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USS Corvina (SS-226)

USS Corvina (SS-226) patch


The USS Corvina (SS-226) was a Gato-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Corvina is any of various important food fishes related to the weakfish and the croaker of the Atlantic coast.

On November 4, 1943, the Corvina, captained by Commander Roderick S. Rooney, left Pearl Harbor for her first and final war patrol. She and nine other submarines had been ordered to take stations to the north and northwest of Tarawa during Operation Galvanic, the American invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Their assignment was to interdict anticipated Japanese reinforcements or an attack against the invasion force by IJN warships. The Corvina, the USS Thresher (SS-200), and the USS Apogon (SS-308), together with two Brisbane-based boats, the USS Blackfish (SS-221) and the USS Drum (228), were assigned to the ocean area south of the Japanese stronghold at Truk Atoll. On November 6, 1943, the Corvina topped off her fuel tanks at Johnston Atoll and then headed for her assigned patrol area. She was never heard from again after departing Johnston Atoll. 1

Lieutenant Commander William Kinsella, the USS Blackfish's executive officer, recalled the key events as follows:

"We were south of Truk with Drum and Corvina when we got a Ultra stating that a Japanese submarine was coming through the area. We were supposed to rendezvous with Drum and Corvina. Just after sunset we got into position where this Japanese submarine was supposed to pop up and sure enough, just at sunset, while we were submerged, it surfaced just to the south of us, not more than 5,000 yards away. It was starting to get dark, and we really could not see through the periscope well enough to ascertain that it was a Japanese submarine. Remembering that Drum and Corvina were in the vicinity we elected not to shoot....As it turned out, we later established contact with Drum and determined it was not him. It was Japanese. We never did see Corvina again....The Jap sub got her." 2

Japanese records examined after the war indicated that the IJN submarine I-176 fired three torpedoes at a surfaced American submarine south of Truk Atoll on November 16, 1943. The torpedoes hit the submarine "causing a great explosion sound." The Corvina thus became the only American submarine known to be sunk by a Japanese submarine during the war. 3

16 November 1943:
Cdr Roderick S. Rooney's USS CORVINA (SS-226), on her first war patrol, DRUM (SS-228) and BLACKFISH (SS-221) receive an ULTRA message about the arrival of I-176 and are sent to intercept her.

300 miles S of Truk. At 2312 (K), when heading N at 16 knots, the lookouts on partially flooded I-176 sight a dark object in northeasterly direction, 8,800 yards away, illuminated by the bright moonlight. LtCdr Yamaguchi orders to prepare for diving and turns toward the target. Four minutes later it is identified as a "PERCH-class" submarine, evidently in the process of recharging her batteries.

17 November 1943:
I-176 crash-dives, goes to silent running and by 0057 reaches the position on CORVINA's starboard quarter, distance 2,700 yards. LtCdr Yamaguchi considers the firing angle excessive and orders to battle-surface in 15 minutes.

At 0112, CORVINA suddenly turns towards the I-176. Yamaguchi orders to belay the order to surface and makes a turn himself, keeping the target on his port beam. At 0120 Yamaguchi fires three torpedoes from bow tubes. Twenty-five seconds later two heavy explosions are heard and the boat is shaken considerably. CORVINA blows up and sinks with all 82 hands at 05-50N, 151-10E.

At 0130, after making a periscope search, I-176 surfaces and heads for the site of attack. An oil slick and various debris are sighted. 4

Thus the final resting place for the Corvina and her crew is at the geographic position 05° 50' N, 151° 10' E.

The Corvina's loss was announced on March 14, 1944:

Navy Department Communiqué 509, March 14, 1944

1. The U. S. submarine Corvina is overdue from patrol and must be presumed to be lost

2. The next of kin of personnel in the Corvina have been so informed.

The Corvina does not have a JANAC or Alden-McDonald score. Her SORG score is one vessel sunk for 1,600 tons. The Alden-McDonald analysis states this SORG score is based on a misreading of an Ultra message.

A list of the men lost with Corvina is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.

Footnotes:

1. Blair, Clay Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 523; Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 42, p. 120.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Hackett, Bob and Sander Kingsepp, "IJN Submarine I-176: Tabular Record of Movement," published online at Combined Fleet.