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USS Pompano SS 181

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 seen at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on April 6, 1936. The other vessel is the USS Henley DD-391. Pompano is seen with her after portion of hull yet to be constructed.

The Henly has her own fantastic war story. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Henley was moored in East Loch with battle stations manned, a green sailor having sounded General Quarters instead of Quarters for Muster. This fortunate mistake gave Henley the opportunity to fire the first destroyer shots as the initial wave of enemy planes swooped in.

Conned by a junior lieutenant, Francis Edward Fleck, Jr., (both her commanding officer and executive officer were ashore when the attack began), a bomb exploded 130 yards off her port bow as she slipped her chain from the buoy. As she cleared, she received a signal that a submarine was in the harbor. Henley maneuvered through the smoke, fire, and confusion and sped out of the channel. Her gunners splashed one dive bomber with her .50 cal. guns and shared credit for another. Henley dropped depth charges on a sonar contact, possibly a midget submarine, outside the harbor, and continued to blaze away at the enemy with her guns.

Henly was finally sunk on October 2, 1943 by a Japanese submarine off Finschafen, New Guinea. She evaded two torpedoes but a third broke her back and she shank at about 6:29 PM (1829) with the loss of 15 crew, 14 enlisted and one officer. 225 were rescued.

US Navy Photo

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USS Pompano SS 181 ready for launch, March 11, 1937 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California. Officers are on the subs bridge, a few crew and workmen are on the aft deck. All that is needed is the champagne broken over the bow to start her trip down the ways. Seen just to the left of the bottom torpedo tubes is the ships sponsor, Mrs. Isaac I. Yates, swinging the champagne bottle on the subs bow. In the photos left center foreground are three news reel photographers behind their cameras.

Navy Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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USS Pompano SS 181 ready for launch, March 11, 1937 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California. Officers and dignataries on the platform in the right foreground while the ships sponsor, Mrs. Isaac I. Yates, swinging the champagne bottle on the subs bow.

Navy Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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USS Pompano SS 181 ready for launch, March 11, 1937 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California. Seen at center right is the ships sponsor, Mrs. Isaac I. Yates, swinging the champagne bottle on the subs bow. In the photos left center foreground are three news reel photographers behind their cameras.

Navy Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 in the water. Her building cradle is floating next to her. It has cables attached that pull it from under the vessel once it is floating on its own. It is then pulled back into the building ways and reused for the next submarine.

US Navy Photo

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 on San Francisc Bay circa 1938, perhaps conducting sea trials. She is in her "as built" configuration with her 3"/50 gun mounted aft and a pedastal mounting forward for a Browning .50 caliber machinegun. She also still has both her port and starboard anchors. Later in the war boats with two anchors will have one removed.

US Navy Photo

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 seen here on August 19, 1939 heading out on trials for her first dive with the city of Vallejo, California in the background. She is passing Standard Oil Company buildings on the waterfront. Seen in the background on the hilltop is the Hotel Georgian. Interesting to note that as Pompano is making her first dive rescue operations are underway to recover her sistership, USS Squalus, with her 26 dead on the east coast.

Associated Press Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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Close-up from the photo above of the USS Pompano, (S5)181 showing crew and yard workers on deck. What looks like a mast aft of the conning tower fairwater is actually a flag pole on the shore at the Standard Oil Company property behind the submarine.

Associated Press Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 seen here at an unspecified date moored to a pier in Pago Pago Harbor American Samoa. The view is looking across the harbor to the north and the landmark Rainmaker mountain is seen to the right in the photo. The pier is probably in an area named Fatagoto which is near the Customs House pier and fuel storage docks. A church can be seen on the far shore just at the waterline.

The photo is taken from a spot near a larger vessel moored aft of the Pompano. The crew have rigged an awning on the aft deck to shield from the daytime sun. The pennant flying from the signal mast is the Third substitute pennant meaning "Absence of commanding officer" meaning the Captain has gone ashore. The Governors Mansion is only a short distance from this dock.

Original Snapshot in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 seen here at an unspecified date moored to a pier in Pago Pago Harbor American Samoa. The view is looking across the harbor to the north and the landmark Rainmaker mountain is seen to the right in the photo. The pier is probably in an area named Fatagoto which is near the Customs House pier and fuel storage docks. A church can be seen on the far shore just at the waterline.

The photo is taken from a spot near a larger vessel moored aft of the Pompano. The crew have rigged an awning on the aft deck to shield from the daytime sun. The pennant flying from the signal mast is the Third Substitute pennant meaning "Absence of commanding officer" meaning the Captain has gone ashore. The Governors Mansion is only a short distance from this dock so he may be making a courtesy call.

Original Snapshot in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 in the channel at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, circa 1940.

US Navy Photo

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USS Pompano, (S5)181 back at Mare Island, seen here on December 24, 1942. Her deck gun has been moved to forward of the conning tower fairwater. The forward part of her bridge has been cut away and a mount for a .20mm gun installed as on the aft 'cigarette deck', whose bulkheads have also been removed to lower the submarines' silhouette. On either side of teh deck gun can be seen the boat shaped hatches for motor launches. Prewar these were used to get around in areas with no accommodation for pier mooring. The boats were removed when the war started as unnecessary.

US Navy Photo

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