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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Contributed by Mike Smolinski

Pickerel (SS-177)

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - Quebec - Mike


Perch Class Submarine: Laid down, 25 March 1935, at Electric Boat Company, Groton, CT.; Launched, 7 July 1936; Commissioned, USS Pickerel (SS-177), 26 January 1937; Final Disposition, officially reported as lost to enemy action (Japanese warships) during 6th patrol, on or about 3 April 1943, off Honshu, Japan, all hands lost; Struck from the Naval Register, 19 August 1943. Pickerel earned three battle stars for World War II service.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,330 t., Submerged: 1,997 t.; Length 300' 7" ; Beam 21' 5"; Draft 13' 10"; Speed, Surfaced 21 kts, Submerged 9 kts; Maximum Operating Depth, 250'; Complement 5 Officers, 45 Enlisted; Armament, six 21" torpedo tubes, 18 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, four .30 cal. machine guns; Propulsion, diesel-electric, Winton diesel engines, HP 4300, Fuel Capacity, 92,801 gals.; GE motors, HP 2368, 240 battery cells, twin screws.
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SizeImage DescriptionSource
Pickerel 53k Northern pike (E. lucius), or Pickerel. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org.
SS 177697kThe Pickerel (SS-177) is launched on 7 July 1936 amidst a sea of small boats and spectators.USN photo courtesy of Ron Reeves.
Pickerel22kCommemorative postal cover marking the launching of the Pickerel (SS-177) at Electric Boat Company, Groton, CT., 7 July 1936. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle.
SS 17790k Wooden pattern for the Pickerel's (SS-177) brass data plaque, photographed by the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut, circa 1936 or early 1937. Photograph 19-N-16354, from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives, courtesy of USNHC.
SS 177415kPickerel (SS-177) with what looks to be civillians on the bow, 1937, possibly before her commissioning.USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177330kLt. Leon J. Huffman, the first commanding officer of the Pickerel (SS-177). USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177411kLt. Leon J. Huffman, the first commanding officer of the Pickerel (SS-177) with the boat's Chief Petty Officers. Photo i.d. courtesy of Ric Hedmen.
USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177496kLt. Leon J. Huffman, the first commanding officer of the Pickerel (SS-177) stands in the middle with other officers. USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177506kLt. Leon J. Huffman address the Pickerel's (SS-177) crew on deck, 26 January 1937. USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177300kPickerel's (SS-177) crew on deck during her commissioning on 26 January 1937. USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177387kPickerel's (SS-177) crew on deck during her commissioning on 26 January 1937.
Note the S-20 (SS-125) tied up to the pier.
USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177305kStern view of the Pickerel (SS-177) with a civillian or two on deck.USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177519kColor print of the Pickerel (SS-177) issued after her commissioning. The contributor's father, Jewell W. Webb was a plankholder for the Pickerel. USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 17720kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of the Pickerel's (SS-177) shakedown cruise, postmarked from Brazil, 27 March 1937. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle.
PDF courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177241kStern view of the Pickerel (SS-177) in Miami, March 1937.USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177240kPier bound Pickerel (SS-177) in Miami, March 1937.USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177207kMarch 1937 was a Goodyear for the Pickerel (SS-177) in Miami. USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 17765kPickerel (SS-177), photographed circa 1937. Photograph # NH 42614, from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives, courtesy of USNHC.
Navy Day 193721kCommemorative postal cover marking the boats of the P-class (SS-176/81) first Navy Day, 27 October 1937;
Perch (SS-176), Pickerel (SS-177), Permit (SS-178), Plunger (SS-179), Pollack (SS-180) & Pompano (SS-181).
Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle.
SS 177506kPickerel's (SS-177) officers and crew, November, 1937.USN photo courtesy of William J. Webb.
SS 177192kPickerel (SS-177), starboard bow view, circa 1938-41.USN photo courtesy of Jim Kelling.
SS 17719kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of Pickerel's (SS-177) joining the Asiatic Fleet, August 1940. She prepared for war with a vigorous training schedule in the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Jack Treutle. Text courtesy of DANFS.
