Monday, June 14, 2010

The Golden Ballast of the USS Trout

The picture above documented the USS Trout (SS-202) returning to Pearl Harbor from the Battle of Midway on June 14, 1942.  On board were two Japanese prisoners, Chief Radioman Hatsuichi Yoshida and Fireman 3rd Class Kenichi Ishikawa, survivors of the sunken cruiser Mikuma.  Admiral Nimitz awaited her arrival on the pier.  The USS Trout, a 1475-ton Tambor class submarine built by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, was commissioned in 1940. 

A highlight of her commendable war career occurred on January 12, 1942, when the Trout left Pearl Harbor to deliver 3,500 rounds of ammunition to American forces on Corregidor.  On February 3, she arrived at the besieged island.  Twenty tons of gold bars and silver pesos, evacuated from the Philippines, was loaded on the submarine since neither sandbags nor concrete was available for additional ballast.  Escorted through the mine fields to the open ocean, she left the next day.  On the afternoon of February 10, 1942, she scored two torpedo hits on the Japanese freighter Chuwa Maru.  That evening, she scored another kill on a patrol vessel while avoiding a hit by enemy torpedos.  Finally, on March 3, the Trout finally made her way back to Pearl Harbor.  She transferred her "golden ballast" to a waiting cruiser.

One of 52 American submarines now on eternal patrol, the career of the USS Trout came to an unfortunate end.  According to the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships,
On 8 February, the submarine began her 11th and final war patrol. Trout topped off with fuel at Midway and, on the 16th, headed via a great circle route toward the East China Sea. She was never heard from again.  Japanese records indicate that one of their convoys was attacked by a submarine on 29 February 1944 in the patrol area assigned to Trout.  The submarine badly damaged one large passenger-cargo ship and sank the 7,126-ton transport Sakito Maru.  Possibly one of the convoy's escorts sank the submarine.  On 17 April 1944, Trout was declared presumed lost.  Trout received 11 battle stars for World War II service and the Presidential Unit Citation for her second, third, and fifth patrols.
Pearl Harbor Submarine Base Memorial Park features plaques representing each American submarine lost in World War II. 

This plaque lists the names of the 81 crewmembers who lost their lives aboard the Trout in 1944.

Lt. Commander Albert Clark - Commanding officer of the USS Trout when she went down in 1944.

Chief John Boland from Boston, Massachusetts.  28

FC1 Norbert Brandt from Denver, Iowa.  24

F2 Roy Abbot from Columbus, Ohio.  18

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