Military Wiki
USS Gunnel (SS-253)
USS Gunnel (SS-253).jpg
Builder: Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut[1]
Laid down: 21 July 1941[1]
Launched: 17 May 1942[1]
Sponsored by: Mrs. Ben Morell
Commissioned: 20 August 1942[1]
Decommissioned: 18 May 1946[1]
Struck: 1 September 1958[1]
Fate: Sold for scrap, December 1959[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: Gato-class diesel-electric submarine[2]
Displacement: 1,525 long tons (1,549 t) surfaced[2]
2,424 long tons (2,463 t) submerged[2]
Length: 311 ft 9 in (95.02 m)[2]
Beam: 27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[2]
Draft: 17 ft 0 in (5.18 m) maximum[2]
  • 4 × Hooven-Owens-Rentschler (H.O.R.) diesel engines driving electrical generators[3]
  • 2 × 126-cell Sargo batteries[4]
  • 4 × high-speed General Electric electric motors with reduction gears[3]
  • two propellers [3]
  • 5,400 shp (4.0 MW) surfaced[3]
  • 2,740 shp (2.0 MW) submerged[3]
Speed: 21 kn (39 km/h) surfaced[5]
9 kn (17 km/h) submerged[5]
Range: 11,000 nmi (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 kn (19 km/h)[5]
Endurance: 48 hours at 2 kn (4 km/h) submerged[5]
75 days on patrol
Test depth: 300 ft (90 m)[5]
Complement: 6 officers, 54 enlisted[5]

USS Gunnel (SS-253), a Gato-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the gunnel, a blennoid fish of the north Atlantic ranging south as far as Cape Cod.

Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut. She was launched 17 May 1942 (sponsored by Mrs. Ben Morell, wife of the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks), and commissioned 20 August 1942, with Lieutenant Commander John S. "Jack" McCain, Jr. in command.

Atlantic patrol

Gunnels first war patrol (19 October – 7 December 1942) covered a passage from the United States to the United Kingdom, during which she participated in Operation "Torch", the Allied invasion of North Africa. One of six submarines assigned to Admiral Henry K. Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force, Gunnel did reconnaissance off Fedhala 6 November 1942, 2 days before the invasion, and on D-day (8 November) made infrared signals to guide the approaching fleet to the beachheads. Missions well accomplished, the submarine departed for Rosneath, Scotland, 7 December to terminate her first patrol. En route home, the drive gears of her HOR engines failed, forcing her to complete the final 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km) on her auxiliary diesel, leading to a major overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.

Pacific patrols

Second and third patrols

Subsequently assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Gunnel sailed to Pearl Harbor, then to her second patrol (28 May – 3 July 1943) in waters west of Kyūshū in the East China Sea. Success crowned her efforts when cargo ship Kayo Maru (6,300 tons) was sunk 15 June, giving Gunnel her first kill, and four days later when another cargo ship, Tokiwa Maru (7,000 tons), was sent under. Both sinkings were confirmed by JANAC postwar.

After overhaul at Mare Island, California, the submarine accomplished a third war patrol (17 November 1943 – 7 January 1944) in Japanese home waters off Honshū. This, too, was successful; on 4 December Gunnel sent passenger-cargo ship Hiyoshi Maru to the bottom.

Fourth, fifth, sixth patrols

The fourth war patrol (5 February – 6 April) took the boat from Midway to Fremantle and in the South China, Sulu, and Celebes Seas. Bad luck dogged Gunnel and she was forced to return to port having made no further kills. Her fifth and sixth patrols, (3 May – 4 July) and (29 July – 22 September 1944) found her again in the southern approaches of the Sunda Straits and cruising in the Sulu Sea-Manila area but failed to add to her score.

Seventh and eighth patrols

During her seventh patrol (21 October – 28 December) in the South China and Sulu Seas, she sank the motor torpedo boat Sagi (600 tons); passenger-cargo ship Shunten Maru (5,600 tons); and torpedo boat Hiyodori (600 tons). On this same patrol Gunnel evacuated 11 naval aviators at Palawan 1 December to 2 December after the fliers had been protected by friendly guerrilla forces for some 2 months. She conducted her eighth patrol (13 June – 24 July 1945) in the Bungo Suido area. She attacked an unescorted Japanese submarine 9 July. The great range and speed of the enemy, however, caused Gunnel's torpedoes to miss. She returned from the patrol after duty as a lifeguard ship for B-29s flying toward Japan on bombing missions.


Gunnel was refitting at Pearl Harbor and at war's end she was ordered to New London, Connecticut, where she decommissioned 18 May 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy List 1 September 1958 and she was sold for scrapping in August 1959.

Gunnel received five battle stars for World War II service. Her first, second, third, and seventh war patrols were designated successful. In the JANAC accounting postwar, she was credited with six ships sunk for 24,624 tons.[6]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 271–273. ISBN 0-313-26202-0. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 275–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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