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were racked

USS Argonaut (SM-1)

{{Infobox Ship Characteristics

Hide header= Header caption= Ship type=V-4 (Argonaut)-class composite direct-drive diesel and diesel-electric submarine Ship displacement=surfaced 2,710 tons (standard), 3,046 tons (3,095 t) (normal)
4,164 tons (4,231 t) submerged
Ship length= (waterline) (overall) Ship beam=33 ft 9½ in (10.3 m) Ship draft=16 ft ¼ in (4.9 m) Ship propulsion=2 × BuEng direct-drive 6-cylinder 4-cycle diesel engines, each
1 × BuEng 6-cylinder 4-cycle diesel engine, , driving a Ridgway electrical generator
Ship power= 2x120-cell Exide ULS37 batteries
2 × Ridgway electric motors, each
two shafts
Ship speed= surfaced, design
surfaced, trials
submerged, design
submerged, trials
Ship range= at
at 10 knots (17 km/h) with fuel in main ballast tanks
(bunkerage 173,875 USgall {658,700 liters})
Ship endurance=10 hours at Ship test depth= Ship complement=(as built) 8 officers, 78 men
7 officers, 9 chief petty officers, 71 enlisted (1931)
Ship sensors= Ship EW= Ship armament=(as built) 4 × torpedo tubes (bow, 16 torpedoes)
2 × minelaying tubes aft
60 mines
2 × ) / 53 caliber Mark XII Mod. 2 wet type deck guns
(as modified 1942) 8 × torpedo tubes (4 bow, 4 external, 20 torpedoes)
minelaying tubes removed
2 × / 53 caliber Mark XII Mod. 2 wet type deck guns
Ship notes= }}

The first USS Argonaut (SF-7/SM-1/APS-1), a United States Navy submarine, was laid down as V-4 on 1 May 1925 at Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was launched on 10 November 1927, sponsored by Mrs. Philip Mason Sears, the daughter of Rear Admiral William D. MacDougall, and commissioned on 2 April 1928, Lieutenant Commander W.M. Quigley in command.

V-4 was the first of the second generation of V-boats commissioned in the late 1920s, which remain the largest non-nuclear submarines ever built by the U.S. These submarines were exempt by special agreement from the armament and tonnage limitations of the Washington Treaty. V-4 and her sisters V-5 (hull number SS-167) and V-6 (hull number SS-168) were designed with larger and more powerful diesel engines than those which had propelled the earlier series of V-boats, which had proven to be failures. Unfortunately, the specially-built engines failed to produce their design power and some developed dangerous crankshaft explosions. V-4 and her sister ships were slow in diving and, when submerged, were unwieldy and slower than designed. They also presented an excellent target to surface ship sonar and had a large turning radius.

Designed primarily as a minelayer, and built at a cost of US$6,150,000, V-4 was the first and only such specialized type ever built by the United States. She had four torpedo tubes forward and two minelaying tubes aft. At the time of the construction, V-4 was the largest submarine ever built in the United States, and was the largest in U.S. Navy service for thirty years.

Her minelaying arrangements were "highly ingenious, but extremely complicated", filling two aft compartments. A compensating tube ran down the center of the two spaces, to make up for the lost weight as mines were laid, as well as to store eight additional mines. The other mines were racked in three groups around this tube, two in the fore compartment, one aft, with a hydraulically driven rotating cage between them. Mines were moved by hydraulic worm shafts, the aft racks connecting directly to the launch tubes, which had vertically-sliding hydraulic doors (rather than the usual hinged ones of torpedo tubes). Each launch tube was normally loaded with four mines, and a water 'round mines (WRM) tube flooded to compensate as they were laid, then pumped into the compensating tube. Eight mines could be laid in 10 minutes.

Following commissioning, V-4 served with Submarine Division 12 based at Newport, Rhode Island.

She proved perennially underpowered, but re-engining was postponed by war, and her MAN diesels were a constant source of trouble.

Trials and a new name in the 1930s

In January and February 1929, V-4 underwent a series of trials off Provincetown, Massachusetts. On a trial dive during this period, she submerged to a depth of . This mark was the greatest depth which an American submarine had reached up to that time. On 26 February 1929, V-4 was assigned to Division 20, Submarine Divisions, Battle Fleet, and arrived at San Diego, California, her new home port, on 23 March. From there, she participated in battle exercises and made cruises along the west coast.

