The WWII Submarine USS Stickleback was commissioned on March 29th, 1945. She was deployed to Guam and began her first war patrol on August 6th when she departed for the Sea of Japan. She arrived the following week and began her patrols. During this timeframe, the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it was believed the war would end shortly.
Stickleback had only been in the patrol area for two days when the cease-fire order was passed. She remained in the area and, on 21 August, she sighted two bamboo rafts containing 19 survivors of a freighter. They were taken on board for 18 hours, given food, water, medical treatment, and set afloat again a short distance from one of the Japanese islands.
USS Stickleback was recommissioned on September 6th, 1946 and served at San Diego, California as a training ship. The vessel was back at sea on June 26th1953 and joined Submarine Squadron 7 at Pearl Harbor. Stickleback supported the United Nations forces in Korea from February to July 1954 when she returned to Pearl Harbor.
For the next four years, the submarine participated in training operations and the development of both defensive and offensive submarine tactics. 28 May 28th, 1958, Stickleback was participating in an antisubmarine warfare exercise with the destroyer escort USS Silverstein and a torpedo retriever in the Hawaiian area.
In the course of these drills, the submarine had just completed a simulated torpedo run on Silverstein and was diving to a safe depth when she lost power and breached approximately 200 yards (180 m) ahead of the destroyer escort. Silverstein backed full and put her rudder hard left but could not avoid a collision. The result of which was a hole to the submarine on her port side.
Stickleback's crew was removed by the torpedo retriever and combined efforts were made by several vessels to save the submarine. The rescue ships attached lines around her, but all compartments flooded, and the Stickleback sank in 1,800 fathoms (3,300 m) of water.
The Stickleback is the third submarine to be discovered of the four US Navy submarines lost since the end of World War II. The others were Cochino, Thresher, and Scorpion.
“Each discovery of a sunken craft is an opportunity to remember and honor the service of our Sailors. Knowing their final resting place brings closure, in some part, to their families and shipmates as well as enables our team to better understand the circumstances in which the boat was lost,” says Neyland. “We’re grateful for the respectful, non-intrusive work Tim Taylor’s team performs and the opportunity they provide to remember and honor our history.”