USS Gato Class (Submarine, 1941-1945)
The Gato class was the standard design for American submarines at the beginning of World War II. The Gato class, and its successor, the Balao class, bore the brunt of the fighting against Japan during the war. Gato class submarines were successful boats that proved to be fast, strong, well armed, and suited to the long-range patrols necessary to fight in the Pacific. USS Silversides, USS Drum, USS Cobia, and USS Cod are all Gato class submarines. They all appear to meet the criteria for designation as National Historic Landmarks. USS Silversides and USS Drum are in excellent condition, retain their World War II integrity, and have significant war records. USS Cobia is in excellent condition, retains her World War II integrity and saw service in the Pacific during the war. USS Cod is in good condition, retains her World War II integrity and saw service in the Pacific during the war. USS Cod is the only World War II submarine preserved as a war memorial that has not been altered to accommodate visitor access. Visitors to USS Cod must enter the submarine the same way the sailors did in World War II.
Two additional Gato class submarines, USS Croaker (Groton, Connecticut) and USS Cavalla (Galveston, Texas), were inspected during this study. USS Croaker shows a severe loss of her World War II integrity and for this reason does not appear to meet the criteria for designation as a National Historic Landmark. USS Croaker is missing two of her forward torpedo tubes, one complete diesel engine, parts of two other diesel engines, both periscopes, and much of her internal equipment. USS Cavalla had a highly significant war record in the Pacific, earning a Presidential Unit Citation, and sinking the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku on June 19, 1944. After the war, USS Cavalla was converted into a snorkel-equipped Guppy submarine. USS Cavalla does not appear to meet the criteria for designation because of her seriously deteriorated condition. The wooden deck of USS Cavalla has been replaced with concrete, her interior is dirty and vandalized, and her exterior is severely rusted.
(Since the time this was written a group of volunteers have organized a 501c3 body, the Cavalla Historical Foundation, to restore USS Cavalla. Many of the interiors of the submarine have been cleaned, repainted and refurbished; the concrete deck was broken up and removed and the rusty superstructure has been replaced by historically accurate new construction. USS Cavalla will be restored to her Cold War configuration.)
Balao class submarines were an improved version of the previous Gato class. They were designed to dive to a depth of 400 feet as opposed to the 300 feet for Gato class boats. Like Gato class submarines they were built in large numbers and carried much of the burden of the submarine war in the Pacific. USS Bowfin, USS Pampanito, USS Lionfish and USS Becuna are all Balao class submarines. They all appear to meet the criteria for designation as National Historic Landmarks.
USS Bowfin and USS Pampanito are in excellent condition, retain their World War II integrity, and have significant war records. USS Lionfish is in excellent condition, retains her World War II integrity, and saw service in the Pacific. USS Becuna is in good condition, has some loss of her World War II integrity, and saw service in the Pacific.
USS Gato - SS 212 built by Electric Boat Company launched 21st August 1941