Photo provided by MMCM(SS) Greg Peterman, USN (Ret.)
Sealion on her launch day, May 25, 1939 at the Electric Boat Company in Groton CT. The Sealion is floating on her own for the first time just moments after her launch into the Thames River. The photo caption stating that it was a somber launch as recovery efforts were ongoing to salvage the Squalus.
AP Wire photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman.
Sealion conducting sea trials and measured mile runs surfaced and submerged off Provincetown, Massachusetts, late summer 1939. Here she is cruising past the camera boat for a series of publicity photos. What looks like a man on the deck forward of the conning tower is actually the mount for a .50 caliber machine gun.
U.S. Navy photo.
Another view of Sealion on trials in Cape Cod Bay, MA. late summer of 1939. In this photo there are two men on deck alongside the conning tower fairwater. Both appear to be officers based on their uniforms. They may be topside verifying the rig for dive.
U.S. Navy photo.
At least eight of the Sealion crew shown in this photo are named, circa 1939. At this time it is only a high probability that all the men in this photo are Sealion crewmen. The men identified are all members of the Commissioning crew roster. The fact that the rest of the crewmen are not identified may indicate that this is a combined crew photo, perhaps of an athletic team for two boats. The boat that they are standing on is definitely either Sealion or Seadragon. The known crewmen are identified in the gallery below.
The light colored oval plates on the fairwater behind the men are sonar transducers for the QCG or QCH passive sonar system. Mounting them here allowed the system to be used even if the sub were sitting on the bottom.
Image courtesy of Mike Kaup.
LT John R. Moore, XO
LTjg Albert Raborn
LTjg W.C. Thompson
CTM Richard W. Gerdes
CEM Joseph Hurst
CMM William J. Rogers
TM 1c Edgar M. Hantsche
Crew list from the program for the commissioning ceremonies for Sealion, November 27, 1939. Ric Hedman's cousin, YN 1c Loyal E. Day, is the ninth name down on the crew list.
Image courtesy of Marty Danford.
All in the private collection of Ric Hedman.
Sealion's baseball team, date unknown, probably circa 1940. Photo most likely taken on the Sealion's deck. In the second row back on the far-right side the two men there have been identified as Pharmacist's Mate 2c Wheeler Lipes (R) and Fireman 2c Henry B. Jones (L). In the background is a small boat with the number 197. If the boat belonged to the outboard submarine, that would make it the USS Seawolf (SS-197). The center boat is not identifiable.
Lipes would go on to become a Submarine Force legend. In these days submarines did not carry doctors. A single Pharmacist's Mate (PHM) was the only medical staff onboard. PHM's were trained in first aid, hospital administration, patient care, and were authorized to dispense medicines as indicated. That was it. They had no other medical training. Lipes survived the Sealion's bombing in Cavite at the start of the war and was transferred to Seadragon. While on Seadragon's fourth war patrol on September 11, 1942 one of Lipes' shipmates came down with acute appendicitis. Knowing that the sailor would die without an operation, Lipes performed a successful appendectomy with the boat submerged using makeshift surgical instruments while reading out of a surgical manual. SN 1c Darrel D. Rector not only survived, but was returned to full duty after recovery. The first surgery aboard a submarine set a precedent of much more intensive training for submarine PHM's, and Lipes' courage, fortitude, and steady hand were an inspiration to the whole force. Rector's trust in his shipmate is illustrative of the bond between submariners.
Many thanks go to Bryan Jones for this great copy of the Sealion baseball team. Thanks also to Larry Johnson for another copy this photo. His uncle Clarence H. Johnson served aboard the Sealion as a Seaman 2nd Class. LT Clarence H. Johnson later died while serving aboard the USS Golet (SS-361) when she was sunk by the Japanese on June 14, 1944. Identifications of Henry Jones by Bryan Jones, son of Henry Jones.
This photo shows Naval Station Cavite in Manila Bay, Philippines shortly after the Japanese attacked on December 10, 1941. The shipyard was left in shambles and aflame. To the lower right-hand edge of the photo you can see the bow of the Sealion. She had been hit by two bombs. One hit the after end of the cigarette deck and exploded, sending shrapnel flying everywhere. A piece penetrated the conning tower of the Seadragon moored next to Sealion, hitting and killing Ensign Samuel H. Hunter, Jr. The second bomb hit at the juncture of the engine room/maneuvering room, instantly killing four men working on rebuilding electric motors. Their bodies were not recovered until the Sealion hulk was fully salvaged in 1959. Rest in peace shipmates.
•CEM Sterling Cecil Foster
•CEM Melvin Donald O'Connell
•MM 1c Ernest Ephrom Ogilvie
•EM 3c Vallentyne Lester Paul
In addition to these deaths, one more Sealion crewmember died as a POW, having been captured after the fall of the Philippines.
•MM 1c Howard Firth
U.S. Navy photo.
Sealion was not terribly damaged, but in the chaos that followed the initial Japanese attacks on the Philippines, little could be done to repair her. She was systematically stripped of any useful equipment, which was transferred to other submarines in need. Any remaining equipment was thoroughly wrecked. When this work was completed, her crew was transferred to other boats or commands. Unfortunately a few did not make it out and became members of Luzon's defense force. One (Firth) was captured and died as a POW.
On Christmas Day 1941, three depth charges were detonated inside her wreck, ensuring nothing useful remained, although the wreck remained mostly intact. Sealion is seen in the center of this photo of Machina Wharf at Cavite shortly after this wrecking was completed. It sat where she was sunk at her mooring. This is how the Japanese found her on January 3, 1942 when they took control of Cavite. The Japanese quickly moved to make Cavite a functioning base for their Navy, but Sealion was in the way. They raised her, studied what remained, then moved the wreck to an out of the way spot just to the north at Sangley Point, where they dropped it in shallow water.
