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USS Pike SS 173

USS Pike SS 173
USS Pike SS 173

USS Pike SS 173
USS Pike SS 173

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USS Pike (SS-173) with a "full head of steam" while on maneuvers. At first glance, not much appears in this photo to date it, or to come up with a location where it was taken. However, closer examination reveals numerous clues.

First, the presence of the class identifier "P2" on her conning tower fairwater indicates this picture was taken between her commissioning in December 1935 and September 1938, when the identifiers were replaced with the hull number.

Secondly, there is an aircraft carrier in the background. The overall size of the carrier, the configuration of her stern, and the overall date established above indicates that she is the USS Ranger (CV-4). The only time that the Ranger and Pike could have been photographed together would have been between March 1937 and September 1938, while both were operating with the Pacific Fleet. The place is more than likely Hawaiian waters, where most of the annual "Fleet Problem" exercises took place. The photo was actually taken on 27 June 1938, confirming what the clues are hinting at.

Also of note in the picture is the Pike's deck gun. It is a 3"/50 caliber Mark 6 weapon. The gun's mount is close to the deck, making this weapon incapable of elevating to fire against aircraft. This was the weapon of choice for the fleet boats until the Tambor class of 1940 when it was replaced by a 3"/50 caliber Mark 17 mount, which was now capable of anti-aircraft fire. In an interesting side note, the Mark 6 gun made a brief reappearance on a few of the Gato class boats early in WWII as supply shortages forced the use of the older gun. Also visible on the deck just forward of the conning tower fairwater is a pedestal mount for a water cooled M2 .50 caliber machine gun, the boat's primary anti-aircraft weapon. The gun was dismounted and taken below when the boat dived, leaving the pedestal topside.

Thanks to DCC(SS/SW) David L. Johnston, USN for the text supplied above.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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Close up of the bridge / Conning Tower area of the USS Pike (SS-173). Officer of the Deck can be seen just above the "P" wearing dark clothing. Aft of the periscope shears a lookout is looking at the cameraman. Three crew are sitting on a bench mounted to the fairwater probably having a smoke and catching some air. The photo has come from a Newspaper archive so touch-up paint and ink are seen on the photo in places to make the photo copy better to print.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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USS Pike (SS-173) Welcome Home cake is being cut by her Commanding Officer, Commander Rowland Clifford Lawver, who is the CO who returned Pike to New London after she had been retired from Pacific combat. She had an respectable combat record but was an ageing boat having been commissioned in 1935 and many newer submarines were coming from the shipyards.

Her first wartime Co was LCDR William A. New but he was relieved of command due to lack of aggressiveness by his XO Lt. Lawrence R. Daspit who held command until the end of June 1942 when he was relieved by his XO, Lt. William P. Gruner Jr, who took Pike to Mare Island Shipyard for overhaul. Gruner then lead bombers to Wake Island and then barely escaped from a severe depth-charging on January 14, 1943 during an attempted attack on targets off the coast off Japan. Upon her return to Pearl Harbor she was yet again assigned a new CO on February 28, 1943, it being LCDR Louis D. McGregor, Jr. but she was still plagued, like many submarines, with faulty torpedoes. Under McGreger the pike did manage to sink a 5000 ton ship and damage 28,000 tonnes including an aircraft carrier.

By this time Pike was a tired boat, she couldn't dive deep and her ageing hull was battle stressed. She was ordered back to New London for training. McGreger turned command over to Commander Rowland C. Lawver who was the Flag Secretary COMSUBPAC and being rotated back to the mainland.

In this photo we can see a Ship Cook on the left side of the picture with his arm around a woman who may be his wife. On the right are two 3rd class Torpedomen. A Lieutenant, possibly his Executive Officer stands to Lawver's left, (photo right).

Photos taken in January 1944 at Polly's Inn off West Norwich Road, Montville, CT.

Original Photo in the Private Family Collection of Kyle Jeske

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USS Pike (SS-173) Commanding Officers and their wives. Commander Rowland C. Lawver and his wife are seated on the left in this photo. Commander Louis D. McGregor, Jr. and his wife are seated on the right. McGreger had been relieved of command to become the Prospective Commanding Officer of the Redfish under construction at Portsmouth Naval Shipyards in Kittery, Maine. They had made the trip down to New London for the Welcome Home party, probably by special invitation.

Interesting to note that in no pictures of Lawver can we find he is wearing submarine qualification Dolphins though in other photos to be seen here he is wearing a Combat Patrol pin. He had been assigned to the submarine tender USS Griffin AS-13 at the time of his brothers death as an Army Air Corps pilot. Second Lieut. Lawrence Lawver was killed in a training accident on Sept. 9, 1942. He had probably been assigned to make a patrol aboard aboard one of her submarines. Since he wasn't likely going to command the submarine in a combat situation he was given command of Pike for her trip "home".

Original Photo in the Private Family Collection of Kyle Jeske

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USS Pike (SS-173) Officers and Chief Petty Officers pose for the camera. Former Commanding Officer, Commander Louis D. McGregor, Jr. is sitting fourth from the left . Commander Rowland C. Lawver is sitting to McGreger's left.

Original Photo in the Private Family Collection of Kyle Jeske

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USS Pike (SS-173) Officers and Crew with wives and girlfriends posing for the camera at Polly's Inn off West Norwich Road, Montville, CT. in January 1944.

Third from the right is former Commanding Officer Commander Louis D. McGregor, Jr. and his wife. Next to McGreger to the left in the photo is Commander Rowland Clifford Lawver, his wife is obscured by the officer in the front row. Standing in the second row from the top, third man from the left in the photo is Electrician 1/c Lawrence R. Jeske (face circled in ink) father of Kyle Jeske who submitted these photos.

Original Photo in the Private Family Collection of Kyle Jeske

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USS Pike (SS-173) Officers and Crew formal portrait taken at Polly's Inn off West Norwich Road, Montville, CT. in January 1944.

In the front row, holding either end of the USS Pike Battle Flag are (L) former CO Commander Louis D, McGreger and current CO Commander Rowland Clifford Lawver. Behind the Lieutenant to Lawvers left is Electrician 1/c Lawrence R. Jeske.

Original Photo in the Private Family Collection of Kyle Jeske

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USS Pike (SS-173) Battle Flag being held by an unidentified Chief Petty Officer and the Pike's last combat Commanding Officer, Commander Louis D. McGreger. The calender in the background shows it to be January 1944. Photo taken at Polly's Inn off West Norwich Road, Montville, CT.

Original Photo in the Private Family Collection of Kyle Jeske

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Silver Star awarded to USS Pike (SS-173) Commanding Officer, Commander Louis D. McGreger.

Thanks to Militarytimes.com

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