Missing WWII Submarine Stickleback Lays 11,000 Feet Below the Surface

The Stickleback is a submarine that was used for training during World War II. It wrecked during a training exercise in Hawaii on May 28, 1958.

The sub was executing maneuvers 19 miles of the coast of Barbers Point, Oahu. During the exercise, the sub lost power. The crew was able to use emergency power to bring it to the surface, but a collision with a destroyer escort, the USS Silverstein, led to it sinking.

Credit: www.lost52project.org
Credit: www.lost52project.org

It has remained there for 62 years until being found recently by the Lost 52 Project – a group that searches for WWII shipwrecks.

Commissioned on March 29, 1945, the Stickleback is a submarine of the Balao class which saw action in the Korean and Cold Wars. It was returned to service on September 9, 1951, in order to serve as a training ship in San Diego, California.

The Stickleback is 311 feet long. It could do 20 knots on the surface and 8 when submerged.

The emergency ballast that brought the Stickleback to the surface, brought it into the Silverstein. Fortunately, there were no fatalities in the accident.

At the time, a rescue team attempted to retrieve the vessel from the ocean floor but the interior compartments had flooded which made the task impossible.

Credit: www.lost52project.org
Credit: www.lost52project.org

The Lost 52 Project was recently in the news for discovering the wreck of the USS Grayback SS-208. The Grayback is considered one of the most successful US subs in WWII. It was on patrol in the South Pacific and South China Sea when it vanished in February 1944.

During the war, the Grayback torpedoed a number of enemy vessels, rescued American aviators, and sank more than a dozen Japanese ships. It never came back from its tenth mission, though.

The Navy lists the vessel as the 20th most successful submarine in WWII based on tonnage sank and the 24th most successful based on number of ships sank. It was listed as missing, presumed lost before being found by Lost 52.

When the war was over, the US Navy used Japanese military records to figure out the history of US subs in the war. As of 1949, the Navy believed that the Grayback was sunk 100 miles east-southeast of Okinawa.

Credit: www.lost52project.org
Credit: www.lost52project.org

There was a breakthrough last year due to the efforts of a Japanese amateur researcher named Yutaka Iwasaki. He discovered that there was an incorrect digit in the Japanese records. The Grayback actually sank one hundred miles from the site where the Navy expected to find it.

The Grayback was awarded two Navy commendations to honor her seventh through tenth war patrols and received eight battle stars for service in WWII.

The Lost 52 Project states that their aim is to preserve and tell the stories of WWII submarines and their crews. They are trying to account for missing WWII Navy sailors.

Mechanic ‘Accidentally’ Fires Vulcan Cannon & Obliterates F-16 Sitting on the Runway

Their goal is to find and document all of the 52 missing submarines from WWII. So far the team has discovered six with five more discovered by other organizations.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE