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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


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

Sand Lance (SS-381)

Radio Call Sign: November - Kilo - Oscar - Mike

Unit Awards, Campaign and Service Medals and Ribbons


Presidential Unit Citation

Balao Class Submarine: Laid down, 12 March 1943, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H.; Launched, 25 June 1943; Commissioned USS Sand Lance (SS-381), 9 October 1943; Decommissioned, 14 February 1946, San Francisco Naval Shipyard, Hunters Point; Laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet; Recommissioned, 6 April 1963, at Sub Base Pearl Harbor; Decommissioned, 7 September 1963; The ship lost her name on 22 March 1965 (Bauer) in favor of SSN-660 Sand Lance ordered on 24 October 1963. Transferred (loaned) under terms of the Military Assistance Act to Brazil, 7 September 1963, renamed Rio Grande do Sul (S-11); Struck from the Naval Register, 1 September 1972, Final Disposition, decommissioned by Brazilian Navy in 1972; returned to US Control 10-12-72, Sold 6-1-74 for $ 56,000.00 Scrapped in 1975. Sand Lance earned five battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for World War II service.
Partial data submitted by Ron Reeves, HTC, USNR (ret.) & Yves Hubert.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced 1,526 t., Submerged 2,391 t.; Length 311' 8"; Beam 27' 3"; Draft 15' 3"; Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts; Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10 kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2 kts; Operating Depth, 400 ft; Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted; Armament, ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 5"/25 deck gun, one single 40mm gun mount, one single 20mm gun mount, two .50 cal. machine guns; Patrol Endurance 75 days; Propulsion, diesel-electric reduction gear, Fairbanks Morse diesel engines, 5,400 HP, Fuel Capacity, 116,000 gal., four Elliot Motor Co. electric main motors with 2,740 shp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
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Sand Lance1.57kBow view of the Sand Lance (SS-381) prior to launching at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. 25 June 1943.
Note the keel of the Pipefish (SS-388) rising up from the ways on the left.
National Archives Identifier: 38329865
Photo courtesy of catalog.archives.gov
Photo added 05/26/17.
Sand Lance51kCommemorative launch day badge from the Sand Lance's (SS-381) launching at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. 25 June 1943. Courtesy of James A Munroe in remembrance of his father Raymond L Munroe Sr. who worked at the yard during WW II and the Korean wars as a chauffeur.
Sand Lance51kCommemorative postal cover on the occasion of Sand Lance's (SS-381) launching at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. 25 June 1943. Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Sand Lance155kMoments after being launched, the Sand Lance (SS-381) is waterborne at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. 25 June 1943. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.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).
Flasher 289k A pre-war photo of the Mitsui Busan KK - owned general cargo vessel Akisisan Maru underway in the late 1930's. Akisisan Maru (4,551 grt) was torpedoed and sunk on 2/3 March 1944 west of Urrupu, at position (45 degrees 52' N, 149 degrees 16'E), by the Sand Lance (SS-381), while employed as IJN transport. Photo courtesy Mitsui OSK Archives from "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939" by Roger W. Jordan, courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
Sand Lance258k Stern view of Sand Lance (SS-381) off Mare Island on 26 February 1945. USN photo # 1440-45, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Sand Lance248k Broadside view of Sand Lance (SS-381) off Mare Island on 26 February 1945. She was in overhaul at Mare Island from 1 November 44 until 13 March 1945. USN photo # 1442-45, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Sand Lance245k Bow on view of Sand Lance (SS-381) off Mare Island on 26 February 1945.
In the background is a stern view of either Snapper (SS-185), Cero (SS-225), & Raton (SS-270). All were out in the bay that day.
USN photo # 1445-45, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Sand Lance424k On board the Sand Lance (SS-381) on war patrol. R.H. Swickard (QM2/c) operating searchlight. May 1945. Official USN photo NARA FILE #: 80-G-468151, from the Department of Defense Still Media Collection, courtesy of dodmedia.osd.mil.
