USS Drum (SS-228)

USS Drum (SS-228) is a Gato-class submarine of the United States Navy, the first Navy ship named after the drum. Drum is a museum ship in Mobile, Alabama, at Battleship Memorial Park.

USS Drum (SS-228)
United States
Namesake: Drum, Fish
Ordered: 12 June 1940
Builder: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine[1]
Laid down: 11 September 1940[1]
Launched: 12 May 1941[1]
Sponsored by: Mrs. Thomas Holcomb
Commissioned: 1 November 1941[1]
Decommissioned: 16 February 1946[1]
Struck: 30 June 1968[1]
Status: Museum ship at Mobile, Alabama[2]
General characteristics
Class and type: Gato-class diesel-electric submarine[2]
  • 1,490 long tons (1,510 t) surfaced
  • 2,060 long tons (2,090 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]
  • 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) surfaced[6]
  • 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) submerged[6]
Range: 11,000 nmi (20,000 km; 13,000 mi) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)[6]
Endurance: 48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) submerged,[6] 75 days on patrol
Test depth: 300 ft (91 m)[6]
Complement: 8 officers, 75 enlisted[6]
USS Drum (submarine)
LocationMobile, Alabama
Coordinates30°40′52″N 88°1′0″W
ArchitectPortsmouth Naval Shipyard
NRHP reference #86000086
Significant dates
Added to NRHP14 January 1986[7]
Designated NHL14 January 1986[8]

Drum was laid down on 11 September 1940 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine. She was launched on 12 May 1941, sponsored by Mrs. Beatrice M. Holcomb, wife of Major General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. The boat was commissioned on 1 November 1941, with Commander Robert H. Rice in command.

Drum was the twelfth of the Gato class but was the first completed and the first to enter combat in World War II. She is the oldest of her class still in existence.

Service history

World War II

First patrol

Drum arrived at Pearl Harbor from the East Coast on 1 April 1942, and after a voyage to Midway Atoll, cleared Pearl Harbor on 14 April on her first war patrol. Cruising off the coast of Japan, she sank the Japanese seaplane tender Mizuho on 2 May and afterwards endured a 16-hour depth charge attack consisting of 31 depth charges. Later that month she sank three cargo ships before returning to Pearl Harbor on 12 June to refit.

Second patrol

Drum's second war patrol, which she made in the waters between Truk and Kavieng from 10 July  2 September, found her efforts frustrated by poor torpedo performance, but she damaged one freighter before returning to Midway to refit.

Third patrol

The submarine sailed from Midway on 23 September on her third war patrol, bound for the eastern coast of Kyūshū. On 8 October, she contacted a convoy of four freighters, and defying the air cover guarding the ships, sank the 5652 ton cargo/passenger ship IJA Hague Maru laden with 4000 tons of wheat, machines, steel, oil, automobiles and captured paper money for the Formosa bank, before aerial bombs forced her deep. The next day, Drum underwent a severe depth charging from several escorts after she attacked and sank the 2461 ton cargo ship Hachimanzan Maru. On 20 October, she sank the 5106 ton Ryunan Maru, one of three air-escorted cargo ships, and damaged at least two more ships before completing her patrol at Pearl Harbor on 8 November.

Fourth patrol

On her fourth patrol, 29 November 1942  24 January 1943, Drum carried out the demanding task of planting mines in heavily traveled Bungo Suido. On 12 December, she spotted the Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūhō, which had a full deck-load of planes. Although taking water forward due to faulty valves, Drum launched torpedoes at this choice target, scoring two hits, and causing the carrier to list so far that her flight deck became completely visible. Also visible was a destroyer bearing down, and splashes that indicated Drum's periscope was under fire. As the submarine dove, she lost depth control and her port shaft stopped turning. As she made emergency repairs, she underwent two waves of depth charging. When she surfaced several hours later to see what had become of her prey, which had escaped, an aircraft forced her down again. During this patrol, Drum also damaged a large tanker, another choice target.

Fifth and sixth patrols

After a thorough overhaul at Pearl Harbor, Drum made her fifth war patrol, 24 March  13 May, searching waters south of Truk after she had completed a photographic reconnaissance of Nauru. She sank the cargo vessel Yuzan (Oyama) Maru of 3809 tons on 9 April, and on 18 April she sank the 6380 ton cargo ship Nisshun Maru, carrying a cargo of ammunition, then refitted at Brisbane, Australia. Her sixth war patrol, 7 June  26 July, found her north of the Bismarck Archipelago, where on 17 June she found a 3 ship convoy consisting of 2 cargo ships under escort by a destroyer and sank the 5086 ton cargo-passenger ship Myoko Maru.

