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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patch contributed by Mike Smolinski

Trigger (SS-237)
Active Service - Loss

Radio Call Sign: November - Charlie - Charlie - Foxtrot

To Additional Pages

Keel Laying - Commissioning


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is left to right
Presidential Unit Citation (3) - American Campaign Mdeal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (11)

Gato Class Submarine: Laid down, 1 February 1941, at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA.; Launched, 22 October 1941; Commissioned USS Trigger (SS-237), 31 January 1942; Lost to enemy action 28 March 1945, sunk by Japanese in East China Sea, all hands lost; Struck from the Naval Register, 11 July 1945. Trigger was awarded 3 Presidential Unit Citations and received 11 battle stars for her service in World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,410 t.; Length 311' 10"; Beam 27' 4"; Draft 15' 3"; Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts; Complement 6 Officers 54 Enlisted; Maximum 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 dual purpose deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns; Propulsion, diesel- electric, four Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines, HP 5400, fuel capacity 116,000 gal., four General Electric Co. electric motors, HP 2740, two 126 cell main storage batteries, twin screws.
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Trigger 117k An undated pre-war photo of the Kawasaki Kisen KK - owned general cargo vessel Holland Maru underway in port. Holland Maru (5,869 grt) was torpedoed and sunk at position (32 degrees 21'N, 132 degrees 04'E) on 17 October 1942 by the submarine Trigger (SS-237). Photo courtesy of Alex Duncan from "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939" by Roger W. Jordan, courtesy of Robert Hurst.
Trigger 233k Destroyer Okikaze sinking 2-43 viewed through Trigger's (SS-237) periscope. USN photo & text courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 378k Trigger's (SS-237) crew poses for a group photo April 1943 at Pearl Harbor. USN photo & text courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 328k The Trigger (SS-237) crew with battle flag....includes Benson and Beach (first 2 officers pictured on the left). Circa December 1943. USN photo & text courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 64k The Trigger's (SS-237) CO, Lt. Comm. Roy S. Benson, receives a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross at a ceremony honoring his and Trigger's exploits after she arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 December 1943 following her seventh war patrol. USN photo courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole,K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945. Partial text courtesy of DANFS.
Trigger 215k The Trigger's (SS-237) CO, Lt. Comm. Roy S. Benson, receives a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross at a ceremony honoring his and Trigger's exploits after she arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 December 1943 following her seventh war patrol. Among the ships damaged or sunk included the aircraft carrier Hiyo which limped into Tokyo Bay and was out of action for almost a year. USN photo courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole,K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Partial text courtesy of DANFS.
Trigger 681k Three photo PDF of the Nippon Yusen KK pasenger liner SS Yasukuni Maru on the River Thames during her maiden voyage from Japan, 1930. Photo from Ships of the World special issue "The Golden Age of Japanese Passenger Liners",.
The auxillary submarine depot ship HIJMS Yasukuni Maru and the battleship HIJMS Nagato, underway in 1941. At this time Yasukuni Maru was with the 1st Submarine Squadron until 15 December 1941. Photo Imperial Japanese Navy.
Last photo is taken from HIJMS Katori (bow and 25mm AA guns) of the aux. submarine depot ships HIJMS Rio de Janeiro Maru (at right) and Yasukuni Maru (at left), and three submarines, at Kwajalein Atoll, February 1942. At this time Yasukuni Maru was with the 3rd Submarine Squadron until 15 September 1943: Attached Force Sixth Fleet; sunk 31 January 1944 NW of Truk (09 degrees 12' North, 147 degrees 13' East) by the submarine Trigger (SS-237). Photo Imperial Japanese Navy.
Photos courtesy of Robert Hurst.
PDF added 03/27/13.
