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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patches contributed by Mike Smolinski

Lionfish (SS-298) (AGSS-298)

Radio Call Sign: November - Xray - Papa - Sierra

Balao Class Submarine: Laid down, 15 December 1942, at Cramp Shipbuilding Corp., Philadelphia, PA.; Launched, 7 November 1943; Commissioned USS Lionfish (SS-298), 1 November 1944; Decommissioned, 16 December 1946, at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA.; Laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Mare Island; Recommissioned, 31 January 1951; Decommissioned, 15 December 1953, at New London, CT.; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, New London; Placed in service in reserve, 1 March 1960 for service as a Naval Reserve training ship at Providence, RI; Reclassified Auxiliary Research Submarine (AGSS-298) in 1962; Struck from the Naval Register, 20 December 1971; Final Disposition, placed on permanent display as a memorial at Fall River, MA, 30 August 1972. Lionfish received one battle star for World War II service.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t.; Length 311' 10"; 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 5"/25 deck gun, one 40mm gun, two .50 cal. machine guns; Patrol Endurance 75 days; Propulsion, diesel-electric reduction gear with four Fairbanks-Morse main generator engines, 5,400 hp, Fuel Capacity 116,000 gal., four Elliot Motor Co., main motors with 2,740 hp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
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Lionfish108kThe Pterois volitans, a (Red Lionfish), swimming among soft corals. Photo by Walcott Henry courtesy of nationalgeographic.com.
Double672k

William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company facilities, 15 March 1943. Cruisers visible in this photo:

Far right - Miami (CL-89) - Furthest along; aft turrets and catapults in place.
Left of Miami is Astoria (CL-90) - she is about a month behind Miami.
Left of Astoria, in the large shipway, is Oklahoma City (CL-91) - a significant portion of hull has been built.
Left of Oklahoma City is Little Rock (CL-92) - Keel was just been laid on 6 March, which is visible under crane structure.


The coaling dock next to the cruisers site is known as grafitti pier" today.

Note that there are also 2 ATF's: Seneca (ATF-91) and Nauset (ATF-89) fitting out on the right side near the graving dock being built which was never used when finished in 1945. It was fully functional, and used in the 50's when Keystone Ship Repair leased the property. Fast forward to 2014 when the last piece of the shipyard was demolished. The 'L' shaped building, across Girard Avenue which was the foundry & Machine Shop was the end.

Note the 8 submarines in various stages of construction to the left of the Little Rock (4 per shipway). They are most likely from bottom right to left & bottom to top:
Dragonet (SS-293) bottom right, row 1,
Escolar (SS-294), bottom left row 2,
Devilfish (SS-292) top right, row 1,
Hackleback (SS-295) top left, row 2,
Lancetfish (SS-296) bottom left, row 3.
Ling (SS-297) bottom left, row 4,
Lionfish (SS-298) top left, row 3,
Manta (SS-299) top left, row 4.

The shipyard's submarine construction program was not especially successful. Poor management hindered the delivery of the boats. The first delivery was made two years after keel laying, and fitting out was then done by Portsmouth Navy Yard. The best construction time for a submarine was 644 days.

Cramp's submarine construction story was not a happy one for the Navy. Even though they got an early start on their Balaos, they had a lot of difficulty in hiring skilled workers and managers as most of the good ones already had jobs. Quality and timeliness suffered as a result. Cramp used the Government design plans, but used a completely different part numbering and inventory system, making coordination with Portsmouth, Boston, and Mare Island virtually impossible. The Government was forced to step in to straighten the mess out, with some of the boats ultimately being finished by other yards.

