USS Parche (SS-384)

USS Parche (SS-384)

The first USS "Parche" (SS-384/AGSS-384) was a United States Navy submarine. She bore the name (pronounced with two equal syllables: IPA|/pɑrtʃeɪ/) of a butterfly fish, "chaetodon capistratus".

"Parche" was built by the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Her keel was laid on 9 April 1943 and was christened on 24 July, when Miss Betty Russell smashed the traditional bottle of champagne across the bow as she slid into the water for the first time. Miss Russell is the daughter of the U.S. District Judge Robert Lee Russell, formerly Judge Advocate General of the Navy. "Parche" was later commissioned on November 20, 1943 with Commander Lawson P. Ramage commanding.

On 29 March 1944 the submarine left Pearl Harbor with USS|Tinosa|SS-283|3 and USS|Bang|SS-385|3 for her first war patrol. After topping off at Midway Island, the three reached the sea lanes south of Formosa 16 April. On 29 April "Bang" reported a large convoy 50 miles away, and the wolf pack attacked, "Parche" sinking one ship.

"Tinosa" reported a seven-ship convoy on the morning of 3 May and "Parche" headed north at full speed to intercept. An hour after midnight "Parche" was in position and scored three torpedo hits on the leading ship and two hits on the second freighter, sinking both. "Parche" scored two hits on the third freighter, which settled by the stern and began to list to port. Post-war records credited the trio of submarines with five sinkings and 30,542 tons, "Parche" getting credit for "Taiyoku Maru" and "Shoryu Maru". "Parche" returned to Midway 23 May 1944, after making a thorough photo reconnaissance of military installations on the island of Ishi Gaki Jima.

"Parche's" second patrol was again south of Formosa, forming with USS|Hammerhead|SS-364|2 and USS|Steelhead|SS-280|2, a coordinated attack group. "Parche" went to sea 17 June, following her refit. A week later she sighted and sank a patrol vessel with gunfire. On 4 July a Japanese cruiser and destroyer bombarded and depth charged "Parche".

"Parche" sighted a convoy 29 July and, cooperating with "Steelhead", closed in, sinking 4,471 ton cargo ship "Manko Maru" and 10,238-ton tanker "Koei Maru". During this daring night surface action "Parche" barely avoided being rammed by one ship. "Parche" collaborated with "Steelhead" in sinking an 8,990 ton transport. "Steelhead" sank two other ships, a transport and a cargo vessel. Another tanker and a cargo ship were damaged. For this action "Parche" received the Presidential Unit Citation and her commander, Ramage, received the Medal of Honor. On 1 August the sub departed for Saipan where she moored 5 August, arriving Pearl Harbor 16 August.

On her third war patrol, 10 September to 2 December, one of the longest of the war, "Parche" did not encounter any targets.

After a refit, the ship got underway 30 December for rotating patrol in the Nansei Shoto. She discovered a freighter and a tanker at anchor in Naze Ko 19 January, firing six bow tubes at the tanker for five distinct hits and four stern tubes at the freighter for two possible hits. On 7 February "Parche" sighted and sank the 984-ton "Okinoyama Maru". Fueling at Midway 16 February, the sub continued to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 20 February.

Japanese shipping, decimated by continual submarine and air attacks, was becoming increasingly difficult to find. When "Parche" left Pearl Harbor 19 March 1945, she headed directly for the east coast of Honshū, Japan. "Parche" sank escorting 615-ton Minesweeper No. 3 off Kobe Zaki 9 April. On 11 April "Parche" made a gun attack, sinking a small freighter of about 800 tons. She torpedoed another small vessel the next day. On 13 April "Parche" sank a fishing trawler. Two hours later she again opened fire on a small observation boat, leaving it blazing stem to stern. Two Japanese planes caused her to dive, leaving all her guns loose and much of her ammunition exposed. A heavy explosion shook her on the way down, but inflicted no damage.

On 22 April "Parche" sighted three small tankers in column, proceeding north along the coast south of Okama Saki. "Parche" fired three torpedoes at the second tanker and then shifted to the third, which was left down by the stern covered with a cloud of smoke. The sub sailed for Midway, arriving 30 April.

"Parche" got underway 25 May for her sixth patrol, the last of World War II, joining the “Lifeguard League” south of Honshū. She stayed on station off Honshū until 18 June, ready to pick up any aviators who might be forced down. No rescues were necessary, and on the 18th she proceeded to Tsugara Strait.

Her first torpedo contact came 21 June when she sighted a gunboat rounding Shiriya Saki. The gunboat was soon joined by a sub chaser and then by a freighter. Picking the freighter as the best target, "Parche" fired four torpedoes from her forward tubes for one hit, which threw up a veil of dense white smoke. Expecting counter-measures, the sub went under, accompanied by the breaking-up noises of freighter "Hizen Maru".

"Parche" attacked three luggers escorted by a small flat vessel on the afternoon of the next day, and sank two. She sank several trawlers by gunfire on 23 June. Two days later she sighted three large ships and six escorts headed north along the coast, one of the most tempting convoys seen for some months in Japanese home waters. After "Parche's" attack the escorts shook the sub up considerably with depth charges four and a half hours, before she managed to work away and resume her patrol, leaving an ex-Gunboat sunk and another ship badly damaged.

After another round of life guard duty for the carrier planes of Task Force 38, on 17 July, "Parche" rendezvoused with USS|Cero|SS-225|2 to take aboard three fliers, and set course for Midway, arriving 23 July, and mooring Pearl Harbor 28 July.

One of the most highly decorated ships of the famous World War II Pacific Submarine Force, USS "Parche" made six war patrols, earning five battle stars and two Presidential Unit Citation awards.

Post World War II operations

After World War Two "Parche" continued her adventures and was assigned to Operation Crossroads as a target ship for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. "Parche" survived both the airburst and the underwater burst, coming through relatively undamaged.

After decontamination, she proceeded to Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo, California. She was then decommissioned on December 10, 1946 and moved to joined the moth ball fleet Alameda, California in March 1947. On December 1, 1962 her classification was changed to Auxiliary Submarine, AGSS-384 and assigned as a Naval Reserve Training Submarine in Oakland, California.

"Parche's" name was stricken from the Navy List on November 8, 1969 and sold on June 18, 1970 for scrap. All that remains of her is the original conning tower barrel, bridge structure, shears, and upper gun from the war which remain enshrined at the Naval Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.



External links

* USS Parche SS-384

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