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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patch courtesy of
Don McGrogan BMCS, USN (ret.)

Tuna (SS-203)

Radio Call Sign: November - Echo - Charlie -Golf

Tambor Class Submarine: Laid down, 19 July 1939. at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA.; Launched, 2 October 1940; Commissioned USS Tuna (SS-203), 2 January 1941; Decommissioned, 11 December 1946, at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA.; Final Disposition, sunk, 24 September 1948, in 1,160 fathoms of water off the west coast; Struck from the Naval Register, 21 October 1948. Tuna received seven battle stars for her World War II service.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,475 t., Submerged: 2,370 t.; Length 307' 2" ; Beam 27' 3"; Draft 13' 3"; Speed, Surfaced 20 kts, Submerged 8 kts; Max. Depth Limit 250'; Complement 5 Officers 54 Enlisted; Armament, ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun, two .50 caliber machine guns, two .30 caliber machine guns; Propulsion, diesel-electric, four General Motors diesel engines, 5,400 hp, Fuel Capacity 93.993 gal., four General Electric motors, 2,740 hp, Battery Cells, 252, two propellers.
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Tuna 218k First day cover for the keel laying of the Tuna (SS-203) on 19 July 1939. Courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 18k First day cover for the keel laying of the Tuna (SS-203) on 19 July 1939. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Tuna 149k Photo from 20 July 1939 edition of the Vallejo Times Herald showing the keel laying ceremonies for the Tuna (SS-203) on 19 July 1939 at Mare Island. The Navy Yard Band was playing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the time the photo was taken. Photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 76k Photo from 3 October 1940 edition of the Vallejo Times Herald picturing the official launching party on 2 October 1940 for the Tuna (SS-203) at Mare Island. From left to right: RADM David W. Bagley, Yard Commandant; Capt F. G. Crisp, Yard Manager; CDR L. P. Padgett, Jr., Aide to the Commandant and Mrs. Wilhelm Friedell, Sponsor; and her daughter Miss Luice Friedell. Photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 226k First day cover for the launching of the Tuna (SS-203) on 2 October 1940. Courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 137k Front cover of the launch Detailed Operating Schedule for Launching of the Tuna (SS-203) on 2 October1940. Photo courtesy of The Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum, submitted by Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 190k Inside pages of the launch Detailed Operating Schedule for Launching of the Tuna (SS-203) on 2 October 1940. Photo courtesy of The Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum, submitted by Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 77k Photo from 3 January 1941 edition of the Vallejo Times Herald picturing Capt A. D. Denney, right, Captain of the Yard; turning over the Tuna (SS-203) to her first Commanding Officer, LCDR John J. Crane at her commissioning at Mare Island on 2 January 1941. Photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 453k Tuna (SS-203) underway in San Francisco Bay, 10 March 1941. US National Archives photo # 19-N-24094, a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo, now in the collections of the US National Archives via Robert Hurst.
Tuna 327k First day cover for the commissioning of the Tuna (SS-203) on 3 February 1941. Courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 18k First day cover for the commissioning of the Tuna (SS-203) on 3 February 1941. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Tuna 92k Commemorative postal cover marking the Tuna's (SS-203) first day Postal service labeled "Ready to Splash". Photo courtesy of The Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum, submitted by Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 27k Commemorative post marking the Tuna's (SS-203) first day of postal service on 3 February 1941. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Submarine Base,Pearl Harbor 1.14k Aerial view of the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, with part of the supply depot beyond and the fuel farm at right, looking north on 13 October 1941. Note the fuel tank across the road from the submarine base, painted to resemble a building. The building beside the submarine ascent tower (in left center, shaped like an upside-down "U") housed the U.S. Fleet Headquarters at the time of the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941. Office of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the Fleet's Commander in Chief, was in the upper left corner of the building's top floor.
Wharton (AP-7) is in right foreground. Among the submarines at the base are Tuna (SS-203), Gudgeon (SS-211), Argonaut (SS-166), Narwhal (SS-167), Triton (SS-201) and Dolphin (SS-169). Holland (AS-3) and Niagara (PG-52) are alongside the wharf on the base's north side.
In the distance (nearest group in upper left) are the battleship Nevada (BB-36), at far left, Castor (AKS-1) and the derelict old mine-layer Baltimore. Cruisers in top center are Minneapolis (CA-36), closest to camera, and Pensacola (CA-24), wearing a Measure 5 painted "bow wave".
Text from USN photo # 80-G-451125, now in the collections of the National Archives.
USN photo # 80-G-651517 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 04/18/16.
Submarine Base,Pearl Harbor 1.07k Two additional aerial views of the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, with part of the supply depot beyond and the fuel farm at right, looking north on 13 October 1941. USN photo # 80-G-651516 & 651518 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo added 04/18/16.
Navy Day20k Commemorative postal cover marking Navy Day, 27 October 1941 and the following submarines commissioned since the previous year:
Trout (SS-202),
Tuna (SS-203),
Mackerel (SS-204),
Marlin (SS-205),
Gar (SS-206),
Grampus (SS-207),
Grayback (SS-208),
Grayling (SS-209),
Grenadier (SS-210) &
Gudgeon(SS-211).
