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Razorback SS-394 - History

Razorback SS-394 - History


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Razorback

(SS-394: dp. 1,525 (surf.), 2,415 (subm.) 1. 311'9", h. 27'3"dr. 15'5"; s. 20 k.; cpl. 81; a. 1 4", i 40mm., 2 20mm.,10 21" tt.; el. Balao)

Razorback (SS-394) was laid down by the Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., 9 September 1943; launched 27 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. H. F. D. Davis, and commissioned 3 April 1944, Lt. Comdr. A. M. Bontier in command.

After shakedown off New England, Razorback sailed to Pearl Harbor. Her first war patrol, commencing 25 August, was conduct.ed east of Luzon as a member of an offensive group in support of the mid-September Palau landings. After sighting only enemy antisubmarine planes, she headed northeastward, arriving at .NIidway 19 October.

On 15 November Razorback sailed from Miduay on her second war patrol in company with Trepang and Segundo Operating with these submarines in the Luzon Straits, Razorback damaged 6,933-ton freighter Kenjo Maru 6 December and sank 820-ton old destroyer Kuretake and damaged another freighter 30 December. She arrived at Guam for refit 5 January 1945.

On 1 February Razorback set out for the East China Sea for her third war patrol, this time accompanied by Segundo and Seacat. After sinking four wooden ships in three separate surface gun actions, she deposited three Japanese prisoners at Cuam before terminating her patrol at Pearl Harbor 26 March 1945.

On 7 May Razorback headed west again. Assigned to lifeguard duty in the Nanpo Shoto and Tokyo Bav areas, she rescued four B-29 pilots and a fighter pilot before retiring to Midway to end that patrol, and refit, 27 June.

On 22 July Razorback departed Midway for patrol in the Okhotsk Sea, where she sank six wooden cargo sea trucks and damaged two in a surface gun action. The remainder of the patrol was spent performing lifeguard services off J'aramushiro for Alaska based planes. On 31 August Razorback entered Tokyo Harbor with 11 other submarines to take part in the formal surrender of Japan. She departed 3 Septemher, arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 11th and San Diego on the 20th.

After the war she remained active with the Pacific Fleet serving off Japan and China in early 1948 and again in late 1949. In August 1952 she decommissioned incident to eonversion to Guppy IIA-type submarine. She recommissioned in January 1954 and reported to Submarine Squadron 10 at New London, Conn., for shakedown and training.

Following shakedown Razorback was transferred to the west coast and on 24 May 1954 became a unit of Submarine Squadron 3, based at San Diego. The remainder of 1954 and 1955 were spent providing antisubmarine training services for local surface and air units. In 1956 her range of operations was extended north to Canada and on 24 June 1957 she got underway on her first extended Far East deployment since the forties. Regularly deployed to the 7th Fleet into the sixties Razorback sailed into the South China Sea On her 1965 deployment where she earned her first Vietnam Service Medal. She returned to San Diego 1 February 1966, but was in the western Pacific 29 December 1966-3 July 1967 and 6 August 1968-February 1969. During 1969 and until January 1970, she continued to operate on the west coast out of San Diego, Calif. Razorback's last deployment, again to the western Pacific, was from 30 January to 7 August 1970. Not long after her return to the west coast, she was decommissioned at Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard. Concurrent with her decommissioning on 30 November, Razorback was transferred to the Turkish Navy and recommissioned Murat Reis (S-336).

Razorback earned five battle stars for World War II service and four stars for Vietnam service.


RAZORBACK SS 394

This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Balao Class Submarine
    Keel Laid September 9 1943 - Launched January 27 1944

Struck from Naval Register November 30 1970

Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.

Postmarks

This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
 
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.