Seventh patrol

She returned to Brisbane to replenish, and on 16 August sailed on her seventh war patrol. She damaged the 6439 ton cargo ship Yamagiri Maru, carrying a load of raw materials for the war effort, with two torpedoes on 28 August. Adding to her impressive list of sinkings, she sank the 1334 ton cargo ship Hakutetsu Maru #13 on 8 September, as well and patrolled off New Georgia during the landings there. She put into Tulagi from 29 September  2 October to repair her gyrocompass, then sailed on to Brisbane.

Eighth patrol

Drum sailed on 2 November for her eighth war patrol, coordinated with the landings at Cape Torokina. Patrolling between the Carolines and New Ireland, she sank the submarine tender Hie Maru (11,621 tons) on 17 November, and on 22 November attacked a convoy of four freighters. The convoy's escorts delivered three depth charge attacks. Drum was heavily damaged and ordered to Pearl Harbor. She arrived there on 5 December; inspection revealed that the conning tower needed to be replaced, which required that she sail to the West Coast.

Ninth patrol

Returning to Pearl Harbor on 29 March 1944, Drum sailed 11 days later on her ninth war patrol, during which she patrolled the waters around Iwo Jima and other islands in the Bonin Islands. No worthy targets were contacted, but a reconnaissance of Chichi Jima gained valuable intelligence for bombardment of the island later by surface ships.

Tenth and Eleventh patrols

The submarine refitted at Majuro from 31 May  24 June, then sailed on her 10th war patrol to give lifeguard service for raids on Yap and Palau. She sank a 125-ton sampan on 29 July, capturing two prisoners whom she brought back to Pearl Harbor on 14 August. She sailed for Surigao Strait on 9 September on her 11th war patrol, and after two weeks in the Strait with no contact, she was ordered north to the South China Sea. Here she patrolled during the Leyte landings and the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf, and on 24 October sank the passenger-cargo ship Shikisan Maru (4725 tons). On 26 October Drum, made contact with a 13 ship convoy (10 merchant with 3 escorts) sinking two passenger-cargo ships, Taihaku Maru (6886 tons), Taisho Maru (6886 tons), and one transport ship, Tatsura Maru, (6420 tons), also damaging another passenger-cargo ship, Aoki Maru (3710 tons), bound for the Philippines with Japanese reinforcements. While sailing for Majuro for refit, Drum searched east of Luzon Strait for downed aviators.

Twelfth, Thirteenth and last patrols

Drum replenished and made repairs at Majuro from 8 November  7 December, then sailed for the Nansei Shoto on her 12th war patrol. Only one contact was made during this patrol, and she returned to Guam on 17 January 1945. During her 13th war patrol, from 11 February  2 April, Drum played a part in the assaults on both Iwo Jima and Okinawa, providing lifeguard service for air strikes on the Nansei Shoto and the Japanese home islands as bases were neutralized before both invasions. Returning to Pearl Harbor, Drum sailed to the West Coast for another overhaul, and after training at Pearl Harbor, cleared Midway on 9 August on what would have been her 14th war patrol. This was cut short by the Japanese surrender on 15 August. She proceeded to Saipan at the end of hostilities, and from there sailed for Pearl Harbor, the Panama Canal Zone, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


Drum was decommissioned on 16 February 1946 and on 18 March 1947, began service at Washington, D.C., to members of the Naval Reserve in the Potomac River Naval Command, which continued through 1967. She was in the inactive Fleet at Norfolk, Virginia from 1967 to 1969.


Drum received a total of 12 battle stars for her World War II service. She is credited with sinking 15 ships,[9] a total of 80,580 tons of enemy shipping, eighth highest of all US submarines in total Japanese tonnage sunk.

Museum ship and landmark

Drum was donated to the USS Alabama Battleship Commission on 14 April 1969. She was towed to Battleship Alabama Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama arriving on 18 May 1969. Drum was dedicated and opened to the public on 4 July 1969.

The submarine was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.[8][10]

Drum was moored in the waters behind Alabama, until she was substantially damaged by the storm surge of Hurricane Georges in 1998. As a result, she is now on display on shore. Alabama and Drum also sustained damage when Hurricane Katrina came ashore on 29 August 2005. Tours on board Drum resumed 9 January 2006. Most funding to maintain the submarine comes from a community of American Submarine Vets.

As of 2015, the Drum's restoration has progressed at an extraordinary rate, including the complete rebuilding of part of the bow and stern sections and the installation of new I-beams inside the ballast tanks to support the submarine's overall weight.[11]


  • The Drum's Periscope is aimed directly at the stern of the USS Alabama
  • Wayne Green, founder of Byte magazine (among others) was a crew member.

See also


  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. 271–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9.
  4. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 261–263
  5. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  6. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311
  7. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 23 January 2007.
  8. "USS Drum (Submarine)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2007.
  10. Butowsky, Harry A. (May 1985). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: USS Drum (SS-228)" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 22 June 2009. and
    "Accompanying 4 photos, 1 exterior and 3 interior, from 1985" (pdf). Retrieved 29 August 2012.

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

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