Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Independence Day (Confusion) for U.S. Submariners

July 4, 1944

Submarine USS S-28 (SS-133) was commissioned 12-13-23. On 4 JUL 44, commanded by a reservist, S-28 was lost with all hands (49 men), after failing to communicate during a WW2 training mission off Pearl Harbor.

A Court of Inquiry would find S-28 sank shortly after 1820 on 4 July 1944 at 21°-20´N, 158°-23´W. Due to water depth (1400 fathoms), salvage operations were considered impracticable.

The Court noted that S-28 lost depth control "from either a material casualty or an operating error of personnel, or both, and that depth control was never regained. The exact cause of the loss of S-28 cannot be determined." The Court found, further, that, "the material condition of S-28 was as good or better than that of other ships of her class performing similar duty," and that, "the officers and crew on board S-28at the time of her loss were competent to operate the ship submerged in the performance of her assigned duties."

A Steward's Mate, First Class who had made 3 war patrols on S-28 (as well as 3 earlier war patrols on S-30) was not on board for S-28's final training mission --- a lucky survivor. At this writing, however, a Navy Department Library web page still listed Levi Bolton as one of 50 men lost on the S-28.



According to source at NavSource

S-28
(SS-133)
and the S-23 (SS-128) had participated in the 1933 movie "Hell Below" wearing the fictional "AL-14" for Hollywood and country.


Because scores of numbered S boats did not receive regular ship commissioning names there is uncertainty about which sub(s) were actually filmed on another Navsource page as well as elsewhere.

In the movie, Jimmy Durante played the sub's cook, and the destroyer shown sinking in the movie was actually decommissioned WWI destroyer, ex-USS Moody. The photographic crew devised a scheme to photograph targets through a periscope, with a series of lenses and prisms.

Wikipedia adds this:
Although set in World War I, Hell Below set the structure for many World War II submarine warfare dramas to follow (such as Destination Tokyo, Torpedo Run, Operation Pacific, Hellcats of the Navy, Run Silent, Run Deep and others) with dramatic tension and action scenes around the warfare itself, as well as a love triangle or personal conflict to add personal interest. Extensive footage of World War I-era ships and planes supplement this war drama, which critics have characterized as excellent. clips

At this writing, a Navy Department Library web page still lists Levi Bolton as one of 50 men lost on S-28. The submarine sank 68 years ago! The movie was filmed 79 years ago.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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