Sand Lance101kLookouts scan the horizon on the 4th war patrol of the Sand Lance (SS-381), May 1945. National Archives photo # 80-G-468393, courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Tiru 308k Bow view of the Tiru (SS-416) under construction at Mare Island on 3 January 1946. Submarines in the background are decommisioned or will soon be: from front to rear are Bashaw (SS-241), Pampanito (SS-383), Mingo (SS-261), Gurnard (SS-254), Macabi (SS-375), Tunny (SS-282), Guavina (SS-362) and Sand Lance (SS-381). USN photo # 18-46, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
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.
Mare Island Reserve Fleet 1.93k Aerial view of decommissioned submarine at Mare Island Reserve Fleet taken on 18 March 1946. The majority of the personnel topside are navy personnel. I would say they are still inactivating the subs.
Submarines are from top to bottom: Bashaw (SS-241), Guitarro (SS-363), Mingo (SS-261), Gurnard (SS-254), Pampanito (SS-383), Sand Lance (SS-381), Bream (SS-243), Hammerhead (SS-364) Sealion (SS-315), Tinosa (SS-283) & Pintado (SS-387) plus YC 316.
USN photo courtesy of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum via Darryl L. Baker.
Sand Lance118kLAST CEREMONY - A Marine bugler blows retreat as the colors of the submarine Sand Lance (SS-381) are hauled down for the last time at decommissioning ceremonies 14 February 1946 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. The PUC flag, above the ensign, will continue to be flown.Photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Mare Island Reserve Fleet 173k Submarines aft of unidentified submarine in foreground at Mare Island Reserve Fleet on 28 September 1950 are:
Left to right: Dragonet (SS-293), Menhaden (SS-377), Mapiro (SS-376), Seahorse (SS-304), Sand Lance (SS-381), Batfish (SS-310), Capitaine (SS-336), Pipefish (SS-388) and Manta (SS-299).
USN photo # 6988-9-50, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Sand Lance206kStarboard side view of the Sand Lance (SS-381), off Oahu on 15 August 1963, running post-repair trials just prior to transfer to Brazil. She became the Brazilian Rio Grande do Sul (S-11) in September 1963.USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Sand Lance98kThe crew of the Sand Lance (SS-381) stand at attention as the boat is decommissioned and turned over to Brazil, 7 September 1963. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Sand Lance & Plaice106kThe crews of the Sand Lance (SS-381), & Plaice (SS-390) stand at attention as the boats are decommissioned, 7 September 1963. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Sand Lance & Plaice109kThe crews of the Sand Lance (SS-381), & Plaice (SS-390) stand at attention as the boats are decommissioned, 7 September 1963. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Sand Lance & Plaice101kStern view of the Sand Lance (SS-381), & Plaice (SS-390) as the boats are decommissioned, 7 September 1963. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Sand Lance42kSand Lance (SS-381), April of 1963 off of Pearl Harbor. The Sand Lance had just been re-commissioned and was getting ready to train the Brazilian crew. She was transferred to Brazil in September of 1963. Submitted by Joel Staggs.
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.
Rio Grande do Sul (S-11)
Sand Lance450kRio Grande do Sul (S-11) underway in 1966, location unknown. Brazilian Navy, official photo. Image scanned from the 1967/68 Edition of Jane's Fighting Ships, via Robert Hurst.
Sand Lance75k ex-Sand Lance (SS-381) as the Rio Grande do Sul (S-11) in drydock at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, circa 1970's. Note her name in Portuguese written on her port side aft.Photo courtesy of naviosdeguerrabrasileiros.hpg.ig.com.br, & submitted by Valdo Novaes.
Sand Lance813kRio Grande do Sul (S-11) during UNITAS XI 1970.USN photo by LCDR Orlando Gallardo, Jr.
Sand Lance59kRio Grande do Sul (S-11), 16 June 1971, entering the port of Santos, Brazil. Photo courtesy of naviosdeguerrabrasileiros.hpg.ig.com.br, & submitted by Valdo Novaes.
Sand Lance69k Port bow on view of the Rio Grande do Sul (S-11), circa 1970's.Brazilian Navy photo by SRPM, via Jose' Henrique Mendes.
Photo courtesy of naviosdeguerrabrasileiros.hpg.ig.com.br, & submitted by Valdo Novaes.

View the Sand Lance (SS-381)
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
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ


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