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First Japanese Warship Sunk

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USS Gudgeon (SS-211) leaving Mare Island, 25 January 1941

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the first sinking of a Japanese warship by a US submarine. The USS Gudgeon (SS-211) was on its first war patrol—the first war patrol of World War II—having left the submarine base at Pearl Harbor on 11 December. As a result of the Japanese attack just days before, the doctrine of unrestricted submarine warfare was enacted. After scouring the waters off the Japanese home islands—another first for the Gudgeon, being the first US sub to patrol that close to enemy shores—the Japanese submarine I-73 was spotted. Three torpedoes were fired and despite only claiming damage, the Gudgeon actually successfully hit and sank the I-73, becoming the first USN submarine to sink a Japanese warship (the I-70 had previously been sunk by Allied aircraft). The Gudgeon would meet a mysterious end, disappearing after a refueling stop at Johnston Island in April 1944. She ultimately earned 11 battle stars and sunk more than 70,000 tons.


This post by curator Meg Roussel

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