USS SALMON (SS-182), 11th WAR PATROL "HER LAST DIVE"
30 November 1944
"THE BEST SUBMARINE E.B. EVER BUILT.”
John Stallings had been a valued member of the Silver State Chapter for
several years. He gave me this article in 1994. It is about 40 pages of
double spaced lines. He wanted to have it printed in the Polaris, but it was
too long . John had been in ill health with cancer but he still attended all
our meetings, he was always generous whenever we needed a donation. John had
to leave early, every meeting, so he could go home to take care of his sick
wife. When she passed away in 1997, John sold his mobile home and went to
California to live with his daughter. He made his last patrol two months
later. This is his legacy.
We were less than 100 miles off the Island of Kyushu, the largest
southern Island of Japan. "In the middle of the night" (in the AM) I was
awakened from a sound sleep. Star time? It was cloudy, poor sights, but
enough to get an accurate position. At least it was close to the DRT.?! Lt.
Laning was the executive officer and navigator; he was good. I was assigned
assistant to the navigator, among other duties. We had contact with a large
Japanese target and were trying to get into position for a surface attack.
The tracking party was already at work.
After stars, I was also on extra lookout. I think that I was the first
to spot the target, I said “GOD!! it's a flattop”. Capt. Nauman asked,
“Where is it?” I told him that if I took my eyes off it, I might lose it.
He and others looked over my head. Then I heard, "Its a large tanker!" It
sure looked like a flattop to me. As it got lighter I could see that it was a
tanker. A minute or so later we could make out the escorts. Four of them.
Not being able to get into position for a surface or submerged attack;
we submerged and when they were well ahead, we surfaced and followed them
using a "High periscope watch", and sending out her position, course, and
speed, hourly. We fixed our position, obtained with sun lines hourly, checked
and corrected DRT as necessary, otherwise it was routine in the navigation
Around 1530 -1600 explosions were heard in the distance, and the target
stopped, D.I.W. (Dead In the Water). Capt. Nauman started maneuvering to get
into position to attack. Needless to say dinner was early that night.
Around 1700, we went to battle stations and started to get into position
to attack and submerged and continued our approach.
Any other time!! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT. Full Moon. almost a flat calm
sea, visibility outstanding with just a few rain squalls.
We maneuvered into position. Fired four torpedoes, heard two explosions
indicating two hits. Upon firing Capt. Nauman said, "The damn things
broached" and other words, #*!?!&@. Here come the escorts. "Take her down to
300 feet. RIG FOR DEPTH CHARGES"... They were coming directly for us like a
"Homing Pigeon" !! I remember lowering the periscope. There was a loud noise
coming from the (periscope) motor (a squealing sound) as it was housed, and
that, noise, along with the shaft bearings was like a lighthouse or a homing
beacon for the escorts. The shaft was the real beacon. Our shaft was
exceptionally noisy, with the new bearings now it seemed extra loud, or just
Then ALL HELL BROKE LOSE; lights went out, we were knocked to our
knees, and miscellaneous gear went in all directions. There were several
distinct small explosions (about four I think I heard), not the sound of
detonators, but different but just a second before repeating ALL HELL BROKE
LOSE, all lights went out. Capt. Nauman Exclaimed "What the Hell Was THAT??"
After a few seconds the emergency lights came on. The water was coming in!
Not real bad; but as we went deeper, we abandoned the conning tower. The
depth charges kept coming. Some close, some at a distance (up to about 500
yards) but nothing like the first five or six. Some still shook us up badly,
(repeat ) nothing like the first.
We had lost all power except emergency lights and main motors. We still
had hand steering, and on hand power to the bow planes in the control room
(normal for silent running ). The stern planes were jammed on dive. I
remember the quartermaster on the wheel saying that he couldn't use the gyro
as it was spinning like a top, so he was using the magnetic compass. The
auxiliary power came on and some equipment was restored to normal operation.
All during depth charge attacks!! What an auxiliary gang.!
With nothing to do, until I relieved the quartermaster, on the wheel, I
went to the mess hall to keep out of the way. What a mess. Andy the Chief
Commissary Steward was in the galley catching water coming in from the main
induction hand safety valve, (in a bucket) and pouring it in the sink. I
decided to help him. What we would have done when the sanitary tank was full
we will never know.
