The USS Lionfish was built in 1942. It was launched in November of 1943 and commissioned one year later. Edward D. Spruance was the submarine’s first Lieutenant Commander. He was a well-bred leader who was the son of Raymond Spruance – a WWII Admiral.
After its shakedown cruise, it was deployed to patrol Japanese waters. The Lionfish’s first encounter with the enemy was narrowly missing two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine. That was a close call.
After just escaping from being destroyed on its first mission, the USS Lionfish sunk a Japanese Schooner with its deck cannon. The Lionfish took on survivors transferred from the USS Ray who rescued the crew of a downed B-29 bomber. They unloaded the survivors in Saipan and then head to the Midway Islands.
In June of 1945, the Lionfish went on her second war patrol. On July 10th they fired torpedoes at a surfaced Japanese submarine. The crew said they heard explosions and saw smoke. The Lionfish also fired torpedoes at two more Japanese targets, but no results were reported.
Still on patrol, the sub was assigned to pick up downed pilots off the cost of Japan. On August 14th, 1945, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito surrender to the United States which ended the war.
After NATO, the submarine was again decommissioned and moved to the Boston Navel yard in 1953. In 1960, the Lionfish was used for training but never recommissioned.
In 1970, the USS Lionfish was removed from the Navy’s registration. One reason for the submarine’s removal is because it never participated in the “Greater Underwater Propulsion Program”, or also known as GUPPY. The Navy would select certain WWII submarines and reconfigured them to have better submerging speed, maneuverability, and endurance when in battle.
The submarine still had most of its original equipment, was well maintained and considering its age, miraculously stayed in fairly good shape. For these reasons, the USS Lionfish was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. It is now on permanent display at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts. The following photos profoundly show this magnificent ship with all its original equipment.
When you enter any submarine and are over 5 1/2 feet tall, you better watch your head. These vessels were not meant for tall people and especially one’s who walked directly upright.
Depending on the design and class, there are different departments scattered throughout the submarine. The Lionfish was a Balao Class.
The Helm, Command and Ballast Control Stations are usually close to one another.
These are just a few of the submarine’s operating departments. The radio and sonar rooms, along with other onboard control rooms are vital for operations as well. There is only one narrow hallway that runs the length of the submarine. Get use to rubbing shoulders with your crew members.
The next few photos show that there isn’t much room to stretch out. Doing laps was out of the question.
The kitchen is tight but well equipped. The dining area small as well. A typical WWII submarine had 70 crew members which included 2 cooks, 2 firemen and 10 officers.
America feels blessed to have men and women who serve in one of the most powerful Navies in the world. It also takes a special individual who will stay underwater in limited space for an undisclosed amount of time.
We hope you enjoyed our exciting adventure. We have attached a video that provides an closer look inside the USS Lionfish. Enjoy the tour and stay tuned for the third and final episode!
Photography: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Video: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Article Creator & Formatting: Anthony Scopel
Video Production: Anthony Scopel & Matt Kemper
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Web Support: Matt Kemper
Publishing Provide By: You, Me and The Dock