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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Contributed by Mike Smolinski

Albacore (SS-218)

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - Echo - Romeo

Unit Awards, Campaign and Service Medals and Ribbons


Presidential Unit Citation
Gato Class Submarine: Laid down, 21 April 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.; Launched, 17 February 1942; Commissioned USS Albacore (SS-218), 1 June 1942; Final Disposition, sunk on 11th patrol by mines off the eastern coast of southern Hokkaido's Kameda Peninsula, in 260 meters of water while running submerged, just outside the 100-fathom curve near Esan Zaki [aka, Esan Misaki],7 November 1944, in position 41.49N, 141.11E. All hands lost; Struck from the Naval Register, 30 March 1945. Albacore won four Presidential Unit Citations and ninth battle stars for her service during World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t.; Length 311' 9"; Beam 27' 3"; Draft 15' 3"; Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts; Complement 6 Officers 54 Enlisted; Operating Depth, 300 ft; Submerged Endurance, 48 hrs at 2 kts; Patrol Endurance 75 days; Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10 kts; Armament, ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns; Propulsion, diesel electric reduction gear with four General Motors main generator engines, HP 5400, Fuel Capacity, 97,140 gals., four General Electric main motors, HP 2740, two 126-cell main storage batteries, twin propellers.
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Albacore 419k Core of Albacore's (SS-218) keel laying, 21 April 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 31k Commemorative postal cover marking the Albacore's (SS-218) keel laying, 21 April 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.
Note the Albacore's name is spelled without an "e".
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Albacore 313k Bow looking aft on the Albacore (SS-218), 30 September 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 402k Stern looking forward on the Albacore (SS-218), 30 September 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 448k Aft looking forward on the Albacore (SS-218), 30 December 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 446k Bow looking aft on the Albacore (SS-218), 30 December 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 419k Albacore (SS-218) ready for launch on 17 February 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 342k Sponsor's party for the launch of the Albacore (SS-218).
From left to right: Captain Elwin F. Cutts, Mrs Elwin F. Cutts, Mrs. Riles, Mrs. R.A.Moore, 17 February 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.
Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 304k Sponsor's party for the launch of the Albacore (SS-218).
From left to right: Captain Elwin F. Cutts & Mrs Elwin F. Cutts, 17 February 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.
Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 320k Mrs Elwin F. Cutts, Sponsor for the launch of the Albacore (SS-218), 17 February 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 347k Sparks fly at the christening of the Albacore (SS-218), 17 February 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Electric Boat photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 936k The Albacore (SS-218) slides down the ways on 17 February 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Photo by Bettmann, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 01/22/17.
Albacore 188k Albacore (SS-218) being towed to dock, immediately following her launching on 17 February 1942 at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Albacore 179k Albacore (SS-218) in Measure 9 camouflage (dull black) off Groton, 9 May 1942. Note the large conning tower and periscope sheers. Official USN photo # NH 57776, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center via Robert Hurst.
Albacore 561k Albacore (SS-218) bow view at rest off Groton, CT., 9 May 1942. USN photo courtesy of csp.navy.mil.
Albacore494kAlbacore (SS-218), stern view at rest, 9 May 1942. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs30503, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Albacore 29k Commemorative postal cover marking the Albacore's (SS-218) commissioning, 1 June 1942. Courtesy of petloveshack.com.
Albacore 29k Commemorative postal cover & photo inset taken during Albacore's (SS-218) sea trials & issued during her commissioning on 1 June 1942. Courtesy of petloveshack.com.
Brisbane 452k Photo caption reads:
A fleet submarine, probably Grouper (SS-214), returning to Brisbane on 29 May 1943, is welcomed by a band, fresh food and mail.
A little more indirect evidence about Boat #1 being Grouper is in her patrol report endorsements. In a letter dated 31 May 1943, there is a reference to the just arrived Grouper having her bridge cut down in that refit. If the 4-7 June date is correct, then it would mean that Boat #1/Grouper was photographed in mid cut down. It looks like Fulton (AS-11) got to Grouper just a day or two before Albacore (SS-218). She still has the high bridge forward and shows the starboard small boat locker bulge.
It looks like they cut down the after cigarette deck and the shears, but not the forward bridge so they were clearly doing this in little stages. The boat she's approaching is probably Albacore based upon the drilled casing roundover. Guardfish (SS-217) departed on the 25th, so Albacore is the likely suspect.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Robert Morgan.
Photo courtesy of Robert Morgan courtesy of US Subs Down Under, 1942-1945 by David Jones & Peter Nunan.
Brisbane 640k Photo caption reads:
Submarines refitting alongside Fulton (AS-11) in the Brisbane River. A torpedo is being loaded onto one, and bridge modifications to reduce silhouette are in progress on another.
Boat #1: Grouper (SS-214),
Boat #2: Peto (SS-265),
Boat #3: Scamp (SS-277),
Boat #4: Albacore (SS-218),
Boat #5: Drum (SS-228), 4-7 June, 1943.