Trigger 185k On 31 January 1944, 300 miles NW of Truk, at about 0200, LtCdr Robert E. Dornin's Trigger (SS-237) attacks Yasukuni Maru's convoy. Dornin fires three torpedoes by radar at largest ship and Lt (later Captain) Edward L. Beach, the XO fires three other torpedoes from the bridge at the nearest destroyer using the Target Bearing Transmitter (TBT). The TBT's torpedoes run erractically and miss. The three fired by radar also miss the big ships, but one hits and slightly damages Michishio, probably a dud.
Still on the surface, Trigger turns tail on a nearby destroyer and fires four stern torpedoes at her, but they all miss. Masked by her heavy diesel exhaust, Trigger hauls away on a reciprocal course to the destroyer. Unaware that her opponent is on the surface, the destroyer drops depth charges.
Dornin makes a high speed "end-around." At about 0358, he fires five torpedoes in surface radar attack on the largest ship. Two torpedoes hit Yasukuni Maru. She sinks about five minutes later 17 miles NW of Truk at 9-15N, 147-13E.
Yasukuni Maru is carrying over 1,200 men of whom about 300 sailors and 888 technical personnel are lost. Shiratsuyu rescues 43 survivors.
Text courtesy of combinedfleet.com.
Photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
Trigger 134k This close up of the bridge of the Trigger (SS-237), was taken in August 1944 during refit at Mare Island. Details of the compass repeater target bearing transmitter and alarm switches are seen behind the protective venturi shield. The hatch leading to the conning tower is at right on the deck. The pole in the center of the photo is the mast for the "SJ" antenna. This shot was taken from the port lookout platform. USN photo #19-N-83827. Photo and text courtesy of The Floating Drydock, Fleet Subs of WW II by Thomas F. Walkowiak.
Trigger 120k This close up of the fairwater looking aft along the starboard side of the Trigger (SS-237), was taken in August 1944 during refit at Mare Island. The black circles show new items installed during this refit which include "SJ" radar, venturi shield, 4"/50cal.deckgun and searchlight. USN photo #19-N-83829. Photo and text courtesy of . The Floating Drydock, Fleet Subs of WW II", by Thomas F. Walkowiak.
Trigger 55k Trigger (SS-237) probably at Mare Island after her refit, August 1944. US Navy photo from DANFS, Joe Radigan, MACM, USN Ret.
Trigger 63k Bows on view of the Trigger (SS-237), date and location unknown. Courtesy of Silent Victory, by Clay Blair Jr.
Trigger 159k Trigger (SS-237) record of ship's kills during her 12 war patrols. Courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Trigger 95k A fleet boat returning from patrol displays a major drawback of pre-WW II U.S. submarines design: light anti-aircraft guns had to be taken out and set up before they could be used. A water-cooled 0.50, the standard prewar weapon, is shown on deck forward of the bridge.
This boat may be Trigger (SS-237), whose commanding officer originated the practice (very visible here) of drilling holes at the turn of the deck to let out the air in the superstructure more quickly so as to speed diving.
Photo & text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
Trigger 195k The officers of the Trigger (SS-237) pose for a photo taken on board in May 1944, possibly at San Francisco. Those identifiable are LT Edward (Ned) Beach Jr. (standing on the far left), the man in the cap to the right of Ned Beach is Trigger's then CO, the famous Robert E. "Dusty" Dornin, and I think LCDR F. J. Harlfinger is to his right. USN Photo # 3177-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Partial text courtesy of Pete Donatucci.
Trigger 458k Roy S. Benson (CO) scrapbook (officers in Hawaii, bearded officers) with other Trigger (SS-237) mementos. USN photo courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 347k Trigger (SS-237) returns to Guam, 17 November 1944. USN photo courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 315k The folowing three photos of the Trigger (SS-237) off Guam in March 1945 were taken by Bob Adams of Phoenix AZ, an 85 year old vet, who served as a photographer aboard the submarine tender Apollo (AS-25) and was stationed in Midway in late 1944 to early 1945.
These photos were taken when the sub was in Guam for re-fit....and before it departed for what was to be the last patrol. He was on board for a two day test and training cruise. His job was to train and make sure the periscope cameras were operational. He had taken ship pictures and had these in his personal inventory.
