USS Blackfish

USS Blackfish (SS-221), a Gato-class submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the blackfish.

United States
Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut[1]
Laid down: 1 July 1941[1]
Launched: 18 April 1942[1]
Sponsored by: Mrs. Henry de F. Mel
Commissioned: 22 July 1942[1]
Decommissioned: 11 May 1946[1]
Struck: 1 September 1958[1]
Fate: Sold for scrap on 4 May 1959[2]
General characteristics
Class and type: Gato-class diesel-electric submarine[2]
Displacement: 1,525 long tons (1,549 t) surfaced,[2] 2,424 long tons (2,463 t) submerged[2]
Length: 311 ft 9 in (95.02 m)[2]
Beam: 27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[2]
Draft: 17 ft (5.2 m) maximum[2]
Speed: 21 kn (39 km/h) surfaced,[6] 9 kn (17 km/h) submerged[6]
Range: 11,000 nmi (20,000 km) surfaced @ 10 kn (19 km/h)[6]
Endurance: 48 hours @ 2 kn (3.7 km/h) submerged,[6] 75 days on patrol
Test depth: 300 ft (91 m)[6]
Complement: 6 officers, 54 enlisted[6]

She was launched on 18 April 1942 by Electric Boat Corporation, Groton, Connecticut and sponsored Mrs. Ida H. Mel, wife of Captain Henry F. Mel, head of the Navy Purchasing Office in New York. She was commissioned on 22 July 1942, Commander Raymond W. Johnson in command.

Service history

World War II

Blackfish was assigned to Submarine Squadron 50 (SubRon 50), United States Naval Forces in Europe. On 15 October 1942, now under the command of Lieutenant Commander J. F. Davidson, she departed Montauk Point, New York on her first war patrol in support of Operation Torch. From October 1942-July 1943, Blackfish completed five war patrols in waters extending from Dakar, West Africa, to the north of Iceland. She is credited with having sunk a German anti-submarine trawler, Patrol Boat No. 408 with two torpedoes off the north coast of Spain on 19 February 1943. She was damaged by a second German vessel and had to return to port early for repairs.[7]

She returned to the United States in July 1943, and after refitting, proceeded to the Southwest Pacific. From 19 October 1943 – 14 August 1945, she completed seven war patrols in an area including the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea. Blackfish sank one Japanese cargo vessel of 2,087 tons during her Pacific patrols.

She completed her 12th and last war patrol on 14 August 1945. While no targets worthy of torpedo fire were encountered during this patrol, on 5 August she rescued six Army fliers, and on 8 August effectively bombarded shore installations on Kasagaki-Shima.


Blackfish departed Guam on 27 August 1945 for the East Coast of the United States. After visiting New York, New York and Camden, New Jersey, she proceeded to the Naval Submarine Base New London, where she was placed in inactive status. On 11 May 1946, Blackfish was placed out of commission in reserve, and on 5 May 1949 she reported to the Naval Reserve Training Center, St. Petersburg, Florida, to be used in reserve training.


Blackfish returned to New London on 2 February 1954 and was struck from the Navy List on 1 September 1958. She was sold for scrap on 4 May 1959.



  1. Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3.
  2. Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 271–273. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  3. Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 275–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9.
  4. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 p. 261
  5. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  6. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311
  7. USS Blackfish Report of Third War Patrol, available via , accessed 4 November 2010.

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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