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USS Tullibee (SS-284)

USS Tullibee (SS-284) patch

The USS Tullibee (SS-284) was a Gato-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Tullibee is the species Coregonus artedi. It is a pelagic fish occurring in the midwater zone of cold water lakes in North America. In the northern and western parts of its range it is also found in large rivers.

The radio call sign of the USS Tullibee was NAN ITEM XRAY DOG.

On March 5, 1944, the Tullibee left Pearl Harbor for her fourth and final war patrol with Commander Charles F. Brindupke at the helm. The Tullibee was armed with the new Mark 18 electric torpedoes and the older Mark 14 wet-heater steam turbine-powered torpedoes. The Mark 18s had been loaded aft and the Mark 14s had gone forward. After fueling at Midway Island on March 14, 1944, she headed for the Palau Islands to join other Pearl Harbor and Brisbane submarines assigned to Operation Desecrate One. She was never seen or heard from again. Operation Desecrate One called for massive carrier air strikes on enemy positions at Palau, on March 30-31, 1944. The submarines' role was to patrol off of the enemy bases and attack any IJN fleet units and merchant shipping fleeing from the air attacks. The Tullibee was expected to return to Majuro for a refit around May 4, 1944. When she failed to arrive by May 15, 1944, she was presumed lost. The official announcement of the Tullibee's loss was made on July 22, 1944. 1

Navy Department Communiqué No. 532, July 22, 1944

1. The submarines USS Trout and USS Tullibee are overdue from patrol and must be presumed to be lost.

2. The next of kin of casualties of the Trout and Tullibee have been so notified.

The Tullibee was struck from the Navy list on July 29, 1944.

After the war was over it was learned that on March 25, 1944, the Tullibee arrived on station off the Palau Islands, and on the next day made radar contact with a convoy consisting of a large troop transport, two medium-sized freighters, a destroyer, and two other escorts. After several unsuccessful surface runs in the squally weather, the Tullibee finally closed to 3,000 yards and fired two torpedoes from her bow tubes at the large transport. About twenty-five seconds later, the submarine was rocked by a violent explosion. Gunner's Mate Clifford W. Kuykendall, who was on the bridge at the time, was knocked unconscious and thrown into the water. When Kuykendall regained consciousness, the submarine was gone. He heard the voices of other bridge team members crying out for help in the water, but could not see them because of the rough weather conditions. He also inflated his life belt. Ten minutes later there was complete silence. 2

Kuykendall was the sole survivor. The next day the Japanese second-class destroyer Wakatake found him and dragged him out of the sea. The escort vessel's crew told him that one of the torpedoes the Tullibee fired had struck the transport. He was interrogated and beaten, and eventually transferred to the Naval Interrogation Camp at Ofuna, Japan. Later he was sent to work at the Ashio copper mines. He was liberated following Japan's surrender. The details of the Tullibee's loss did not become known until the end of the war, after Kuykendall had been repatriated. The thoroughness of his story enabled U. S. Navy officials to reach a definite conclusion as to the circumstances of her loss. The Tullibee had not been sunk by the Japanese. Of that, Kuykendall was certain. The range and bearing of the enemy escorts put them out of position for an immediate counterattack, and they could not have spotted the submarine on that squally night. There could be but one explanation for the explosion which downed the submarine, and the timing of the blast substantiated it. The Tullibee had been hit by one of her own torpedoes, which had made a circular run. The approximate geographic position of the Tullibee's loss is north of the Palau Islands at 09° 30' N, 134° 45' E3

The Tullibee received three battle stars for her World War II service. Her JANAC score is three enemy ships sunk for 10,579 tons. Her Alden-McDonald score is three enemy ships sunk for 10,572 tons. Her SORG score is three vessels sunk for 15,500 tons and three vessels damaged for 22,000 tons. 4

A list of the submariners lost with the Tullibee is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.

Patrol Data & Tonnage Scores

USS Tullibee (SS-284) First Patrol


1. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 85-87; Moore, Stephen L., Presumed Lost: The Incredible Ordeal of America's Submarine POWs during the Pacific War, p. 170.

2. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 85-87.

3. Moore, Stephen L., op. cit., p. 171-178; 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 Tullibee (SS-284), Attack Nos. 1047, 1048, 1210, 1211, 1233, 1579, and 1785. The authors' note indicates the target of Tullibee's last attack was the Japanese convoy designated Nishi-Matsu No. 2 of the TAPE-06 convoys. The attack was unsuccessful and no ships were damaged. Witnesses in the convoy said an explosion was heard later. The second-class destroyer Wakatake picked up Kuykendall; Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 44, p. 58.

4. Alden, John D., and Craig R. McDonald, op. cit.; 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 Tullibee (SS-284).