|On Eternal Patrol - The Loss of USS Barbel (SS-316)|
Compiled by Paul W. Wittmer and Charles R. Hinman,
with editorial notes by Robert H. Downie, originally from:
U.S. Submarine Losses World War II, NAVPERS 15,784, 1949 ISSUE
BARBEL, commanded by LCDR C. L. Raguet, departed Fremantle for her fourth war patrol on 5 January 1945. She proceeded to Exmouth Gulf, conducting training exercises enroute. Having topped off with fuel, she left Exmouth Gulf on 8 January, and proceeded via Lombok Strait, Java Sea and Karimata Strait to patrol an area in the South China Sea. At dark on 16 February she was to leave her area and commence her return to Fremantle.
On 13 January, BARBEL was directed to join BLUEGILL and BREAM in covering the western approaches to Balabac Strait. On 27 January she was ordered to form a wolfpack with PERCH and GABILAN and cover the western approaches to Balabac and southern entrance to Palawan Passage. [Editor's note: On February 1, Barbel became part of a third coordinated attack group, this time with USS Tuna and USS Blackfin.]
On 3 February 1945 BARBEL sent a message to TUNA, BLACKFIN and GABILAN reporting numerous aircraft contacts daily. BARBEL had been attacked by aircraft three times with depth charges, and would transmit a message "tomorrow night" giving information. This was the last contact with BARBEL. TUNA reported on 6 February 1945 that she had been unable to contact BARBEL for 48 hours, and that she had ordered her to rendezvous at 7° 30'N, 115° 30'E on 7 February. The rendezvous was not accomplished and TUNA reported her search unsuccessful on 7 February 1945.
Japanese records indicate that on 4 February 1945 a plane attacked a submarine in position 7° 49.5'N, 116° 47.5'E scoring one hit near the bridge with one of two bombs dropped. It appears almost certain that this attack sank BARBEL.
Google Earth image
BARBEL sank 10 ships for 55,200 tons and damaged two ships for 14,000 tons during her three completed patrols. Her first was made in the Nansei Shoto chain. She sank three medium freighters, a large freighter of 19,600 tons, and a large tanker. In the same area on her second patrol, BARBEL sank a freighter and two escort vessels. She also damaged another freighter and a tanker. During her third patrol, conducted in the South China Sea, BARBEL sank two medium freighters.
See also Ed Howard's Final Patrol page on USS Barbel (external link).