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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Grayback (SS-208)

Radio Call Sign: November - Echo - Kilo - Foxtrot

Gar Class Submarine: Laid down, 3 April 1940, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.; Launched, 31 January 1941; Commissioned, USS Grayback (SS-208), 30 June 1941; Lost to enemy action, sunk by Japanese carrier based aircraft and anti-submarine surface units, 27 February 1944 in the East China Sea; Struck from the Naval Register, (date unknown); Grayback received two Navy Unit Commendations and eight battle stars for 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 8.75 kts; Complement 5 Officers, 54 Enlisted; Armament, ten 21" torpedo tubes, 24 torpedoes, one 3"/50 dual purpose deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns; Propulsion, diesel-electric, four General Motors Co., diesel engines, 5.400 hp, Fuel Capacity, 96,365 gals., four General Electric Co., electric motors, 2,740 hp, Battery cells 252, twin propellers.
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Grayback 376k Grayback (SS-208) was sponsored by Mrs. Wilson Brown, wife of Rear Admiral Wilson Brown.
Mrs. Brown was apparently camera shy; Her husband appears here receiving a medal from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on 28 April 1942.
Text courtesy of DANFS.
Photo courtesy of NARA / National Archives Identifier: 195301 via upload.wikimedia.org.
Photo added 06/18/18.
Grayback 240k All decked up with bunting, the Grayback (SS-208) slides down the launching ways at Electric Boat on 31 January 1941. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Grayback 28k Commemorative postal cover on the occasion of Grayback's (SS-208) launching, 31 January 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Grayback 486k Grayback (SS-208), port side view, probably just after launching at the Electric Boat Co. Photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Grayback 50k Color-tinted postcard of the Grayback (SS-208), port side view, probably just after launching at the Electric Boat Co. USN photo courtesy of pelicanharborsubvets.com.
 204 / 2081.03k Grayback (SS-208) fitting out & Mackerel (SS-204) with ice on her fore deck and radio wires, photographed in early 1941.Photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Grayback 1.10k Grayback (SS-208) on her shakedown trials, 6 May 1941. U.S. National Archives # 19-N-23992 courtesy of wikimedia.org.
Grayback 24k Commemorative postal cover on the occasion of Grayback's (SS-208) first day in service, 30 June 1941. Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Grayback 20k Commemorative postal cover on the occasion of Grayback's (SS-208) first day in service, 30 June 1941. Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
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 (of blessed memory).
Grayback 366k Grayback (SS-208) dockside, 26 August 1943 at Mare Island. USN photo # 6138-43 courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Grayback 218k Possible scorecard markings on the Grayback's (SS-208) aft bridge section, possibly in drydock while looking up at what appears to be an attack transport (AK) on 26 August 1943 at Mare Island. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Grayback 132k Stern view of the Grayback (SS-208) off San Francisco (Hunter's Point) on 26 August 1943. USN photo # 6137-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Grayback 131k Broadside view of the Grayback (SS-208) off San Francisco on 26 August 1943. USN photo # 6139-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Grayback 96k Bow on view of the Grayback (SS-208) off San Francisco on 26 August 1943. USN photo # 6141-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Grayback 287k Grayback (SS-208), underway, starboard view 26 August 1943, off San Francisco. USN photo # 6138-43 courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Grayback 2.20k With almost a quarter of her crew untested in battle Grayback' (SS-208) departed Pearl Harbor for the East China Sea 2 December 1943 for her ninth war patrol. Within 5 days of her first contact with Japanese ships, she had expended all her torpedoes in a brilliant series of attacks which netted four ships for a total of over 10,000 tons.
Here is a 23 page PDF of Grayback's next to last patrol.
Text courtesy of DANFS.
PDF courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
PDF added 06/18/18.
Grayback 216k On the night of 18 December to 19 December 1943, Grayback (SS-208) attacked convoy of four freighters and three escorts. She sent freighter Gyokurei Maru and escort Numakaze to the bottom and damaged several others in surface attack. The Numakaze appears here in a photo dated 1925. Text courtesy of pacificwrecks.com.
Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org.
Photo added 06/18/18.
Grayback 757k From captured Japanese records the gallant submarine's last few days can be pieced together. Heading home through the East China Sea, on 27 February Grayback (SS-208) used her last two torpedoes to sink the freighter Ceylon Maru. That same day, a Japanese carrier-based plane, a Nakajima B5N2 "Kate, spotted a submarine on the surface in the East China Sea and attacked. According to Japanese reports the submarine "exploded and sank immediately," but antisubmarine craft were called in to depth-charge the area, clearly marked by a trail of air bubbles, until at last a heavy oil slick swelled to the surface. Grayback had ended her last patrol, one which cost the enemy some 21,594 tons of shipping. Text courtesy of DANFS.
Photo courtesy of i.pinimg.com
Photo added 06/18/18.
East China & Yellow Seas 46k Google Earth satellite photo of the general area in which general area in which Grayback (SS-208) is assumed to have been lost. View courtesy of Google Earth.
Grayback 38k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Grayback (SS-208).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.
Grayback 10k John Anderson Moore, Commander (Commanding Officer) of the Grayback (SS-208) at the time of her loss. USN photo courtesy of oneternalpatrol.com.
Grayback132k On 2 July 1957, upon the occasion of the launching of the Grayback (SSG-574), the sponsor was presented with several gifts during the reception which followed the launching. Shown are RADM M. J. Lawrence (Shipyard Commander), Mrs. John A. Moore (Sponsor), Mr. I. H. Whitthorne (President of Master's and Foreman's Association), and Mr. Ernest D. Wichels (President of the Navy Yard Association). Mrs. Moore is the widow of the commanding officer of the 1st Grayback (SS-208). USN photo # NY9 35070-7-57, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Grayback132kMrs. John A. Moore, Sponsor of the Grayback (SSG-574) vists the ship in dry dock 4 at Mare Island on 3 July 1957. RADM M. J. Lawrence, USN, Shipyard Commander and Capt E. J. Fahy, USN, Production Officer are seen with her. The building in the background is the yard's machine shop. The cupola in the right corner of the pcture is the periscope test tower for the optical shop which was on the top of the building. Periscopes were suspended from the ceiling and scopes head window projected into the cupola for test and calibration. USN photo # NY9 35079-7-57, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Grayback156k This is the historic data plate made to commemorate the recommissioning of the Grayback (LPSS-574), 25 July 1969 and in memorium of the first Grayback (SS-208), lost to enemy action, sunk by Japanese carrier based aircraft and anti-submarine surface units, 27 February 1944 in the East China Sea. USN photo # MSA 93334-7-69, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Grayback14k Commemorative postal cover marking the first Grayback (SS-208) and the second Grayback (LPSS-574), on 21 June 1982.Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Fremantle 365k This plaque was unveiled 20 March 1995 by His Excellency Major General P.M. Jeffery OA MC, Governor of Western Australia to commemorate the sacrifices made by Allied submarines that operated out of Fremantle, Western Australia during WW II. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves (of blessed memory).
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.
Grayback 50k Grayback (SS-208) viewed from about 500 feet, probably during her shakedown period in Long Island Sound out of Newport, New London, and New York.
Minus the number on her later to be cut back conning tower, she looked more or less this way from the air on 27 February 1944 as a Japanese carrier-based plane spotted a submarine on the surface in the East China Sea and attacked. According to Japanese reports the submarine "exploded and sank immediately," but antisubmarine craft were called in to depth-charge the area, clearly marked by a trail of air bubbles, until at last a heavy oil slick swelled to the surface.
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 / He brought me forth also into a large place: / he delivered me because he delighted in me./"
Photo & partial text courtesy of history.navy.mil.

View the Grayback (SS-208)
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
On Eternal Patrol
ComSubForPac US Pacific Fleet - USS Grayback (SS 208), 26 February 1944 - 80 Men Lost
PigBoats.COM TM, a Historic Look at Submarines

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