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USS Amberjack (SS-219)

USS Amberjack (SS-219) patch


The USS Amberjack (SS-219) was a Gato-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Amberjack is any of several large carangid fishes of the genus Seriola, especially S. dumerili. They have golden markings when young, and are found in tropical and subtropical Atlantic waters.

After a false start on January 24, 1943, when the Amberjack had to return to the Task Force 42 base at Brisbane for repairs of several minor leaks, on January 26th she got underway again, captained by Lieutenant Commander John A. Bole, Jr., for her third and final war patrol. She had orders to patrol in the Solomon Islands area. The Amberjack's last radio transmission was on February 14, 1943, when she reported having been forced down on the 13th by two IJN destroyers, and that she had recovered an enemy aviator from the water and taken him prisoner. After that message, she was never heard from again. 1

The Amberjack was listed as presumed lost on March 22, 1943. The formal announcement of her loss was made on June 12, 1943:

Navy Department Communiqué No. 408, June 12, 1943

1. The U. S. submarines Amberjack and Grampus have failed to return from patrol operations and must be presumed to be lost.

2. The next of kin of personnel in the Amberjack and Grampus have been so informed.

The Amberjack's name was struck from the Navy list on June 21, 1943.

Japanese records reviewed after the war indicated the Amberjack was probably depth charged and sunk on February 16, 1943, off Cape Saint George, New Britain, at the geographic position 05° 05′ S, 152° 37′ E, by the IJN torpedo boat Hiyodori and the submarine chaser CH-18. On that date the Hiyodori and the CH-18 were escorting the converted transport Noshiro Maru from Rabaul to Kolombangara, when four torpedo tracks were sighted off their starboard beams. All the ships successfully evaded the torpedoes. Shortly thereafter a floatplane of the 958th Naval Air Group located the attacking submarine and dropped several depth charges. The Hiyodori joined in and dropped nine depth charges. The CH-18 then dropped six depth charges. Large amounts of oil rose to the surface and the upper section of a submarine conning tower surfaced for a few moments, then disappeared before it could be targeted. The CH-18 then dropped three additional depth charges in the middle of the steadily expanding oil slick. Soon debris was sighted on the surface. The Hiyodori's crew recovered several items, including a life raft with the words "Philadelphia Navy Yard" printed on it. 2

A list of personnel lost with the Amberjack is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.

The Amberjack won three battle stars for her World War II service. Her JANAC score is 5,225 tons sunk in two enemy vessels. Her Alden-McDonald score is three vessels sunk for 9,233 tons and two vessels damaged for 24,123 tons. The SORG score for the Amberjack is four vessels sunk for 32,600 tons and two vessels damaged for 14,000 tons. Lieutenant Commander John A. Bole, Jr. was awarded the Navy Cross for his outstanding performance as the Amberjack's commanding officer. 3

Patrol Data & Tonnage Scores

Amberjack’s Aggressive First Patrol

Footnotes:

1. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 33.

2. Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 41, p. 55; Hackett, Bob, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall, "IJN Subchaser CH-18 Tabular Record of Movement," published online at Combined Fleet.

3. Alden, John D., and Craig R. McDonald, United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East During World War II, Fourth Edition, see USS Amberjack (SS-219), Attack Nos. 324, 327, 354, 360, 361, 596, and 597; Submarine war patrol reports on CD, data collected by the Submarine Operations Research Group (SORG) in the report "Results of U. S. Submarine War Patrols Listed Alphabetically by Name of Submarine"; Japanese Naval And Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes, Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, USS Amberjack (SS-219); and John A. Bole in Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.