Barb (SS-220) (2024)

USS Barb (SS-220) was commissioned on 8 July 1942 at Groton, Connecticut. Following shakedown and participation in Operation Torch—the invasion of North Africa—Barb was ordered in the spring of 1943 to the Pacific Fleet by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King. After refitting and intensive training, Barb was underway for patrol duty in the fall of 1943 in Pacific waters, but the boat’s first tour of duty in the Pacific was mostly uneventful.

Following overhaul and training, the submarine made way to shipping lanes west of the Marianas and east of Formosa. On 28 March 1944, Barb fired three torpedoes at f*ckusei Maru breaking the freighter in half. Later in the patrol, the boat joined USS Steelhead(SS-280) in a successful bombardment of a congested industrial area on Rasa Island in the Philippines. Barb scored a direct hit on the main Japanese installation of a secondary phosphate plant and successfully hit other locations that set off a multitude of munition and chemical explosions.

After refit, Barb was underway, 21 May 1944, with her new skipper, Commander Eugene B. “Lucky” Fluckey. Patrolling the waters along the Kuril Island chain, the north coast of Hokkaido, and in the Sea of Okhotsk,Barbsuccessfully sent five ships and two sampans to the ocean’s floor. On 31 May, the submarine sank Japanese cargo shipKoto Maru and immediately afterwards, fired three more torpedoes at Madras Maru sending that cargo ship below the waves. On 2 June, Barb sent torpedoes at a lone ship, but the aggressive enemy vessel countered with guns and depth charges. Barb escaped, subsequently, into ice fields in the northern Kurils. On 11 June, Barb sank two trawlers with gunfire, then four hours later, sank Japanese ship Toten Maru and freighter Chihaya Maru. Two days later, the boat sank a passenger cargo ship with her last two torpedoes. Barbwas credited with sinking an astounding 15,472 tons of enemy shipping during this single war patrol.

In an effort to destroy entire enemy convoys, submarines began to form organized attack groups—known as “wolfpacks” to the German navy. On her ninth patrol,Barbjoined USSQueenfish(SS-393) and USSTunny(SS-282) patrolling in the Manila/Hong Kong sea-lanes. On 31 August, the group joined another group of submarines to converge on a large, heavily escorted convoy. Queenfish led the attack by sinking two enemy ships. Barb fired three torpedoes at other ships scoring hits on a tanker and a freighter. After the initial attack, the submarine continued to stalk the convoy for the next five hours and after dealing with a pesky bird that continued to perch on her periscope, sent three torpedoes into the bowels of Okuni Maru breaking the freighter in two. Barb departed the area to avoid ensuing enemy attacks only to be greeted by non-stop aerial attacks. Barb went deep, but two bombs exploded close enough to the submarine that it ripped off her port antenna and broke several gauges and bulbs. After sinking a sampan with gunfire on 4 September, Barb received an urgent request to join in the search for survivors of a Japanese transport that had been carrying Alliedprisoners of war, which had been sunk four days earlier.On the way to the rescue mission, Barb and Queenfish encountered a heavy enemy convoy. Barb’s commander—“Lucky” Fluckey—ordered the deployment of six torpedoes that sank 11,700-ton tankerAzusaand the 20,000-ton escort carrierUnyo. Once Barb reached the area in the open ocean to rescue survivors, the crew saved 14 British and Australian prisoners from several small wooden rafts.

The submarine began her tenth war patrol with an attack group in the East China Sea. On 10 November, Barb fired a spread of torpedoes at a lone transport sending Gokoku Maru to the depths of the ocean. Two days later, Barbfired two torpedoes that sank cargo shipNaruo Maru, and two days after that sank two Japanese schooners.

Her 11th war patrol began on the Formosa Strait and the Chinese coast. On 1 January 1945, Barb sank a small Japanese boat with gunfire, and a week later sent Shinyo Maru, Sanyo Maru and Anyo Maru below the waves. On 23 January, the attack group encountered a convoy of 30 enemy ships. Barb deployed a barrage of torpedoes that scored eight hits sinking three ships and seriously damaging three others. For their actions during the brazen attack, Barb received a Presidential Unit Citation. Fluckey received the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…”

After a major overhaul, Barb was underway for her 12th war patrol in June 1945. Except for three days of lifeguard duty, this offensive war patrol was conducted north of Hokkaido and east of Karafuto. As soon as Barb reached the area, she immediately sank two luggers at close range with gunfire. After the attacks, Barb turned her attention to the shores of Japan. During the early morning hours of 22 June, Barb positioned herself about three miles from the center of the town of Shari. Barb made history as the first submarine to employ rockets successfully against Japanese shore installations. A few weeks later, Barb launched attacks against two other shore towns.