Text courtesy of Tom Bateman, Dave Johnston (USNR), Ron Reeves, & Tracy White.
USN photo # 80-G-38403 via Tom Bateman courtesy of Tracy White @Researcher @ Large.
Photo added 01/16/18.
Double500kInverse of the above. USN photo # 80-G-38404 via Tom Bateman courtesy of Tracy White @ Researcher @ Large.
Photo added 01/16/18.
Lionfish 520k RADM Thomas Withers USN, during commissioning of Lionfish (SS-298) at Navy Yard Portsmouth N.H.
RADM Withers plaque presented to ship by the American Auxillary of the state of Pennsylvania to LT. CDR. Edward D. Spruance, USN.
USN photo # 80-G-1220 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Lionfish 722k RADM Thomas Withers USN, during commissioning of Lionfish (SS-298) at Navy Yard Portsmouth N.H.
RADM Withers addresses officers and crew.
USN photo # 80-G-1221 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Lionfish165kPortside view of the Lionfish (SS-298), possibly at Midway Island, 22 May 1945. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Lionfish248kView of the Lionfish's (SS-298) fairweather & secondary armament at Midway Island, 22 May 1945. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Lionfish18kLionfish (SS-298), underway during WW II.Courtesy of John Hummel.
>Lionfish131k Lionfish's (SS-298) first captain was Lieutenant Commander Edward Dean Spruance, son of World War II Admiral Raymond Spruance.Photo courtesy of Bill Gonyo.
>Ganyard 55k Cmdr Bricker Mcdowell Ganyard was the commanding officer of the Lionfish (SS-298) from June 1945 to August 1945. USN photo courtesy of Lucky Bag yearbook via Bill Gonyo.
Midway197kThe submarine tender Griffin (AS-13), at Midway with three of her charges between 26 August and 1 September 1945 The three boats are not identified, but boats at Midway at that time included Piranha (SS-389), Lionfish (SS-298), Moray (SS-300), Devilfish (SS-292),and Hackleback (SS-295).
The outboard boat is an EB boat, but none of the above boats are EB boats, all Cramp or Portsmouth-built, so they are unidentified for now.
USN photo from the collection of CWO 4 Benton E. Buell, USN, courtesy of David Buell.
Mare Island1.40kLionfish (SS-298), outboard, and Aspro (SS-309) arrive at Mare Island on 11 September 1945 for decommissioning. Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum photo # MINSY 6330-9-45 TH, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Unknown Photos 1.18k The table below lists the location of submarines at Mare Island on 20 September 1945. This information was pulled from microfiche copies of the hand written shipyard journals. I'm surprised that both the clipping and my table show 21 subs at the yard on the date in question. The photo is looking north and berth 3 is at the top of the photo and then the berths run down or south.
Berth 3 - Springer (SS-414) & Spadefish (SS-411)
Berth 4 - Guavina (SS-362) & Barbero (SS-317)
Berth 5 - Hammerhead (SS-364), Tinosa (SS-283), Mapiro (SS-376) & Moray (SS-300)
Berth 6 - Bream (SS-243), Seahorse (SS-304), Batfish (SS-310) & Aspro (SS-309)
Berth 7 - Pomfret (SS-391), Parche (SS-384) & Sunfish (SS-281)
Berth 8 - Queenfish (SS-393)
Berth 9 - Lionfish (SS-298) & Plaice (SS-390)
Dry Dock 1 - Bashaw (SS-241) & Mingo (SS-261)
Berth 12 - Guitarro (SS-363).
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves.
Mare Island Reserve Fleet137kReserve fleet at Mare Island, circa January 1946. There are 52 submarines and 4 Sub Tenders in this photo. This photo is a Berthing list identifying the ships in the picture. Photo commemorating 50 years, U. S. Submarine Veterans of WW II 1996 calendar, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Mare Island Reserve Fleet453kPhoto of the Reserve fleet at Mare Island, circa January 1946. There are 52 submarines and 4 Sub Tenders in this photo. Whether coincidental or on purpose, the number of boats in the photo is the same as that which were lost in WW II.
From back to front and left to right, first group of 12 boats:
Sandlance (SS-381)
Tunny (SS-282)
Aspro (SS-309)
Lionfish (SS-298)
Guvania (SS-362)
Sunfish (SS-281)
Macabi (SS-375)
Gurnard (SS-254)
Pampanito (SS-383)
Mingo (SS-261)
Guitarro (SS-363)
Bashaw (SS-241)
From back to front and left to right, second group of 12 boats:
Sealion (SS-315)
Hammerhead (SS-364)
Bream (SS-243)
Seahorse (SS-304)
Tinosa (SS-283)
Pintado (SS-387)
Mapiro (SS-376)
Pipefish (SS-388)
Moray (SS-300)
Batfish (SS-310)
Hackleback (SS-295)
Bluegill (SS-242)
From back to front and left to right, third group of 12 boats:
Hawkbill (SS-366)
Menhaden (SS-377)
Perch (SS-313)
Loggerhead (SS-374)
Barbero (SS-317)
Baya (SS-318)
Hardhead (SS-365)
Spadefish (SS-411)
Springer (SS-414)
Devilfish (SS-292)
Kraken (SS-370)
Dragonet (SS-293)
From back to front and left to right, fourth group of 12 boats:
Lamprey (SS-372)
Piranha (SS-389)
Manta (SS-299)
Pargo (SS-264)
Rancador (SS-301)
Archerfish (SS-311)
Mero (SS-378)
Sawfish (SS-276)
Spot (SS-413)
Lizardfish (SS-373)
Jallao (SS-368)
Icefish (SS-367)
From back to front and left to right, last group of 4 boats:
Steelhead (SS-280)
Puffer (SS-268)
Stickleback (SS-415)
Trepang (SS-412)
From back to front, Submarine Tenders group of 4 ships:
Pelias (AS-14)
Aegir (AS-23)
Euryale (AS-22)
Griffin (AS-13)
Photo commemorating 50 years, U. S. Submarine Veterans of WW II 1996 calendar, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Mare Island Reserve Fleet 900k Inactivated submarines at Mare Island on 3 January 1946.
Front row left to right: Sand Lance (SS-381), next two could be Sealion (SS-315) and Seahorse (SS-304), Searaven (SS-196), Pampanito (SS-383), Gurnard (SS-254), Mingo (SS-261), Guitarro (SS-363), Bashaw (SS-241).
Back row left to right: Unknown, Tunny (SS-282), next three could be Sargo (SS-188), Spearfish (SS-190), and Saury (SS-189), Macabi (SS-375), Sunfish (SS-281), Guavina (SS-362), Lionfish (SS-298),Piranha (SS-389).
The Scabbardfish (SS-397) is docked in ARD-11 on the other side of the causeway.

