USS Razorback (SS-394)- Grounding

Razorback spent the first part of May in drydock at the Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH. After undocking, she conducted training in the area around Portsmouth. On May 19th, she moved to the Torpedo Firing Range near Newport, RI. Late on the May 22nd, she traveled to the submarine base in New London, CT and spent the night there.

The next morning, Razorback got underway and travelled to an offshore training area in Block Island Sound, where she conducted gunnery practice, expending at leat 15 rounds of 4" 50-caliber ammuntion at a moored target. She also fired 240 rounds of 20mm ammunition. Small arms training was also conducted, probably with Thompson submachineguns and M1 carbines, as 120 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition and 600 rounds of .30 caliber ammuntion are recorded as having been fired.

That evening, while returning to the submarine base at New London, Razorback ran aground on Fisher's Island, coming to rest about 1500 yards from Race Rock Light in approximately 15 feet of water (Razorback's normal operating draft would have been approximately 17 feet).

Despite the crew's best efforts, Razorback remained aground, even after a tug arrived to provide assistance. The next day, Razorback was forced to offload all her main gun ammunition and all torpedoes from the forward torpedo room. USS Falcon (ASR-2), a submarine salvage ship, was also summoned to assist. At 1:42 that afternoon, Razorback was finally pulled free of the beach.

Fortunately, Razorback was traveling at a relatively slow speed at the time of the grounding, and damage was minimal (approximately $25,000 in today's dollars).

Exhibit-02s (26K)
Medium Resolution Image -

Razorback aground on Fisher's Island. The shore is visible to the upper right. The rear of the 4" 50-caliber gun is just visible. This photograph was Exhibit 2 during the Board of Inquiry.


Exhibit-04s (20K)
Medium Resolution Image -

A good general view of Razorback's port side. Her 4" 50-caliber gun appears to be pointed to port and aft (the same as the first photograph). It appears that the forward 20mm mount has not yet been installed. Exhibit 4.


Exhibit-05s (16K)
Medium Resolution Image -

Another view of Razorback's port side, taken from a slightly different angle. Fisher's Island is visible behind Razorback. Exhibit 5


Exhibit-07s (81K)
Medium Resolution Image -

A view of Razorback's starboard side with YNT-23 alongside. A torpedo is visible on the back deck of the smaller craft and a second torpedo appears to be be in the process of being offloaded. Exhibit 7.


Exhibit-10s (21K)
Medium Resolution Image -

An excellent view of Razorback's bow, forward torpedo tubes, anchor, and forward diving planes. The towing fairlead is clearly visible. This photograph gives an excellent idea of how shallow the water is. Exhibit 10


Exhibit-11s (20K)
Medium Resolution Image -

Another view of Razorback's starboard profile, with YNT-23 alongside receiving torpedoes. Exhibit 11


Following Razorback's return to New London, CT, a Board of Inquiry was held. Several defficience in Razorback's operation and navigation were noted in the Board of Inquiry's report.

LCDR Bontier was removed from command. The Navigator was reassigned and the OOD was given a letter of reprimand. LCDR Bontier would later be assigned command of USS Seawolf (SS-197), which was lost on October 3rd, 1944, after being mistakenly attacked by American forces.

A digital copy of the Board of Inquiry Report, as well as other documentation relating to the grounding is available upon request from the museum.


A short movie was also shot during the recovery efforts, and it will be made available in the near future.

 

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