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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


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Spearfish (SS-190)

Radio Call Sign: November - Echo - Delta - Foxtrot

Sargo Class Submarine: Laid down, 9 September 1937, at Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.; Launched, 29 October 1938; Commissioned, USS Spearfish (SS-190), 17 July 1939; Decommissioned, 22 June 1946, at San Francisco, CA.; Struck from the Naval Register, 19 July 1946; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping in October 1947, to the Learner Co., Oakland, CA. Spearfish earned ten battle stars during World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,450 t., Submerged: 2,350 t.; Length 310' ; Beam 27' 1"; Draft 13' 8"; Speed, Surfaced 20 kts, Submerged 7.75 kts; Max Operating Depth, 250'; Complement 5 Officers 50 Enlisted; Armament, eight 21" torpedo tubes, 24 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun, two .50 caliber machine guns, two .30 caliber machine guns; Propulsion, diesel-electric, four Hoover, Owens, Rentschler Co. diesel engines, (replaced in 1943-1944 with four General Motors 278A diesel engines), 5,500 hp, Fuel Capacity, 90,000 gals. four General Electric Co. electric motors, 2,740 hp, Battery Cells 252, twin propellers.
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Spearfish17kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of Spearfish's (SS-190) keel laying 9 September 1937, at Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Spearfish1.50kCommissioning plaque of the Spearfish (SS-190). Official US Navy photo, courtesy of Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corp. Photo submitted in memory of Clifford E. Robison, Electric Boat Co, by John Robison.
Spearfish19kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of the Spearfish's (SS-190) launching, 29 October 1938 at Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Spearfish303kSpearfish (SS-190), port side view underway, on the Thames River passing Fort Griswold at Groton, Connecticut, circa 1938-39.USN photo.
Spearfish53kSpearfish (SS-190), at rest, with her full sized fairwater, circa 1938-39.USN photo.
Spearfish61kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of the first day in commission of the Spearfish (SS-190), 17 July 1939. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Spearfish15kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of the first day in commission of the Spearfish (SS-190), 17 July 1939. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Spearfish23kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of the Spearfish's (SS-190) shakedown cruise & the ports visited, 22 September 1939. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Navy Day 21k Commemorative post mark on the occasion of the submarines
Sargo (SS-188),
Saury (SS-189),
Spearfish (SS-190),
Sculpin (SS-191),
Squalus (SS-192) &
Swordfish (SS-193) honoring Navy Day, 27 October 1939.
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Tullibee 183k View of the commissioning ceremonies aboard the Tullibee (SS-284) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 15 February 1943. The submarines aft of Tullibee on the right, Seahorse (SS-304) and on the left, Spearfish (SS-190). U.S. Navy photo # 1170-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Photo I.D. courtesy of David Johnston, USNR.
Spearfish48k Off Mare Island on 8 May 1943, Spearfish (SS-190) shows humps above her two engine rooms. They accommodate her new mufflers. Photo & text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
Spearfish658kStern view of Spearfish (SS-190) at Mare Island on 8 May 1943.U.S. Navy photo # 3378-43, courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Photo added 08/23/13.
Spearfish126k Photo of the conning tower of the Spearfish (SS-190) at the end of her overhaul at Mare Island on 12 May 1943. U.S. Navy photo # 3502-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Spearfish118k Aft plan view of the Spearfish (SS-190) at the end of her overhaul at Mare Island on 12 May 1943. U.S. Navy photo # 3502-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Spearfish160k Forward plan view of the Spearfish (SS-190) at the end of her overhaul at Mare Island on 12 May 1943. U.S. Navy photo # 3503-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Spearfish122k Bow on view of Spearfish (SS-190) in Mare Island channel on 21 August 1944. She was in overhaul at the yard from 6 June until 3 October 1944. U.S. Navy photo # 5341-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Spearfish188k Broadside view of Spearfish (SS-190) in Mare Island channel on 21 August 1944. She was in overhaul at the yard from 6 June until 3 October 1944. U.S. Navy photo # 5343-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Spearfish170k Stern view of Spearfish (SS-190) in Mare Island channel on 21 August 1944. She was in overhaul at the yard from 6 June until 3 October 1944. The Spearfish returned to Pearl Harbor on 10 October and held training exercises for a month before departing on her 11th and last war patrol, 12 November 1944 to 24 January 1945. U.S. Navy photo # 5345-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Partial text courtesy of DANFS.
Spearfish 387k Spearfish (SS-190) plan view amidships looking forward at Mare Island, 20 August 1944. US Navy photo # 5322-44 courtesy of Ed Zajkowski.
Spearfish 341k Spearfish (SS-190) plan view amidships looking forward at Mare Island, 20 August 1944. US Navy photo courtesy of Ed Zajkowski.
Spearfish328k Amidship plan view looking forward of Spearfish (SS-190) in dry dock #2 on 29 September 1944. She was in overhaul from 6 June until 3 October 1944 and was in dock from 28 September until 30 September 1944. U.S. Navy photo # 5938-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Spearfish320k Amidships plan view looking aft of Spearfish (SS-190) in dry dock #2 on 29 September 1944. She was in overhaul from 6 June until 3 October 1944 and was in dock from 28 September until 30 September 1944. U.S. Navy photo # 5937-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Spearfish188k The Spearfish (SS-190) off Mare Island Navy Yard on 30 September 1944. U.S. Navy photo # 5965-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Sargo class110k A close up of a Sargo class submarine, possibly the Saury (SS-189) but more likely the Spearfish (SS-190) with only part of it's hull number painted on the sail, # 27 (?).
It was taken in the Pacific probably in August, 1944 somewhere off the California coast.
A very close look at the conning tower fairwaters and the periscope shears of both boats show some minor but noticeable differences, and that the configuration almost exactly matches that of Spearfish. There are differences in the location of the searchlight mounts, the configuration of the DF Loop, and the shape and plating of the bridge fairwaters.
Assuming it is Spearfish, I placed the date in August, 1944 for a couple of reasons. The boat in the photo clearly had not been painted in a while, indicating that it had not been in the yards for a while. Also, the Spearfish was in drydock in September and she received a 5"25 cal gun in the aft position in place of the 4"50 she carried in an 21 August 44 photo.
I still can't account for the number 27 on the fairwater. I agree that it is probably a squadron number. Since it was extremely rare for boats to go on war patrol with any kind of identification markings topside, I think these numbers were painted on the boats when they returned stateside for overhaul or training, but this is a guess.
USN photo courtesy of Ivan van Meter, submitted by Jack LaPeer courtesy of Fabio Pen~a. Photo i.d. & text courtesy of David Johnston & John Hummel.
Sargo class87k High altitude photo of a Sargo class submarine, possibly the Saury (SS-189) but more likely the Spearfish (SS-190). USN photo courtesy of Ivan van Meter, submitted by Jack LaPeer courtesy of Fabio Pen~a. Photo i.d. courtesy of David Johnston & John Hummel.
Mare Island Causeway 461k 6 Dec 45 photo appeared in the 14 Dec 45 issue of the Mare Island newspaper lists the following subs present at the dockyard:
Unknown, Dragonet (SS-293), Guavina (SS-362), Sunfish (SS-281), Sargo (SS-188), Spearfish (SS-190), Saury (SS-189).
First two ships in second row appear to be: Bashaw (SS-241) and Mingo (SS-261).
The Tiru (SS-416) is on the building ways on the left above the subs and surrounding by staging and cranes.
It is interesting to note that the boats have started the mothballing process, as evidenced by the preservative cocoons around the deck guns.
U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Partial text courtesy of David Johnston, USNR.
Mare Island Reserve Fleet 900k Inactivated submarines at Mare Island on 3 January 1946.
Front row left to right: Sand Lance (SS-381), next two could be Sealion (SS-315) and Seahorse (SS-304), Searaven (SS-196), Pampanito (SS-383), Gurnard (SS-254), Mingo (SS-261), Guitarro (SS-363), Bashaw (SS-241).
Back row left to right: Unknown, Tunny (SS-282), next three could be Sargo (SS-188), Spearfish (SS-190), and Saury (SS-189), Macabi (SS-375), Sunfish (SS-281), Guavina (SS-362), Lionfish (SS-298),Piranha (SS-389).
The Scabbardfish (SS-397) is docked in ARD-11 on the other side of the causeway.

The mixture of boats from the Salmon/Sargo, Gato, and Balao classes illustrate the clear differences in the conning tower fairwaters and the periscope shears that can be used to identify boats. The high bridges with the uncovered support frames (the "covered wagon" look) of the Gatos and Salmon/Sargo's contrast with the low and sleek look of the Balao's. The fatter, more robust periscope shears of the Balao's are markedly different from the thinner shears with more supporting structure of the Gatos and Salmon/Sargo's.
The differences in the pattern of the superstructure limber holes can also be used for identification purposes. The single row of large semi-circular holes indentify Electric Boat or Manitowoc boats. A dual row of smaller rectangular holes mark the government built boats. Also note that the EB/Manitowoc boats have the deck mounted, T-shaped JP sonar head on the starboard side of the forward deck, while the government boats have it on the port side.
EB/Manitowoc boats had the anchor on the starboard side, the government boats on the port side. A close look will show that some of the boats have had the anchor removed and the hawsepipe plated over as part of the mothball process.
Most of the boats have the late war radar outfit of the SJ surface search (small dish) and SV air search (large dish). The Balao's and some of the Gatos have the SS dish mounted on a separate large mast aft of the periscopes. The older Salmon/Sargo's and Gatos have a much smaller mast. Searaven appears to have had her radars already removed.
Searaven is actually sporting a late war SJ surface search antennae mounted to starboard of the periscopes. This is a rare installation. Most often it was mounted forward (early war) or aft (late war) of the 'scopes shears. Her air search set is a late war SD antennae mounted on a stub mast directly aft of the 'scopes. Searaven never received the much more capable SV air search set. Having been assigned to training duties after November, 1944 it was probably felt that the SV set was not necessary.
One strange thing: almost all of the boats appear to have the outer doors of the forward torpedo tubes open. Even though the boats have an interlock system that prevents the breech and outer doors from being opened at the same time, this is an unusual thing to do and a potential source of catastrophic flooding.
U.S. Navy photo # 17-46, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Text courtesy of David Johnston, USNR.
Who Am I?289kInactivated submarines at Mare Island in early 1946.
Front row left to right: Sand Lance (SS-381), next two could be Sealion (SS-315) and Seahorse (SS-304), Searaven (SS-196), Pampanito (SS-383), Gurnard (SS-254), Mingo (SS-261), Guitarro (SS-363), Bashaw (SS-241).
Back row left to right: Unknown, Tunny (SS-282), next three could be Sargo (SS-188), Spearfish (SS-190), and Saury (SS-189), Macabi (SS-375), Sunfish (SS-281), Guavina (SS-362), Lionfish (SS-298),Piranha (SS-389).
The Scabbardfish (SS-397) is docked in ARD-11 on the other side of the causeway.
Tiru (SS-416) is on the ways in upper left hand side of photo. Two ferry boats (to the right of Tiru's ways) are YHB-2 / [ex-Post of Stockton] and YHB-21 / [ex-Tamalpais].
Photo i.d. courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
US Navy photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.

View the Spearfish (SS-190)
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
PigBoats.COM TM, A Historic Look at Submarines
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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