SS 182 103k Submarines in San Diego harbor, California, 1940 moored alongside Holland (AS-3), from which the photograph was taken, the submarines are (from left to right): Salmon (SS-182); Seal (SS-183); Pickerel (SS-177); Plunger (SS-179); Snapper (SS-185) and Permit (SS-178). Note the small motor boats, of the type carried by fleet submarines prior to World War II. One of the men standing on Salmon's (SS-182) deck is Yeoman Clayton Johnson, who in 1969 was a Commander serving at the Naval History Division. Enterprise (CV-6) is in the distance, tied up at Naval Air Station, North Island. USN photo # NH 68479, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute. James C. Fahey Collection.
SS 17746kPickerel (SS-177), underway, entering Pearl Harbor, circa 1938-41.US Navy photo.
SS 17753kPickerel (SS-177), off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 22 December 1942.Photograph # 19-N-38937 from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives, courtesy of USNHC.
SS 17791kPickerel (SS-177), off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 22 December 1942.USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org. Text courtesy of DANFS.
SS 17780kPickerel (SS-177), at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 28 December 1942. While outlines mark recent alterations to the ship, among them the addition of a pair of external bow torpedo tubes. Photograph # 19-N-38939, from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives, courtesy of USNHC & retouched by Jim Kelling.
SS 177102kPlan view of the Pickerel (SS-177), amidships and aft, taken at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 28 December 1942. While outlines mark recent alterations to the ship, among them the relocation of the 3"/50 deck gun and addition of a radar antenna mast forward of the conning station. Note the anti-torpedo net floats beyond the submarine. Photograph # 19-N-38942, from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives, courtesy of USNHC & retouched by Jim Kelling.
Navy Day 193763kOil on canvas painting by the artist Jim Christley entitled "Off To War".
Although mismanaged and crippled with defective torpedoes, the boats such as this one of the Perch-class (SS-176/81) headed out to do battle with the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Photo & text courtesy of subart.net.
Fremantle 365k This plaque was unveiled 20 March 1995 by His Excellency Major General P.M. Jeffery OA MC, Govenor of Western Australia to commemeorate the sacrifices made by Allied submarined that operated out of Fremantle, Western Australia during WW II. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves.
SS 177647kPhoto of Sokuten class Japanese minelayer Shirakami which may have been involved in sinking the Pickerel (SS-177) according to Submarines Lost Through Enemy Action. Photo courtesy of combinedfleet.com
SS 177174kGoogle Earth satellite photo of the site and surrounding waters of Hokkaido Island where the Pickerel (SS-177) is thought to be. View courtesy of Google Earth.
Shiranuka Light68k Agriculture, Eastern Hokkaido, Japan, October 1994.
Located at the eastern end of Japan's northernmost large island, Hokkaido, color infrared film (reddish hues represent a variety of green vegetation) helps to delineate a unique, gridded pattern on the landscape. The thin-looking, linear, intersecting pattern appears to be part of an extensive irrigation system that is being used to improve agricultural productivity in the region. In spite of a short growing season (varying from 130 to 150 days) the eastern end of Hokkaido does enjoy a vigorous livestock and dairy farming economy. The large, dark areas are forested terrain (found mainly in hilly or low-lying, swampy areas). There are also a few river valleys visible as the streams flow generally towards the southeast coast of Hokkaido.
The locations of two rural cities, Nakashibetsu (lower left) and Shibecha (right middle), can be identified as small, gray-looking areas. Akkeshi Bay is the large bay slightly above the center of the image. The lighter blue waters along the coast and in the bay are actually brownish-looking sediment plumes. The same sediment coloration (lighter blue) is also visible in the small lakes, located northeast of the seaport city of Kushiro (upper right).
The Pickerel (SS-177) is thought to be possibly laying off these waters off Shiranuka Light, near Kushiro.
Photo # STS068-200-023 & text courtesy of jsc.nasa.gov.
Shiranuka Light photo courtesy of 5f.biglobe.ne.jp via unc.edu.
SS 1777kAugustus Howard Alston, Jr., Commander (Commanding Officer) of the Pickerel (SS-177) at the time of her loss. USN photo courtesy of oneternalpatrol.com. & retouched by Jim Kelling.
SS 177100kCommemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Pickerel (SS-177).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.
Tolling the Boats 117k Joyce DaSilva, the wife of Jesse DaSilva of the Tang (SS-306), one of the nine survivors of the boat, tosses a flower into a reflecting pool to honor the memory of one of the 52 submarines lost during World War II at the National Submarine Memorial-West on board Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif. On this Veterans Day, the Submarine Veterans of World War II transferred ownership of the memorial to the U.S. Navy.