Photo by Bob Adams, courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole,K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 346k Bow view of the Trigger (SS-237) and a host of AK's off Guam in March 1945. Photo by Bob Adams, courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 292k Stern view of the Trigger (SS-237) & former Sculpin (SS-191) commander Lt. Commander Lucius H. Chappell off Guam in March 1945.
Lu Chappel was the Commander of Sub Division Two Eighty One on February 4 1945 in Guam. Check out the war patrol micro film copies of the USS Trigger war patrol reports at http://issuu.com/hnsa/docs/ss-237_trigger?mode=a_p See page 373 of 381. That is a copy of Lu's endorsement letter of the 11th War Patrol, upon the sub's return to Guam under Fritz Harlfinger. Dave Connole then took command for the 12th war patrol and departed Guam on March 11. From the 11 War Patrol Report you can see that there were key parts that needed fixing and there was a new commanding officer that needed to learn the boat and crew. Thus, a training cruise was needed and the experienced Lu Chappel would have been a natural to go along as an observer/advisor.
Photo i.d. courtesy of Ric Hedman.
Photo by Bob Adams, courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole,K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 635k I.R. Lloyd drawing of the Trigger (SS-237) being engaged by a Japanese warship, place and date unknown. USN photo courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Coast Defense Vessel No. 17 213k Coast Defense Vessel No. 17, at Yokohama, 13 April, 1944, representative of two of the class of ships which sank the Trigger (SS-237), Coast Defense Vessel No. 33 and Coast Defense Vessel No. 59, according to Submarines Lost Through Enemy Action. Photo from A. J. Watts, "Japanese Warships of World War II", courtesy of Aryeh Weterhorn.
Coast Defense Vessel No. 17 117k Awaji, a type B escort, at Osaka, January, 1944, representative of - the Mikura, which sank the Trigger (SS-237), according to Submarines Lost Through Enemy Action. Photo from A. J. Watts, "Japanese Warships of World War II", courtesy of Aryeh Weterhorn & combinedfleet.com
Trigger 143k Google Earth satellite photo of the site and surrounding islands of Trigger (SS-237).
Exact location of the sinking of Trigger is not known. Two books tell the story of the loss and provide location information leading up to the sinking date: -Submarine Operations of WWII, by T. Roscoe, USNI, page 456-457.
-Submarine Losses of WWII, page 142.
On 28 March 1944, submarines in the general vicinity heard depth charges and that "someone was taking a drubbing". A Japanese naval report indicated that a submarine was located, bombed and a large oil slick resulted. The location was 32-16N, 132-05E, which is East of Kyushu.
History of location reports (derived from the two books)
1. On 18 March Trigger sunk Tsukushi Maru #3 at 28-05N, 126-44E. This is West of Nansei Shoto chain of islands.
2. On 24 March, Trigger ordered to patrol West of Nansei Shoto chain of islands between 29N and 31 N at the 100 fathom depth curve.
3. On 26 March, Trigger was ordered to rendezvous with two other subs to form a wolf pack at 31-00 N, 132 E. This location is SE of Kyushu to the the East of the Nansei Shoto chain.
4. In Roscoe’s account, it states that post war records credit sinking of Odate on 27 March at 30-40N, 127-50 E, which is West of the Nansei Shoto chain.
5. If Trigger was West of Nansei Shoto on 27 March at 30-40N, 127-50E, she would have had to travel about 240 miles to arrive at rendezvous point (31-00N, 132-00E). However, the supposed sinking location (32-16N, 132-05E) is about 85 miles north up the coast of Kyushu.
6. Questions:
a. Why would Trigger be 85 miles north of rendezvous point?
b. Could Trigger have transited the straits near Take-shima, south of Kyushu, in time to make the rendezvous on 28 March…..a 240 mile run from the Odate sinking location on 27 March? Yes, but this would be a 12 hour run on surface at 19 knots (need to avoid mine field). Surface run is not likely, given the locale being close to Japanese coast.
c. Maybe the Odate sinking information is not correct, either the date or location.
View courtesy of Google Earth. Text Courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 152k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Trigger (SS-237).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.
Trigger 19k David Rickart Connole, Commander (Commanding Officer) of the Trigger (SS-237) at the time of her loss. USN photo courtesy of oneternalpatrol.com.
