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USS Grunion (SS-216) Conventionally-Powered Submarine (1942)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/3/2008

The final resting place of the USS Grunion was a mystery until recent events unfolded showing the exact location of the submarine.

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The USS Grunion (SS 216) is best known for her mysterious dissappearance. Until recently, little was known of the last whereabouts of the vessel and her 70 crew members. It was known that she had been attacked after experiencing extensive anti-submarine activity off Kiska near the Aleutian Islands but besides her last radio transmission, she was never heard from again - reported lost on August 16, 1942.

The USS Grunion was a Gato-class submarine - one of 77 such submarines produced by the United States of America during World War 2. She sailed away from New London after her shakedown voyage and participated in the rescue of some 16 American sailors in the Caribbean Sea - victims of a German U-boat attack. She would later traverse through Panama and arrive at Pearl Harbor on June 20th before being sent to the Aleutian Islands for combat patrols of enemy shipping.

Grunion operated in these seas throughout the month of July until on July 30th, a transmission was received from her about the high level of anti-submarine activity that was developing. To avoid her falling fate to enemy action, the vessel was ordered back to the relative safety of Dutch Harbor. It is at this time that the Grunion was never heard from again. Rescue searches ensued to no avail.

Fast-forward to August of 2007 and a wreckage of a ship was located in the Bering Sea. The Navy officially acknowledged that the vessel was in fact the USS Grunion in October of 2008 though the cause of her sinking remained a mystery. It is believed that - whilst attacking a Japanese troop transport and surfacing to deliver a final blow with her deck gun - the USS Grunion fell victim to the deck guns of the troop transport, which is believed to have delivered a direct hit to the Grunion's conning tower.

The Grunion was armed with 10 x 533mm torpedo tubes with six facing forward and four facing rear. The vessel was supplied with 24 total torpedoes. A 3" deck gun was provided for anti-ship self-defense and close-range work while 4 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns provided anti-aircraft defense. Power was derived from 4 x General Motors V16 diesel engines coupled to electrical generators. 2 x 126-cell Sargo-type batteries were featured as were 4 x General Electric-brand electric motors. This powerplant system operated the twin propeller shafts.

The USS Grunion was laid down by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut in 1941 and launched the same year. She was officially commissioned in 1942 and became part of the 77-strong Gato-class fleet of American submarine. As an aside, the name "Grunion" is actually a species of small fish related to the silversides family and primarily found on the western coast of the United States. The USS Grunion remains the only sea-going vessel to me named as such. For her service in World War 2, the vessel and her crew received a battle star.

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Specifications for the
USS Grunion (SS-216)
Conventionally-Powered Submarine


Country of Origin: United States
Initial Year of Service: 1942
Operators: United States of America


Crew: 70


Length: 311.9 ft (95.07 m)
Beam: 27.3 ft (8.32 m)
Draught: 17 ft (5.18 m)
Displacement: 1,525 tons


Machinery: 4 x General Motors Model 16-248 V16 diesel engines with electrical generators; 2 x 126-cell Sargo-type batteries; 4 x General Electric electric motors; 2 x propellers.

Surface Speed: 21 kts (24 mph)
Submerged Speed: 9 kts (10 mph)
Range: 12,658 miles (20,371 km)


Armament:
10 x 533mm (21") torpedo tubes (6 forward-facing, 4 rear-facing) with 24 torpedoes.
1 x 76mm (3") deck gun
4 x 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine guns


Ship Class: Gato-class
Number-in-Class: 77
Ships-in-Class: USS Gato (SS 212); USS Greenling (SS 213); USS Grouper (SS 214); USS Growler (SS 215); USS Grunion (SS 216); USS Guardfish (SS 217); USS Albacore (SS 218); USS Amberjack (SS 219); USS Barb (SS 220); USS Blackfish (SS 221); USS Bluefish (SS 222); USS Bonefish (SS 223); USS Cod (SS 224); USS Cero (SS 225); USS Corvina (SS 226); USS Darter (SS 227); USS Drum (SS 228); USS Flying Fish (SS 229); USS Finback (SS 230); USS Haddock (SS 231); USS Halibut (SS 232); USS Herring (SS 233); USS Kingfish (SS 234); USS Shad (SS 235); USS Silversides (SS 236); USS Trigger (SS 237); USS Wahoo (SS 238); USS Whale (SS 239); USS Angler (SS 240); USS Bashaw (SS 241); USS Bluegill (SS 242); USS Bream (SS 243); USS Cavalla (SS 244); USS Cobia (SS 245); USS Croaker (SS 246); USS Dace (SS 247); USS Dorado (SS 248); USS Flasher (SS 249); USS Flier (SS 250); USS Flounder (SS 251); USS Gabilan (SS 252); USS Gunnel (SS 253); USS Gurnard (SS 254); USS Haddo (SS 255); USS Hake (SS 256); USS Harder (SS 257); USS Hoe (SS 258); USS Jack (SS 259); USS Lapon (SS 260); USS Mingo (SS 261); USS Muskallunge (SS 262); USS Paddle (SS 263); USS Pargo (SS 264); USS Peto (SS 265); USS Pogy (SS 266); USS Pompon (SS 267); USS Puffer (SS 268); USS Rasher (SS 269); USS Raton (SS 270); USS Ray (SS 271); USS Redfin (SS 272); USS Robalo (SS 273); USS Rock (SS 274); USS Runner (SS 275); USS Sawfish (SS 276); USS Scamp (SS 277); USS Scorpion (SS 278); USS Snook (SS 279); USS Steelhead (SS 280); USS Sunfish (SS 281); USS Tunny (SS 282); USS Tinosa (SS 283); USS Tullibee (SS 284); USS Golet (SS 361); USS Guavina (SS 362); USS Guitarro (SS 363); USS Hammerhead (SS 364)