The following text is from The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton., pg. 478.
"Major Sullivan Ballou of Rhode Island was killed in the battle, and just before it he had wrote to his wife, Sarah, to tell her that he believed he was going to be killed and to express a tremulous faith that could see a gleam of light in the dark:
"But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and float unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the gladdest days and in the gloomiest nights, always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your chest it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait, for we shall meet again!"
Text i.d. courtesy of Marlynn Starring. Photo i.d. courtesy of Chuck Senior, Vice Commander, Los Angeles-Pasadena Base, USSVI.
USN photo # N-1159B-021 by Journalist 2nd Class Brian Brannon, courtesy of news.navy.mil.
Pickerel? 697k Descrition on photo legend says "Submarine on patrol duty off Midway Island, 21 May 1943."
The following two texts attempts to qualify data to support an i.d.

1. The boat in the photo is beyond a doubt a Perch class boat, and the pic was taken in mid 1943. The configuration matches that of the mid war mods made to the Perch class boats, with the telling features being the superstructure at the stern, the ring style bull nose at the bow, and the location of the SD air search radar mast, in the unique position on the forward gun deck of the fairwater.
Checking DANFS, Pollack (SS-180) was in Midway waters in May of 1943, but there is a problem with this. The boat in the photo has external torpedo tubes at the bow. This was a mod added to only Porpoise (SS-169), Pike (SS-173), Tarpon (SS-175), Pickerel (SS-177), and Permit (SS-178) (of this class). The first three boats can be ruled out mostly due to the configuration of the stern and the lack of raised platforms on the bow above the new torpedo tubes. So that rules out Pollack and leaves Pickerel and Permit, but neither boat was in Midway waters in May 1943.
The header of the photo says it was is taken by Copahee (CVE-12) on 21 May 1943. DANFS says After training at Pearl Harbor Copahee sailed from San Diego 25 February to begin transport duty carrying aircraft, aviation stores and personnel to the forward bases in the New Hebrides, Fijis,, and New Caledonia as well as islands in the Hawaiian chain until 7 June 1943. Pickerel departed Pearl Harbor 18 March 1943 and, after topping off with fuel at Midway 22 March, headed for the eastern coast of Northern Honshu and was never heard from again.
Permit departed Midway 6 April for her 8th war patrol in the traffic lanes leading from the Marianas to Truk Atoll, Caroline Is., and after several encounters, returned to Pearl Harbor 25 May.
So where does that leave us? If you make an assumption that the date on the photo was the date the Bureau received the photo, and not the date it was taken, then this boat must be Pickerel or Permit. Pickerel was lost in April 1943 in Japanese waters, so I am leaning towards Permit. The assumption about the photo date is not entirely unjustified, as we have seen several times before where the Bureau of Aeronautics has made egregious errors in photo captions.
So to sum up, there is an roughly 80% chance this boat is Permit, with an outside odds on it being Pickerel.

2. I'm going to suggest Pickerel based upon two visible items in the photograph that I can find in photos of Pickerel. The first is the square antenna which is in both photos (in red in the attachment). Its in photos of Pickerel but I can't find it in photos of Permit. The second is the "thickening" of the railing at the fore end of the forward 20mm platform. I don't know what it is, but its in both photos. Its pointed out with a grey arrow in the other attachment.
While not certain, there is also a slight discontinuity in the sharp trailing edge of the fairwater in the mystery boat which may correspond to the ready service locker that I suspect Pickerel had there. Photos of this area are from a distance and indistinct, but if Pickerel's deck gun was originally aft the locker was probably there. Her deck gun would be moved forward during her late 1942 yard period. Its admittedly thin.
If I'm correct, then this might be the last photo of Pickerel before her loss.


In Memorium:


In the Second Book of Shmuel (Samuel), 22nd chapter, 5th through the 20th verses, translated from the original in Hebrew and published by the Koren Publishers of Jerusalem, Israel, 1982, can perhaps aptly describe the fate of the crew and all other U.S. submariners who died defending their county:

"When the waves of death compassed me / the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; / the bonds of She'ol encircled me; / the snares of death took me by surprise; / in my distress I called upon the Lord, / and cried to my G-D: / and he heard my voice out of his temple, / and my cry entered into his ears. / Then the earth shook and trembled; /the foundations of heaven moved / and shook because of his anger /...the heavy mass of waters, and thick clouds of the skies /... And the channels of the sea appeared, / the foundations of the world were laid bare, / at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast at the breath of his nostrils. / He sent from above, he took me; / he drew me out of many waters; / he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. / They surprised me in the day of my calamity: / but the Lord was my stay..."
Photo & text i.d. courtesy of Dave Johnston (USNR), John Hummel & Robert Morgan.
Insert photos courtesy of Robert Morgan.
USN photo # 80-G-88091, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 05/04/16.

View the Pickerel (SS-177)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ
On Eternal Patrol
United States Submarine Losses World War II
PigBoats.COM TM, A Historic Look at Submarines.

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