Allied Warships

Argonaut (i) (SS-166)

Submarine of the Argonaut class

USS Argonaut as seen before the war

NavyThe US Navy
Built byPortsmouth Navy Yard (Kittery, Maine, U.S.A.) 
Laid down1 May 1925 
Launched10 Nov 1927 
Commissioned2 Apr 1928 
Lost10 Jan 1943 
Loss position5° 40'S, 152° 02'E

On 10 January 1943 a Japanese plane belonging to the 582nd Naval Air Group, flying ASW patrols in the vicinity of a 5-ship convoy to the south-east of New Britain, position 05º40'S, 152º02'E, spotted a submerged sub approaching the convoy at 1820 hrs (Tokyo time).
The plane dropped 3 bombs then contacted destroyer Maikaze which left the convoy to locate and engage the contact, leaving the escort to the Isokaze and Hamakaze (all offsite links).
Maikaze depth charge attack evidently was succesfull, since a submarine's bow broke surface at 1845 hrs and was taken under fire by both Maikaze and Isokaze from short range this was witnessed by a pilot of a USAAF bomber returning from a mission over New Guinea. The Argonaut was sunk with no survivors from the 102 officers and men aboard. Lt.Cdr John Reeves Pierce later had a destroyer named after him the Sumner class USS John R. Pierce.


Commands listed for USS Argonaut (i) (166)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Lt.Cdr. Ralph Edward Hanson, USN193913 Jun 1940
2Lt.Cdr. Stephen George Barchet, USN13 Jun 194022 Jun 1942
3Lt.Cdr. John Reeves Pierce, USN22 Jun 194211 Jan 1943

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Notable events involving Argonaut (i) include:

28 Nov 1941
USS Argonaut (Lt.Cdr. S.G. Barchet, USN) left Pearl Harbor and was on patrol duty near Midway Island with USS Trout when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. After sunset on 7 December, Argonaut surfaced and heard naval gunfire around Midway. Argonaut then submerged to make a sonar approach to investigate. Argonaut spotted two Japanese destroyers, Akebono and Ushio (both offsite links ) whose mission was shore bombardment on Midway. The ships may have detected Argonaut, and one passed close by the submarine. They completed the bombardment then retired before Argonaut could make a second approach.

8 Aug 1942
With her conversion completed USS Argonaut left Pearl Harbor on 8 August 1942 together with USS Nautilus. They were to transport and land marine commandos on Makin in the Gilbert Islands. The convoy arrived off Makin on 16 August; and at 0330hours the next day, the marines began landing. Their rubber rafts were swamped by the sea and most of the outboard motors drowned. The Japanese either forewarned or extraordinarily alert because of the activity on Guadalcanal-gave the Americans a warm reception. Snipers were hidden in the trees and the landing beaches were in front of the Japanese forces instead of behind them as planned. By midnight of 10 August, all but 30 of the troops had been recovered. Both submarines arrived back at Pearl Harbor on 26 August 1942.

2 Jan 1943
While on her third war patrol USS Argonaut (Lt.Cdr. John Reeves Pierce) sank the Japanese guard boat Ebon Maru (198 GRT) in the Bismarck Sea off the north-west coast of New Britain in position 04°30'S, 151°30'E.

Media links

The Last Patrol

Holmes, Harry

U. S. Submarines in World War II

Kimmett, Larry and Regis, Margaret

U.S. Submarines Through 1945

Friedman, Norman
(£ 56.95)

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