USS Razorback (SS-394)

USS "Razorback" (SS-394), a "Balao"-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the razorback, a species of whale ("Balaenoptera physalus") found in the far southern reaches of the Pacific Ocean. Recently, the state of Arkansas adopted the submarine, although it was not named after the University of Arkansas mascot.

Her keel was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine on 9 September 1943. She was launched on 27 January 1944 along with USS|Redfish|SS-395|3 and USS|Ronquil|SS-396|3. USS|Scabbardfish|SS-397|3 was launched a few hours later, making 27 January 1944 the first and only time the US Navy has launched four submarines at one shipyard in a single day. "Razorback" was sponsored by Mrs. H. F. D. Davis, and commissioned on 3 April 1944 with Lieutenant Commander Albert M. Bontier in command.

World War II

During shakedown exercises "Razorback" ran aground off Race Rock in Block Island Sound. A board of inquiry removed Bontier and the executive officer, Lieutenant John Haines, and replaced them respectively with Commander Roy S. Benson and Lieutenant Commander C. Donald Brown.

After shakedown off New England, "Razorback" sailed to Pearl Harbor under the command of Commander Roy Benson. Her first war patrol, commencing 25 August, was conducted east of Luzon as a member of an offensive group in support of the mid-September Palau landings. After sighting only enemy antisubmarine planes, she headed northeastward, arriving at Midway Island on 19 October.

On 15 November "Razorback" sailed from Midway Island on her second war patrol under the command of Lt. Cdr. Brown in company with USS|Trepang|SS-412|3 and USS|Segundo|SS-398|3. Operating with these submarines in the Luzon Straits, "Razorback" damaged 6933-ton freighter "Kenjo Maru" on 6 December and sank the old 820 ton destroyer "Kuretake" and damaged another freighter 30 December. She arrived at Guam for refit on 5 January 1945.

On 1 February "Razorback" set out for the East China Sea for her third war patrol, this time accompanied by "Segundo" and USS|Sea Cat|SS-399|3. After sinking four wooden ships in three separate surface gun actions, she deposited three Japanese prisoners at Guam before terminating her patrol at Pearl Harbor on 26 March 1945.

On 7 May "Razorback" headed west again. Assigned to lifeguard duty in the Nanpō Islands and Tokyo Bay areas, she rescued Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. Taylor, a P-51 fighter pilot from the 21st Fighter Group on 25 May. On 5 June she rescued four B-29 Superfortress crewmen shot down during an air raid over Kobe, Japan. "Razorback" retired to Midway Island to end that patrol and refit on 27 June.

On 22 July "Razorback" departed Midway Island for patrol in the Okhotsk Sea, where she sank six wooden cargo sea trucks and damaged two in a surface gun action. The remainder of thepatrol was spent performing lifeguard services off Paramushiro for Alaska-based planes. On 31 August "Razorback" entered Tokyo Bay with 11 other submarines to take part in theformal surrender of Japan. She departed 3 September, arrived at Pearl Harbor on 11 September and San Diego, California, on 20 September.

1945 – 1954

After the war she remained active with the Pacific Fleet serving off Japan and China in early 1948 and again in late 1949. She won the Navy "E" for overall excellence in 1949. In August 1952 she decommissioned incident to conversion to a GUPPY IIA-type submarine. She recommissioned in January 1954 and reported to Submarine Squadron 10 at New London, Conn., for shakedown and training.

1954 – 1970

Following shakedown "Razorback" was transferred to the West Coast and on 24 May 1954 became a unit of Submarine Squadron 3, based at San Diego, Calif.. The remainder of 1954 and1955 were spent providing antisubmarine training services for local surface and air units. In 1956 her range of operations was extended north to Canada and on 24 June 1957 she got underway for an extended Far East patrol that included extensive surveillance of the Russian port of Petropavlovsk. She won a second Battle "E" in 1959.


Regularly deployed to the Seventh Fleet into the sixties "Razorback" sailed into the South China Sea on her 1965 deployment where she earned her first Vietnam Service Medal. She returned to San Diego on 1 February 1966, but was in the western Pacific from 29 December 1966 to 3 July 1967 and from 6 August 1968 to February 1969. During 1969 she continued to operate on the west coast out of San Diego, winning the Battle "E" for a third time on 2 July 1969. "Razorback"’s last deployment, again to the western Pacific, was from 30 January to 7 August 1970. Not long after her return to the West Coast, she was decommissioned at Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard. Concurrent with her decommissioning on 30 November, "Razorback" was transferred to the Turkish Navy.

"Razorback" earned five battle stars for World War II service and four stars for Vietnam War service.

TCG "Muratreis" (S-336)

The submarine was recommissioned TCG "Muratreis" (S-336) on 17 December 1971, named after the great Ottoman admiral Murat Reis and served Turkey for 31 years, decommissioning in March 2002.

After decommissioning

Ex-"Muratreis" was purchased from Turkey by the city of North Little Rock, Arkansas on 25 March 2004 for $37,500. The purchase price and all towing costs were paid for by private donations.

It was towed from Turkey on 5 May, across the Mediterranean Sea to Gibraltar and then across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving at Key West, Florida, on the evening of Sunday, 13 June 2004. On 14 June 2004, the submarine was again taken under tow, and arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 19 June. Thence it was towed up the Mississippi River and the Arkansas River to her permanent berth in North Little Rock.

After a stopover for the dedication of the Montgomery Point Lock and Dam on 16 July, its transit was delayed by the Army Corps of Engineers over safety concerns. At the time of transit, the submarine was drafting 11½ feet at its bow and at nearly convert|15|ft|m at its stern, while some portions of the Arkansas River were less than nine feet deep. A pair of barges were used as pontoons to lift the boat a few feet to clear the river bottom while remaining low enough to pass under the bridges along its route.

On 29 August, "Razorback" reached her berth in North Little Rock, at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. She officially opened to the public on 15 May 2005.


External links

* [ Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum]
* [ FAQ Page about the name of TCG "Muratreis"]
* [ HNSA Ship Page: USS "Razorback"]
* [ USS "Razorback"'s WWII Patrols - Includes war patrol reports in PDF]

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