The United States Navy Gato class submarine design was rushed into production in 1940 and was the forerunner of all US World War II submarine designs. The class was 77 strong and sunk more than 1,700,000 tons of Japanese shipping. New construction of the class began in 1941 as the war in Europe escalated. More than half the class was built at Electric Boat at Groton, Connecticut; 3 new slipways were added to the north yard to accommodate their production.
The Gato class served mainly in the Pacific ocean but they did operate from the Caribbean and the Atlantic for short periods of time. In the latter case, in support of Operation Torch, the allied landings in North Africa in 1942. Gato class submarines Flasher, Rasher, and Barb obtained the first three places in the league table of confirmed sinkings by US submarines in World War II. The Gato class was responsible for sinking three Japanese submarines - I-29, I-168 and 1-351.
The Gato class was initially plagued by the problems with the Mark 14 torpedo in the early war years. These tended to run too deep, explode prematurely, run erratically or circularly, or fail to detonate. These problems were identified and were largely solved by late 1943, allowing the Gato class to accumulate prolific numbers of tonnage sunk.
Several Gato class submarines were installed with new equipment. Herring used bathythermograph in covert operations, Haddock was fitted with the type SJ surface surveillance radar and Muskellunge was the first US submarine to be armed with electrically powered torpedoes. Barb became the first submarine to fire rockets while Grouper was fitted with a primitive combat information centre.
At the end of World War II, the Gato class were moved into the training roles and some of the class were converted into radar picket boats. Some of the class did see action with the US 7th fleet off Vietnam in 1966. Tunny was converted to carry the Regulus missile and served from 1953 to 1965 in this role. Redfin was used in trials of inertial guidance systems for the Polaris missile submarines after 1959.
The last active boat was Rock which was decommissioned in September 1969 and sunk as a target.
|USS Gato (SS-212), December 1941.|| |
, at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama.
USS Wahoo (SS-238), 1943.
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