The USS Sealion (SS-195) was a Seadragon-class World War II era submarine. Only four boats of this class were built: USS Seadragon (SS-194), USS Sealion (SS-195), USS Searaven (SS-196), and USS Seawolf (SS-197). In their outward appearance they were almost identical to the Sargo-class boats, however they had a different engine arrangement and all-electric drive. 1
The namesakes of the USS Sealion are pinnipeds characterized by external ear-flaps, long fore-flippers, the ability to walk on all fours, and short thick hair. Together with the fur seals, they comprise the family Otariidae, or eared seals.
The radio call sign of the USS Sealion was NAN-EASY-LOVE-QUEEN.
Upon the outbreak of the Pacific war on December 7, 1941, the Sealion, captained by Lieutenant Commander Richard G. Voge, had been deployed to the Far East and was at the Cavite Navy Yard near Manila undergoing an overhaul. On December 10, 1941, Japanese aircraft attacked that facility. The Sealion was struck by two bombs dropped by Japanese naval Mitsubishi bombers of the First Air Corps, 21st Air Flotilla, 11th Air Fleet, flying from Tainan, Formosa. The bombs caused extensive internal and external damage and left the Sealion with about forty percent of her main deck underwater and with a fifteen degree list to starboard. She was destroyed on December 25, 1941 by exploding three depth charges within the submarine to prevent possible use by the enemy. Four of her crewmembers were killed during the attack. The Sealion thus became the first American submarine lost in World War II. 2
The Navy Department issued the following press release regarding the Sealion's loss:
Navy Department Communiqué 57, March 18, 1942
During the month of December, the U. S. submarine Sealion, which was under extensive overhaul at Cavite, was so damaged as to necessitate her demolition to prevent her use by the enemy in the event of capture.
Early this month the damaged U. S. destroyer Stewart was demolished in the drydock at Surabaya to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy. Previous efforts to put her in serviceable condition had failed.
There were no personnel casualties in the case of the Sealion and the Stewart.
A list of the men lost with Sealion is maintained at On Eternal Patrol. One crewman was captured and died while a prisoner of war.
1. Alden, John D., The Fleet Submarine in the U. S. Navy: A Design and Construction History, p. 72-73.
2. Blair, Clay Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 129-131; Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 44, p. 54.