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USS Herring (SS-233)

USS Herring (SS-233) patch

The USS Herring (SS-233) was a Gato-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Herring is an oily fish of the genus Clupea, found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, and the Baltic Sea.

The radio call sign of the USS Herring was NAN-ABLE-XRAY-VICTOR.

The Herring's career is unique because she served in two theaters during World War II. Her first four war patrols were in the Atlantic. The Herring's journey from Rosneath, Scotland to New London, Connecticut was designated her fifth war patrol, however no report was made by the Herring for this transit. On July 26, 1943, the Herring arrived at New London from the United Kingdom, pursuant to her transfer from ComSubLant to ComSubPac. She left New London for the Panama Canal on August 9, 1943. She completed her transit of the Panama Canal on August 21, 1943, and at that point became part of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force. The Herring then sailed to San Francisco for an overhaul at the Hunter's Point naval drydocks, arriving there on September 1, 1943. She departed San Francisco on October 29, 1943, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on November 2, 1943. The Herring conducted training exercises there on November 3-14, 1943, consisting of day and night practice approaches, convoy exercises, gunnery practice, and torpedo firing exercises. The Herring got underway from Pearl Harbor for her sixth war patrol on November 15, 1943. 1

On May 16, 1944, the Herring, captained by Lieutenant Commander David Zabriskie, Jr., departed Pearl Harbor on her eighth and final war patrol. On May 21, 1944, she topped off her fuel at Midway Island, and then headed for her assigned patrol area in the Kurile Islands. On May 31, 1944, she kept a rendezvous with the USS Barb (SS-220) to coordinate patrol strategy. This would prove to be the last contact anyone would have with the Herring. A few hours after parting ways, the Barb detected and began approaching an enemy convoy. Then she heard a distant depth-charge barrage and assumed the Herring had attacked the same convoy and was being counterattacked. Later, the Barb fished an enemy sailor out of the water who said the Herring had sunk an escort vessel (the frigate Ishigaki) from the convoy the Barb was tracking. The Barb eventually tracked, torpedoed, and sank two of the fleeing vessels - the Koto Maru, a small freighter, and the Madras Maru, a passenger-cargoman. The Herring had destroyed the third merchant, the freighter Hokuyo Maru2

The Herring failed to acknowledge receipt of orders dispatched to the Barb and her by ComSubPac on June 4, 1944, directing them to stay clear of a restricted area during the Marianas Campaign. ComSubPac did not suspect the Herring had been lost until late in June. It was felt that the Herring could be following the standard emergency operating procedure due to an inability to transmit by radio; this procedure called for submarines with broken radios to return to Midway Island. Therefore, it was expected she would arrive at Midway by July 3 or 4, 1944. When she had not been heard from by July 13, 1944, the Herring was listed as presumed lost. The details of her loss did not become known until after Japan's surrender. 3

The public announcement of her loss was made on October 23, 1944:

Navy Department Communiqué No. 549, October 23, 1944

1. The submarines USS Herring and USS Golet are overdue from patrol and presumed lost.

2. Next of kin of casualties have been notified.

Japanese reports obtained after the war revealed that the Herring was sunk on June 1, 1944, two kilometers south of Point Tagan on Matsuwa To Island in the Kurlies, at the approximate geographic position 48° 01′ N, 153° 17' E, after sinking two merchant ships at anchor close to shore at Matsuwa To with torpedoes at 0742 hours. The report stated the surfaced submarine appeared to have been damaged from running aground off Cape Tagan. In a counterattack made at 0756 hours, shore batteries scored two direct hits on the Herring's conning tower, and the gallant submarine went down with all hands. The Japanese report stated the sinking brought bubbles and foam to the surface; later a fifteen-mile long heavy oil slick covered the surface. The Herring was the only U.S. submarine to be sunk by a shore battery during the war. 4

The Herring's last patrol was her most productive one; she sank four vessels, including the frigate Ishigaki, which had sunk the submarine USS S-44 (SS-155) on October 7, 1943. The Herring received five battle stars for her service in World War II. She was credited by JANAC with sinking 19,959 tons of Japanese shipping in six vessels during her Pacific Theater career. Her Alden-McDonald score is 25,042 tons sunk in seven vessels, including the 5,083-ton Vichy French cargo vessel Ville du Havre, which the Herring sank in the Atlantic off Casablanca, at 33° 34′ N, 07° 52' W. The Alden-McDonald score does not include the German submarine U-163, which is usually credited to the Herring; their analysis shows that the U-Boat was operating in a different area and was sunk instead by the Royal Canadian Navy corvette HMCS Prescott on March 13, 1943. The Herring's SORG score is 45,700 tons sunk in nine vessels and two vessels damaged worth 8,400 tons. The SORG score includes 7,000 tons for the Ville du Havre and 500 tons for the U-1635

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

Patrol Data & Tonnage Scores

USS Herring (SS-233) Sixth Patrol

US submarine sunk by Japan in WWII found by Russian expedition


1. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 92; Clear, John, EMC (SS), U. S. Navy (ret.), Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Herring (SS-233).

2. Roscoe, Theodore, United States Submarine Operations in World War II, p. 327-328.

3. Ibid.

4. Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 43, p. 209.

5. 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 Herring (SS-233), Attack Nos. 421, 687, 1406, 1407, 1453, 1454, 1455, 1773, 2030, 2031, 2034, and 2035; Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Herring (SS-233), 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 Herring (SS-233)