide and none hit.

One week later, patrolling off Kavieng Harbor spotted the Senkai Maru ship and fired two torpedoes. One missed forward and the other hit the target's hull forward. The enemy ship was still able to continue under her own power and Amberjack took up pursuit. About an hour later, both opened fire with their deck guns but neither was within range and they broke off fire. After two more hours of the chase, the submarine fired a slow speed torpedo which hit its target five minutes later. The cargo vessel, swung left and seemed to stop. Its bow swung up in the air, the ship took a vertical position, and sank sight shortly thereafter. Lifeboats were spotted as the submarine departed for Kavieng Harbor.

On October 10 while patrolling off Kavieng Harbor spotted Japanese ships in the harbor and launched four torpedoes into the anchorage. One damaged a freighter and another damaged Tonan Maru No. 2 causing it to sink in shallow water, but was later salvaged and returned to service.

On October 16, departed for Espiritu Santo for repairs to her ballast tanks arriving three days later. While undergoing repairs, transported aviation gas, bombs, and personnel to Guadalcanal. While en route, her destination was changed to Tulagi arriving October 25, unloaded then departed for Brisbane arriving October 30 and underwent refit alongside USS Griffin (AS-13) and training exercises.

Second War Patrol
Departed Brisbane on November 21 on her second war patrol. Six days later encountered two destroyers likely bound for Guadalcanal and fired four torpedoes from her stern tubes. None of the torpedoes hit their target, and the submarine began to take action to avoid depth charges. Approximately two hours later, all sounds had faded away, and the submarine rose to the surface to look for signs of damage. She spotted nothing and assumed station at the southern end of the eastern entrance to Shortland Harbor.

On November 29, while on patrol ten miles east of the Treasury Islands, spotted a surfaced Japanese submarine. Before she could set up an attack, however, the enemy vessel rapidly drew away. She again saw a Japanese submarine on December 3, proceeding toward the entrance to Shortland Harbor and fired four torpedoes toward the fleeing enemy, but all failed to hit. During the next week and a half, she made numerous ship contacts, but carried out no attacks. On December 15, sighted a convoy consisting of four or five ships bound for Rabaul and launched two torpedoes at a large freighter, one at a small tanker, and one more at a small freighter. None hit any of the ships.

On December 20, while patrolling submerged, Amberjack began hearing explosions which drew closer and closer. She surfaced and saw two Japanese destroyer escorts, which began launching depth charges on the submarine. Within the space of one minute, six exploded close aboard, shook the vessel considerably, and caused numerous broken light bulbs. Some fittings mounted on the overhead were broken off, and several valves were sprung open. However, the submarine suffered no serious damage and moved on to continue her patrol off the northeast coast of New Ireland.

On January 3, 1943 spotted a destroyer waiting to rendezvous with a convoy from Palau, the submarine was unable to attack over a two day period and then departed for Brisbane arriving on January 11 and underwent refit for twelve days, reduced due to the urgent need for submarines patrols.

Third War Patrol
Departed Brisbane on January 24 but returned due to minor leaks which developed during a deep dive. Returned and departed again two days later for the Solomons. On January 29 passed Tetipari Island then patrolled the approaches to Shortland. On February 1, patrolled north and western approaches to Buka Passage. Afterwards, off Treasury Islands on February 1. Two days later, used her deck gun to sink a two-masted schooner 20 miles off Buka. Afterwards, moved south along the Buka-Shortland traffic lane and patrolled east of Vella Lavella.

On February 4, attacked a cargo ship during a two-hour night surface attack, firing five torpedoes and using her deck gun. Return fire killed CPM Arthur C. Beeman and wounded an officer. Four days later moved to the western side of Ganongga Island. On February 10 directed southward to intercept shipping from Rabaul and Buka via Shortlands.

On February 13 instructed to search for enemy traffic in the Rabaul-Buka-Shortland area. That same day, the submarine recovered a downed Japanese aviator from the sea. That night, forced down by two destroyers but escaped. The last radio transmission received from Amberjack was on February 14 and was ordered north of latitude 6°30'S to hunt for shipping from Rabaul. No further messages were received and by March 10 she failed to report and presumed lost on March 22.

Sinking History
According to Japanese records, on February 16, 1943 a submarine was spotted at roughly 5°05′S 152°37′E. and attacked by a Japanese aircraft. Intercepted by torpedo boat Hayodori and sub chaser No. 18 dropping nine depth charges. A large amount of heavy oil and "parts of the hull" came to the surface. Most likely this attack sank Amberjack. If she survived, any one of the attacks and sighting thought to have been USS Grampus might have been related to Amberjack. USS Grampus was lost in the same area at roughly the same time.

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

 

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