Allied Warships

Capelin (SS-289)

Submarine of the Balao class


USS Capelin as completed.

NavyThe US Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassBalao 
Pennant289 
Built byPortsmouth Navy Yard (Kittery, Maine, U.S.A.) 
Ordered24 Dec 1941 
Laid down14 Sep 1942 
Launched20 Jan 1943 
Commissioned4 Jun 1943 
Lost23 Nov 1943 
History

Went missing in the Celebes Sea in late November / early December 1943.

Possibly sunk by Japanese aircraft and the Japanese minelayer Wakataka (offsite link) off Kaoe Bay, Halmahera on 23 November 1943.

USS Bonefish sighted a US submarine to the north of Celebes on USS Bonefish at 1753 hours on 2 December 1943. If this is correct this must have been USS Capelin as there were no other submarine in this area.

Capelin was ordered to leave hear patrol area on 6 December 1943 and to proceed to Fremantle, Australia. A signal was sent to her on 9 December 1943 but she failed to reply. 

Commands listed for USS Capelin (289)

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CommanderFromTo
1T/Cdr. Elliott Eugene Marshall, USN4 Jun 194323 Nov 1943 (+)

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Notable events involving Capelin include:


The history of USS Capelin as compiled on this page is extracted from her patrol report.

This page was last updated in April 2017.

13 Jul 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) departed the Portsmouth area for Newport, Rhode Island.

15 Jul 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) arrived at Newport, Rhode Island for her torpedo firing trials.

14 Aug 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) conducted exercises in Long Island Sound together with USS Semmes (Lt.Cdr. W.I. Bull, USN) and USS Mackerel.

27 Aug 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) is put on the Marine Railway at New London.

3 Sep 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) departed New London, Connecticut for Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone.

11 Sep 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) arrived at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone.

15 Sep 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) transited the Panama Canal.

16 Sep 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) departed Balboa, Panama Canal Zone for Brisbane, Australia via Naval Fuelling Station Galagos Islands.

13 Oct 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) arrived at Brisbane, Australia.

20 Oct 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) departed Brisbane for Darwin. Before proceeding to Darwin two days of training were undertaken near Brisbane.

29 Oct 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) arrived at Darwin.

30 Oct 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall. USN) departed from Darwin for her 1st war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Molucca, Flores Seas.

For the daily and attack positions of USS Capelin during this patrol see the map below.

11 Nov 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) torpedoed and sank the Japanese army cargo ship Kunitama Maru (3127 GRT, built 1941) north-west of Ambon in position 03°08'S, 127°38'E.

Earlier that day the sinking of another freighter is claimed.

(All times are zone H, -8)
1228 hours - In position 03°27'S, 127°44'E sighted smoke bearing 332°(T) in Kelang Strait. Closed.

1332 hours - Sighted masts and stack of the enemy.

1400 hours - Had closed the range to 4500 yards. Commenced attack.

1415 hours - In position 03°25'S, 127°46'E fired four torpedoes at the enemy, a freighter of about 2500-3000 ton. Range was 3100 yards.

1418 hours - Sighted a huge column of water rise about 150 feet in the air in line with the middle of the target, but definitely on the far side of the target. It was apparently under his bilge or close aboard him as the colomn of water was falling on both sides of the target. Two seconds or less after the first 'splash' another column of water arose ahead of the target and another hesvy explosion was heard. The first two torpedoes were herd to explode at the end of their run about 6 minutes after they had been fired.

Was amazed to see the ship, which should have broken in two from a torpex hit under her middle, turn tail and head for the beach, apparently undamaged and at the same speed, 11 knots.

1434 hours - Went to 150 feet to think this over and avoid any planes his radio might call over. Changed course to head for the target.

1450 hours - Returned to periscope depth. The target heded for a beach about 8 miles away and was opening the range rapidly. No sign of damage other then his stern seemed a bit low in the water. Continued following the target in toward the beach, watching carefully for A/S vessels with periscope and for planes with the SD radar.

1525 hours - The target was nearing the beach, now definitely down by the stern a couple of feet and listed to starboard about 5 to 10 degrees but no evidence of serious damage.

