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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Robalo (SS-273)


Contributed by John Hummel

Radio Call Sign: November - Whiskey - Kilo - Alpha

Gato Class Submarine: Laid down, 24 October 1942, at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co, Manitowoc, WI.; Launched, 9 May 1943; Commissioned USS Robalo (SS-273), 28 September 1943; Sunk on 3rd patrol by a mine, 26 July 1944, two miles off the west coast of Palawan Island, PI, 4 men rescued, died as Japanese POWs; Struck from the Naval Register, 16 September 1944. Robalo received 2 battle stars for World War II service.

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, 5,400HP, Fuel Capacity, 116,000 gal., four General Electric main motors, 2,740HP, two 126-cell main storage batteries, twin propellers.
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Robalo95kCentropomus undecimalis, a common snook. The common snook is also known as the sergeant fish or ro'balo. Photo & text courtesy of wapedia.mobi.
Sponsor270kSubmarine Robalo (SS-273), hull #321 on launching day, 9 May 1943. Mrs E. S. Root sponsor, and unidentified captain (possibly Stephen Ambruster) on christening platform. Note the X in the circle in the middle of the hole in the bunting, marking the correct spot to strike with the launching bottle. Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
Submitted by Susan Menk, Archives Assistant, Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
This photo, # 2001-1-387, can be ordered (without the watermark) from the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.
Photo added 02/03/14.
Robalo102kThe Robalo (SS-273) is moved over to the waterfront launching position at Manitowoc Shipyards, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, April 1943. Note the small floating drydock at left.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph USNHC # 69258, courtesy of the Manitowoc Submarine Memorial Association, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1969.
Robalo161kRobalo (SS-273) ready for launching, at Manitowoc Shipyards, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 9 May 1943. Note the christening party on the stand by the submarine's bow.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph USNHC # 69259, courtesy of the Manitowoc Submarine Memorial Association, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1970.
Robalo166kThe Robalo (SS-273) is ready to tip into the water during her launching at Manitowoc Shipyards, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 9 May 1943.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph USNHC # 69260, courtesy of the Manitowoc Submarine Memorial Association, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1970.
Manitowoc55k Watercolor print by the artist Tom Denton of the side launching of a Manitowoc built boat. Courtesy of submarineart.com
Robalo555kThe Robalo (SS-273) hits the water with a huge splash, during her launching at Manitowoc Shipyards, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 9 May 1943. Note the inclination gage mounted on her hull side.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
USN photo # 080-G-68535, from the Department of Defense Still Media Collection, courtesy of dodmedia.osd.mil. Partial text accompanying photo from U.S. Naval Historical Center # 69261.
Robalo139kRobalo (SS-273), afloat immediately after her launching, at Manitowoc Shipyards, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 9 May 1943.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph USNHC # 69262, courtesy of the Manitowoc Submarine Memorial Association, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1970.
Robalo103kStarboard side view of the Robalo (SS-273), underway, probably during her trials in Lake Michigan, Summer 1943.
Photo courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Robalo177kStarboard side view of the Robalo (SS-273), underway, probably during her trials in Lake Michigan, Summer 1943.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
Photo courtesy of John Hummel.
Robalo73k Commissioning ceremonies on the Robalo's (SS-273) deck, 28 September 1943.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph USNHC # 68804, courtesy of the Manitowoc Submarine Memorial Association, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1969.
Robalo60kThe Robalo's (SS-273) commanding officer, Commander Manning M. Kimmel, who was lost with her and the rest of the ship's company, 26 July 1944.
Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, USNHC # NH 48590, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Harry Berns485kPhoto of Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
The photo of the Golet (SS-361) encased in snow appears on the wall above him on the upper right.
His obituary appears here.
Photo courtesy of Susan Menk, Archives Assistant, Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Dee Anna Grimsrud,Reference Archivist, Wisconsin Historical Society, Steve Khail, CBC, Director of Investor Relations & Corporate Communications, The Manitowoc Company, Inc. & William Young.
Robalo123kRobalo (SS-273), underway near Panama, 19 November 1943. Photographed from a Naval Air Station Coco Solo aircraft, flying at an altitude of approximately 550 feet and on her way to the war. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, USNHC # 69273, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center, courtesy of the Manitowoc Submarine Memorial Association, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1970.
Robalo416kStarboard bow view of the Robalo (SS-273), underway in the Gulf of Panama, 19 November 1943. Photographed from a Naval Air Station Coco Solo aircraft, flying at an altitude of approximately 250 feet. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, courtesy of John Hummel.
Robalo441kOn 26 Jul '44, LtCdr Manning M. Kimmel's Robalo (SS-273) is sunk W of Palawan Island in the Balabac Strait. Robalo may have hit a mine laid by Tsugaru in Mar '44. On 13 August '44, LtCdr John D. Crowley's Flier (SS-250) also hit a mine S of Palawan in the Balabac Strait that may have been laid by Tsugaru; however, some mines were also laid in the Balabac Strait in 1943 Photo & text courtesy of combinedfleet.com. Photo by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships".
Palawan 95k Google Earth satellite photo of the surrounding islands off Palawan where the Robalo's (SS-273) last approximate position was based during post-war debriefings. This position is thought to be the final resting place of the boat's crew.View courtesy of Google Earth.
Robalo46kCommemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Robalo (SS-273).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.
Robalo30kCommemorative post mark on the occasion of the 60th year of the Robalo's (SS-273) commissioning, 28 September 1943 - 28 September 2003.
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Robalo65kFargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, right, and Duane Sand, state commander of the Submarine Veterans, far left, helped honor David Zier, center, survivor of the Robalo (SS-273) on 2 July 2009 at Lindenwood Park in Fargo. Photo & text by Sayward Honer & Heidi Shaffer, courtesy of inforum.com.
Robalo65kForty Five years in the making, a commitment and a vision becomes a relity in North Dakota. The North Dakota delegates will erect a Memorial to their adopted submarine and its crew-members lost 61 years ago, was fulfilled on Saturday, 23 July 2005. Those that made this commitment and on their eternal patrol, may now rest in peace…“Well done Shipmates, Well Done!”.Photo by waymarking.com. Text courtesy of ussvi.org.
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.
U.S. Navy photo # N-1159B-021 by Journalist 2nd Class Brian Brannon, courtesy of news.navy.mil.
Robalo97k Robalo's (SS-273) plank-owners pose on deck, circa September 1943. In a little over 8 months time, the Robalo would be sunk all these men 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./"

Photo by Harry Berns, Official photographer of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI.
Submitted by Larry Bohn, courtesy of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, home of the Cobia SS-245.

View the Rabalo (SS-273)
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 ROBALO (SS 273) July 26, 1944 - 81 Men Lost
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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