V-4 was renamed Argonaut on 19 February 1931, and redesignated SM-1 (submarine, minelayer) on 1 July of that year. On 30 June 1932, she arrived at Pearl Harbor, where she was assigned to Submarine Division 7. She carried out minelaying operations, patrol duty, and other routine work. In October 1934 and again in May 1939, Argonaut took part in joint Army-Navy exercises in the Hawaiian operating area. Argonaut became the flagship of Submarine Squadron 4 (Captain Freeland A. Daubin) in mid-1939. The submarine returned to the west coast in April 1941 to participate in fleet tactical exercises.

Pacific patrols

On 28 November 1941, Argonaut (commanded by Stephen G. Barchet) left Pearl Harbor and was on patrol near Midway Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. After sunset on 7 December, Argonaut surfaced and heard naval gunfire around Midway. It was assumed the Japanese were landing a large invasion force. Argonaut then submerged to make a sonar approach to the "invasion force." While designed to be a minelayer and not an attack submarine, Argonaut made the first wartime approach on enemy naval forces.

The "invasion force" turned out to be two Japanese destroyers whose mission was shore bombardment on Midway. The ships may have detected Argonaut, and one passed close by the submarine. They completed the bombardment then retired before Argonaut could make a second approach.

One week later, Argonaut made contact with three or four Japanese destroyers. Barchet wisely decided not to attack. On 22 January 1942, she returned to Pearl Harbor and, after a brief stop, proceeded to the Mare Island for major overhaul. While there, her diesels were replaced with Winton 12-258Ss and her minelaying gear was removed. She was also fitted with a Torpedo Data Computer (lack of which likely inhibited her ability to score with torpedoes), new electronics, and two external torpedo tubes for storage. On return to Pearl Harbor, she was "hastily converted" to a troop transport submarine.

Argonaut returned to action in the South Pacific in August. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz assigned Argonaut and Nautilus (SS-168) to transport and land Marine Raiders on Makin Island in the Gilbert Islands for the Makin Raid. This move was designed to relieve pressure on American forces that had just landed on Guadalcanal. On 8 August, the two submarines embarked 120 troops of Companies A and B, 2d Raider Battalion, and got underway for Makin. Conditions during the transit were unpleasant, and most of the marines became seasick. The convoy arrived off Makin on 16 August; and, at 0330 the next day, the marines began landing. Their rubber rafts were swamped by the sea and most of the outboard motors drowned. The Japanese -- either forewarned or extraordinarily alert because of the activity on Guadalcanal -- gave the Americans a warm reception. Snipers were hidden in the trees, and the landing beaches were in front of the Japanese forces instead of behind them as planned. However, by midnight of 18 August, the Japanese garrison of about 85 men was wiped out; radio stations, fuel, and other supplies and installations were destroyed, and all but 30 of the troops had been recovered. {21 KIA + 9 captured/executed}

Final battle

Argonaut arrived back in Pearl Harbor on 26 August. Her hull classification symbol was changed from SM-1 to APS-1 (transport submarine) on 22 September. She was never formally designated SS-166, but that hull number was reserved for her. Her base of operations was transferred to Brisbane, Australia, later in the year. In December, she departed Brisbane under Lieutenant Commander John R. Pierce to patrol the hazardous area between New Britain and Bougainville, south of St. George's Channel. On 2 January 1943 "Argonaut" sank a Japanese gunboat "Ebon Maru" in the Bismark sea. See On 10 January 1943, Argonaut spotted a convoy of five freighters and their escorts, Japanese destroyers Maikaze, Isokaze, and Hamakaze, returning to Rabaul from Lae. An army aircraft, which was out of bombs, was by chance flying overhead and witnessed Argonaut's attack. A crewman on board the plane saw one destroyer hit by a torpedo, and the destroyers promptly counterattack. Argonaut's bow suddenly broke the water at an unusual angle. It was apparent that a depth charge had severely damaged the submarine. The destroyers continued circling Argonaut and pumping shells into her. She slipped below the waves and was never heard from again. One hundred and five officers and men went down with her, the worst loss of life for a wartime submarine. Her name was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 26 February 1943.

Japanese reports made available at the end of the war recorded a depth charge attack followed by gunfire, at which time they "destroyed the top of the sub".

On the basis of the report given by the Army flier who witnessed the attack in which Argonaut perished, she was credited with damaging a Japanese destroyer on her last patrol. (Postwar, the JANAC accounting gave her none.) Since histories of none of the three escorting destroyers report damage on 10 January; the destroyer "hit" may have been a premature explosion.

Argonaut won two battle stars for her World War II service.

References

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