On 19 July, Fluckey noticed a railroad running close to the Japanese coastline. After three days of observation to establish train schedules, eight crewmembers secretly deployed ashore in the black of night. The men strategically placed a 55-pound demolition charge that was intended to explode when the next train passed. As the crew departed the area in rubber boats, an incoming train hit the charge sending locomotive wreckage 200-feet in the air that crashed in a mass of flames and smoke. Twelve freight cars, two passenger cars, and one mail car derailed and piled up in a mound of twisted metal. For the remainder of the war patrol, Barb continued to wreak havoc on Japanese shores and enemy vessels. Her last war patrol ended when Barb arrived at Midway on 2 August 1945. The war ended when the Japanese surrendered about two weeks later.

Barbwas credited with destroying 96,628 tons of enemy shipping. She received four Presidential Unit Citations, a Navy Unit Commendation, and eight battle stars for herWorld War IIservice.


Suggested Reading

Selected Imagery

Barb (SS-220) (2024)


What was the only sub to sink a train? ›

Members of USS Barb's (SS-220) demolition squad pose with her battle flag at the conclusion of her 12th war patrol. Taken at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, August 1945. During the night of 22–23 July 1945, these men went ashore at Karafuto, Japan, and planted an explosive charge that subsequently wrecked a train.

Who were the crew members of the USS Barb SS 220? ›

Hatfield, USNR; Signalman 2nd Class Francis Neal Sever, USNR; Ships Cook 1st Class Lawrence W. Newland, USN; Torpedomans Mate 3rd Class Edward W. Klingesmith, USNR; Motor Machinists Mate 2nd Class James E. Richard, USN; Motor Machinists Mate 1st Class John Markuson, USN; and Lieutenant William M.

How many U.S. WWII submarines are still missing? ›

On Thursday, the Missouri retired aerospace engineer fought back tears as he was notified that a submarine wreck, discovered off the coast of Japan last year, is what remains of the USS Albacore – one of 52 Navy submarines lost during World War II, according to Naval History and Heritage Command, or NHHC.

What was the most successful U.S. submarine in WWII? ›

With 33 ships sunk, the USS Tang sank the most tonnage of shipping in World War II for the United States.

Has a sub ever sunk a sub? ›

On 9 February 1945, she became the only submarine in history to be sunk by an enemy submarine while both were submerged. U-864 was sunk by the British submarine HMS Venturer, and all 73 men on board died.

What does the USS Barb battle flag mean? ›

The submarine's battle flag reflected Barb's remarkable accomplishments: 12 war patrols, five in the European Theater and seven in the Pacific; six Navy Crosses, 23 Silver Stars, 23 Bronze Stars and a Medal of Honor earned by members of the crew; a Presidential Unit Citation, a Navy Unit Commendation, and eight battle ...

Was the USS Scorpion ever found? ›

The United States Navy announced that the wreckage of the submarine was found 400 miles south of the Azores Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with all 99 crew members still onboard on October 30, 1968.

Has the USS Thresher ever been found? ›

It became apparent she had sunk taking the lives of the 129 officers, crewmen, and civilian technicians. Thresher's remains were located about 8,400 feet below the surface on the sea floor by the bathyscaphe Trieste II, aided by USS Mizar (AK-272) and other ships.

Was the USS Albacore ever found? ›

USS Albacore, World War II submarine lost at sea for almost 80 years, found off coast of Japan. The USS Albacore (SS-218) was lost at sea Nov. 7, 1944, after striking a mine. Last month, naval historians confirmed the World War II submarine's wreck site off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan.

Who had the best U-boats in WWII? ›

In comparison to the submarines of the United States, which were already very advanced and won the Pacific theatre, German U-boats displayed greatly enhanced underwater speed and endurance, with highly streamlined hulls and snorkels, and in this way posed one of the most serious risks to the Allied powers in WWII—as ...

What was the deadliest submarine in WWII? ›

USS Tang (SS-306)
United States
Launched17 August 1943
Commissioned15 October 1943
Stricken8 February 1945
20 more rows

Who was the most successful submarine commander in history? ›

Lothar von Arnaud de la Perière (the captain of the German submarine U-35) fought in the German Imperial Navy in World War I, during which he sank an astounding 194 ships with a total tonnage of 454,000 Gross Registered Ton (GRT).

What was the first US sub to sink a ship? ›

The Confederate submersible H. L. Hunley has the distinction of being the first submarine to sink an enemy warship in wartime.

How many subs were sunk in ww2? ›

The American success came at a cost, though. In World War II, 52 US submarines were lost, with a total of 3,506 officers and enlisted men killed. The US Navy Submarine Service had the highest casualty percentage of any American forces in the War: about 20%.

What ship was torpedoed by a German sub? ›

On May 7, 1915, the German submarine (U-boat) U-20 torpedoed and sank the Lusitania, a swift-moving British cruise liner traveling from New York to Liverpool, England. Of the 1,959 men, women, and children on board, 1,195 perished, including 123 Americans.

What did old submarines run on? ›

All World War I-era submarines were propelled by diesels on the surface and by electric motors submerged, except for the British Swordfish and K class. These submarines, intended to operate as scouts for surface warships, required the high speeds then available only from steam turbines.


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