USS Razorback (SS-394)- World War II Service
Following her commissioning on 03 April, 1944, Razorback and her crew underwent an intensive period of tests, exercises, and other training. She departed New London, CT en route to the Pacific on 23 June, 1944. Stopping from 30 June to 11 July in Key West, FL to act as a target for new SONAR operators at the Fleet Sound School there, she transited the Panama Canal on 15 July, 1944. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 04 August, Razorback underwent additional training and had the following modifications performed:
- Replaced the 20mm gun on the after end of the bridge with a 40mm gun
- Installed a VHF radio
- Installed an AN/APR-1 Radar Countermeasures System (a Radar detector)
- Replaced one RAL radio receiver with a newer RBH-1
- Painted the submarine in standard camouflage scheme 32/3 SS-B
First War Patrol
Razorback departed for her first combat patrol on 25 August. CDR Roy Stanley Benson, USN, Razorback's Commanding Officer, was also in overall command of a group, or "wolf pack" of three submarines, known as the "Dog Pack":
- USS Razorback (SS 394)
- USS Piranha (SS 389)
- USS Cavalla (SS 244)
(CDR Benson would ultimately rise to the rank of Rear Admiral.)
During the first part of the patrol, the group operated as part of a larger group of submarines (known as the "Zoo", under the tactical command of CAPT C.W. Wilkins, USN), conducting offensive reconnaissance in support of the invasion of Palau and fleet operations around the Philippines. Then, the group patrolled the areas east of Taiwan and between Taiwan and the Philippine island of Luzon.
Although neither Razorback, nor the other two submarines in the group sank any Japanese ships, it was recognized that this was due to the fact that the group was severely constrained in their operations and movements by the other operations going on in the Pacific. Razorback in particular was recognized for making a systematic collection of information about Japanese use of radar, especially radar aboard aircraft. Razorback's newly installed APR radar detector almost certainly prevented her from being sunk by Japanese aircraft. Razorback had bombs and/or depth charges dropped on her twice.
At the end of the patrol on 09 October, the group split up. Razorback headed to Midway, Piranha to Pearl Harbor, and Cavalla to Freemantle, Australia.
Read Razorback's War Patrol Report for her First War Patrol here (2MB Adobe PDF file)
Razorback arrived at Midway on 19 October. CDR Benson was relieved by LCDR C. Donald Brown, USN on 21 October. During her time in Midway, a few minor alterations were performed and a week-long training period was conducted. Razorback departed for her second war patrol on 15 November, 1944
Second War Patrol
Razorback operated as part of "Roys Rangers", a wolfpack group under the command of CDR R.M. Davenport, Commander of USS Trepang. The group consisted of:
- USS Razorback (SS 394)
- USS Trepang (SS 412)
- USS Segundo (SS 398)
The group patrolled the Luzon Strait area. A total of 10 attacks were conducted on six different groups of Japanese vessels. Razorback was so aggressive in pressing her attacks that part way through her patrol, she ran low on torpedoes and returned briefly to Saipan for 24 more.
Razorback sank the following vessels:
- Unknown Shigure-type Destroyer of approximately 1,400 tons
- IJN Kuretake (DD-4), a Wakatake class Destroyer (1,100 tons full load displacement)
- A large Oiler (8,000 tons)
- A large AK (troop carrying freighter) (7,500 tons)
- A large AK or AP (troop ship) type (5,000 tons)
Razorback shares 1/2 credit for the last vessel with Segundo, who had previously damaged it.
Razorback also damaged a medium AK (troop carrying freighter) of about 4,000 tons.
More recent evidence suggests that the attack on the Shigure-type destroyer, conducted on 05/06 December, 1944, was not actually successful. Research is ongoing.
At the end of her second patrol, Razorback headed for Guam.
Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Second War Patrol here (4MB Adobe PDF file)
Razorback arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam on 05 January, 1945 for a refit and overhaul. She departed on her third war patrol on 01 February, 1945.
