[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Kevin Rottner on June 14, 2000 at 16:56:55:

In Reply to: dive site posted by Nancy Prewitt on June 12, 2000 at 19:51:05:

Dear Nancy:

The name of that sub is the S-37. She is one
of seven subs that are diveable in Southern
Californian waters.

The S-37 lies in 30’ of water off Imperial Beach.
This is an intact wreck and is very dangerous to
penetrate. Diving it should be treated as a cave
dive. It is located just outside the surf line
and is only diveable in low surf conditions. She is
a beautiful dive, and many treasures have
recovered from her, dive alarms, torpedo hatches,
and even portholes, yes, portholes on a submarine !!

The S boats were already old and outdated at the
start of WWII. They were a larger, improved
version of the older WWI K, L, and O class
submarines. The S-37 was commissioned on July 16,

This is the story;

Seven subs were sent just after Pearl Harbor to
the Makaasar strait. Six were sent to Timor when
the Navy felt that the Japanese would strike there.
All alone, the S-37 was maintaining a periscope
watch, totally unaware that the Navy was wrong.

The huge enemy task force was heading for Makaasar

First one destroyer, then another with more behind
it came into view. Five destroyers in all were
looming closer. The night was coming, so they
surfaced, and began a high speed chase. Closing
to 800 yards, Capt. Dempsey fired four torpedoes,
one at each of the four destroyers in formation.
One smashed into the NATUSHIO, striking it midships.
It quickly sunk after exploding
violently, So, the S-37 became the first U.S.
submarine to sink an enemy destroyer. Before the
S-37 ended that 18 day patrol,
she had a record of five attacks on destroyers.
Sad to say, she was worst off mechanically of all the S boats, of which there
were 11 in the Pacific.

Now she sits with lobster crawling around in her
rather than cockroaches, and the humidity is
considerably worse. she is full of
water. It was a lot of hours and money spent on
research to find her. Without the research,
the S-37 would still be an old reef
out there.

Even the name of this historic sub had been
forgotten by the people who lived in that area.

Here is a little insight in what she was and
is now. A junior officer on the S-37 wrote this
graphic account:

"The bunks beyond the wardroom are filled with
torrid, skivy clad bodies, the sweat running
off the white, rash blistered skin in
small rivulets. Metal fans are whirring everywhere
overhead, and at the end of the bunks, close to
my ear, I am playing cribbage
with the skipper, mainly because I don’t like to
wallow in a sweat soaked bunk most of the day.
I have my elbows on the table
near the edge and I hold my cards with my arms at
a slight angle so the sweat will stream down my
bare arms, without soaking
the pile of cards in the center. Overhead is a
fine net of gauze to catch the wayward cockroaches,
which prowl across the top of
the wardroom and occasionally fall straight down.
They live in the cork insulation, which lines the
inside of the submarine itself.
We’ve killed over sixteen million cockroaches in
one compartment alone I The deck in the control
room is littered with towels,
used to sponge up the water dripping off the men
and the submarine itself. The food is routine,
something canned. The
dehydrated potatoes, powdered onions, and
reconstituted carrots have the same general taste;
like sawdust.

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]