USS BARBEL (SS 316), US NAVY
OPERATED FROM FREMANTLE SUBMARINE BASE
FREMANTLE, WA, DURING WW2

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visits since 20 September 2005

 

US Navy submarine USS Barbel (SS 316) operated from Fremantle Submarine Base during WW2. USS Barbel had been launched by the Electric Boat Company on 14 November 1943 with Commander Robert A. Keating as its Captain.


Photo: via Jack Seese

Launching of USS Barbel

 

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Photo: via Jack Seese

Commissioning Party for USS Barbel
Bill Tiffany is 3rd from the right in the 2nd row

USS Barbel left Fremantle Submarine Base on 5 January 1945 on her fourth war patrol. USS Barbel travelled northwards along the Western Australian coast to Exmouth Gulf carrying out training exercises along the way.  After refuelling she left the submarine base at Exmouth Gulf on 8 January 1945 and headed for the South China Sea via Lombok Strait, through the Java Sea and then via the Karimata Strait.


Photo: via Jack Seese

USS Barbel's battle flag showing 10 ships sunk

On 13 January 1945 USS Barbel was ordered to join USS Bluegill and USS Bream to patrol the western approaches to Balabac Strait. From 27 January 1945, USS Perch and USS Gabilan then worked together with USS Barbel to patrol the same area as well as the southern entrance to Palawan Passage.

USS Barbel sent a message to USS Tuna, USS Blackfin and USS Gabilan on 3 February 1945 indicating that she had been attacked by Japanese aircraft on three occasions (31 Jan and 1 Feb). She indicated that she would send another message the following night with more information. No further word was heard from USS Barbel. USS Tuna tried to contact USS Barbel for two days and had requested Barbel to rendezvous with her on 7 February 1945. USS Barbel was never seen or heard from again.

Japanese airmen reported that they had successfully attacked a US Navy Submarine on 4 February 1945 south west of Palawan with one of two bombs landing near the bridge. Lieutenant Commander Conde L. Raquet, the Captain of the USS Barbel, was the youngest Fleet Boat Commander to be lost in the war.

USS Barbel received three Battle Stars during her war service.

During her previous three war patrols USS Barbel had sunk ten Japanese ships at a total of 55,200 tons and damaged two others ships (total of 14,000 tons) as follows:-

1st Patrol -  left Pearl Harbor on 15 July 1944 for Bonin Island area

2nd Patrol - left Majuro on 13 September 1944 for Nansei Shoto chain area

3rd Patrol left Saipan on 30 October 1944 for South China Sea around the Philippines

During her 2nd War Patrol USS Barbel rendezvoused with USS Salmon (SS-182) on 18 October 1944 to take on board a dangerously ill officer. They delivered their patient to a hospital in Saipan arriving there on 24 October 1944.

USS Barbel returned from her 3rd War Patrol to Fremantle Submarine Base on 7 December 1944 and Lieutenant Commander Conde L. Raquet took over as Captain of USS Barbel. He had previously been Executive Officer on USS Blackfin (SS-322)

One of the 81 men who lost their lives on USS Barbel was Lt. j.g. William M. Tiffany. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 6 November 1919.  He was declared as Missing in Action effective 18 February 1945. Part of his Service Record reads as follows:-

1944 Apr. 21   Classification changed to (DE) in accordance with BuPers Circular Letter 298-44.

                        BRONZE STAR MEDAL
                        PURPLE HEART
                        American Area Campaign Medal
                        Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal - One (1) bronze star
                        Philippine Liberation Ribbon - One (1) bronze star
                        World War II Victory Medal

                        Education:    University of Pittsburgh (B.S. Degree).

                        Died:    19 February 1946-Presumptive. "Officially determined
                                    to be Missing in Action as of 18 February 1945, having
                                    been serving aboard the USS BARBEL when that submarine
                                    failed to return from a war patrol in the South China
                                    Sea. In compliance with Section 5 of Public Law 490,
                                    As amended, death is presumed to have occurred on the
                                    19th day of February 1946.

                        Place:   South China Sea (Asiatic Area).

                        Cause:  Submarine failed to return from war patrol (enemy
                                    action).


Photo: via Jack Seese

Lt. j.g. William M. Tiffany

 


Photo: via Jack Seese

Photo of crew of USS Barbel possibly taken at Saipan
Bill Tiffany is 7th from the left in the front row

 

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Photo: via Jack Seese

Close-up of the above photograph

 

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Photo: via Jack Seese

Bill Tiffany is at the far left in the front row

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Jack Seese for his assistance with this web page. His first cousin, Lt. j.g. William M. Tiffany was listed as missing  in action after leaving Fremantle on the U.S.S. Barbel for patrol on 5 January 1945. 

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

The Last Patrol
by Harry Holmes

 

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 Peter Dunn 2004

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This page first produced 20 September 2005

This page last updated 20 September 2005