Someone passed the word to go forward to shift weight. I went to the
fwd. torpedo room. I didn't think that my 128 Ibs. would make much difference
in trim, but I went.
The forward room, and fwd. battery had not suffered any appreciable
damage in comparison to the rest of the boat. Some one said "What a way to
die." My reply, "Remember how they do it in the movies. Don't worry." But
I honestly believed this. I guess in this situation you have to believe this
or all is lost. It always happens to some one else, not you. It seems that I
was there (smelling arm pits and ---) as the Fwd. room was crowded. It seemed
I was only there a minute or two, had to have been longer. The word was
passed-- Take stations For "Battle Surface" and I returned to the control
room. While we were waiting to get up to 300 ft. Doc. Borglund was passing
out drinks with a Bible in one hand and a bottle in the other "This is the
The Batho-thermo-graph located in the control room went off the scale at
520 ft. The Salmon was only designed for 250 ft. We had a 15-20 degree up
When we hit the surface the conning tower hatch jammed. It would only
partially open. What a feeling!!! I went to get something heavy to beat it
open. Just as I returned, Lt. Laning the executive officer, I think, had used
a sextant to do the job. We went topside. No escorts were close or we would
have had it. They were just under the horizon and didn't see us at first. My
estimate was about 4000-5000 yards. Why they didn't see us we will never
know. With the brightest night, calm sea, and full moon we could see for
miles. The escorts had everything going for them.
We tried to use our radio but the antenna was down, EN l/c Block, tied
it up with a piece of line so we could transmit. This respite gave us time to
man all guns, put machinery in operation, and correct a 15-20 degree list.
Some machinery never could be repaired.
It seemed like hours, but it was only minutes that we had been on the
surface when we were sighted by an escort and he opened fire. His shells were
close enough to throw water on the bridge, gun crew, and ammunition passers.
A stream of 20-40mm would go ripping down the side. Then he would withdraw
whenever we would return the fire with our 4" deck gun. We were firing with
open sights and sighting over the barrel (right a little / left a little,
FIRE.) During one of his halfhearted attacks someone wanted to come on the
bridge, and a stream of tracers came close and he said "I CAN GET JUST AS
SCARED DOWN BELOW"!! So down he went.
During another one of the halfhearted attacks, one of the small cal.
about 20 mm?? round took out the shinbone of my loader ADAMS, and exploded on
the periscope sheers, behind where I stood. He was taken to the conning tower
and "Doc." Borglund took over. Doc was also one of the best Pharmacist Mates
in the submarine force and one of the best Radar operators in the fleet. He
could not draw Radar Operators pay as he was classified as a "NONCOMBATANT.
On a Submarine no less???
Regardless of where they hit each tracer is coming directly at you, no
one else!! What a feeling!! It defies description,
About 2330-2400 we were permitted one at a time to go below and get
jackets as we had not had any contact with the escort for a short while. I
couldn't find mine and just picked one up. Going up the conning tower hatch
the captain ordered "Left Full Rudder". Larson on the wheel didn't hear the
word as it was hard to hear with all the wind coming down the hatch going to
the main engines. I relayed it. THANK GOD I DID. Our main engine air
induction was smashed flat. We had to use the conning tower hatch to supply
air to our engines.
I was just about getting straightened up from under the overhang when
the Captain hollered "O P E N F I R E'!!! I had the 30 Cal. on the fwd.
left wing of the bridge. As I got to my gun I saw "A BATTLESHIP" ???!!!
TRYING TO RAM US, crossing from port to stbd. We were turning towards him.
As he was crossing the bow I emptied my magazine into his bridge. I don't
know if I hit anyone, but I’ll bet I made them duck!!! As he went down the
stbd. side everything we had opened up. The 4" was on full automatic. At
least it resembled one. Scoring 4-5 hits. so close couldn't miss. I shifted
my gun from the fwd, port side to the stbd side. I got a new magazine and got
off a few rounds, but by then he was almost out of range for my 30 cal.
That vessel that tried to RAM us passed within 150-200 feet. My
estimate... It was called an escort-- That one was a Battleship!! No one can
tell me different. When last seen it was smoking and listing. We entered a
rain squall and GOT AWAY. No other contacts. After several hours we stood
easy at battle stations and reverted to an on and off watch. Some went to
sleep at their gun stations.
