Posted by Rebekah
Apr 03 2010

Sixty-six years ago today, Flier was finishing up her repairs, Redfin was on patrol, and Robalo was completing training runs day and night to get ready for their next patrol.  It was also the anniversary of the Pickerel’s destruction.

When WWII began, Pickerel was already an older submarine, a sister of the Perch.  She was operating near the Philippines on December 8, and as soon as she heard of the invasion, she started hunted enemy ships.  She completed six war patrols, sinking two ships, before leaving Pearl Harbor for her ill-fated seventh patrol.  After topping off fuel at Midway, she departed for Honshu, the northern main island of Japan, and was never heard from again.  In August, the Navy announced her “overdue and presumed lost”.

She took 74 men with her.

The USS Pickerel as she appeared after her Mare Island refit. Notice the unusual additional torpedo tubes added to her bow up near the deck. When she was launched, she only had four torpedo tubes in her bow, rather than the six that soon became standard. Should she ever be found, these tubes would be a strong identifying marker, as would the odd shape of her bullnose, or the loop through which the mooring line is threaded on the tip of her bow.

After the war, Japanese records revealed that Pickerel likely sank at least two ships on her last patrol, then was destroyed by a depth charge attack  on or around this date.   It’s impossible to know what sank her, a ship or a plane since there were several ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) attacks in Pickerel’s patrol area at the same time.

Her wreck has not been found, and until it is, we’ll likely not know her exact fate.

On Eternal Patrol’s page of USS Pickerel’s Last Crew

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