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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patch contributed by Mike Smolinski

Capelin (SS-289)


Balao Class Submarine: Laid down, 14 September 1942, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H.; Launched, 20 January 1943; Commissioned USS Capelin (SS-289), 4 June 1943; Sunk on 2nd patrol, November-December 1943, in the Celebes Sea from unknown causes, all hands lost; Struck from the Naval Register, (date unknown). Capelin earned one battle star for her World War II service.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,414 t.; Length 311' 9"; Beam 27' 3"; Draft 15' 3"; Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts; Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2kts; Operating Depth Limit, 400 ft; Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted; Armament, ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 4"/50 deck gun, one 40mm gun, two .50 cal. machine guns; Patrol Endurance 75 days; Propulsion, diesel-electric reduction gear with four General Motors main generator diesel engines, 5,400 hp, Fuel Capacity 94,400 gal., four General Electric main motors with 2,740 hp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
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Capelin 14k The Capelin, Mallotus villosus. Photo courtesy of stemnet.nf.ca.
Capelin 107k Capelin (SS-289) was launched 20 January 1943 by Portsmouth Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. I. C. Bogart, left. The girl at right is probably her daughter. She appears here with Rear Admiral Thomas Withers, USN, Commandant of the Portsmouth Navy Yard. USN photo courtesy of navy.togetherweserved.com
Capelin 815k Stern view of the Capelin (SS-289) previous to launching, 20 January 1943. The unfinished Cisco (SS-290) lies alongside. USN photo # 80-G-26161 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 685k Bow view of the Capelin (SS-289) previous to launching, 20 January 1943. USN photo # 80-G-26164 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 205k Signal flags flowing in the breeze generated by her launching, the Capelin (SS-289) slides down the ways into the waters of the Piscataqua River at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., 20 January 1943. Photo submitted by Charles R. Hinman, Director of Education & Outreach,
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, &
On Eternal Patrol
Capelin 27k Commemorative medallion on the occasion of the launching of the Capelin (SS-289), at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., 20 January 1943. Courtesy of flyingtigerantiques.com
Capelin 665k Commissioning the Capelin (SS-289) at Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire. Captain C. H. Roper, U.S. Navy, reading orders of commissioning. USN photo # 80-G-71114 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 758k Commissioning the Capelin (SS-289) at Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire. Lieutenant Commander Elliot E. Marshall, U.S. Navy, reading order of taking command. USN photo # 80-G-711156 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 448k EE Marshall from his Academy days. USN photo courtesy of David C. Marshall, grandson to Lt. Commander Elliot E. Marshall, K.I.A. with the rest of the 77 man crew of the Capelin (SS-289).
Photo added 10/11/17.
Capelin 961k Inscription on the bottom of the photo reads "Portsmouth NSY, Officers of Capelin (SS-289), Commissioning 4 June 1943".
Left to right: Lieutenant William B. Mason, Jr., U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Walter A. Sharar, U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Commander Edward D. Robertson, U. S. Navy; Lt. Commander EE Marshall, Lieutenant Junior Grade Roy C. Uhlman, U.S. Naval Reserve; Lieutenant Junior Grade Clinton S. O'Neil, U.S. Navy; Ensign Richard L. Burton, U.S. Naval Reserve.
USN photo # 80-G-71116 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, courtesy of David C. Marshall, grandson to Lt. Commander Elliot E. Marshall, K.I.A. with the rest of the 77 man crew of the Capelin (SS-289).
Photo added 10/11/17.
Capelin 17k Commemorative postal cover issued on the occasion of Capelin's (SS-289) commissioning at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., 4 June 1943. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Dace 62k Dace (SS-247), at left at the New London submarine base, Groton, Connecticut, on 23 July 1943, the day she was placed in commission. Note women visitors on board Dace, and hull details on the submarine at right, which might be the Capelin (SS-289) which was commissioned on 4 June 1943.
The unnamed boat has a port side anchor whereas all the Gato (SS-212) pics show starboard anchor (seems like a clear EB vs Portsmouth differentiation by that point). Since the pic is from New London is it possible a Portsmouth Balao was in port that day?
