USS Gunnel SS-253 Port side view 1945
ss-253 image

commission_plate_sml.jpg - 51184 Bytes
This commissioning plate was attached to the bulkhead in the wardroom during GUNNEL's entire life.

 
Prologue

The ship was built by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT. She was named for the gunnel fish which is a small trim species of the blenny salt water fish. On May 17, 1942 the GUNNEL slid down the ways and entered into her element. Mrs. Ben Moreell, wife of Rear Admiral Moreell, Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks was the sponsor.

She was commissioned on August 20, 1942 with Lieutenant Commander John S. McCain Jr. commanding. LCdr McCain later went on to 4 star rank, following in his father's footsteps. The two McCains became the first father son combination to reach this level. The USS JOHN S. McCAIN (DDG 56) is named in honor of them.

The USS Gunnel was a Gato class submarine. She made one war patrol in the Atlantic in support of the invasion of North Africa and seven in the Pacific. She won 4 battle stars for her World War II service. After the end of the war, the GUNNEL sailed back to New London CT where she was decommissioned on May 18, 1946.


Important Dates:

Keel laid by the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut on July 21,1941
Launched May 17,1942; sponsored by Mrs. Ben Moreell
Commissioned August 20, 1942; Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain commanding
Change of Command July 14, 1944; Lt. Cmdr. Guy E. O'Neil assumed command
Decommissioned May 18, 1946
Stricken August 1, 1958
Sold for scrap on December 1, 1959

Sailing into harm's way - SS-253

Keel Laying

Keel laying cover - July 21, 1941


Keel of USS Gunnel being laid
Official US Navy Photograph

The keel being laid at the Electric Boat Company
Groton, Connecticut

Monday July 21, 1941

Keel laying cover - US Postal Service

Keel Laying Cover
Monday July 21, 1941
From the collection of Walter J. Harvey

Sailing into harm's way - SS-253

Launching
 
Launching Cover - donated by Tom Bougher

Launching Day Cover
May 17, 1942
From the collection of Tom Bougher

USS GUNNEL Sliding down the ways - May 17, 1942

USS GUNNEL SS-253
Sliding down the ways at
Electric Boat Company, Groton, Ct.
May 17, 1942
 

Sailing into harm's way - SS-253

Commissioning

Commissioning cover donated by Tom Bougher

Commissioning Day Cover
August 20, 1942
From the collection of Tom Bougher


Sixty-Nine "Plank Owners" were in the commissioning crew of GUNNEL. Some had been aboard for several weeks, representing the Navy and working alongside Electric Boat Company (EB) personnel on the final stages of construction. After commissioning, crew members continued to liaison with technicians and engineers of EB in final testing of equipment and machinery to ensure everything was in tip- top shape and conformed to specifications before final acceptance of the boat by the Navy.

Next, round- the- clock, rigorous training was conducted for several weeks in Block Island and Long Island Sounds -- emergency drills, live firing of torpedoes and guns, and operational readiness inspections by the staff of the Commander Submarines, Atlantic Fleet -- all to ensure GUNNEL and her crew were up to the high standards of the submarine force and fully ready for wartime combat operations.

"Plank Owner" Billy J.Stamper, an 18 year old torpedoman apprentice at the time, in later years recalled that early period:

"I well remember my first visit to the GUNNEL. I went aboard about mid-June. There were power cords all over the place, no bunks, no lockers; in fact, the only things installed were the engines, motors, and the electrical gear in the maneuvering room. I don't believe the batteries were in place. However, there was no better way to learn about her. Maybe that is why we seemed to have the best-trained and most knowledgeable team in the Fleet.

"I recall a couple of days before EB Co. delivered her to the SubBase, EB personnel and our assembled crew took her out into the Thames and dived. She was heavy aft and for some time the bow was sticking out of the water and the stern resting on the bottom. I wondered at the time if we were going to have a "hex" on us, but apparently that was a good omen, as the GUNNEL proved to be able to go deeper than her test depth. Her only weakness was her original HOR engines."
 

Capt. McCain accepting the boat from EB Co.

On behalf of the US Navy the Skipper accepts the boat from Electric Boat Company

 

First Day in Commission cover

First Day in Commission Cover
August 20, 1942

 

Sailing into harm's way - SS-253

Plank Owners

John S. McCain, Jr.
Lieutenant Commander
Commanding Officer
Mel L. Dry
Lieutenant
Executive Officer & Navigator
B.A. Strauss
Lieutenant
Electrical & Engineering Officer
Lloyd R. "Joe" Vasey USN
First Lieutenant
Torpedo & Gunnery Officer
Edmund B. Kneisel
Lieutenant (jg)
Communications Officer
(He was lost when the BARBEL SS-316
was sunk on February 4, 1945)
F.P. Melzar
Lieutenant (jg)
Commisary Officer
James S. "Doggie" Renner
TMC
Chief Of Boat





Anderson, Robert E.
EM2c
Artykowicz, Stephen
EM2c
Bottoms, Ralph
CTM(AA)
Braun, Allan Ernest
EM1c
Brennan, James J.
TM3c
Brugge, Carl
Sea2c
Budrevich, John P.
Sea2c
Burrows, Dalton J.
MoMM2c
Butova, Frank
SC2c
Davis, James C.
F2c
Daum, Edwin L.
EM3c
Ellzey, Carrel J.
MoMM2c
Falenschek, Alpheus J.
Sea2c
Farmer, Walter S. Jr.
MM2c
Fees, Jessie C.
TM3c
Foisy, Edgar John
TM2c
Foster, Ernest I.
MM2c
Garren, Frank Jr.
Sea2c
Gayle, Wilton C.
F3c
Goode, Calvert L.
TM2c
Hanson, Gerald D.
F1c
Heald, Francis E.
F3c
Herron, Francis B.
TM2c
Hunt, Richard F.
QM1c
Hurd, John R.
TM3c
Johnson, John M.
F3c
Kaczur, Harry
CMoMM(AA)
Kottenstette, Aloysius E.
MoMM2c
Lago, Anthony
Matt2c
Leidholdt, Edwin
SM1c
Lesyea, Joseph
EM1c
MacDonald, Robert D.
F3c
McDaniell, Alton C.
MoMM1c
McGowan, Robert William
F3c
McLain, Martin E.
MoMM1c
McSridden, Joseph M.
CRM(PA)
Mello, Henry F.
EM1c
Morris, Daniel J.
SC1c
Murphy, Edward W.
CMM(PA)
Napier, Charles E.
SM3c
Netzman, Richard C.
Sea2c
Oesterheld, Raymond F.
MoMM2c
Pace, Andrew J.
Matt1c
Peters, George W.
Sea2c
Pickard, Robert D.
TM1c
Podboy, Edward J.
CEM(PA)
Powell, Bryan W.
CMM(PA)
Quertermous, James F.
FC3c
Renner, James H.
CTM(PA)
Ruch, Paul R.
Sea2c
Sanville, Paul C.
F3c
Shirk, Robert C.
EM3c
Silkett, Marvin K.
MoMM1c
Stamper, Billy J.
Sea2c
Taylor, Thomas, H.
RM2c
Tommelleo, Tony G.
RM1c
Van Blaricom, Levi P.
Y1c
Velle, Rudolph W.
F3c
Walker, Urban "J"
GM1c
Wheeler, Robert L.
EM3c
Williams, Harvey C.
RM3c
Williams, Herman C.
PHM1c
Witt, Rembert W.
Sea2c



Commissioning crew - USS GUNNEL SS-253

Commissioning Crew
August 1942


Sailing into harm's way - SS-253
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