Third War Patrol
Razorback operated as part of a group "Fulp's Fiddlers", consisting of:
- USS Segundo (SS 398) (CDR J.D. Fulp, USN, Pack Commander)
- USS Razorback (SS 394)
- USS Sea Cat (SS 399)
The group patrolled the East China Sea. Razorback conducted two unsuccessful torpedo attacks, but sank two 85-foot long, 100-ton wooden sea trucks; a 50-ton wooden schooner; and a 100-ton, two-masted junk with her 4" deck gun and her 40mm and 20mm guns. Four Japanese POWs were also captured.
At the end of her third patrol, Razorback stopped at Guam to discharge her prisoners, then proceeded to Pearl Harbor, HI.
Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Third War Patrol here (4MB Adobe PDF file)
Razorback arrived at Pearl Harbor 26 March, 1945. While the crew was given a well deserved rest, Razorback was undergoing both a normal post-patrol refit as well as having major modifications done. Some of the work done included:
- Attempted repair of (followed by replacement of) the port propeller shaft which had begun over heating at deep submergence depths
- Replaced 4"/50 gun forward with a 5"/25
- Installation of a second gun foundation aft
- Installation of a 5"/25 gun aft
- Installation of an ST-type (range-only) periscope radar
Razorback departed on her fourth war patrol on 07 May, 1945.
The majority of this war patrol was spent on lifeguard duty very near the Japanese coast. Razorback rescued a total of five men:
- Lt. Col. Charles E. Taylor, a P-51 pilot
- 1st Lt. J. Z. Keseks, B-29 "MASCOT 31"
- 2nd Lt. J. P. Duffy, B-29 "MASCOT 31"
- 2nd Lt. C. J. Duveen, B-29 "MASCOT 31"
- Staff Sgt A. J. Liberi, B-29 "MASCOT 31"
These men were transferred to USS Dragonet (SS 293) on 05 June, and Razorback continued her patrol.
During this patrol, Razorback saw no large vessels at all, but did see a number of Japanese aircraft and experienced a variety of new Japanese ASW tactics, including "gambit" or loitering tactics by Japanese aircraft and possibly the use of an air-dropped ASW torpedo.
At the end of her fourth war patrol, Razorback headed for Midway.
Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Forth War Patrol here (4MB Adobe PDF file)
Razorback arrived at Midway on 27 July, 1945. During a short refit period, the following alterations were performed:
- Replaced 20mm gun on aft cigarette deck with a twin 20mm gun mount
- Replaced the SD-4 air search radar with an SD-5
- Installed a DCDI (Depth Charge Direction Indicator)
- Installed an ice cream freezer
While Razorbackwas in Midway conducting underway training, GMC Valant, a crewman aboard USS Entemedor (SS 340), was washed overboard. Razorback crewmen LT (jg) W. H. Pattillo, USNR and MoMM3 D.D. Langford went into the water and rescued him, despite the state 3 seas and a nearby reef.
Razorback departed on her fifth war patrol on 22 July, 1945. This patrol was spent in the Okhotsk Sea and east of the Northern Kurile Islands.
Razorback was especially impressed with the performance of the newly installed SD-5 air search radar, which regularly gave contacts at an excess of 50 miles. Previous contact distances had been as low as 10 miles or less.
The only large vessels sighted during this patrol were Russian vessels, and Razorback was able to confirm that they were staying in their agreed upon areas. A number of these vessels were "shot" with a camera, rather than torpedoes. Razorback was able to engage and sink six wooden "sea trucks" and damage two others with her deck guns.
Razorback's offensive patrols were interrupted by assigned to lifeguard stations, but fortunately, her services were not needed.
Despite the declaration of a cease fire on 16 August, Razorback was fired upon by an unidentified submerged Japanese submarine on 29 August. Razorback dove to avoid the torpedo and did not return fire.
On 30 August, 1945, Razorback was assigned to the task group "Benny's Peacemakers", and she entered Tokyo Bay on 31 August to participate in the formal surrender ceremonies on 02 September, 1945.
Read Razorbacks War Patrol Report for her Fifth War Patrol here (4MB Adobe PDF file)
Read Razorback's Official Ship's History for World War II Here (400KB Adobe PDF file)
Read a Summary of the Awards that Razorback's Officers and Crewmen Received Here (353KB Adobe PDF file)