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Aircraft Carriers






Torpedo Boats

Liberty Ships

Foreign Warships

Warships Associated With
World War II in the Pacific



Gato class

USS Silversides
USS Silversides, Chicago, IL
(Photo by Fred Tannenbaum, 1984)

Name:USS Silversides (SS-236)
Location:Muskegon, Michigan
Owner:USS Silversides and Maritime Museum
Condition:Excellent, unaltered

Displacement:1,525 tons surface / 2,410 tons submerged
Length:312 feet
Width:27 feet (at the beam)
Height:60 feet (at the top of the shears)
Mean Draft:16 feet
Test Depth:370 feet
Machinery:Diesel-electric drive

Four 9-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines at 1,600-hp each driving General Electric generators and electric motors for 5,400 shaft hp. 252-cell Gould storage battery.

Fuel Oil Capacity:116,000 gallons (cruising range: >10,000 miles)
Maximum Speed:21 knots (surface) / 9 knots (submerged)
Armament: Ten 21-inch (diameter) torpedo tubes and stowage for 24 torpedoes (Mark 14 or Mark 18s used) One 4-inch/.50 open mount deck gun plus various combinations of the following were used during the war: .50 caliber and .30 caliber machine guns, single 20mm gun and one 40mm gun.
Other Features:double hull construction with 19 ballast and fuel tanks located between hulls; 8 watertight compartments inside with separating bulkheads built to withstand the same pressure as the hull
Navigation and Fire Control Instruments:SD radar for locating aircraft; SJ "surface search" radar for locating ships; sonar system; two periscopes, one for night attacks and navigation with ranging radar on the end and one smaller daylight attack scope; target bearing transmitter (TBT) binocular system for night surface attacks; torpedo data computer (TDC) fire control system which automatically plots gyro angle in the torpedo from radar information, periscope observation, and sonar information.
Crew:72 enlisted, 8 officers

Builder:Mare Island Naval Yard, Vallejo, California
Launched:August 26, 1941
Commissioned:December 15, 1941


USS Silversides, (SS 236), was launched at Mare Island Naval Yard, California, on August 28, 1941. She is a fleet-type submarine (built to maintain fleet speeds averaging 17 knots) of the Gato (Drum) class. USS Silversides has all-welded construction, all-electric drive, all diesel engines, advanced refrigeration systems, air purifiers, fresh water distillers, oceanic cruising range, and optimum crew "habitability" for her time with such conveniences as air conditioning, an ice machine, showers, and entertainment systems. [1]

USS Silversides is in excellent condition with most of her mechanical systems still operational. Although used as a museum exhibit under the direction of the Combined Great Lakes Navy Association USS Silversides is now undergoing a check of all systems with the intention of returning her to surface operation on Lake Michigan.

Role of the Submarine in World War II

In the conflict against Japan in World War II, the role and importance of the submarine forces of the United States cannot be overestimated. American submarines sank more than 600,000 tons of enemy warships and more than 5,000,000 tons of merchant shipping, thus destroying much of Japan's ocean commerce. This was accomplished by a force that never numbered more than two percent of naval personnel engaged in the war. The American submarine war against Japan created a blockade that denied her the oil, iron ore, food, and other raw materials she needed to continue to fight. By 1945 this submarine war made it impossible for any Japanese ship to sail the ocean. Without this commerce and the raw materials it supplied to her war effort, Japan found it impossible to continue the war outside of the homeland. [2]

USS Silversides represents the U.S. submarine forces that fought against Japan in World War II for the following reasons:

  1. USS Silversides ranks third among U.S. submarines in the war for enemy ships sunk with 23 confirmed sinkings for a total of 90,080 tons. The number one and two subs, Tautog and Tang, no longer exist. Tang was lost in action in the Formosa Straits in October 1944 and Tautog was scrapped in 1960. USS Silversides is thus the top ranked surviving U.S. submarine. No other surviving American submarine from World War II sank more ships. [3]

  2. USS Silversides was commissioned on December 15, 1941, just 8 days after Pearl Harbor and saw service during the entire period of the War. USS Silversides made 14 war patrols during this period of time. She was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for 4 patrols, and received 12 battle stars for her World War II service.

  3. USS Silversides was made famous for an emergency appendectomy operation while submerged in enemy waters. The operation was a success and the sick crewman was back to regular duties six days later, This incident was later described in medical journals and depicted in the TV series, "Silent Service" and in the movie, Destination Tokyo."

  4. USS Silversides is in excellent condition, retains her World War II integrity and her mechanical systems are operational.


1. The descriptive information contained in this section was take from:

The Combined Great Lakes Navy Association, Inc. USS Silversides Information Package (Chicago, Illinois: Combined Great Lakes Navy Association, Inc., no date), pp. 1-2.

2. Drew Middleton, Submarine--The Ultimate Navy Weapon-Its Past, Present & Future (Chicago, Illinois: Playboy Press, 1976), pp. 109-112

Edwin P. Hoyt, Submarines at War--The History of the American Silent Service (New York: Stein and Day, 1983), pp. 297-298.

Richard H. O'Kane, Clear the Bridge (New York: Bantam Books, 1981), pp. 465-467.

3. Clay Blair, Jr, Silent Victory--The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1975), Appendix J.


Blair, Clay, Jr. Silent Victory--The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1975.

Combined Great Lakes Navy Association, Inc. USS Silversides Information Package. Chicago, Illinois: Combined Great Lakes Navy Association, Inc., no date.

Farrar, William G. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory USS Silversides." Benton, Illinois: Illinois Historic Landmarks Commission, 1972.

Hoyt, Edwin P. Submarines at War--The History of the American Silent Service. New York: Stein and Day, 1983.

Middleton, Drew. Submarine--The Ultimate Naval Weapon-Its Past, Present & Future. Chicago, Illinois: Playboy Press, 1976.

O'Kane, Richard. Clear the Bridge. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.

Roscoe, Theodore. United States Submarine Operations in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1965.

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