According to DANFS there are several references to these boats departing New London (NL) so they obviously went through there. The first three Portsmouth Balao's were in the Pacific by 23 July 43 [Balao (SS-285), Billfish (SS-286), Bowfin (SS-287)].
Cabrilla (SS-288) arrived Pearl on 30 August a pretty fast transit if in NL on 23 July but possible. Capelin was in NL in August 43 and departed NL for Pacific on 3 September per DANFS. Cisco (SS-290) left Panama for Pacific on 7 August 43, again rather quick to have been in NL on 23 July but possible. Crevalle (SS-291) was commissioned on 23 June and unlikely to be in NL on 23 July but possible. All remaining govt boats after Crevalle were commissioned too late to be in NL on 23 July
Looking at the pictures of Capelin there are a lot of similarities with the railings and lookout perch. Seems Capelin had a unique railing around the forward part of the fairwater in relation to the other early Balao's. Note the stanchion closest to the bridge on the port side from the picture # 80-G-468104 and the same one on the mystery sub.
USN photo # 80-G-K-15443, from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center now in the collections of the US National Archives. Photographer was probably Commander Edward Steichen, USNR.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Col. John Hart.
Capelin 583k Ship's Cook, Second Class Peter Grabnickas reading the thriller "The Stray Lamb" by Thorne Smith in his bunk aboard the Capelin (SS-289) at submarine base New London, Conn. August 1943. He would be lost with the rest of Capelin's crew in five months time. Photo i.d. courtesy of Wendy S. Gulley, Archivist, Submarine Force Museum, Naval Submarine Base NLON, Groton, CT.
NARA FILE #: 080-G-468523, photographed by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs. Photo # HD-SN-99-02537, courtesy of dodmedia.osd.mil, Defense Visual Information Center.
Capelin 376k A pair of young sailors as they man the controls of the fleet submarine Capelin (SS-289) in August 1943. They are adjusting the diving planes on orders from the captain. They may be Claude William Roberts, Motor Machinist's Mate, First Class, who is seated & Phillip Jearold Gillen, Motor Machinist's Mate, Second Class, standing. The diving officer seen in this photo that was clipped from the current photo may be William Barton Mason, Jr. U.S. National Archives photo by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs from An Illustrated History of the United States Navy by Chester G. Hearn & submitted by Robert Hurst.
Capelin 585k Lt. Commander EE Marshall aboard the Capelin (SS-289). USN photo courtesy of David C. Marshall, grandson to Lt. Commander Elliot E. Marshall, K.I.A. with the rest of the 77 man crew of the Capelin (SS-289).
Photo added 10/11/17.
Capelin 527k 3/4 starboard view of the Capelin (SS-289) off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. USN photo # 80-G-468708 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 203k Capelin (SS-289), off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. National Archives photo # 80-G-468104, by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Capelin 438k Capelin's (SS-289) bow gun is turned to port off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. USN photo # 80-G-468712 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 444k A sailor scans the horizon on Capelin's (SS-289) conning tower off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. The railing of the photographer's boat appears below. USN photo # 80-G-468713 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 470k Starboard broadside view of the Capelin (SS-289) off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. The railing of the photographer's boat appears below. USN photo # 80-G-468714 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 516k Portside view of the Capelin (SS-289) off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. USN photo # 80-G-468707 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 388k Broadside view of the Capelin (SS-289) off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. USN photo # 80-G-468710 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 353k A pair of sailors on the conning tower scan the horizon while two others scan into space on the Capelin (SS-289) off the Atlantic coast during shakedown, August 1943. USN photo # 80-G-468711 by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Capelin 356k Lieutenant Commander E.E. Marshall, right, on bridge of Capelin (SS-289), with Third Officer, Lieutenant William B. Mason, Jr.,(I believe), August 1943. Photo 80-G-468705 courtesy of NARA via Rob Hanshew and Tracy White @ Researcher @ Large.
Capelin 586k Second Officer Lt. Comdr. Edward Dunbar Robertson, USN, takes bearings while Lookout stands watch on board Capelin (SS-289). Photographed by Lieutenant Commander Charles Jacobs, August 1943. Photo 80-G-468709 courtesy of NARA via Rob Hanshew and Tracy White @ Researcher @ Large.
