|On Eternal Patrol -
Men Lost while in service to the US Submarine Force
A Photographic Presentation
Since the acceptance of the first submarine into the U.S. Navy in 1900, over four thousand men have lost their lives in the Silent Service. The great majority of them died in the period between December 7, 1941 and September 2, 1945. This site necessarily focuses on the World War II losses, although submariners of all eras are included in the presentation.
There are numerous memorials throughout the United States and on the Internet that exhibit lists of submariners on eternal patrol. The primary purpose of this site is to attempt to put faces to as many of the names on the lists as possible.
The quality of the photographs used in the presentation varies greatly, largely due to the limitations of source material. Occasionally, the only available photo is from the man's childhood. If anyone would like to submit higher quality or additional photographs, in either digital or hard copy format, we would greatly appreciate your assistance.
Please note that, with a few exceptions, all men included in these pages were lost "in the line of duty," either while actually serving in the U.S. Submarine Force, or as passengers aboard a commissioned U.S. submarine at the time of their loss.
Photo: Waterfront Memorial, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum (formerly USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park)
Family Contact Information for Lost Submariners
In addition to presenting information on the submariners themselves, we maintain family contact information for the relatives of the men we seek to honor. This information is kept private and confidential, and is used in the event that developments concerning the lost vessels occur. Since 2005, eight lost U.S. Navy submarines have been found, and our database has been instrumental in informing the families of the final resting place of their loved ones. Please contact us if you would like to be included in our lost submariner family network.
Information on Individual Listings
Full names are listed if the information is available. Nicknames are included upon request by the submitting friend or relative. Alternative spellings may be indicated. Unless otherwise noted, rank/rate is listed as it is in the records of the National Archives.
The format most often used for the Service Number (or File Number) is that which was used by the Navy at that time -- seven digits with spaces after the third and fifth digits (as in 123 45 67) for enlisted men, and "O-" followed by six digits (O-123456) for commissioned officers. (Please note that ABMC usually places a "0" (zero) in in front of officer's service numbers, as in 0-123456. We use the letter "O" for all officers listed on this site up through the end of World War II.) The Navy discontinued using the service number as an identifier and began using the Social Security Number on January 1, 1972. This site does not list the Social Security Number of any individual.
The "From" category is most commonly the city or town in which the next of kin resided, as provided by the men themselves, and so listed in the National Archives, and is thus frequently not the place of birth or the hometown of the submariner. Actual birth places are often listed in the "Remarks" section on the individual memorial pages.
"Decorations" shows major medals and awards as listed in the American Battle Monuments Commission records and other authoritative sources. Unit and theater awards are not generally shown on personal memorial pages. A brief explanation of medals displayed on the pages of this site can be found here.
Information on the individual's submarine or command, loss date, location, and circumstances of loss is from the archives of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum (formerly USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Brief Histories of Lost World War II Submarines
52 American submarines were lost during World War II. See Submarines Lost in World War II for short histories of each boat, including available information on how they were lost - and on how six of those have since been found. The histories are taken from the official publication U.S. Submarine Losses World War II (NAVPERS 15782, 1949 Edition). We are in the process of proofreading and adding new information to these pages.
Submariner Prisoners of War
Of the approximately 210 submarine men that were captured by enemy forces during World War II, at least 37 did not survive their captivity. This page, Submariners of World War II who died as Prisoners of War, is dedicated to them.
Indisputable evidence from individual military personnel files in the National Archives has shown that a number of men who are listed in other sources as lost in World War II actually survived. Similarly, we have found that some men were lost but were inadvertently left off the listings in many sources. This site notes such discrepancies, both on individual memorial pages and on a page dedicated solely to Discrepancies in Numbers of Lost Submariners.
Research is ongoing, and for a few men, information has not yet been verified.
Lost Boat State Assignments
The U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II assigned a submarine that was lost during the War to each state, with California and New York receiving two boats each. Many states have submarine memorials dedicated to their state boats. See Lost Boat State Assignments for further information.
Tolling of the Boats
A special page has been set up to give submarine veterans' organizations (and others) accurate and consistent information to use in memorial events, often known as "The Tolling of the Boats." See this listing at Lost Submarines by Month.
If you would like to submit a photo of a man who was lost on duty while serving in the U.S. Submarine Force, or have some information that you would like to contribute, please click on this link: How to Submit Photos and Information
If you have a particular interest in submarines, and would like to participate in this project by assisting us with genealogical data and/or by searching for the relatives of the men we seek to honor, please contact us.
If you have any corrections, additions, questions, or comments regarding this website, please contact:
Charles R. Hinman