The Photoshoot

Posted by Rebekah
Apr 28 2010

Flier is almost ready to leave San Francisco for what, as it would turn out, would be the last time.

But before she left, the Navy opted to take several photos of her, photos that would be used to identify her wreck sixty-five years later.

These photos, taken from the port side, the bow, and stern, and details of the conning tower looking fore and aft, reveal a great deal about the Flier herself.

Fier taken from the port side.

For example, she had no prop guards.  The ones photographed on her are a temporary measure held in place by chains.  This is important since some submarines had permanent prop guards installed, including the Grunion.

Flier from the Bow and Stern with her crew arrayed on deck. The stern features temporary prop guards which would be removed before she left.

One of the things that supposedly helped identify the Flier was the arrangement of her antennas.  Each submarine, since it was built, repaired and overhauled in various places, usually had a unique arrangement of her various Sonar, Radar and Radio antennas, woven through the fairwater, or the tower containing the Conning Tower and Bridge.

The white circles on these photographs show where recent changes to Flier's Conning Tower were made. These type of identifying marks for changes to a submarine's configuration were quite common, and are some of the ways the Navy can use to identify not only submarine wrecks but unidentified submarines in period photographs.

The conning tower photographs show that though Flier’s 4-inch deck gun was mounted on the forward deck, Mare Island added a gun mount on the aft deck for an additional deck or a second deck gun.  Probably because of that new aft gun mount, an ammunition locker was added to the aft end of the Fairwater.  (See circled structure below and to the left of the Flier’s temporary bell on the right hand photo.)

When a submarine’s supposed wreck is discovered, the Navy withholds official identification until they can look at whatever documentation is brought back (whether still photos or film) and compare it against any photos and records about the last known configuration of that submarine.  The Flier was actually found in the spring of 2009, but official identification took until 1 February 2010.  These photos, shot in April 1944 while Flier was off the coast of California, were likely instrumental in confirming the identity of the wreck.

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