USS FLOUNDER SS-251
IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS
DURING WWII

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Photo:- US Navy Photo

USS Flounder off Mare Island on 25 July 1945

Gato Class submarine, USS Flounder, SS-251, was commissioned on the 29 November 1943, under the initial command of Commander Carl A. Johnson.

On 17th March 1944, USS Flounder, sailed on her First War Patrol, from Milne Bay, New Guinea and headed for Palaus. During this patrol many Japanese aircraft were sighted. This limited her action and as a result very few surface contacts were made.

USS Flounder returned to Milne Bay for a refit after which she sailed for Manus for more training. She departed there on the 3 June 1944 on her Second War Patrol. It was on the 17 June 1944 that she made a contact with the enemy, which resulted in her sinking a Japanese Ex Motor Torpedo Tender, "Nipponkai Maru", of some 2,681 ton, at 06, 58N   127,-52E.  Japanese escorts made vigorous counter attacks on USS Flounder, but failed to damage the submarine.

On 24 June 1944, as USS Flounder was sailing on the surface, two Japanese aircraft suddenly dived from out of the clouds, and dropped a number of bombs which landed close by. USS Flounder sustained some damage but it was not serious.

USS Flounder refuelled at Manus and then sailed for the US Navy Submarine base in Brisbane, in south east Queensland, Australia, for repairs and a refit. USS Flounder left Brisbane, with a new skipper, namely Lt Cdr James E. Stevens, on her Third War Patrol on the 1 August1944. She arrived at Manus on the 8/9th of August 1944. USS Flounder then sailed from Manus and served as lifeguard duty during the air strikes on the Philippines.

Again USS Flounder found very few contacts with Japanese vessels, but was able to to make one attack. She attacked a small escort, which managed to dodge her torpedoes. The Japanese escort then forced USS Flounder to the bottom with a depth charge attack.

USS Flounder refuelled and took on provisions at Mios Woendi, in New Guinea, from the 28 August to 1 September 1944, and then completed her patrol in Daveo Gulf. USS Flounder returned to Brisbane on the 4 October.1944 for a refit.

USS Flounder sailed from Brisbane on her Fourth War Patrol on the 27 October 1944. USS Flounder patrolled the South China Sea with two other submarines, just north of Lombok Strait. On 10 November 1944, USS Flounder sighted what was thought to be a small sail boat but on closer inspection it was realised that the target was the conning tower of an enemy submarine. USS Flounder went to battle stations and submerged. USS Flounder fired four torpedoes at what it thought was a Japanese submarine and the skipper observed one hit and felt another as the enemy submarine exploded. On closer examination USS Flounder found that it had in fact sunk German submarine U-537 at 07--13S, 115--17E with the loss of all hands (58 officers and men)..

USS Flounder and the rest of her group attacked a Japanese convoy off Palawan on 20 November 1944. USS Flounder damaged a Japanese freighter "Gyosan Maru", which was later sunk by the USS Guavina SS-362. Again few contacts were made during this Patrol, and USS Flounder returned to the US Navy Fremantle submarine base in Western Australia to refit between 13 December 1944 and 7 January 1945.

USS Flounder sailed again on her Fifth war Patrol but she had to return to Fremantle from 12 to 14 January 1945 to repair her fathometer. She then set sail again to lead a three-submarine wolf pack in the South China Sea. On 12 and 13 February 1945, her group made contact with a Japanese Task Force, but was unable to close in on these fast moving targets.

On 22 February1945, USS Flounder launched four torpedoes at a Japanese patrol boat.  Unfortunately two torpedoes ran erratically, and it was only the skilful maneuvering by the captain of USS Flounder that saved her from being hit by her own torpedoes.

On 25 February 1945, USS Flounder and USS Hoe, SS 258, bumped into each other underwater at a depth of 65 feet. USS Flounder sustained only a small leak which was quickly repaired.

From the 25 February 1945 to 15 March 1945, USS Flounder prepared for her Sixth War Patrol at Subic Bay. She sailed as part of a wolf pack, and scouted for more targets, south of Hainan. On 29 March 1945, USS Flounder made contact with a very large Japanese convoy, which had been attacked by aircraft before she and her sister submarine's could launch their torpedoes.


Photo:- US Navy photo # 5424-45

USS Flounder leaving Mare Island, California on 24 July 1945

USS Flounder finished her Sixth War Patrol at Saipan on 22 April 1945, and headed for Mare Island, California for an overhaul from 14 May to 6 August 1945. She then returned to Pear Harbour arriving on the day that hostilities ended with the Japanese. USS Flounder was ordered to the East Coast, and arrived at New York City on the 18 September 1945. After laying inactive at Portsmouth and New London, she was decommissioned and placed in reserved at New London on the 12 February 1947.

As the result of her war patrols, USS Flounder received two Battle Stars for her World War II service. Her second and fourth war patrols were designated as being "Successful". USS Flounder was credited with having sunk 2,681 ton of Japanese shipping as well as the German submarine U-537.

Note:- The sinking of the German submarine U-537 was not accounted by JANAC but this is well documented in German Navy Records.

Richard S. Boniface contacted me on 25 August 2005 and advised that his almost 85 years old father, Richard Boniface, was a crew member of the USS Flounder during WW ll. He said that his father does not speak a lot about the war, but often wondered about some of his crew members. Richard would love to make contact with former crew members of USS Flounder. Richard's father was an Electrican's Mate, 2nd Class, during his tour. He remembers almost being bombed with a 500 pounder from a Japanese aircraft on June 24, 1944.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Russ Walter for his assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Richard S. Boniface for his assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 19 October 2008

This page last updated 19 October 2008