Trigger 245k Vice Admiral Aubery Fitch presents a Posthumous Award for David Connole to his wife Vida and son Rick on Trigger's (SS-237) exploits at Nansei Shoto 11 March 1945.
USN photo & text courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 164k Doctor Mom Chung, Ned Beach, former XO of Trigger (SS-237), Vida Connole and Roy Benson Trigger's (SS-237) former CO, on the occasion of the presentation of a replica of Trigger's "battle" flag to the USNA Museum, April 1947. This flag is still on display at the Museum. This also the day that Vida and Roy met, they started dating and were married one year later (in the USNA chapel). Roy later adopted me and was an excellent father.
BTW, Roy and Vida are buried in the USNA cemetery, near the grave of Ned Beach, and not far from Beach Hall (USNI, former USNA hospital).
USN photo & text courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 800k After 64 years, Rick Connole is proud that the Trigger (SS-237) campaign flag is still on display. This flag was presented to the USNA Museum in April 1946 by Mom Chung and former Trigger officers. Photo & text courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole,K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 260k A pair of CO's hold Trigger's (SS-237) Battle Flag; Roy Benson, Trigger's second CO on left, & Jack Lewis, her first CO on the right. Picture taken in April 1947 related to the memorial presentation of the flag to the USNA museum.
USN photo & text courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger2.90kTwo Page PDF article by Capt. Ned Beach of a New London, Conn 1951 newspaper article entitled "The Story behind the story of submarine Trigger (SS-564). Courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 170k Article written by Capt. Ned Beach which appeared in the U.S. Naval Proceedings, Sept 2002 in the Publisher's Page, detailing his early experiences aboard the Trigger (SS-237). Courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 3.21k Ten page PDF article written by Capt. Ned Beach which appeared in the U.S. Naval Proceedings, April 1957 entitled "Unlucky in June, Hiyo meets Trigger (SS-237)." Courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 1.88k Nine page PDF article of the Trigger (SS-237) Sea Classics series detailing the boat's history with numerous photos, by Charles H. Bogart. Courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 3.41k Nine page PDF article written by Capt. Ned Beach which appeared in the U.S. Naval Proceedings, Sept 2002 in the Publisher's Page. Courtesy of Rick Connole, son of Commander David R. Connole, K.I.A. while commanding the Trigger (SS-237), lost with the entire crew of 89 on 28 March 1945.
Trigger 315k Legendary WWII submarine commander, retired Capt. Edward L. "Ned" Beach, Jr., died 1 December 2002 at his Washington, D.C. home. In addition to his superb naval career, he was an accomplished author and wrote, among many other works, the globally acclaimed piece of literature, "Run Silent, Run Deep" in 1955. The novel was made into a popular movie starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. In an interview with All Hands Magazine, a U.S. Navy internal information periodical, he didn't like the movie because it wasn't true to the Navy that I saw and tried to describe." Beach is survived by his wife Ingrid, three children, and four grandchildren. U.S. Navy photo # N-0000B-001, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute / news.navy.mil.
Trigger 147k Memorial plaque of the Trigger's (SS-237) crew at Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia PA, July 2006. Photo courtesy of Wendell Royce McLaughlin Jr.
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 written 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.
U.S. Navy photo # N-1159B-021 by Journalist 2nd Class Brian Brannon, courtesy of news.navy.mil.
Trigger 48k Trigger (SS-237) men at Guam, February 1945. In a little over a month, the boat and crew would be M.I.A.

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./"
US Navy photo, courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book "U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II", published by USNI.

View the Trigger (237)
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
USS Trigger SS 237
On Eternal Patrol
ComSubPac Report of loss of USS Trigger (SS 237) March 26 1945 - 89 Men Lost
Trigger (SS-237) model courtesy of David Connole.
Trigger (SS-237) War Patrols on File courtesy of David Connole.
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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