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USS S-26 (SS-131)

USS S-26 (SS-131) patch


USS S-26 (SS-131) was a S1-class World War II era submarine.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Captain Thomas J. Doyle, the commanding officer of the Coco Solo submarine base, on the Atlantic Ocean (northeast) side of the Panama Canal Zone, near Colón, Panama, was presented with a dual problem. In addition to the threat of German u-boat activity in the waters off Panama, on the Canal's eastern side, American submarines would also have to guard against a potential Japanese attack on the canal's Pacific accessway. Accordingly, Captain Doyle ordered his submarines to patrol off the Pacific entrance of the Canal. A patrol line was established extending 800 miles from the Balboa district on the canal's western accessway. American submarines made patrols from Balboa throughout the first year of the war without encountering any enemy vessels. However, it was in this area that the U. S. Submarine Force experienced its first operational loss of World War II. 1

On January 24, 1942, the S-26, captained by Lieutenant Commander Earl C. Hawk, was sailing surfaced from Balboa to her patrol station in company with S-21, S-29, S-44, and escort vessel PC-460. At around 2210 hours, PC-460 flashed a visual message to the submarines advising them she was leaving the formation and that they should proceed to their assignments as ordered. Only S-21 received this message. A short while thereafter, PC-460 collided in the dark with S-26, ramming her starboard side near the after torpedo room. The S-boat sank within seconds in 300 feet of water, at the geographic position 08° 12' 25" N, 79° 20' 12" W. Three men who were on the bridge survived. Forty-six men went down with her. All rescue attempts were unsuccessful. Her hulk was not salvaged. 2

A list of the personnel lost with S-26 is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.

S-26 is not credited with sinking any enemy vessels.

Footnote:

1. Roscoe, Theodore, United States Submarine Operations in World War II, p. 91-92. Also see S-26 in Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

2.  Ibid.