RIP USS Triton

Posted by Rebekah
Mar 16 2010

Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve updated.  I’ve been away from home, traveling and interviewing for the book, and visiting family since they live in the area.  It kept me away for a bit.  This entry was supposed to be posted yesterday, March 15, but I’ll post it here today.

Sixty-six years ago today, the USS Redfin and the USS Robalo sat again in Fremantle, the threat of imminent invasion over.  The Tenders returned from Albany, and shipping resumed its normal pattern.   The Flier of course, is still being repaired in Mare Island for another month.

The Redfins continued their training getting ready for their departure in a few days, and the Robalos were released again to R&R.

It was also the first anniversary of the loss of the USS Triton.

The USS Triton was a new submarine on December 7, 1941.  She was patrolling around Wake Island (which, due to the International Date Line, it was actually December 8 ) and saw smoke rising.  The crew thought little of it, believing it was more construction, until they heard a radio transmission that night telling them Wake was under attack and to stay out of range of the shore guns lest she be mistaken for an enemy submarine and fired upon.  Her first war patrol started at that moment, and over the next few days, she evaded enemy ships and nearly sank one.

The USS Triton coming to dock in Dutch Harbor Alaska on 16 July 1942. Taken from navsource.org

The six patrols Triton completed took her to nearly every corner of the Pacific:  she tracked destroyers in Alaska, guarded the corridor between Wake and Midway Island, sank ships in the East China Sea, and called Pearl Harbor and Brisbane Australia home.

On March  15, 1943, the Triton, operating near, but not with, the Trigger, apparently attacked a convoy of ships.  Trigger also attacked a convoy, quite possibly the same one.  (These convoys, if they were large, could cover many square miles of ocean each.)  Trigger was thoroughly depth charged, but after it was all over, could hear three destroyers continually bombarding a distant patch of ocean for another hour.  The Triton was never heard from again, and vanished with all 74 hands.

After the war, Japanese records revealed that this convoy bombed an area near where Triton was patrolling until an oil slick and debris bearing American markings floated to the surface.  This was considered sufficient proof  that Triton was destroyed.  She has never been found.

The USS Triton page on On Eternal Patrol

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