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USS Harder’s

Maiden Voyage

On April 26, 1943, the USS Harder (SS-257) began her maiden voyage from New London, Connecticut, to Pearl Harbor with the only captain she would ever know at the helm, Commander Sam Dealey. What should have been a routine passage to the Panama Canal and thence to the Pacific Ocean, would prove to be fraught with danger. When not yet a full day out of port, the Harder found herself beneath the midst of a very large friendly convoy en route to Great Britain. The American destroyers escorting the convoy deemed Harder’s periscope a present danger and one turned and headed for her with his sonar pinging steadily and his depth charges at the ready. The Harder ran silent and deep for over two hours. An attack from the destroyer never came, possibly because he could not get a good contact and did not want to waste his depth charges. Five days later while running surfaced to Panama through the waters of the Caribbean within a designated “safety lane” a lookout spotted an incoming PBY bomber about 5,000 yards distant. The Harder flashed that day’s recognition signal from her Aldis lamps. The PBY bomber responded with machine gun fire along Harder’s starboard side. Dealey pulled the plug, ordering a crash dive and hard turn to port. As the boat submerged, the PBY dropped a bomb that gave the boat a good shaking. It dropped another that was not as close. No harm was done. The Harder and her crew were destined to achieve great things and become legends of the U. S. submarine force. Everything about this great submarine was special. Even her maiden voyage was unique.

USS Harder

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