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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Contributed by Don McGrogan, BMCS, USN (ret.)

Gunnel (SS-253)

Radio Call Sign: November - Uniform - Juliet - Sierra

Gato Class Submarine: Laid down, 21 July 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.; Launched, 17 May 1942; Commissioned USS Gunnel (SS-253), 20 August 1942; Decommissioned, 18 May 1946, at New London, CT; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet; Struck from the Naval Register, 1 September 1958; Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, on 17 July 1959 to Luria Bros., Phila, PA. Removed 1 August 1959. Gunnel received 5 battle stars for World War II service.
Partial data submitted by Ron Reeves (of blessed memory)

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 Hoover, Owens, Rentschler Co. main generator diesel engines, 5,400HP, Fuel Capacity, 97,140 gal., four General Electric main motors, 2,740HP, two 126-cell main storage batteries, twin screws.
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SS-253115kCommemorative post mark from Gunnel's (SS-253) keel laying ceremony on 21 July 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
SS-253150kCommemorative post mark from Gunnel's (SS-253) keel laying ceremony on 21 July 1941, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT.USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
986k The Gunnel (SS-253) was sponsored by Mrs. Ben Morell, wife of the chief of the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks and of the Civil Engineer Corps. Photo courtesy of
794k Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, U.S.N. CEC. Known as "Father of the Seabees" and the only civil engineer to attain the rank of admiral. Photographed circa mid-1945. Note Civil Engineering Corps device on his sleeve.
Best known to the American public as the father of the Navy's Seabees, Moreell's life spanned eight decades, two world wars, a great depression and the evolution of the United States as a superpower. He was a distinguished naval officer, an engineer, an industrial giant and a national spokesman.
USN photo 80-G-K-5879courtesy of
NR The launching of the Gunnel (SS-253), pictured going down the ways at New London, Conn. She's eleven months ahead of schedule and on her way to joining America's already-large submarine fleet. Image and text provided by Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library.
Photo from Detroit Evening Times. (Detroit, Mich) 1921-1958, 19 May 1942, NIGHT EDITION, Image 26, via
SS-253659kGunnel (SS-253) going for her first swim after her launching the previous day, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. 17 May 1942.USN photo courtesy of
SS-25318kCommemorative post mark from Gunnel's (SS-253) commissioning, 20 August 1942. Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Rosneath, Scotland78kTwo of the 6 subs of from Sub Squadron 50:
Barb (SS-220),
Blackfish (SS-221),
Herring (SS-233),
Shad (SS-235),
Gunnel (SS-253), and
Gurnard (SS-254) tied up at Rosneath, Scotland, circa 7 December 1942. The sub tender Beaver (AS-5) is in the background.
USN photo courtesy of
Rosneath, Scotland
98k A 1943 Watercolor by the artist Dwight Clark Shepler entitled "Jerry Hunters, Rosneath, Scotland." portrays the stern view of the sub tender Beaver (AS-5) and 3 of the 6 subs of Sub Squadron 50:
Barb (SS-220),
Blackfish (SS-221),
Herring (SS-233),
Shad (SS-235),
Gunnel (SS-253), and
Gurnard (SS-254).
Painting #87 / 88-199-CK.
Courtesy of the USNHC.
SS-253134kGunnel (SS-253) underway off Mare Island, CA., October 1943.USN photo # 19-N-53972 courtesy of
High Res USN photo # 80G-701334 courtesy of Sean Hert.
SS-25373kBow view of the Gunnel (SS-253) at Mare Island, CA., October 1943.USN photo # 7411-43, courtesy of
SS-25356kStern view of the Gunnel (SS-253) at Mare Island, CA., October 1943.USN photo # 7412-43, courtesy of
SS-253141kForward plan view of the Gunnel (SS-253) at Mare Island on 31 October 1943. She was in overhaul at the shipyard from 2 August until 31 October 1943.USN photo # 7417-43, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
SS-25387kCmdr. John Sidney "Jack" McCain, Jr. commanded the submarine Gunnel (SS-253) at Operation Torch.
Like many U.S. subs in the Atlantic, Gunnel was attacked in error by friendly aircraft. The Hooven-Owens-Rentschler (H.O.R.) diesels (known, of course, as "whores") which powered the Gunnel were troublesome; at one point enroute, drive gears of all four of the main engines were out of commission, and McCain had to rely on his tiny auxiliary for the last 1800km (1000nm). Gunnel went into the navy yard for an extensive refit, and was replaced on patrol station off North Africa by Pilly Lent's Haddo (SS-255). After the refit, the Gunnel was transferred to the Pacific.
In June 1943, in the East China and Yellow Seas, he sank two ships (confirmed postwar by JANAC): Koyo Maru (6400 tons) and Tokiwa Maru (7000 tons). However, more trouble from the sub's diesels cut the patrol to only eleven days, after which he returned to Pearl Harbor. The Gunnel was the first Pearl Harbor H.O.R. boat to be re-engined and she returned to action off Iwo Jima in December 1943). Alerted by Hypo of carriers on the night of 2-3 December, McCain shot four torpedoes at IJNS Zuiho at a very long range of 5500m (6000yd, 3nm), only to miss as Zuiho zigged; Even though he missed, he was still one of only a handful of U.S. skippers to get such an opportunity.
On his final patrol, on 18 March 1944, off Tawi Tawi, the main Japanese fleet anchorage in the Philippines, McCain got an another shot at a carrier, firing from extremely long range (8200m {9000yd}). He missed and was counterattacked, but only with sixteen depth charges. He tried to attack the same carrier over the next four days, but could get no closer than 10km (5.5nm). During the May 1944 U.S. air strike on Surabaya, the Gunnel lay off Tawi Tawi in company with Robert Olsen's Angler (SS-240), but McCain managed no attacks on Japanese ships. He shifted his operations to the coast of Indochina, where on 8 June 1944, he picked up a convoy, escorted by yet another aircraft carrier. He was unable to approach closer than 28km (15nm).
Cmdr. John Sidney "Jack" McCain, Jr. was assigned to the submarine Dentuda (SS-335) in late 1944. He had one patrol with the Dentuda, in the East China Sea and the Taiwan Straits, damaging a large freighter and sinking two patrol craft. Targets became more difficult as the war progressed with the amount of tonnage being sent to the bottom of the sea.
USN photo courtesy of Bill Gonyo.
Text courtesy of
SS-25398kBattleflag of the Gunnel (SS-253) at Mare Island on 31 October 1943.USN photo courtesy of
462k During her seventh patrol (21 October-28 December 1944) in the South China and Sulu Seas, Gunnel (SS-253) sank the Otori-class torpedo boat IJN Hiyodori. A sister ship, the Kiji is pictured here. Text via DANFS.
Photo courtesy of
SS-25343kStarboard side view of the Gunnel (SS-253) underway at Hunters Point, 4 May 1945.USN photo courtesy of USNI.
253 1.01k Five page PDF history of the Gunnel (SS-253). USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
SS-267, 253, 239 & 260140k Five Atlantic Reserve Fleet subs in mothballs at New London CT., late 1940's:
Pompon (SS-267),
Gunnel (SS-253),
Whale (SS-239),
Lapon (SS-260) and unidentified sub.
Text courtesy of David Johnston (USN, retired) Photo courtesy of John Hummel, USN (Retired).
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).

View the Gunnel (SS-253)
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
Gunnel (SS-253)
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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