Warships Associated With
World War II in the Pacific
USS Silversides, Chicago, IL
(Photo by Fred Tannenbaum, 1984)
|Name:||USS Silversides (SS-236)|
|Owner:||USS Silversides and Maritime Museum|
|Displacement:||1,525 tons surface / 2,410 tons submerged|
|Width:||27 feet (at the beam)|
|Height:||60 feet (at the top of the shears)|
|Mean Draft:||16 feet|
|Test Depth:||370 feet|
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)|
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. 
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
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
USS Silversides represents the U.S. submarine
forces that fought against Japan in World War II for the following
- 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
- 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.
- 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,
- 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
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.
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),
Blair, Clay, Jr. Silent Victory--The U.S. Submarine War Against
Japan. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J.B. Lippincott Company,
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
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,
Roscoe, Theodore. United States Submarine Operations in World War
II. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1965.