No Men Lost

June 19, 1942

USS S-27 (SS 132)
Portside view of the S-27 (SS 132), entering Pearl Harbor circa 1925

  • S-1 Class Submarine
  • Keel laid: April 11, 1919, at the Fore River Plant, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, MA
  • Launched: October 11, 1922
  • Commissioned: January 22, 1924
  • Displacement: 854 tons surfaced; 1,062 tons submerged
  • Length: 219′ 3″
  • Beam: 20′ 8″
  • Depth limit: 200′
  • Complement: 4 officers, 34 enlisted
  • Armament: four 21″ torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes, one 4″/50 deck gun

Ordered north to the Aleutian Islands, she departed San Diego on May 20; steamed to Port Angeles, Washington; thence, continued on to Alaskan waters where she commenced patrol operations in June. On May 12, a little over a week after the beginning of the war in the Aleutians, she put into Dutch Harbor, took on provisions, refueled, and then headed west with orders to patrol in the Kuluk Bay area and to reconnoiter Constantine Harbor, Amchitka. On the night of June 16-June 17, she was ordered to Kiska. On June 18, she reconnoitered Constantine Harbor found no signs of enemy activity in that evacuated village, and moved on to round the southern end of the island, whence she would proceed to Kiska. In mid afternoon, she rounded East Cape and that night when she surfaced, fog obscured her position. Lying to charge on both engines, she was carried about five miles from her estimated dead-reckoned position. The fog prevented knowledge of the drift. At midnight, she got underway, slowly, on one engine and continued to charge on the other. Soon after 0043 on June 19, breakers were sighted about 25 yards forward of the bow. “Back emergency” orders were given. Seconds later, she grounded on rocks off St. Makarius Point.

Waves bumped her violently against the rocks, rolling her 10 to 15 degrees on each side. Her motors were continued at “back emergency,” but she was held firm by a submerged rock. Fuel was blown. Efforts to back off were continued, but the lightened ship swung harder against the rocks. Her starboard screw struck a rock and was disabled. Efforts were made to force the ship ahead to clear the stern; but, she could move only about twenty feet forward before she was again held fast. The immediate area was sounded. No passage was found. By 03:30, the pounding of the sea had increased and plans were made to move the greater part of the crew off. Dispatches of her plight, sent first at 01:15, were continued. Six were sent in all. One, giving no position, was received at Dutch Harbor.

A ferry system, using a rubber boat and lines rigged between the ship and the beach, was set up. Men, provisions, clothing, guns, and medical supplies were transferred safely. By 11:00, all but six, the commanding officer, Lieutenant H.L. Jukes, and five others, were ashore. All equipment was destroyed. Classified material was burned. At 15:30, three of the remaining men went ashore. The side plating was now loose, the torpedo room was flooding. At 15:50, the radioman, executive officer, and commanding officer left the submarine.

The night of June 19–20 was spent in an unsheltered cove. On June 20, camp was set up at Constantine Harbor, using the buildings and heating equipment which had survived a Japanese bombing. By June 21, the camp was fully organized: routines, including sentries and lookouts, had been established. Trips to and from the cove continued for three days. S-27 was reboarded on June 21 and June 22; thereafter, the presence of chlorine gas prohibited further visits to take off more supplies.

On June 24, a PBY Catalina on a routine flight spotted the activity at Constantine Harbor; landed; and took off 15 of the survivors. On June 25, three planes were sent in to bring off the remainder. All guns salvaged from S-27 were destroyed. Nothing was left except the submarine’s abandoned hulk and canned provisions, blankets, and winter clothing.

Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

USS S-27 (SS 132)USS S-27 (SS 132)
Patch(es) were obtained from:
NavSource Online (Submarine Photo Archive).
Patch on left contributed by Mike Smolinski, patch on right contributed by Don McGrogan, BMCS, USN (ret.)
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