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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patch contributed by Mike Smolinski

Burrfish (SS-312) (SSR-312)

Radio Call Sign: November - Yankee - Victor - Delta

Balao Class Submarine: Laid down, 24 February 1943, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, ME.; Launched, 18 June 1943; Commissioned USS Burrfish (SS-312), 14 September 1943; Decommissioned, 10 October 1946, at Sub Base New London, CT.; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, New London Group; Recommissioned, 2 November 1948 and assigned to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for conversion to Radar Picket Submarine; Redesignated (SSR-312), 27 January 1949; Decommissioned, 17 December 1956, at Sub Base New London; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, New London Group; Recommissioned, 17 January 1961 as (SS-312); Decommissioned, 11 May 1961, and loaned to Canada, renamed HMCS Grilse (SS-71); Returned to US Navy custody and struck from the Naval Register, 19 July 1969; Final Disposition, sunk as a target off San Clemente Island, CA., 19 November 1969. Burrfish earned five battle stars for her 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, diesels-electric reduction gear with four Fairbanks-Morse main generator engines., 5,400 hp, Fuel Capacity, 94,400 gal., four Elliot Motor Co., main motors with 2,740 hp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
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Burrfish 1.30k Officers and crewmen salute the colors as the Burrfish (SS-312) slides into the Atlantic at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, ME., 18 June 1943. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Flasher 1.10k This photo and the inset were originally thought to be Flasher (SS-249) underway off the Atlantic coast following her commissioning on 25 September 1943.
It is a Government design 2/1/1 configured Balao class boat. If we assume the date on the photo is correct, we can use this to narrow down the list of boats. I think the date is consistent with the features in the photo, i.e. the crew topside are wearing heavy coats, which corresponds to a late fall New England location.
So, using these parameters I can narrow the list down to Archerfish (SS-311), Burrfish (SS-312), Sand Lance (SS-381), Picuda (SS-382), Pampanito (SS-383), and Parche (SS-384). There isn't much more to go on in the photos. I think what happened is that Flasher was also running trials on this date and the photographer got his boats mixed up. Electric Boat was still building Gatos when Portsmouth was already pushing out Balaos. EB had a much larger contract for a greater number of Gatos than did Portsmouth and therefore took longer to complete her production run. For a period of time it would have been common to see brand new Gatos and brand new Balaos sitting next to each other at the piers in New London.
US National Archives photo # 80-G-450241 & 80-G-450235, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of David Johnston (USNR).
Burrfish 60k Burrfish (SS-312) starboard view entering Pearl Harbor, circa 1943-45. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Burrfish 1.00k Broadside view during her trials as a SSR, conducted on 27 January 1950. Photo scanned by Ryan Crierie, via flickr, courtesy of Stephen Gower.
Augusta Bay, Sicily2.20kThe destroyer tender Yellowstone (AD-27) at Augusta Bay, Sicily, May - October 1950.
Ships alongside to starboard; Sea Robin (SS-407), Torsk (SS-423), Sea Leopard (SS-483), Burrfish (SS-312).
To port; John R Pierce (DD-753), Barton (DD-722), Shea (DM-30) , and in the background Bauer (DM-26).
US National Archives photo # 80g 428712, from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert, Webmaster & Editor ModelWarships.com.
Burrfish 166k Burrfish (SS-312), ship's officers, 1950. The contributor's father, Commander E.J. Levin, sailed on the first 4 patrols of the Harder (SS 257) and is second from the left in the back row. Courtesy of John Levin.
Burrfish 61k Burrfish (SS-312) 1950's Thansgiving Day menu. Courtesy of John Levin.
Burrfish 266k The Burrfish (SS-312) most likely on her way down the Thames River near New London, CT, circa 1950. Courtesy of John Hummel.
