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USS Perch (SS-176)

USS Perch (SS-176) patch


The USS Perch (SS-176) was a Perch-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Perch is any freshwater spiny-finned bony fishes of the family Percidae, especially those of the genus Perca, such as P. fluviatilis of Europe and P. flavescens (yellow perch) of North America. They are valued for food and game.

The radio call sign of the USS Perch was NAN-ABLE-KING-KING.

On January 19, 2007, I received the following press release from Charles Hinman, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.


// Begin Press Release //

Press Release: January 19, 2007

Contact: Charles Hinman, (808) 423-1341

Discovery of USS Perch (SS-176)

The Java Sea Reveals a Wartime Secret

In early March of 1942, less than three months into the War in the Pacific, the submarine USS Perch (SS-176) was conducting her second war patrol in the hostile waters of the Java Sea.

After a series of battles against multiple units of the Japanese Imperial Navy, during which Perch was severely damaged and rendered unable to dive safely or to defend herself, commanding officer David Hurt ordered his vessel abandoned. He sent his vessel to the bottom with an open conning tower hatch in order to avoid its capture. The entire crew was picked up by the Japanese and sent to Prisoner of War camps, where six members of the Perch crew died as POWs, but the remaining 53 did manage to survive and were liberated at the War's end.

Over sixty years later, an international team of divers and photographers were on a regular dive charter in the waters north of Surabaya City, Java when the vessel's sonar revealed a long slender object on the sea floor that merited investigation. Vidar Skoglie and dive team members Kevin Denlay, Dieter Kops, Mike Gadd, and Craig Challen soon found a wreck at a depth of approximately 190 feet. Although the divers immediately knew that the wreck was a submarine, they were unsure of its identity until they discovered a plaque on its conning tower. Even under a layer of more than a half-century of marine growth, the large lettering of the plaque could be read: USS PERCH SUBMARINE.

Photographer Kevin Denlay contacted the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in early December of last year and shared the news of the team's discovery. He provided the museum with still photographs and a DVD of the dive which clearly reveal, despite low visibility conditions, evidence of the identity and final resting place of the vessel.

When Perch survivor Robert Lents was contacted in his Arkansas home, he expressed great interest in the discovery. He especially would like to see what his boat looks like after all these years. Not only that, he added, "I left $35 in my locker on the boat. It's probably still there." The wreck is protected under U.S. and International laws, so Bob's savings and as well his battling submarine lie at the bottom of the Java Sea, undisturbed.

For video-capture photos of the wreck and other information on USS Perch, please see On Eternal Patrol.

Copyrighted high resolution photo of the plaque is available for publication.

Contact: Charles R. Hinman, Director of Education, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park: (808)-423-1341, Facsimile: (808)-422-5201 or e-mail: education@bowfin.org

Please note: This announcement is not an official U.S. Navy release, and in no way should be taken as emanating from the Navy or from any other U.S. Governmental agency.

// End Press Release //


On March 1, 1942, while on patrol in the Java Sea, the Perch was depth charged and heavily damaged by the Japanese destroyers Amatsukaze and Hatsukaze, at 06° 30′ S, 113° 50′ E. The Perch was attacked again on the following day with thirty depth charges by the Japanese destroyer Ushio, thus incurring additional heavy damage. On March 3, 1942, the Perch was caught while surfaced by the Japanese destroyers Ushio and Sazanami and was pounded with battery gunfire from both vessels. Facing a hopeless situation, the Perch's captain, Lieutenant Commander David A. Hurt, ordered the boat scuttled at the geographic position 05° 26′ S, 113° 14′ E to prevent any usage by the enemy. The entire crew was picked up by the Japanese and sent to prisoner of war camps for the duration of the war. 1

The official announcement of Perch's loss was made on April 11, 1942:

Navy Department Communiqué No. 70, April 11, 1942

The Navy Department today issued the following communiqué based on reports received up to 10:30 a.m.:

Southwest Pacific

1. The U. S. submarine Perch has been overdue for more than a month and must be presumed to be lost.

2. The Perch was one of the U. S. submarines operating in the vicinity of Java and her last position report placed her in the Java Sea.

3. The next of kin have been notified.

4. There is nothing to report from other areas.

A list of the six men lost in Japanese prisoner of war camps and the surviving crew members is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.

The Perch was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register June 24, 1942. She received one battle star for her World War II service. The Perch was not scored by JANAC. Her SORG score is one vessel sunk for 5,000 tons. Her Alden-McDonald score is one vessel damaged for 8,215 tons. According to the Alden-McDonald assessment, on December 27, 1941, the Japanese miscellaneous auxiliary vessel Nojima was hit by one of two torpedoes fired by the Perch, at 22° 14' N, 115° 13' E. As a result of the damage from the torpedo, the Nojima went dead in the water and eventually beached. She also incurred additional damage from the heavy sea. On January 29, 1942, the Nojima was towed to Hong Kong, where repairs were completed on December 8, 1942. 2

To learn more about the Perch's last patrol, the harsh treatment her crew endured while Japanese prisoners, and the surviving crew members' repatriation, I highly recommend the book Presumed Lost: The Incredible Ordeal of America's Submarine POWs during the Pacific War, by Stephen L. Moore.

Patrol Data & Tonnage Scores

"Sunken WWII sub found by accident near Java", by Gregg K. Kakesako, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

USS Perch (SS-176) First Patrol

Footnotes:

1. Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 44, p. 45.

2. 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 Perch (SS-176), Attack No. 27; 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 Perch (SS-176).