USS Grunion (SS-216)

USS Grunion (SS-216)

USS|Grunion|SS-216 was a "Gato"-class submarine that was sunk at Kiska, Alaska, during World War II. She was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the grunion, a small fish of the "silversides" family, indigenous to the western American coast.

Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 22 December 1941, (sponsored by Mrs. Stanford C. Hooper, wife of Rear Admiral Hooper), and commissioned on 11 April 1942 with Lieutenant Commander Mannert L. Abele in command.

After shakedown out of New London, "Grunion" sailed for the Pacific on 24 May. A week later, as she transited the Caribbean Sea for Panama, she rescued 16 survivors of USAT "Jack", which had been torpedoed by a German U-boat, and she conducted a fruitless search for 13 other survivors presumed in the vicinity. Arriving at Coco Solo on 3 June, "Grunion" deposited her shipload of survivors and continued to Pearl Harbor, arriving 20 June.

Departing Hawaii on 30 June after ten days of intensive training, "Grunion" touched Midway Island before heading toward the Aleutian Islands for her first war patrol. Her first report, made as she patrolled north of Kiska Island, stated she had been attacked by a Japanese destroyer and had fired at him with inconclusive results. She operated off Kiska throughout July and sank two enemy patrol boats while in search for enemy shipping. On 30 July the submarine reported intensive antisubmarine activity, and she was ordered back to Dutch Harbor.

"Grunion" was never heard from nor seen again. Air searches off Kiska were fruitless; and on 5 October "Grunion" was reported overdue from patrol and assumed lost with all hands. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 2 November 1942. Captured Japanese records show no antisubmarine attacks in the Kiska area, and the fate of "Grunion" remained a mystery for 65 years until discovery in the Bering Sea in August 2007 of a wreck believed to be the ship. In October, 2008, the U.S. Navy verified that the wreck is the "Grunion". The reason for her sinking is still a mystery.

"Grunion" received one battle star for World War II service.

The Web site [] (maintained by the Public Affairs Office of Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC)) states that Yutaka Iwasaki, "a gentelman [sic] in Japan," had a Web site with information about Japanese ships sunk during World War II. The numerous misspellings, bad syntax, and incorrect grammar make COMSUBPAC Public Affairs Office's description of the site difficult to understand (and contrast sharply with the preceding "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships" entry). However, it is possible that on the morning of 31 July 1942 a troop transport was attacked by "Grunion". Only one of the four torpedoes hit and detonated, and "Grunion" surfaced to finish her target by gunfire. However, "Kano Maru" returned fire with her own three-inch deck gun and .50-caliber machine guns. Allegedly, a single shell hit on "Grunion"'s conning tower sank her.

The search for the "Grunion"

Lt. Cmdr Abele left behind three sons, Bruce, John, and Brad, when the "Grunion" disappeared in 1942. For years, they engaged in a search for the final resting place of the ship. The search had been mostly funded by John Abele, founder of Boston Scientific, who began funding it personally after discussion with Robert Ballard (who declined to take part). The search was conducted mostly around the Aleutian Islands, an extremely volatile part of the sea.

In 2002, with Iwasaki's translation in hand, the search took on a new vigor, and with the enthusiastic cooperation of Japanese officials and veterans, the Abele brothers also began to search for several lost Japanese subchasers, SC-25 and SC-27, and the destroyer "Arare", all of which sank in the same area.

In August 2006, an expedition led by Williamson & Associates onboard the ship "Aquila", relayed sonar images to Bruce Abele. The images depicted a "smooth, oblong object with features that could be a conning tower and periscope mast."cite web|url=|title=After six decades, a submarine's fate may surface|last=Ranalli|first=Ralph|date=20006-08-16|publisher=Boston Globe|accessdate=2008-10-04] Subsequent imaging passes have revealed more detail about the object that could be the long-lost USS "Grunion".

On 22 August 2007 USS "Grunion" was found by the search team in the Bering Sea off the coast of the Aleutians in about convert|1000|m|ft of water.cite web|url=|title=Search for the USS Grunion|date=2007|publisher=USS|accessdate=2008-10-04] cite news
publisher=The Washington Post|author=Jeannette J. Lee|title=Shadowy Object May Be Lost Submarine
date=October 5, 2006 |url=
] The findings have been confirmed by the U.S. Navy as of Oct. 3, 2008.cite news|publisher=Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune |author=Associated press |title=Navy confirms lost WWII sub USS Grunion has been found in water off Aleutians Islands |url=|date=October 3, 2008] cite web|url=,2933,432102,00.html|title=U.S. Navy Confirms Lost WWII Sub Found Off Aleutians|date=2008-10-03|work=via AP|publisher=Fox News|accessdate=2008-10-03] [Drake, John C., " [ Relatives Honor Submarine Crew] ", "Boston Globe", October 6, 2008.]


External links

* [ USS "Grunion"] - (FOUND)
* [ USS "Grunion"]
* [ USS "Grunion"]
* [ USS "Grunion"]
* [ USS "Grunion"]
* [ On Eternal Patrol: USS "Grunion"]
* [ Search for the Grunion -] - A team organized by LCDR Abele's three sons search the ocean floor for the lost submarine near Kiska, Alaska.
* [ The USS Grunion May have been Found] a story at
* [, 10/3/2006."Object Off Alaska Coast May Be WWII Sub"] viewed 10/3/2006.
* [ After 64 years, relatives may have answers in sub sinking] viewed 10/05/2006
* [ Detroit sailor only one of WWII crew whose relatives can't be located] Detroit News from August 24, 2007
* [,2933,294356,00.html Wreckage of WWII submarine found off Aleutian Islands] dated August 24, 2007

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