Built by Portsmouth Naval Shipyard at Kittery, Maine. Laid down December 27, 1942. Launched April 7, 1943. Commissioned July 31, 1943 as USS Aspro SS-309 with LtCdr Henry C. Stevenson in command.
After a shakedown cruise off Portsmouth, NH, Newport, RI and New London, CT. On September 17, 1943 departed via the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor arriving October 18, 1943.
First War Patrol
On November 24, 1943 departed Pearl Harbor on her first war patrol. On November 28, 1943 made a refueling stop at Midway before proceeding to the Formosa (Tawian) and Sakishima Islands. On December 15, 1943 she spotted a Japanese convoy consisting of one tanker, two freighters, and two escorts. The submarine fired torpedoes at the tanker and claimed a hit, but apparently failed to inflict serious damage.
Second War Patrol
Third War Patrol
Fourth War Patrol
Fifth War Patrol
On September 10, 1944 departed for her fifth patrol in the South China Sea. On September 30, 1944 off northeast coast of Luzon while in transit to the patrol area, she encountered a convoy of seven or eight vessels with four escorts and fired torpedoes that heavily damaged a freighter. Two days later, she attacked a tanker and heard breaking-up noises for 10–15 minutes. Through her periscope, she saw her victim listing to starboard with the bow high in the air. Soon Aspro lost sight of the ship and claimed to have sunk her. About an hour later, Aspro attacked another freighter in the same convoy. The ship was seen sinking in a vertical dive, stern first.
Next, Aspro rendezvoused with USS Hoe SS-258 and USS Cabrilla SS-288 to form a wolf pack. On October 7, 1944, USS Hoe spotted a large convoy of about a dozen ships. At 04:55, Aspro fired four torpedoes at a freighter and witnessed the ship's sinking. Shortly thereafter, she terminated her patrol at Saipan on 14 October and then proceeded to Pearl Harbor where she arrived on 25 October.
On October 6, 1944 spotted Japanese convoy MATA-28 after departing San Fernando. At 8:00am, fired three torpedoes by periscope at a tanker and claims one hit, but actually achieves no results.
Sixth War Patrol
On February 20, 1945 entered Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard for a three month overhaul. On May 31, 1945 departed for Pearl Harbor.
Seventh War Patrol
On June 25, 1945 departed Pearl Harbor traveling via Midway to refuel before taking up station off Japan. On July 8, 1945 assigned lifeguard duties to rescue downed aviators and on July 20, 1945 took up a new position to cover U. S. Navy carrier aircraft strikes over southern Honshū. On July 25, 1945 fired torepdoes at a Japanese tug and claimed it sunk, her last torpedo attack of the war.
On August 3, 1945 enterered Sagami Bay coming within five to six miles of the coast of Honshū to rescue 1st Lt. Edward "Ed" H. Mikes, Jr. who bailed out of P-51D "Mrs. Beak" 44-72561. Afterwards, he was sucessfully dropped a Higgins A-1 lifeboat by B-17H "Bulgin Bessie" 43-39265.
to six miles of the Japanese mainland to retrieve the pilot. Despite repeated Japanese air attacks, she succeeded in saving the American. Henry "Hank" Freeman USN (1922-2014) jumped into the waters after shooting down one of the Japanese bombers attacking the "Aspro" realizing the submarine was in the process of submerging during Japanese bomber attacks. After 2 hours she surfaced and picked up the wounded pilot and seaman. For his "Conspicuous Gallantry" Freeman was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart for wounds he received.
On August 13, 1945 returned to Midway ending her final war patrol of World War II. For World War II service, Aspro earned seven battle stars.
On September 1, 1945 departed Midway and ten days later arrived at San Francisco. On January 30, 1946 placed out of commission and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet berthed at Mare Island. On July 6, 1951 recommissioned and based at San Diego for two years off California. On November 9, 1953 again placed into reserve status at Mare Island and decommissioned on April 30, 1954.
On May 5, 1957 again recommissioned and had a shakedown cruise. On June 8, 1954 resumed active service off the west coast. In 1959 used in the filming for the Hollywood movie
Battle of the Coral Sea (1959) with scenes filmed aboard Aspro with lead actor Cliff Robertson. Afterwards operated in the western Pacific until the middle of 1959 and returned to San Diego on January 22, 1960.
Afterwards, overhauled and redesignated AGSS-309 and continued to operate off the west coast. Finally, on September 1, 1962 decommissioned. On October 9, 1962 struck from the Navy registry.
On November 16, 1962 sunk as a target by a single torpedo mark 37 fired by USS Pomodon (SS-486) as part of a service weapons test that impacted on the port side amidship and sank in 17 minutes in 630 fathoms roughly 16 miles off San Diego.
Aspro is listed on the Allied Submarine Plaque at Fremantle.
Navy History & Heritage Command - Aspro I (SS-309)
NavSource USS Aspro SS-309
Pacific Air Combats WWII Voices From The Past (1993) by Henry Sakaida The Rescue of Ed Mikes pages 81-89, 93 (map)
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December 21, 2018