USS Razorback

The USS Razorback (SS-394) is a Balao-class submarine that saw service in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The name “Razorback” came from the Rorqual family of whales, which are characterized by throat grooves that extend from the throat to the flippers. This submarine, after a long and varied service, is now docked in the Arkansas River in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), as part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

The USS Razorback was constructed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine in 1943–44 and was launched on January 27, 1944. Between 1944 and 1945, the Razorback completed war patrols in the Pacific, which included being a member of an offensive group conducting patrols east of Luzon in the Philippines in support of the mid-September 1944 landings on Palau. It also operated in a group of submarines that patrolled in the Luzon Straits, where the Razorback damaged a 6,933-ton freighter on December 6, 1944, and sank an 820-ton destroyer and damaged another freighter on December 30. On February 1, 1945, the Razorback set out for the East China Sea, accompanied by the Segundo and the USS Sea Cat (SS-399), where it sank four wooden ships in three separate surface gun actions.

As a result of its World War II patrols, the Razorback won five battle stars, and it is also one of only two surviving submarines that took part in the formal surrender of Japan at Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. Following World War II, the Razorback remained active with the Pacific Fleet, participating in patrols off Japan and China. After being modified in the early 1950s to make it more modern and competitive against possible Soviet submarine threats, it provided antisubmarine training services for surface and air units off the West Coast through 1956. From 1957 until 1970, the Razorback returned to duty in the Far East, earning its first Vietnam Service Medal in 1965.

Following its final deployment, it was decommissioned on November 30, 1970, transferred to the Turkish Navy, and renamed the TCG Muratreis (S-336). Due to their classified nature, little information is available about the Muratreis’s duties while in the Turkish Navy, though it is known that it was involved in the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island of Cyprus.

The Muratreis was decommissioned in August 2001. The city of North Little Rock succeeded in buying the submarine for $37,500 in 2004 (with the sale being finalized on March 25, 2005), following the intervention of city officials and submarine veterans groups, specifically the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. The city of North Little Rock arranged for it to be towed from Turkey at a cost of about $500,000, most of which came from private donations it arrived at the Port of Little Rock on August 29, 2004. A celebration, called an “American Homecoming,” was held for the Razorback later that month to celebrate its return to the United States.

The submarine was opened for tours on May 15, 2005, at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 1, 2005.

For additional information:
“Arrival of USS Razorback submarine delayed.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 11, 2004, p. 1B

Jensen, Van. “Razorback ends latest ‘adventure’ at LR Port.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 4, 2004, pp. 1A, 12A.

Sandlin, Jake. “Gathering Marks Sub’s 75th Year.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 4, 2019, pp. 1B, 3B.

———. “NLR sub docks in New Orleans.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 20, 2004, pp. 1B, 3B.

Schnedler, Jack. “From the Depths.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 13, 2021, pp. 1E, 6E.

Wilcox, Ralph S. “USS Razorback (SS-394).” National Register of Historic Places registration form. 2004–2005. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PU8144.nr.pdf
(accessed December 18, 2019).