EB plan 2053-29, and BuShips plan 388778. Its a general outboard arrangement for SS-214-221 and SS-253-254. It shows very plainly that boats from SS-214 onwards only had the one small boat locker. Grouper only had the one small boat locker offset to port, but she carried the bulge to starboard as if she had one there too, only she didn't! The plan very clearly shows the bulge to starboard for Grouper, but then states, "DECKLINE FOR SS-214 ONLY."
Grouper being modified with her bridge being cut down after her May 29 return from patrol with a high fairwater as in the US Subs Down Under photo, which would explain the whitish look to her bridge face; it was probably primer or wet paint. The bulge to starboard that I originally thought indicated either Gato (SS-212) or Greenling (SS-213) is there, but there just isn't any locker beneath it! Why EB built Grouper like this is anyone's guess. Perhaps when the change order came, construction on Grouper was already too far ahead to stop and re-contour the deck casing? EB wasn't known for deviating from the plans lightly, so perhaps this was the best the Navy could get out of them? They then went to the single locker and no starboard bulge of any kind starting with Growler (SS-215). This might explain why the Manitowac boats had the single locker, too, since their contract was to build copies of Growler herself, portholes in the bridge face notwithstanding.
EB initially resisted pressure from the Navy to alter the plans, citing concerns about delays in production if they did. What they were really worried about was making a profit, each little change cost more and ate into their profit margin. This attitude was somewhat understandable, as EB is a civilian company and they existed to make a profit for their shareholders. However, EB's intransigence got so bad that the Bureau of Ships had to threaten the company with making them build the boats to the Government plans supplied by Portsmouth, wiping out their design capability, which would have put them in a very bad spot commercially after the war. EB backed off when they realized how serious the Bureau was. They took on a whole new attitude and their resistance to change quickly evaporated. What you are seeing with Grouper is an outgrowth of this situation. As part of an attempt to eliminate what the Bureau thought was "frivolous" peacetime equipment on the boats, an order was issued on 10 May 1942 to eliminate the motorboat. This was the official order that legitimized a practice that was already going on in the fleet. Many of the submarines beached the motorboat(s) between patrols as it became clear that they were just not needed anymore. Grouper was probably built with the original capacity of having two boats, as was the original intent for the Gato class. But she may have only gotten one boat when she was finished.
Albacore's patrol report backs up her being Boat #4. It reads, in part, "Major items accomplished during refit - alteration of bridge superstructure for mounting additional 20 mm gun." This was for her refit between 27 May and 10 June, 1943, so the dates connect up nicely with the photo.
Either way, the dates look solid, and the activity in the photo looks like a June, 1943, photo. Peto would depart on patrol on June 13th, so the boxes on her foredeck are probably supplies being loaded up.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Robert Morgan & Dave Johnston (USNR).
Photo courtesy of Robert Morgan courtesy of US Subs Down Under, 1942-1945 by David Jones & Peter Nunan.
Brisbane 391k The boats shown are all Gato's.
Boat #1: Grouper (SS-214),
Boat #2: Peto (SS-265),
Boat #3: Scamp (SS-277),
Boat #4: Albacore (SS-218),
Boat #5: Drum (SS-228), 4-7 June, 1943.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Dave Johnston (USNR).
Photo courtesy of Gerhard Mueller-Debus via Gary Priolo.
Guardfish763kOn 16 June 1943, Albacore (SS-218), was underway for her fifth patrol and waters surrounding the Bismarck and Solomon Islands. During this patrol, she sighted three separate convoys and attacked two. Albacore, claimed to have damaged a transport on 19 July but the submarine failed to sink any vessels. Albacore arrived back at Brisbane and began a refit alongside Fulton (AS-11). Text courtesy of DANFS.
US National Archives photo # 80-G-394382 from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
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.
Albacore 104k LT JG Charlie Traynor on watch aboard Albacore (SS-218) Thanksgiving, 1943. He would be K.I.A. with the rest of the crew in less than one year. USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Albacore 423k On 1 January 1944, Sazanami was reassigned to the IJN 5th Fleet. On 12 January, Sazanami departed Rabaul to join a tanker convoy en route from Palau to Truk. She was torpedoed by Albacore (SS-218), sinking 300 nautical miles (560 km) southeast of Yap. Of her crew, 153 died; 89 survivors were rescued by her sister ship Akebono.
Sazanami appears here on 15 April 1940.
Photo & text courtesy of wikipedia.com via Tommy Trampp.
Albacore 215k Bow on view of Albacore (SS-218) off Mare Island on 28 April 1944. She was in overhaul at the yard from 2 March to 5 May 1944. USN photo # 2582-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Photo fix courtesy of Jim Kelling.
Albacore 173k Stern view of Albacore (SS-218) off Mare Island on 28 April 1944. She was in overhaul at the yard from 2 March to 5 May 1944. USN photo # 2586-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Albacore 197k Broadside view of Albacore (SS-218) off Mare Island on 28 April 1944. Note the oil tank farm on the hills surrounding the bay. USN photo # 2584-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Mare Island 135k Albacore (SS-218) at Mare Island during her last overhaul. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com