Capelin 1.26k On board Capelin (SS-289) at sea, 15 September 1943. Shown: signalman and lookout. USN photo # 80-G-468329, photographed by Lieutenant Commander Charles Fenno Jacobs, now in the collections of the National Archives via National Museum of the U.S. Navy via flickr.com.
Capelin 82kPictured here is a 1947 photo of the Japanese Minelayer Wanatake which may have been involved in sinking the Capelin (SS-289) according to Submarines Lost Through Enemy ActionPhoto courtesy of wikipedia.org.
Capelin 491k Possible summation of Capelin's (SS-289) loss. PDF compiled by Kiyotaka Asano.
Capelin 67k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Capelin (SS-289).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen. Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via quinlanroad.com.
Capelin 24k Commemorative postal cover issued on the occasion of the Capelin's (SS-289) Jubilee commissioning, June 1993. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Capelin 44k A street named for George R. Melvin of the Capelin (SS-289), on Eternal Patrol, December 1943. MARBLEHEAD BASE USSVI conducted the dedication ceremony of Melvin Court on 14 June 2003. Courtesy of ussvi.org.
Capelin 92k Lt. Comdr. Edward Dunbar Robertson, USN, Capelin's (SS-289) Executive Officer at the time of her loss. Ed was class of 1935.
Of course, he was known as "Robbie" as were all Robertsons, Robinsons, etc.....
He was strong on English and had trouble with Math -- walked many a weekend with "Miss Springfield" because he hit the math "tree".
- Later information: Dated and married my mother (his high school sweetheart) the whole time he was at Annapolis.
They were married in San Diego in 1937 because that was where he was stationed when the two year from graduation waiting period was up.
They were stationed in San Diego, Panama, Honolulu, Philadelphia, New London and Kittery.
He served on the battleship Mississippi (BB-41), the destroyer Williamson (DD-244), and the cruiser Milwaukee (CL-5) before entering submarine service in 1941. After a year in the Atlantic theater he was made executive officer of the submarine Capelin. He smoked a pipe.
He was clean-shaven until he returned with a moustache after a cruise and my mother insisted he keep it. He has two children, Meredith Robertson Heinecke & Edward (Ned) Dunbar Robertson, Jr.
He has five grandchildren (EDR,III, Megan, John Heinecke, Laura Heinecke Green and Matthew Heinecke) and seven great grandchildren with two more on the way.
His dress sword was used at Meredith's wedding, my wedding and Megan's wedding to cut the cake.
USN photo courtesy of Megan Robertson Lowden & Edward (Ned) Dunbar Robertson, Jr., Meredith Robertson Heinecke & Walt Heinecke, grand daughter, son & daughter of Lt. Comdr. Edward Dunbar Robertson, USN, K.I.A. with the rest of the 77 man crew of the Capelin (SS-289).
Text courtesy of Edward (Ned) Dunbar Robertson, Jr. & Meredith Robertson Heinecke.
Capelin 113k Painting entitled Homeward Bound by the artist E.V. Vandos, depicting Capelin (SS-289) on her homeward bound voyage to eternal patrol. The other submarine might be the Bonefish (SS-223) which would join her on eternal patrol on 18 June 1945.
Nothing has been positively heard from Capelin since she departed. However, Bonefish reported having seen a U.S. submarine at 1-14'N, 123-50'E on 2 December 1943. This position is in the area assigned to Capelin at this time. An attempt to reach Capelin by radio, on 9 December 1943, elicited no response.
Photo & text courtesy of history.navy.mil.
Fremantle 365k This plaque was unveiled 20 March 1995 by His Excellency Major General P.M. Jeffery OA MC, Govenor of Western Australia to commemeorate the sacrifices made by Allied submarined that operated out of Fremantle, Western Australia during WW II. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves.
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.
Capelin 330k Capelin (SS-289) Plaque, Submarine Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Oahu Hawaii. Photo courtesy of David Barber via National Museum of the U.S. Navy via flickr.com.
Capelin 53k Google Earth satellite photo of the site and surrounding islands of Capelin's (SS-289) last approximate position. This position is thought to be the final resting place of the Capelin and her crew.

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./"
View courtesy of Google Earth.

View the Caplin (SS-289)
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 Report of loss of USS CAPLIN (SS 289) November 17 1943 - 76 Men Lost
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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