Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Loss of the USS Herring (SS-233)

Some of you may be familiar with the U.S.C.S. (Universal Ship Cancellation Society). It is a non-profit, tax exempt corporation founded in 1932, to promote the study of the history of ships, .... and events involving the U.S. Navy and other maritime organizations of the world.

The U.S.C.S. Log turns out to be an interesting compilation of well-researched naval history with healthy smatterings of current events and arcane compendia of related postal covers and cancellations.

June's U.S.C.S. Log includes a one paragraph Out of the Past article on USS Herring's final war patrol. Log authors are sticklers for details and facts. Errors are rare and usually caught and corrected very quickly. Japanese shore batteries apparently scored two hits on Herring's conning tower and sunk her. Was Herring in shallow waters (she sank 2 anchored Marus) within range of the shore batteries? If not, what else would make her expose her conning tower?

A 6-paragraph page claimed by Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet reveals more, but unfortunately is an embarrassment of drunken spelling errors. Past attempts to contact the "Commander's site" for other error corrections were without result or even acknowledgement of e-mails. Perhaps someone else will have more success. For a cleaner version of the Pac Fleet page, try this (about 1/3 of the way down the page). Hmm, who is copying whom?

Want to better appreciate the ultimate sacrifice of those on Herring's eternal patrol? Count the names listed to see if they add to 83 lost. Takes quite a while to count those names, doesn't it? Eighty-three submariners lost at one time, and two more U.S. subs would be lost that very month during 1944.

The CO, Lt. Cdr. David Zabriskie, Jr. had been an Annapolis (USNA) football star. On his first of 2 war patrols, Zabriskie had sunk nothing. On his 2nd and final patrol, Zabriskie sank four Japanese ships (13,202 tons total), and had been operating with USS Barb commanded by his senior, none other than Eugene Fluckey. After Zabriskie's initial attack, the remaining ships scattered towards Barb and Fluckey bagged 2 more marus.

For her first seven patrols, Herring sank nine ships, totaling 45,200 tons, and damaged two. Her first four patrols were in the Atlantic. Herring had originally been credited with sinking a Nazi U-boat (U-163) on her 3rd war patrol, although this now appears to have been corrected.

One of the most important things accomplished by the Herring was for Newport (Torpedo Station and factory), however. On August 1, 1941, eight months after the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Newport finally conceded that Mark XIV torpedoes ran 10 feet deeper than set. The depth control mechanism had been improperly designed and poorly tested (from barges, not submarines). The Bureau of Ordinance had previously blamed Mark XIV reliability problems on crews. There had been hell to pay, it has been said, when skippers shot their expensive loads and missed.

Submarines have always been silent and strange.



At 09 June, 2007 17:21, Blogger Unknown said...

Never noticed the typos in the CPS report until now.
I have done as much research on the Herring via the internet as I can, and I wish I could add more.
Over the last 2 = 3 years, Navsource has been lucky enough to receive photos from the relatives of a number of lost WW II subs: Shark (SS-174), Sculpin (SS-191),Grunion (SS-216), Trigger (SS-237), Escolar (SS-294), Barbel (SS-316) & Lagarto (SS-371).
I am hoping that we will continue to receive more and know more of the fate and the final resting place of those who gave the last full measure in the service to their country.

At 11 June, 2007 13:41, Blogger Vigilis said...

Michael, thank you for commenting.

At 25 August, 2007 22:53, Blogger DENISE EDGINTON WOOD said...

My uncle, Franklin Kenneth Edginton, was aboard the USS Herring on 1 June 1944.

At 26 August, 2007 14:15, Blogger Vigilis said...

Your uncle was apparently one of the younger fellows. The United States is indebted to the Herring crew for their loyal service and ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you for sharing, Denise.

At 21 February, 2008 15:21, Blogger Unknown said...

Denise, please contact me regarding your uncle, F. K. Edginton, of USS Herring. We would like to complete his personal memorial page - - on our website.


Charles R. Hinman

At 24 May, 2008 16:06, Blogger SteveB said...

Thank you so much for posting this. With Memorial Day here, I am also thinking of my uncle Franklin Edginton (I was searching for a picture of the Herring) and came across this. I am Sally's cousin.

My mother (her brother) kept his picture on our mantle her entire life. When I see my sister, I'll try and get a digitized picture of him for you.

Thanks again.


At 24 May, 2008 23:41, Blogger Unknown said...


I look forward to hearing from you again, and placing your uncle's photo on his page.

Charles R. Hinman

At 10 June, 2008 10:36, Blogger choppercop58 said...

I first saw the Herring memorial in Mobile, Alabama at the battleship Alabama while on an outing with my family. While reading the names of those lost, I had a chill run down my spine as I read William Kenneth Smiley GM3. My name is Kenneth E. Smiley and I live in Panama City, Florida.

At 03 February, 2009 15:27, Blogger Unknown said...

William Smiley was my first cousin..he was the oldest son of the oldest son. I'm the youngest son of the youngest son, so I was born 15 years after Billy and Herring were lost..since my nephew noticed Billy's name on the Submarine Memorial in Hawaii, I've been very interested in learning more about my cousin...unfortunately, everyone that actually knew him in my family has passed...

At 24 May, 2009 07:33, Blogger SandyCarlson said...

My great uncle, Laurence Isbell, was on that boat, too. For years and years, his brother, Allan Isbell, sought anybody who could tell him anything about the Herring or his brother. Such a hard loss on the family. It's nice to find your blog this morning.

At 28 October, 2009 02:58, Blogger Unknown said...

To dsmiley and Sandy Carlson -- please contact me regarding your relatives who were lost on USS Herring. We would like to complete their personal memorial pages at and, respecively.


Charles R. Hinman

At 23 February, 2011 19:33, Blogger printworks said...

My uncle George Edward Wagoner was also on the USS Herring. I have some of the family information; letters from George, letters from the Navy to my grandparents and sympathy cards, that my Dad gave me before he passed away. I'm sure it was a very sad time in our family's history. I'm always looking for new information. My name is Mark Wagoner, Greensboro,NC

At 12 April, 2013 20:50, Blogger Unknown said...

My uncle Charles E. Burton was on the USS Herring and lost June 1st 1944. My grandmother never stopped believing (more like wishful thinking) that he may have somehow survived since the sub was sunk in such shallow waters? The Herring has never actually been found to the best of my knowledge. The letters from the Navy listing him as MIA and later KIA have been handed down to me.

At 22 June, 2016 20:11, Blogger S3141 said...

Russians found a submarin next to Matua iceland just recently.
They assume that it is Herring. Information already passed to american side

At 28 June, 2016 14:36, Blogger SteveB said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I will share it with my family. There is an English version here:


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