Burrfish 38k Between February 1950 and June 1956 Burrfish (SSR-312) completed three tours with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean; participated in several major type and inter-type exercises; and operated along the eastern seaboard as a radar picket ship. She appears here circa 1953. Photo courtesy of Robert Hurst. Text courtesy of DANFS.
Burrfish 151k Broadside & stern view of the Burrfish (SSR-312) in 1/192 scale, solid cast resin, replica of the boat circa 1950-1952. Model & photo courtesy of Mel Douyette & coldwarsubmarines.com
Chivo 186k Chivo (SS-341) and Burrfish (SSR-312) in Marseilles France, 1952. Photo courtesy of John Hummel.
Redfin139kRedfin (SS-272) with the Grampus (SS-523) and other subs alongside Orion (AS-18) was taken between 1953-55. The "Nodding idiot" on Redfin was converted to the electronic version in 1956.
The other 3 boats are from outboard in Migraine II Requin (SS-481) and Migraine I Burrfish (SS-312) and Tigrone (SS-419). The order of the last 2 might be reversed.
Text contributed by Larry Derouin. Photographed and contributed by John Hummel, USN (Retired).
Cutlass 254k British subs visits Norfolk circa middle 1950's plus. Submarines lined up on the pier from outboard to inboard are: Cutlass (SS-478) and Sea Leopard (SS-483) with step sails. Followed by the Sealion (SS-315) & several SSR's which might be the Tigrone (SSR-419) and Burrfish (SSR-312). Both boats are in the Migraine I SSR version. If the last SSR is indeed the Burrfish, then this picture would have been taken sometime in the late spring of 1956.
The USN sailors are in dress whites (indicating the springtime changeover to whites), and the Burrfish departed Norfolk for the last time on 5 June 56, headed for New London and decommissioning. The tender is Sierra (AD-18), which was always located at the next pier down from the sub pier.
Photo courtesy of John Hummel.
Photo i.d. & text courtesy of David Johnston (USNR).
Burrfish 156k Burrfish (SSR-312) appears here circa shortly before being decommissioned & laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in late 1956. US Navy photo courtesy of David Buell.
Burrfish 284k Recommissioning article 27 January 1961. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves.
HMCS Grilse (SS-71)
Burrfish 51k [ex-Burrfish (SS-312)] approaches the dock at Grand Isle, LA., after she was given to Canada as HMCS Grilse (SS-71) in 1961. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of ussubvetsofworldwarii.org.
Burrfish 321k HMCS Grilse (SS-71) in the North Atlantic doing high line transfer,1968. Photo courtesy ofJohn Hummel.
Photo added 07/07/13.
Burrfish 408k Continued from above: A small boat got sucked into her limber holes when she surfaced, boat now on deck. Photo courtesy ofJohn Hummel.
Photo added 07/07/13.
Burrfish 58k [ex-Burrfish (SS-312)] now as the HMCS Grilse (SS-71) makes her way through Canadian waters in 1968. Photo courtesy of Robert Hurst.
Burrfish 108k HMCS Grilse (SS-71) [ex-Burrfish (SS-312)], arrives at Mare Island on 26 September 1969 for decommissioning and return to the US Navy.
In the background are two barges, one of which appears to be YFR-369.
US Navy Photo # 94526-9-69, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Burrfish 154k A prayer is being given during the decommissioning ceremonies aboard HMCS Grilse (SS-71) [ex-Burrfish (SS-312)] at Mare Island on 2 October 1969. US Navy Photo # 94690-10-69, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Burrfish 115k The colors and commissioning pennant are lowered during the decommissioning ceremonies aboard HMCS Grilse (SS-71) [ex-Burrfish (SS-312)] at Mare Island on 2 October 1969. US Navy Photo # 94691-10-69, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.

View the Burrfish (SS-312)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway .
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and s of Interest
USS Burrfish (SSR-312)
USS Burrfish (SS-312) (SSR-312) / HMCS Grilse (SS-71) - Ship's History
Burrfish/Grilse Homepage
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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