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USS Barbel (SS-316)

USS Barbel (SS-316) patch


The USS Barbel (SS-316) was a Balao-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Barbel is any of several European cyprinid fishes of the genus Barbus, especially B. barbus, that resemble the carp, but have a longer body and pointed snout.

The radio call sign of the USS Barbel was NAN-ZEBRA-KING-PETER.

On January 5, 1945, the Barbel, captained by Lieutenant Commander Conde L. Raguet, left Fremantle on her fourth and final war patrol. She had orders to patrol in the South China Sea. On January 8th she topped off her fuel at Exmouth Gulf, then headed for her assigned patrol area via the Lombok Strait, the Java Sea, and the Karimata Strait. Late in January, she was ordered to form a wolf pack with USS Tuna (SS-203) and USS Gabilan (SS-252), and to patrol in the western approaches to the Balabac Strait and the southern entrance to the Palawan Passage. On February 3, 1945, the Barbel sent a message to the Tuna saying there were numerous Japanese aircraft in her area and that she had been attacked three times by aircraft with depth charges. The Barbel also said she would transmit additional information the following night. This was the last contact with the Barbel. The second message was never received. On February 6, 1945, the Tuna reported that she had been unable to contact the Barbel for forty-eight hours and that the Barbel did not keep a rendezvous scheduled for February 7th. The Barbel was listed as lost in action on February 16, 1945; the official announcement was made on March 21, 1945. 1

Navy Department Communiqué No. 586, March 21, 1945

The submarine USS Barbel is overdue from patrol and is presumed lost.

Next of kin of officers and crew have been notified.

Japanese aircraft were very much aware of the Barbel's presence. In her February 3rd message she stated she had been attacked by aircraft with depth charges three times. She was never heard from again after sending that message. Japanese records made available after the war indicated a submarine was bombed and sunk on February 4, 1945, in the South China Sea at the geographic position 07° 49.5′ N, 115° 30′ E.  This position is west of Balabac Island, about midway between Borneo and southwest Palawan. The Japanese claimed one hit near the bridge with one of the two 250-kilo bombs dropped. 2

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

The Barbel received three battle stars for her World War II service. The Barbel's JANAC score is 15,263 tons sunk in six Japanese vessels. Her Alden-McDonald score is eight vessels sunk for 15,486 tons. Her SORG score is nine vessels sunk for 48,400 tons and three vessels damaged for 22,500 tons. 3

Patrol Data & Tonnage Scores

Footnotes:

1. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 136-137.

2. Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 41, p. 57.

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 Barbel (SS-316), Attack Nos. 2393, 2410, 2414, 2415, 2433, 2700, 2701, 2702, 2819, 2820, 3082, and 3091; 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, Barbel (SS-316).