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USS Mackerel

Two submarines of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Mackerel. Mackerels are a common food and sport fish.

The first USS Mackerel (SS-204) was the lead ship of her class[?]. Her keel was laid down on 6 October 1939, at the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 28 September 1940, sponsored by Mrs. William. R. Furlong, and commissioned on 31 March 1941, with Lieutenant John F. Davidson in command.

Throughout World War II, Mackerel, assigned in Submarine Squadron 1 at New London, Connecticut, participated in the training and improvement of the Navy's submarine force. Designed as an experimental submarine, she provided support services to the Underwater Sound Laboratory and training services to the Submarine and the Prospective Commanding Officers Schools at New London, in addition to training Allied surface vessels and aircraft in antisubmarine warfare.

Although most of her time was spent in the New London area, she steamed as far north as Casco Bay[?] and as far south as Chesapeake Bay to conduct antisubmarine training exercises. While in the New London-Narragansett Bay[?] area she often worked with TG 28.4, the antisubmarine development detachment, as well as with the Underwater Sound Laboratory; thus aiding, both tactically and technically, in the development of submarine knowledge.

During the course of the war, Mackerel made only one contact with the enemy. Having departed New London 12 April 1942, she proceeded, on the surface, to Norfolk, Virginia, to conduct antisubmarine training exercises for Army and Navy aircraft. On the night of the 14th her lookouts sighted the wakes of two torpedoes heading for the submarine. Evasion maneuvers proved effective and Mackerel, undamaged, launched two torpedoes at a surfaced enemy submarine. The following morning another, or the same, enemy submarine was sighted, but Mackerel was again out-distanced.

At the end of the war, Mackerel was ordered to Boston, where she was decommissioned on 9 November 1945, at Boston, Massacheusetts[?], and struck from the Naval Register on 28 November 1945. She was sold for scrapping to the North American Smelting Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 24 April 1947.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 825 tons surfaced, 1179 tons submerged
  • Length: 239 feet
  • Beam: 21.7 feet
  • Draft: 12 feet mean, 15 feet maximum
  • Speed: 16 knots surfaced, 9 knots submerged
  • Complement: 4 officers, 34 men
  • Armament:
    • six 21-inch torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes,
    • one 3-inch/50 dual purpose deck gun,
    • two .50 cal. machine guns,
    • two .30 cal. machine guns
  • Propulsion:
    • four Electric Boat Company diesel engines, 3,360 hp, 29,000 gallons fuel
    • four Electro Dynamic electric motors, 1,500 hp
    • 120 battery cells
    • twin propellers


The second USS Mackerel (SST-1), originally known as T-1, the lead ship of her class[?], was planned as an auxiliary submarine (AGSS-570). Her keel was laid down on 1 April 1952, at Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 17 July 1953, sponsored by Mrs. Charles R. Muir, and placed in service (not commissioned) as T-1 on 9 October 1953, with Lieutenant J.M. Snyder, Jr., in command.

After completing trials in the New London, Connecticut, and Massachusetts Bay areas, T-1 departed, in February 1954, for Key West, Florida. Arriving at Key West, she commenced operations with submarine and antisubmarine forces in the southern Florida-Guantanamo Bay areas, providing services to the Fleet Training Group working up recently constructed and recently overhauled ASW-type warships. Effective 15 July (May?), 1956, T-1 was renamed Mackerel, but retained her hull number, SST-1.

Mackerel participated in fleet exercises off the east coast, mainly conducting training and target assignments, including some for the Fleet Sonar School at Key West. She made several cruises testing new equipment for submarines. On 2 April 1957, she departed Key West on a special sound-damping project, en route to Annapolis, Maryland. After more training and target cruises into the late 1950s, she tested acoustical developments for submarine hulls in waters near the British West Indies[?] in the summer of 1963. She again operated in the West Indies in February 1964, performing similar tasks.

During May and June of 1966, special equipment was installed in Mackerel at Electric Boat. Then Mackerel transited south to Key West and arrived, there, on 26 June 1966. At Key West, the submarine conducted experimental work to acquire data to be used in the development of future Navy submarines during 1966 and 1967. She evaluated equipment intended for the NR-1 Deep Submergence Craft, including keel-mounted wheels for rolling over the ocean floor, thrusters, external television cameras, a manipulator arm, and experimental sonar. Mackerel "bottomed" some 225 times during the nine-month evaluation period. After finishing this assignment during March of 1967, the submarine had some of her special equipment removed, and she resumed operations at Key West running submerged in the operating areas for vessels assigned as "pingers" for the Fleet Sonar School.

Mackerel acted as a target for surface and air ASW forces off the Florida coast and in the Caribbean during the late 1960s and into the 1970s. Sometime in 1971, Mackerel was commissioned.

She provided target and training services for antisubmarine warfare units of the Atlantic Fleet in the Key West and the Mayport[?]/Jacksonville operating areas in 1971 and 1972.

Mackerel made her last dive on 21 July 1972. She remained in reduced-complement status from that day until 3 January 1973, but, nevertheless, conducted junior officer and midshipmen training regularly through October 1972.

Mackerel and her sister Marlin (SST-2)[?] were decommissioned on 31 January 1973, in a dual ceremony at the Naval Station, Key West, Florida; both were struck from the Naval Vessel Register on the same day. Mackerel was sunk as a target off Puerto Rico on 18 October 1978.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 303 tons surfaced, 347 tons submerged
  • Length: 131.25 feet
  • Beam: 13.6 feet
  • Draft: 12 feet mean
  • Speed: 10 knots surfaced, 10.5 knots submerged
  • Complement: 2 officers, 12 men
  • Armament: one 21-inch torpedo tube
  • Propulsion: diesel-electric, single screw

(This article was based on the public domain Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.)



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