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Tuna 776k Painting of the Tuna (SS-203), Gudgeon (SS-211) and Fulton (AS-11) by Lloyds of Vallejo. All three ships were constructed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Guardfish1.40kCitation from Admiral Carpender aboard the Guardfish receiving their submarine combat insignia on 18 August 1943.
The boats in the background are: Peto (SS-265) in the middle. Interesting that she still has the high bridge forward. She would depart on 9/1/43, so unless the tender did a quick cut down, she would have departed on patrol in September still with a high bridge. Even if they did cut it down before she departed, its interesting that she still had it as late as August. I had no idea they were splotching the periscopes that early, a great detail for modelers. Scamp (SS-277) to the right. Assuming the August 18 date is correct, that would match up. Scamp departed on patrol on September 2nd, so she would have been there. If the boat to her port is a high bridged type (hard to tell, but from the sailor peeking out of the dead light, maybe), then she would be Peto, who was likely the only high bridge type there, and probably the very last one. She would depart on September 2nd.
Others in port at that time included Albacore (SS-218), Stingray (SS-186), Grouper (SS-214) and likely Gato (SS-212). All departed Brisbane between August 23rd and September 6th.
Grouper is to the left in the background moored with the Fulton (AS-11). The boat to her starboard whose extreme stern is probably Tuna (SS-203). She had left for patrol before the awards ceremony date, but a friendly fire incident with an RAAF bird forced her back into Brisbane for repairs, so she had reentered port and didnít leave again until August 21st, 1943. She had the aft torpedo tube shutters as-built like the other Tambors, and like the mystery boat. Itís hard to see and faint but the mystery boat appears to have the degaussing circuit on her stern. So did Tuna (http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/0820306.jpg), and at that precise place and time, too.
Majority text i.d. courtesy of Robert Morgan, with input from Dave Johnston (USNR) & John Hummel.
US National Archives photo # 80-G-394390 & 80-G-394401 from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Tuna 328k Port side view of the Tuna (SS-203) 16 August 1943. She is probably at Brisbane on her eighth patrol, recovering from damage caused by a Royal Australian Air force patrol bomber attacked her, dropping three bombs close aboard. The resultant damage necessitated 17 days of major repairs at Brisbane.
This photo shows Tuna with a variation of the Mod 3 conning tower fairwater configuration. The forward and aft portions of the the fairwater have been cut away as is typical of the Mod 3, creating two gun decks for the Mk 5 solid base 20mm mount. However, several things in this photo stand out to make her unique. First, she has the long bridge variation, with a larger portion of the fairwater left intact aft of the bridge than is typical for the Mod 3's. Second, the newly created aft gun deck (or "cigarette deck") is stepped on two different levels. This is very unusual. This deck was usually flat on one level. Third, at this point she has retained her original 40 foot #1 periscope, but with it still mounted so as to let into the control room as opposed to the conning tower. With the addition of the SJ radar forward of the periscope shears, this makes the bracing for the SJ mast somewhat proplematic. Most boats that were built with a control room scope had it moved to the conning tower when they received a Mod 3 with SJ radar. This avoided the bracing issues that the Tuna would be experiencing here.
Partial text courtesy of DANFS.
Text i.d. courtesy of Dave Johnston, (USNR).
USN photo # 80-G-394387 from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Tuna 48k This drawing does not accurately depict the Tuna (SS-203) at any time in her career. It is similar to her final configuration in 1945, but the periscope shears are too large in diameter, and it does not show the "covered wagon" ribs that are typical of the Mod 4 configuration that she carried in 1945. See below photo for comparision. Text i.d. courtesy of Dave Johnston, (USNR).
Photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
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.
Tuna 491k Tuna (SS-203) off Mare Island with the Navy Tug Pitamakan (YTB-403), in this 22 September 1945 photo from the edition of the Vallejo Times Herald.
Sperry Mill is located directly across the Napa River from Mare Island and the housing on the hill to the left is federal housing built in late 1941.
USN photo by Bill Platt, Vallejo Times-Herald staff photographer, courtesy of Darryl Baker & Captain (Select) Bob Decesari, USNR - CO, Navsea Unit 103.
Tuna 302k Eighteen kills on 13 patrols is the proud record of the Tuna (SS-203). F1/c Joe Przybylski points out the 13 patrol stripes & the 18 flags on the conning tower. The top 3 flags represent warships. Photo & texy by Bill Platt, staff photographer, from the 22 September 1945 edition of the Vallejo Times-Herald , courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Tuna 42k Tuna (SS-203) underway date and place unknown. USN photo courtesy of Mike Green.
Tuna 18k Commemorative post marking the Tuna's (SS-203) participation at Bikini Atoll Atomic Bomb Test, Operation Crossroads, where she was assigned a place among the target vessels anchored in the atoll. The first bomb was detonated on 1 July 1946, and the second followed 24 days later. Tuna received only superficial damage. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Pacific Reserve Fleet 278k Three veterans of Operation Crossroads are shown at Mare Island on 17 October1946 in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Left to right: Dentuda (SS-335), Searaven (SS-196) and Tuna (SS-203); Parche (SS-384) is aft of these three. Bluegill (SS-242) and Hackleback (SS-295) are to the left. USN photo # 3618-46, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.

View the Tuna (SS-203)
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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