Tue. Mar 31st, 2020

USS Stickleback found, Fra War submarine sunk by ship of its own fleet

It was a fateful evening-night for him USS Stickleback. The submarine, capable of escaping unscathed conflicts as virulent as the WWII wave Korean warHe ended his days sadly, stranded at the bottom of the sea because of a ship of his own fleet.

It was during a naval practice near Hawaii. The ship, with its 10 officers and 70 crew members inside, was participating in an anti-submarine warfare exercise alongside the escort destroyer USS Silverstein -a small, lightly armed warship designed to protect convoys of merchant ships- and a torpedo boat. It was May 28, 1958.

Naval practices

The USS Stickleback was conducting training exercises with the USS Silverstein and a shortstop.

During these workouts, the Stickleback had just completed a simulated attack on the Silverstein when it dived to a safe depth. It was then that the submarine lost power and descended uncontrollably to almost 250 meters deep. Between the sword and the wall, it was decided to use emergency buoyancy ballast, which ultimately ended up being his downfall.

The boat quickly ascended and passed just 180 meters ahead of the boat. During the desperate maneuver, there was no time to launch a warning flare. When the collision alarm went off, the Silverstein tried to back up completely and left the rudder to the left, but couldn’t avoid the crash. The result was a giant hole for the submarine in its port area.

The collision with the ship left a large hole in the port's area of ​​the submarine

The collision with the ship left a large hole in the port’s area of ​​the submarine
(Lost 52 Project)

It sank in no time, though it was enough to rescue its crew through torpedo tubes. When all the compartments were flooded, the Stickleback descended to land some 3,300 meters underwater. Up there went the veteran ocean explorer Tim taylor and his team the Lost 52 Project.

“This is one of the four submarines that suffered this fate during the Cold WarTaylor explains in his statement. The other three ships that the Marine of the United States lost since the end of the WWII are the Cochinor the Thresher and the Scorpion.


After the impact, the submarine descended until it was stranded 3,300 meters below the sea.

Named after the Thorny, the USS Stickleback, a family of small, scaleless fish, had participated in its first mission in August 1945. It was a war patrol in the Sea of ​​Japan, the arm of the Pacific Ocean that extends between the Japanese archipelago and the Asian continent. The experience was brief, since it coincided with the launch of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 6 and 9). Two days later the ceasefire was approved.

The submarine remained in the area and, on August 21, encountered two bamboo rafts carrying 19 survivors of a freighter. They were taken on board for 18 hours, given food, water, medical treatment and put back afloat a short distance from one of the Japanese islands.

An underwater image made by Taylor's team

An underwater image made by Taylor’s team
(Lost 52 Project)

On September 9, he traveled to Guam, from where he left for the United States the following day. He arrived in San Francisco and participated in the Third Fleet parade on September 28. After a brief cruise to the Hawaiian Islands, the Stickleback was decommissioned and placed in reserve in June 1946. After five years of inactivity, it went on to serve as a training ship based in San Diego, California. Although this task lasted just over a year.

After a new (and brief) dry dock period, on June 26, 1953 he returned to active duty. They inserted him in the 7th Submarine Squadron, based in Pearl Harbor. His mission was to support the United Nations forces deployed in Korea from February to July 1954 when he returned to the military base on the island of Oahu, in the heart of the Hawaiian archipelago.


Before his accident, the last operations in which the USS Stickleback participated focused on gathering intelligence information outside the Soviet Union between 1954 and 1957. In addition, he participated in training exercises to develop both defensive and offensive underwater tactics. Taylor and his team have used autonomous underwater vehicles, remotely operated vehicles and advanced photogrammetric imaging technology to get the exact spot where the submarine is.

“Every discovery of a sunken vessel is an opportunity to remember and honor the service of our sailors. Knowing that their final resting place brings closure, somewhere, to their families and shipmates, as well as allows our team to better understand the circumstances in which the boat was lost, “says Dr. Bob Neyland, chief of the Underwater Archeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

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