Photo 80-G-243717 courtesy of the NHHC.
The condition of Sealion's wreck during the Japanese salvage efforts, January 1942. Her wreck was of no use to them just as the USN wanted it to be. They did take this photo of the damage to the conning tower fairwater. After the war it was found in among the captured documents. The quality of this many times copied image is bad and Ric worked very hard to try and salvage the photo so the details of the damage can be seen.
A large piece of metal can be seen peeled away and folded back to the left at the bottom of the two smokestacks in the background. Another large section of steel is seen folded upwards on the port side of the periscope sheers. Harder to see is another large section folded down by the force of the explosion right towards the camera and appears as a white colored object in the center bottom of the photo. Everything else was simply blown away by the explosion. Destroyed was the Sealions' main induction and exhaust valves which was right where the bomb hit. The oval door leading from the conning tower to allow deck access can be seen in the lower center of the photo.
Photo 1010058 courtesy of the NHHC.
After the Japanese were done with the wreck, they towed it around Cavite Point and to the north about a mile to Sangley Point, where they dropped it in shallow water, portions of it still visible. This photo shows how she was found in November 1945 when U.S. forces reoccupied the Cavite/Sangley area. All the plating around the conning tower has been stripped away, probably by the Japanese for projects and repairs of their own. A Filipino man can be seen fishing off the top of the conning tower. This view is from the forward port side of the conning tower looking aft.
Photo NH 85725 courtesy of the NHHC.
MM 1c Everett Butler, former Sealion crewmember. Photo taken in 1944. The below was sent to Ric Hedman by Butler about 15 years ago:
I was on the Sealion from Oct 41 to Dec 41. Was a F2C in the FWD Engine Room. Before the yard period at Cavite I, along with another fireman and Chief Rogers, were working on modifying the pistons for the main engines for the upcoming yard overhaul.
The yard overhaul was to be completed by Dec 13 but the air raid on Dec 10 ended all of that.
It was a Wednesday and work schedule had been increased a few hours each day. We had just had lunch in the mess hall in the dock area in the navy yard and returned to the ship waiting to return to work at 1 when the air raid sirens went off. We received two direct bomb hits, one on the cigarette deck at the after end of bridge area. The other, either in the after engine room or maneuvering room. This one really done us in as we lost the main motor reduction gears and of course the entire switching equipment for electric power. The switches were all apart having been rebuilt by the EMs.
We lost 3 EMs and one MM1. Since we were outboard of Seadragon alongside the wharf we settled in the water with only the stern and the deck from just aft of the conning tower under water.
Most of the Sealion crew went on to the dock and manned fire hoses to fight fires in the wooden buildings. The fire got to the torpedo warheads and they began to explode, then many of us jumped into the water beside the dock.
When the fires were out and the yard was in waste, Captain Voge sent Utz to find us a boat so we could get across Manila Bay to the Canopus alongside one of the city piers. Utz came back with the Admiral's Barge, we all got on board and headed for the Canopus.
The next several days were spent getting classified material off the boat On the 17 of Dec the Sailfish came in, their skipper had asked to be relieved, and Voge took command. Four Sealion sailors went on board, Riley RM1; Johnson SM1; Elsasser SN; and Butler FN. Later, I think in Java, we also picked up Rahl, Utz and McCurdy FN, making a total of 8 Sealion sailors on board Sailfish. PHM (Wheeler) Lipes went to Seadragon, he died just last year, was a LCDR retired. He did the appendectomy operation. (On Seadragon)
Hope this helps you out.
I am treasurer of Wisconsin Base SubVets Inc.
Story and photo courtesy of Everett Butler.
MM 2c Henry Brogden Jones while still aboard the Sealion. After the Sealion was sunk he was transferred to the USS Stingray (SS-186). He later made Chief and then Warrant Officer.
Photo courtesy of Bryan K. Jones, son of Henry Brogden Jones.
John Harold Iden, Jr. seen here on an unidentified date and location. He is qualified in submarines at this point. His Qualified in Submarines dolphin patch can be seen sewn on his right sleeve.
According to his family John Iden's service once he left the bombed Sealion was; "...on the USS Permit on 09-Feb-1942 in Surabaya, Java (Dutch Netherlands submarine base). There are no records for the period 10-Dec-1941 through 09-Feb-1942 (60-days). His medical record cites that he was on Bataan and Corregidor and survived on berries. But how did he get to be on the Permit? He also later served aboard the USS Pickerel, USS Saury and the shakedown cruise of the USS Spot. He was honorably discharged 08-Dec-1944...He passed on 22-Mar-1971."
Photo courtesy of Scott Iden, son of Sealion crewman John Harold Iden, Jr.
In 1959 the USN was interested in expanding the docking facilities on the southern edge of Sangley Point. The Sealion was in the way so the decision was made to raise the wreck. As this work was going on it was discovered that the bodies of the four crewmen that had been killed in the initial attack where still entombed inside the after engine room. The Japanese had never removed them. They were carefully removed under military protocol and two of them (O’Connell and Ogilvie) were returned to the States for burial by their families. The other two (Foster and Paul) were buried with full military honors at sea from the USS Princeton (LPH-5). This article from a Navy magazine details the funeral on the Princeton.
The final fate of the Sealion remains somewhat in doubt. One source said the wreck was sold for scrapping, and another said she was towed out to deep water in Manila Bay off Corregidor and Fort Drum and scuttled.
U.S. Navy photo.
Former Sealion crewman Loyal E. Day with his cousin and very young TN(SS) Ric Hedman in May 1969 in San Diego. This was the one and only time that Ric had the pleasure to meet his cousin and shipmate. He passed away a while after this photo was taken. See any family resemblance?
Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman.
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