The stories of seven lost US Navy submarines, the bravest Americans who will never come home

A World War II veteran watches the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade at Fort Derussy Beach Park, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 2016. Civilians, veterans, and service members came together to remember and pay their respects to those who fought and list their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro)

5.  USS Seawolf (SS-197)

Port side view of the Seawolf (SS-197) underway off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 7 March 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Port side view of the Seawolf (SS-197) underway off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 7 March 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

A Sargo-class submarine assigned to the Pacific Fleet, the Seawolf was sent on her first combat patrol the day after Pearl Harbor.

From combat missions against enemy ships to ferrying ammunition to beleaguered troops in the Philippines, the hearty Seawolf once endured seven-and-a-half hours of depth charge attacks and sank several ships, seemingly unsinkable by the enemy.

Periscope photograph of a sinking Japanese ship, torpedoed by Seawolf in the Philippines-East Indies area during the fall of 1942. Her general configuration resembles Gifu Maru, sunk on 2 November 1942, but she could also be Keiko Maru, sunk on 8 November.
Periscope photograph of a sinking Japanese ship, torpedoed by Seawolf in the Philippines-East Indies area during the fall of 1942. Her general configuration resembles Gifu Maru, sunk on 2 November 1942, but she could also be Keiko Maru, sunk on 8 November.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the enemy who sank her.

During an confusing exchange of fire between American and Japanese vessels in October of 1944, it would later be surmised that the Seawolf was likely confused for an enemy submarine by an American destroyer (USS Rowell) and sunk, with 83 sailors and 17 US Army soldiers aboard- including US Army Alamo Scout Captain Howell S. Kopp, who was en route to a clandestine operation.

Kopp-H-S-197a
US Army Captain Howell S. Kopp

At the time of her disappearance, the Seawolf had an impressive 13 battle stars.

Author

  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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