The mixture of boats from the Salmon/Sargo, Gato, and Balao classes illustrate the clear differences in the conning tower fairwaters and the periscope shears that can be used to identify boats. The high bridges with the uncovered support frames (the "covered wagon" look) of the Gato's and Salmon/Sargo's contrast with the low and sleek look of the Balao's. The fatter, more robust periscope shears of the Balao's are markedly different from the thinner shears with more supporting structure of the Gato's and Salmon/Sargo's.
The differences in the pattern of the superstructure limber holes can also be used for identification purposes. The single row of large semi-circular holes identify Electric Boat or Manitowoc boats. A dual row of smaller rectangular holes mark the government built boats. Also note that the EB/Manitowoc boats have the deck mounted, T-shaped JP sonar head on the starboard side of the forward deck, while the government boats have it on the port side.
EB/Manitowoc boats had the anchor on the starboard side, the government boats on the port side. A close look will show that some of the boats have had the anchor removed and the hawsepipe plated over as part of the mothball process.
Most of the boats have the late war radar outfit of the SJ surface search (small dish) and SV air search (large dish). The Balao's and some of the Gato's have the SS dish mounted on a separate large mast aft of the periscopes. The older Salmon/Sargo's and Gato's have a much smaller mast. Searaven appears to have had her radars already removed.
Searaven is actually sporting a late war SJ surface search antennae mounted to starboard of the periscopes. This is a rare installation. Most often it was mounted forward (early war) or aft (late war) of the 'scopes shears. Her air search set is a late war SD antennae mounted on a stub mast directly aft of the 'scopes. Searaven never received the much more capable SV air search set. Having been assigned to training duties after November, 1944 it was probably felt that the SV set was not necessary.
One strange thing: almost all of the boats appear to have the outer doors of the forward torpedo tubes open. Even though the boats have an interlock system that prevents the breech and outer doors from being opened at the same time, this is an unusual thing to do and a potential source of catastrophic flooding.
USN photo # 17-46, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Text courtesy of David Johnston, USNR.
Who Am I?289kInactivated submarines at Mare Island in early 1946.
Front row left to right: Sand Lance (SS-381), next two could be Sealion (SS-315) and Seahorse (SS-304), Searaven (SS-196), Pampanito (SS-383), Gurnard (SS-254), Mingo (SS-261), Guitarro (SS-363), Bashaw (SS-241).
Back row left to right: Unknown, Tunny (SS-282), next three could be Sargo (SS-188), Spearfish (SS-190), and Saury (SS-189), Macabi (SS-375), Sunfish (SS-281), Guavina (SS-362), Lionfish (SS-298),Piranha (SS-389).
The Scabbardfish (SS-397) is docked in ARD-11 on the other side of the causeway.
Tiru (SS-416) is on the ways in upper left hand side of photo. Two ferry boats (to the right of Tiru's ways) are YHB-2 / [ex-Post of Stockton] and YHB-21 / [ex-Tamalpais].
Photo i.d. courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Lionfish141kPortside view of the Lionfish (SS-298) on a Mediterranean cruise, during which she visited Malta and, after participating in NATO exercises, Izmir, Phaleron, Taranto, and Naples between 18 October to 12 December 1952. She is pictured on 31 October. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Text courtesy of DANFS.
Lionfish39kStarboard side view of the Lionfish (SS-298), probably circa 1950's, her deck gun has been removed.Courtesy of Historic Naval Ships Association (hnsa.org).
Lionfish117kLionfish (SS-298), as a memorial on permanent display at Fall River MA.Courtesy of Brian J. Johnson.
Lionfish74kLionfish (SS-298), in her berth at Fall River MA.Courtesy of Brian J. Johnson.
Lionfish87kLionfish (SS-298), in her berth at Fall River MA.Courtesy of Brian J. Johnson.
Lionfish172kLionfish (SS-298), forward torpedo room.Courtesy of Brian J. Johnson.
Lionfish164kLionfish (SS-298), after torpedo room. Courtesy of Brian J. Johnson.
Lionfish164kLionfish (SS-298) in her berth at Fall River MA.Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Lionfish119kLionfish (SS-298), forward torpedo room.Courtesy of Larry Backus. Photo I.d. courtesy of Ron Reeves, HTC, USNR (ret.)
Lionfish60kCrew's mess aboard the Lionfish (SS-298), October 2008.Courtesy of Larry Backus.
Lionfish74kBasic control room view looking forward of a Gato, Balao, or Tench class submarine.
Chart Table with DRT and main gyro under it. Over table is a fathometer, and a MK4. The MK4 gives you bearings from either radar, sonar, or periscope. The black handle on the side selects which; secondary steering in front of table...with aux gyro...open door to forward battery...hydraulic manifold left upper with christmas tree above it...(to open ballast tank vents)
On the far left you have the Blow and Vent Manifold. This controls the MBT vents and has the air valves used to blow the ballast tanks. Just to the left and above is the "christmas tree" status indicator which showed the open/closed status of various hull openings like hatches.
In the left corner appears to be a Dead Reckoning Analysis Indicator (DRAI), which is navigational gear. Hard to tell though.
Directly ahead of the chart table is the wheel for the helm. Above the wheel the red gauges are the engine order telegraphs and the rudder angle indicator. There should be a gyro repeater in there somewhere, but I can't see it.
Underneath the chart table is a barrel-like object. This is a gyro compass and is probably a Mk-19. Just forward of the helm is another one and this is probably the Mk-27 backup gyro, but I might be wrong on that one. Looks a little big for a Mk-27.
The square glass insert in the chart table covers the mechanical chart plotter. Using inputs from the gyros and the DRAI, it would shine a small beam of light upwards onto a piece of tracing paper, making a track of the ship's course. We called this the "bug". The controls for setting the bug are just below the glass insert.
Directly above the water tight door is a gray battle lantern. Above and to the left of that is the handwheel for the salvage air valve. This allowed you to pressurize the forward battery compartment in case of flooding.
Courtesy of Larry Backus. Photo I.d. & text courtesy of John Hummel, David Johnston (USNR) & Ron Reeves, HTC, USNR (ret.)
Lionfish135kThe Lionfish (SS-298) under tow for restoration and TLC at Fall River MA.Photo courtesy of Joe Lombardi, Ocean Technical Services via Ron Reeves, HTC, USNR (ret.)
Lionfish187kStern view of the Lionfish (SS-298) while undergoing restoration and TLC at Fall River MA.Photo courtesy of Joe Lombardi, Ocean Technical Services via Ron Reeves, HTC, USNR (ret.)
Lionfish159kSparks of love emanate from the stern of the Lionfish (SS-298) while undergoing restoration and TLC at Fall River MA.Photo courtesy of Joe Lombardi, Ocean Technical Services via Ron Reeves, HTC, USNR (ret.)

View the Lionfish (SS / AGSS-298 )
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 Lionfish (SS 298)@Battleship Cove
USS Lionfish (SS-298)
Historic Naval Ship Visitors Guide - USS Lionfish (SS-298)
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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