The story of USS S-44, SS-155

US S-class submarine S-44, SS-155 was laid down on February 19, 1921 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, Mass.; launched on October 27, 1923; and commissioned on February 16 1925.

In between World Wars S-44 operated mainly in the Pacific, she conducted training exercises, participated in fleet exercises and joint Army-Navy maneuvers, and made good will visits to various Caribbean and Pacific, Latin American ports.

In the spring of 1941, as American involvement in World War II increased, the Panama S boats were ordered back to the east coast for overhaul. With S-42 and S-46, S-44 proceeded to New London and then, in November, to Philadelphia where the work was done.

Back to operational service she was now ordered to the southwest Pacific, making four successful war patrols during 1942 mainly against Japanese convoys and assisting Allied operations. In early January 1943, she transited the Panama Canal, and then moved across the Caribbean to Philadelphia. There, from April to June, she underwent overhaul; and, in July, she retransited the Canal en route to San Diego and the Aleutians.

She arrived at Dutch Harbor on September 16. On the 26th, she departed Attu on her last war patrol. One day out, while en route to her operating area in the northern Kurils, she was spotted and attacked by a Japanese patrol plane. Suffering no damage, she continued west. On the night of October 7, she made radar contact with a "small merchantman" and closed in for a surface attack. Several hundred yards from the target, her deck gun fired and was answered by a salvo. The "small merchantman" was a destroyer. The order to dive was given, but S-44 failed to submerge. She took several hits-in the control room, in the forward battery room, and elsewhere.
S-44 was ordered abandoned. A pillow case was put up from the forward battery room hatch as a flag of surrender, but the shelling continued.

Possibly eight men escaped from the submarine as she went down. Two, Chief Torpedoman`s Mate Ernest A. Duva and Radioman Third Class William F. Whitore, were picked up by the destroyer. The two submariners spent the last year of World War II working in the Ashio copper mines. They were repatriated by the Allies at the end of the war.

Image Country Year Description
Marshall Is. 2000 USS S-44, 1925
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