Mare Island 207k Albacore (SS-218) at Mare Island during her last overhaul. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com
Albacore 125k Albacore (SS-218) off Mare Island during her last overhaul, May 1944. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Albacore 63k Portside view of Albacore (SS-218) off Mare Island during her last overhaul, May 1944.
The contributors father, Clem O'Brien, served on the Albacore for 8 patrols, the 3rd through the 10th.
USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Albacore 88k Albacore (SS-218) Crew Party during Mare Island overhaul, May 1944. In less than six months most of the men pictured here would be K.I.A. USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien. Photo fix courtesy of Jim Kelling.
Albacore 43k On 19 June, 31,000-ton carrier Taiho, the newest and largest floating air base in the Japanese fleet sank carrying down 1,650 officers and men after being torpedoed by the Albacore (SS-218). Text courtesy of DANFS.
USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Albacore 297k After this action Albacore (SS-218) was assigned lifeguard duty for planes striking Yap and Ulithi. On 2 July, Albacore shifted over to intercept traffic between Yap and the Palaus. The submarine spotted a wooden inter-island steamer loaded with Japanese civilians. Blanchard decided to stage a surface gun attack. After insuring the ship was afire, Albacore dived to avoid an airplane. The submarine surfaced soon thereafter and picked up five survivors which were then transferred off the boat. Text courtesy of DANFS.
USN photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 104k Securing gun after bombardment of Fais Island. USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Albacore 85k Local geography from the mid Pacific while the crew of the Albacore (SS-218) were on R & R at Myrna Island late July early August 1944. USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Albacore 205k Albacore (SS-218) at Seedler Harbor in July 1944 after a refit alongside Euryale(AS-22), the submarine began her 10th patrol on 8 August. Her assignment was the Bungo Suido-Kii Suido area, and, during this period, Albacore was credited with sinking two Japanese vessels, a cargo ship and a submarine chaser. The patrol ended at Pearl Harbor on 25 September. Text courtesy of DANFS. USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Photo fix courtesy of Jim Kelling.
Albacore 59k Clem O'Brien on the cigarette deck of the Albacore (SS-218), 1944. USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Albacore 350k Captain James William Blanchard and others stand watch onboard the Albacore (SS-218) during the boat's 9th & 10th patrols. USN photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 48k Former crew members of the Albacore (SS-218) who transferred off the boat prior to her loss on 7 November 1944. USN photo courtesy of Clem O'Brien & submitted by Sean O'Brien.
Albacore 248k Former crew members of the Albacore (SS-218), Doug White & Clem O'Brien appear at an award dinner following the boat's patrol. USN photo courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 65k Google Earth satellite photo showing parts of Japan and largely the main Island of Hokkaido, where the Albacore (SS-218) is believed to have sunk.
Photo courtesy of Google Earth.
Albacore 93k Google Earth satellite photo off the eastern coast of southern Hokkaido's Kameda Peninsula, in 260 meters of water while running submerged, just outside the 100-fathom curve near Esan Zaki [aka, Esan Misaki],7 November 1944, in position 41.49N, 141.11E. Albacore's (SS-218) last approximate position based during post-war debriefings. This position is thought to be the final resting place of the Albacore and her crew.Photo & text submitted by Charles R. Hinman, Director of Education & Outreach,
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, &
On Eternal Patrol
Partial text i.d. also courtesy of Chief Sparky.
Albacore 33k Hugh Raynor Rimmer, Lieutenant Commander (Commanding Officer) of the Albacore (SS-218) at the time of her loss.
USN photo courtesy of oneternalpatrol.com.
Albacore 62k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Albacore (SS-218).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.
Albacore 497k Mr. Princivalle donates an Albacore (SS-218) life ring on 30 March 1966 to Mrs. Theda Bassett, who served as the librarian for the Submarine Force Library and Museum from 1955 - 1964 while it was at Electric Boat, and who continued in that role from 1964 - 1970 after the Museum was transferred to the Navy and relocated on the Submarine Base. She also served as Assistant Director from 1969-70. USN photo & text i.d. courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
Photo enhancement courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Albacore 31k Commemorative postal cover marking the 60th year of the Albacore's (SS-218) sinking, 7 December 2004.
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
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.
Albacore 3.20m Construction & finalization of the Albacore (SS-218) Memorial in Beaverton Oregon, thanks to the Oregon Loggers Chapter of Submarine Vets and the American Legion Post in Beaverton.
Eleven photo PDF on the last WW II submarine memorial built in the U.S.

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./"
Photos courtesy of Tom Kermen.

View the Albacore (SS-218)
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
ComSubPac Report of loss of USS Albacore (SS 218) November 7, 1944 - 85 Men Lost
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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