Those extra lookouts not required went below to repair machinery. Some
of it never could be repaired. After stars I had planned to sleep in the
conning tower but there was no room. Others had the same idea. I did go to
sleep on the trim manifold in the control room. The valve stems hurt and woke
me up, didn't notice them when I went to sleep. I did get about 1-1/2 hours
and went back to work in the navigation department. I was not a watch
stander. My work was as required, with no schedule hours.
The pitometer was not working so we estimated the speed by throwing an
object over at the bow to time how long it took to reach the conning tower.
Time X feet = speed about 15 -16 knots is the best we could come up with.
Before sunset we made a rendezvous with the Trigger, and Sterlet . We put
over a rubber boat and were getting ammunition from them. WE only had about
20 rounds of 4" left, and very little 20 mm. and 50 cal. This had been going
on for about an hour when THREE (3) or more torpedoes were fired at the group
We all took off. After about an hour we stopped and recovered our boat and
personnel. The next day we received air coverage. We heard through the radio
operator that they had shot down a "Betty" bomber coming up on us about 50
The rest of our trip was uneventful until we reached Saipan and moored
alongside the tender Fulton. We transferred our seriously wounded crew
member, and we received and made some emergency repairs. That night there was
an air raid!!! I remember the MAA, on the tender shouting for us to lay down
on deck, or go below decks so we wouldn't be hit by fragments if a bomb
After what we had been through!!?? Our reply was “UP YOURS "! This
joker was going to put someone on report but he just didn't know who to get,
as there were just too many on deck. I doubt if it would have stuck , we had
been through too much.
Then we departed enroute to Pearl (under escort). We had a brief stop in
Eniwetok. One of our new crew members, (first patrol) went to the tender
about 2:00 AM and woke up the Chaplain. He wasn't going to ride the Salmon
back as she was sinking. She wasn't and we did not sink. He didn't have to
and did not ride her back.
During our short stay I did SAVE Lt. Ray Gloyer's LIFE. No thanks tho.
Some of the crew were swimming over the side. Ray couldn't swim, and was
pushed over the side. He grabbed me!! Somehow we got back to the side, about
10 feet. He almost drowned me. I was a fair swimmer, not the best; REWARD!!!
Not even a bottle of beer. Oh Well," It all counts on 20."
Upon arrival at Pearl, we created quite a stir with Comsubpac, and the
repair officials and personnel. They had never seen a submarine with such
extensive damage still, under her own power and afloat, While we were in
Pearl a big wheel, a Captain came down and made a speech to the entire crew.
"The U.S.S, SALMON SS 182 has done something no other submarine in
history has ever done.. Forced to surface because of massive damage, fight
off (4) four escorts for (4) hours, within 100 miles of Enemy Air Bases, and
There has been no decision as to the Salmons' fate as her damage was
massive, ANY and ALL crew members who wanted to stay on board could remain as
long as there was a Salmon."
Needless to say it did not happen. We all were transferred to the
Stickelback SS-415, Launched at Mare Island, 1 January 1945.
For this the Salmon received the Presidential Unit Citation.
SHE NEVER DOVE AGAIN
My story as best remembered by John D. Stallings At that time QM
1 Light Cruiser, 6 Supply Ships, 2 Tankers, 2 Patrol Frigates
OFFICIALLY CREDITS SUNK:
1 Light Cruiser, 1 Destroyer, 3 Supply Ships, 2 Tankers
31,800 tons and total of 56,000 tons!
A letter from Capt. Laning, 10 August 1989, a book by Cdr. John Alden
"U.S. Submarine Attacks During World II" , he (Capt. Laning) dug out the
following tonnage. 11 patrols and 18 successful attacks, sank 8 ships of
31,500 tons and damaged 10 ships of 60,400 tons, for a total of 91,900 tons
The first two years of the war we had bum torpedoes!!
The day after our fight, three of the four escorts were sighted. One of
those was damaged. Don't think we received any credit for sinking or
damaging? ComSubPac required actual sightings before credit could be given
for damage or sinking. Each must be confirmed.
This is as best I could remember of my personal experience, thoughts and
feelings on 30 November 1944.
There are or were 82 other personal experiences, stories, feelings, and
emotions involved. Each just as important to each of the Salmon's crew as
they lived it also.