Ralph S. Wilcox
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program


Save the USS RAZORBACK (SS-394) John Walker’s trickle of intelligence meanwhile became a flood. According to Walker’s account, he mostly supplied the Soviets with old key lists – much less zealously guarded – and the KGB never pressed him for current or future ones. In fact, the Soviets advised Walker to avoid future material as well as maintenance manuals. Also, their plan for clandestine drops provided for only two per year, and he claimed that the KGB never demanded more frequent exchanges, which means their take of current/future material had to be limited to a couple of months annually. Walker also maintained that much of what he gave the Soviets concerned such obsolescent systems as the World War II – vintage KL-47, which featured a seven-rotor encryption machine similar to the German Enigma, and the KW-37, an early online, or automated, encryption system. As for the later-generation KW-7 system, Walker said he only provided the Soviets with its key lists for random future dates. Probably few commentators accept his version of what he handed over. If his claim that the KGB showed no desire for current or future keys is accurate, it puts an interesting light on Soviet gains from his espionage. Walker nevertheless provided a huge array of other secret Navy and U.S. documents to America’s Cold War adversary. These included operational orders, war plans, technical manuals, and intelligence digests. The KGB devised and furnished its spy with an electronic device that could read the KL-47’s rotor wiring and gave him a miniature Minox camera. At Norfolk, he used his status as an armed forces courier to smuggle documents from headquarters to his bachelor officer quarters (BOQ) room, where he photographed them. There was such a stream of papers he had to be selective. Walker estimated that photographing just 20 of the hundreds of messages that crossed his desk during a watch would have required more than 100 rolls of film over six months, yet initially everything he left at a dead drop needed to fit inside a single soda can. Later, while on training duty at San Diego, Walker had less access to top secret documents and had to rely on a classified library. Smuggling out material meant getting it past multiple checkpoints staffed by Marine guards. He also forged the papers required to show renewal of his security clearance. This spy enjoyed amazingly good fortune. But John Walker’s luck ran out with his family. He sometimes spent nights at the BOQ instead of the family’s home. Barbara Walker had suspected her husband of sexual adventures – true, as it happened – and looked through his things. Family financial problems that had seemed insuperable were suddenly solved. Walker pointed to his moonlighting as the source of his money, but Barbara remained unconvinced. And then, within a year of her husband becoming a spy, she found a grocery bag in which Walker had secreted a pile of classified documents. Confronted with the discovery, he admitted to his espionage and took Barbara along to one of his dead drops in a dubious attempt to involve her in his crime. From the beginning, the KGB had warned Walker never to reveal anything to his wife or other family members. Though Barbara did nothing immediately, the seeds of John Walker’s downfall were planted. On the West Coast and while assigned to the combat stores ship Niagara Falls (AFS-3), the spy’s journeys to drop his gleanings to the KGB became much more onerous. One 1972 drop required a flight from Vietnam to the United States, a brief cover visit home, and then rejoining his ship in Hong Kong. When Walker returned to Norfolk to work at Amphibious Force Atlantic headquarters in the summer of 1974, the problems were ameliorated, but the transfer conflicted with his desire to remain afloat and away from Barbara. The naval spy’s solution was to retire from the Navy. He believed that he could then work more effectively as a network manager, delivering to the Soviets information gathered by others. By the time he separated from the service, Walker had already begun dabbling in private investigating. Later, he took a job at Wackenhut and then opened his own firm. He also divorced Barbara, but not before again bringing her along to one of his drop sites. Building the Ring John Walker’s network began with an old Navy friend, Senior Chief Petty Officer Jerry Whitworth, also a radioman, who had left the service but re-enlisted in the fall of 1974. He then volunteered for a billet at Diego Garcia, a previous duty station. Whitworth was active by the summer of 1975, when Walker put in for retirement. The more experienced spy forwarded many packets of Whitworth’s intelligence to the KGB. Possibly the best resulted from his tour on board the Niagara Falls in the same post Walker once held. When the ship went into dry dock, Whitworth was reassigned to Naval Communications Center Alameda. There, however, he found that clandestinely photographing documents was harder. Walker bought a van, for which the Soviets reimbursed him, in which Whitworth could do his camerawork while it sat in a parking lot near work. With Walker free to travel after his retirement and Whitworth delivering the goods, the spymaster offered the Soviets more frequent intelligence deliveries. Again the KGB specifically refused, although it invited Walker to a face-to-face meeting in Casablanca in the summer of 1977 during which his Soviet contact denounced his recruitment of a new agent. Walker agreed to annual clandestine meetings in Vienna and not to bring in any more agents. He later claimed that during one of the sidewalk encounters in the Austrian capital he was secreted away and debriefed by a group of men who included KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov. Others claim that Andropov personally oversaw Walker’s espionage, which was unlikely. In late 1980, a visit to Alameda by a Naval Investigative Service (NIS) team to solve a rape case frightened Whitworth. He not only became skittish but also pecuniary, deliberately ruining a batch of his photographs in an attempt to get the KGB to pay twice. Whitworth carried off a foot-high stack of documents from his last post on board the Enterprise (CVN-65) with the intent to continue delivering his stream of classified information after leaving the Navy, which he did in October 1983. Among the materials the Soviets obtained from him were cable traffic plus photographs of, and some key lists for, the KW-7, KY-8, KG-14, KWR-37, and KL-47 cryptographic systems. Though older crypto setups predominated, the take included data on the newest U.S. secure phone system. Aware of Whitworth’s increasing reluctance to spy and despite Walker’s promises to the KGB, in 1983 the spymaster solicited his son, Michael, a freshly minted yeoman on board the Nimitz (CVN-68) who worked in the ship’s administration office. (In 1979 he had attempted but failed to draw in his youngest daughter, Laura Walker Snyder, who was then in the Army but pregnant and planning to leave the service.) Michael copied more than 1,500 documents for the KGB, including material on weapon systems, nuclear weapons control, command procedures, hostile identification and stealth methods, and contingency target lists. He also included such ordinary items as copies of the Nimitz ship’s newspaper. Owing money to the spymaster, Arthur L. Walker, John’s older brother who was a retired Navy lieutenant commander working for a defense contractor, played the game. He produced repair records on certain warships plus damage-control manuals for another. John Walker’s rationalizations aside, this “family of spies” approach to espionage was a security breach waiting to happen, since suspicion of any family member would likely result in questioning of others, and the master spy was perfectly aware that Barbara Walker harbored nothing but ill-will toward him. Razorback SS-394 - History