1530 hours - The target was near a sandy beach in position 03°27'N, 127°54'40"E. She was down by the stern a bit more, but still had steam up. Several sailboats were now hovering around her.

1538 hours - Decided to leave the target and head for Kalang Strait to arrive at the northern end by 2130 hours. It was then an hour and twenty minutes after the attack, with the target only 22 miles from Ambon. Either air attacks or A/S vessels activity seemed probable at any minute. Planned to look for him the following night and gun him if still there.

1642 hours - Noticed that our non-sinkable target was now lying parallel to the beach, but not on it. She was on an even keel with steam up, but not moving. Still no sign of planes and A/S vessels. Hated to let her get away from four torpedoes with only slight damage, and figured if Ambon hadn't received word of the attack by now they might not for another hour. Accordingly changed course to close the target again. Range then 6000 yards by fix.

1723 hours - Range now 2000 yards.

1739 hours - In position 03°27'S, 127°52'E fired one stern torpedo from 1600 yards. It hit the target in the center. It took five torpedoes to get this ship which was actually worth only one torpedo or a gun attack but we got her in the end.

1824 hours - Surfaced in bright moonlight. Nothing in sight. Resumed course for Kelang Strait.

1841 hours - In position 03°21'S, 127°49'E sighted a ship or patrol vessel heading southeasterly from the south end of Manipa Island. Radar picked it up immediately when put on that bearing, range 9000 yards and closing. Commenced tracking.

1845 hours - Range 6700 yards. Submerged to 40 feet. The target appeared to be small but larger then an escort vessel.

1904 hours - The target passed at a range of 7000 yards. Unable to close submerged and impossible to get ahead of him on the surface before he would reach Ambon.

1955 hours - Surfaced and again headed for Kelang Strait.

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2125 hours - Rounded Kelang Island and headed northeast to close the beach.

2143 hours - In position 03°11'S, 127°37'E sighted a freighter of about 3500-4000 ton. Moved closer to the beach. Commenced tracking. Radar was unable to pick up the target which was so plainly visible.

2150 hours - An escort was now visible off the enemy starboard quarter. Still no radar contact.

2157 hours - Dived to 40 feet. Radar apparently out so went to 60 feet. Target was plainly visible through the periscope.

2224 hours - In position 03°08'S, 127°38'E fired four torpedoes from the stern tubes from a range of 1800 yards. One hit was obtained. No flash was seen but the target was eveloped in black smoke, turned left and headed towards Capelin and the beach. Two torpedoes were heard to explode at the end of their run at 2230 hours.

2230 hours - Fired one bow torpedo at the escort from 1000 yards. It missed the escort but is believed to have hit the freighter beyond.

2236 hours - Got lined up for a straight stern shot at the freighter but the reload had not been competed yet.

2241 hours - Fired no.8 tube. The torpedo did not leave the tube. Turned hard right to clear the beach and made ready two bow tubes. The outer door of tube no.8 could not be closed so the torpedo must have partially left the tube.

2245 hours - Fired tube no.8 again but now at the beach to clear the tube.

2247 hours - Fired two bow torpedoes at the freighter from 900 yards. The escort was coming in fast now at a range of 1500 yards. One hit on the freighter was obtained which stopped immediately.

2248 hours - Went to 400 feet while turning right to avoid the freighter. Two depth charges were dropped while we went down.

2254 hours - Breaking up noises were heard. Depth harging meanwhile continued. A total of 16 were dropped in the next hour but they were not very close.

16 Nov 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) ended her 1st war patrol at Darwin, Australia where her defects were repaired, the submarine was stored and she received torpedoes.

17 Nov 1943
USS Capelin (Cdr. E.E. Marshall, USN) departed from Darwin for her 2nd war patrol. Once again she was ordered to patrol in the Molucca, Flores, and Banda Seas. She was not heard from again.

Media links


The Last Patrol

Holmes, Harry


U. S. Submarines in World War II

Kimmett, Larry and Regis, Margaret


U.S. Submarines Through 1945

Friedman, Norman


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