Robert "Mr. Razorback" Opple

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
Sunday, August 29, 2004
USS Razorback SS-394
returns to Arkansas

By TOM PARSONS ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Thousands of people gathered Sunday on the banks of the Arkansas River to welcome a historic U.S. submarine to its new home at the site of an inland maritime museum.

The USS Razorback is believed to be the world's longest-serving submarine, spending 31 years with the Turkish navy after the Navy decommissioned and sold the vessel in 1970.

City officials in North Little Rock bought the submarine from Turkey for $1 plus shipping costs to make it the centerpiece of the 10.5 million Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

About 7,500 cheering well-wishers welcomed the vessel, waving flags and listening to bands and speeches.

As the submarine approached a barge where dozens of dignitaries waited, her top deck was lined with Navy veterans. Mayor Patrick Hays rode atop the submarine's "sail," or conning tower, along with U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and his four children.

"For years to come, the people of central Arkansas, and, indeed, of the country, will be able to share a portion of the unbelievable history that's woven into the hull of this vessel," said Maj. Gen. Don Morrow, adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard.

Capt. Alaettin Sevim of the Turkish navy, the last commander of the vessel under that nation's flag, received a hearty round of applause, as did the submarine's last two U.S. Navy commanders - retired Capt. Joseph T. Talbert Jr. and retired Capt. Ken Brown.

But the biggest applause by far went to Lawrence B. Crann, who served aboard the Razorback as a lieutenant commander in the closing days of World War II, stepping down in 1946 as her executive officer, or second in command. He saluted the American flag at the ship's stern before stepping slowly down the gangway.

The 312-foot Razorback departed from Istanbul on May 5, towed by an oceangoing tugboat.

It was launched in 1944 and was one of 12 U.S. submarines present at the official Japanese surrender that ended World War II. It was awarded five battle stars during World War II and four during the Vietnam War.

The submarine's name is unrelated to the Razorback mascot of the University of Arkansas. The vessel was named for a species of whale.


This Day in Submarine History - USS Sargo (SSN-583) Fire

On this day in 1960, a fire broke out aboard the nuclear powered submarine USS Sargo (SSN-583) while she was in port in Pearl Harbor, HI.

The fire started when an oxygen line, being used to recharge the oxygen storage bottles aboard Sargo, ruptured. This line entered the submarine at the after torpedo room hatch.

The intense heat of the fire caused a low order detonation of the two MK-37 torpedoes in the after torpedo room. The crewman in charge of the operation aboard Sargo, MM3 (SS) James E. Smallwood, was killed.

After attempts to contain the fire failed, the decision was made to submerge the submarine, with the hatch open. Once the fire was completely extinguished, a floating crane was used to raise the stern of the submarine.

On February 29, 1998, a new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters building was dedicated in Petty Officer Smallwood's name.

Photo courtesy of Tom Hansen and the USS Sargo Website and used with their kind permission. A summary of the Board of Inquiry report can be found on the USS Sargo Website.


Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM) in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is home to Arkansas’s only historic naval vessel open to the public for tours, the USS Razorback (SS 394). It also includes a U.S. Navy tugboat, the USS Hoga. The museum also offers a small research library and a number of permanent and rotating exhibits on submarines and naval history.

Hearing of the Razorback’s approaching decommission, a group of submarine veterans initiated an effort to return the submarine to the United States. They approached Mayor Patrick Henry Hays of North Little Rock in 2002 about the possibility of docking the Razorback in Arkansas. At that time, the city was already working to acquire the Hoga, a tugboat present at Pearl Harbor, because it believed that the two vessels would make a perfect combination for a museum on the Arkansas River. Two years later, Mayor Hays traveled to Turkey, where the Razorback had been transferred in 1970, to sign papers for acquiring the submarine. The vessel arrived in Arkansas in August 2004.

After conservation work, the Razorback opened for tours as part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum on May 15, 2005. A museum opened in July 2005 in a building a short distance away from the submarine.

In 2002, as part of the work to prepare for the new museum, the City of North Little Rock acquired two barges from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After extensive renovation work, the two barges were moved into place in January 2006 for additional interior work. The first barge, Mary Munns, serves as the ticket booth, waiting area, and gift shop for the museum. The second, Savannah Lou, holds the museum’s interpretative exhibits, a small theater, workshops, and a library.

In December 2005, a memorial to USS Snook (SS 279), originally installed on the grounds of MacArthur Park in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was reassembled outside the main entrance to the museum. The Snook is one of fifty-two submarines lost during World War II and the one that Arkansas adopted for commemorative and memorial purposes.

Exhibits in the museum consist of permanent exhibits on general submarine history, submarine training, and submarine operations such as firefighting and underwater escape, as well as the Razorback’s operational history, the submarine Snook, and the battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33). Rotating exhibits interpret a variety of topics, such as Pearl Harbor and the many ships and submarines with names related to Arkansas.

The library—a joint effort between AIMM and the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI)—includes more than 2,500 books, periodicals, videos, CDs, and DVDs on many topics, not just submarines. There are significant holdings on U.S. naval history, general military history, the Vietnam War, and maritime piracy and pirate history. The library also has a large selection of fiction titles.

In November 2013, a memorial to USS Scorpion (SSN 589) was also added. The historic tugboat USS Hoga, a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attacks, arrived in North Little Rock from California in November 2015 to become part of the museum.


USS Razorback (SS-394)

USS Razorback (SS-394) is a decommissioned Balao-class submarine of the United States Navy.

The USS Razorback is currently moored at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum along the riverfront in North Little Rock. The submarine was purchased by the City of North Little Rock for $37,500 on March 25, 2004. Under the name TCG Muratreis (S-336) the submarine had served in that nation's navy for 31 years. The submarine was towed across the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico. The rechristened USS Razorback was then towed up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers. At Montgomery Point Lock and Dam the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested that the submarine be floated between two barges to avoid scraping the river bottom. The submarine reached North Little Rock on August 29, 2005.

Public tours of the submarine began on May 15, 2005. Contrary to common wisdom the submarine was not named after the mascot of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, but instead after the Razorback or Fin whale species (Balaenoptera physalus).


Razorback SS-394 - History

Bring the Cruise Book to Life with this Multimedia Presentation

This CD will exceed your Expectations

A great part of naval history.

You would be purchasing an exact copy of the USS Razorbackcruise book during World War II. Each page has been placed on a CD for years of enjoyable computer viewing. The CD comes in a plastic sleeve with a custom label. Every page has been enhanced and is readable. Rare cruise books like this sell for a hundred dollars or more when buying the actual hard copy if you can find one for sale.

Some of the items in this book are as follows:

  • List of men who served
  • Awards to the Razorback
  • Places the boat has landed
  • Rest and relaxation periods - recreation
  • End of war message
  • Poems and songs
  • Group photos
  • History of the ship
  • Divisional group photos with names

Once you view this CD you will know what life was like on this Attack Submarine during World War II.


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