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USS Euryale, AS22 Refits USS Bream, SS243

Picture and narration courtesy of Submarine Vets



USS Bream
USS Bream, 1945
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Submarines were named after fish and other denizens of the deep prior to, during and after World War II. In keeping with this tradition, SS243 was named after a European food and game fish of the carp family. The Bream is typically found in lakes and slow rivers. It is silver in color with a blue or brown back. It is deep bodied with flat sides and a small head. The fish usually reaches a length of 12 to 20 inches and weighs up to 13 pounds.

The USS BREAM SS243 was a member of the DRUM variant of the GATO class of submarines typically referred to as fleet boats. She had a 1,526 ton surface displacement with a 2,424 ton submerged displacement. She had a 311’ 9” length, a 27’ 3” beam and a 19’ 3” draft. She had a top speed on the surface of 20.25 knots and was capable of 8.75 knots while submerged. Her crew consisted of 6 officers and 54 enlisted men. When constructed she was armed with a 4” deck gun, 2 20 mm guns and 10 21” torpedo tubes. BREAM was laid down on February 5, 1943 by Electric Boat Company at Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on October 17, 1943. Her sponsor was Mrs. Wreford G. Chapple, wife of the prospective commanding officer. BREAM was commissioned on January 24, 1944 with Commander Wreford G. (Moon) Chapple in command.

Following shakedown training in the New London area, BREAM got underway for the Pacific on March 10 and reached the Canal Zone on March 20 where she was involved in another series of training exercises. She transited the Panama Canal on April 10 and arrived in Brisbane, Australia on May 8, 1944. Two days later she left Australia, bound for New Guinea. On May 14 the vessel reached Milne Bay where she underwent voyage repairs alongside the submarine tender USS EURYALE (AS 22).

Upon completion of repairs, BREAM sailed for the Admiralty Islands, reaching Seeadler Harbor on May 29, 1944. There she began preparations for her first war patrol. On June 1, she got underway for a patrol in the vicinity of the Halmahera Islands. The submarine made several contacts with enemy vessels in Morotai Strait, but conditions prevented her from taking any offensive action. On June 8 she spotted a convoy, selected a transport as target and fired a six-torpedo spread. Members of BREAM’s crew heard one loud explosion before taking her deep. Several depth charges detonated nearby the submarine but she survived her first encounter unscathed. Postwar study of Japanese records did not confirm a killing and did not identify BREAM’s target. Five days later, while BREAM was tracking another convoy, her presence was detected before she could maneuver into position and a depth charge attack forced her to break off pursuit. Her luck improved on June 16, 1944 when she next encountered a Japanese convoy. She fired torpedoes at two transports. Shortly thereafter, breaking-up noises reverberated throughout the submarine as the 5,704 ton Japanese freighter YUKI MARU disintegrated and went to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Several days after that attack, damage to the conning tower hatch gasket while submerged allowed sea water to flood the BREAM's pump room and knock out all electrical power in that compartment. This forced BREAM to head for Seeadler Harbor where she arrived on June 29. Work repairing the damage began shortly thereafter.

Following repairs, refitting, and more training, BREAM began her second patrol on July 21, 1944 when she got underway for waters off the southern Philippines. On July 29, the submarine had almost reached the entrance to the Gulf of Davao when a fire broke out in the maneuvering room. The flames were centered over the port main motor, and cork and auxiliary cable insulation in the overhead were enkindled. Fifteen minutes after it broke out, the blaze was extinguished. Fortunately, the damage was not serious enough to force the submarine to terminate her patrol, and she sailed on to the coast of Mindanao. On August 7, BREAM moved to an area off Davao Gulf in an attempt to intercept traffic coming from the Palau Islands. She made several contacts with enemy ships but expended no torpedoes. On the morning of August 26, as she retired toward Fremantle, Australia, the submarine spotted a Japanese airplane. The enemy plane dropped a bomb which exploded near the diving submarine, raised the BREAM’s stern about 20 feet, and shook her severely. A second bomb also detonated nearby and inflicted considerable damage. Nevertheless, the submarine safely put into Brisbane on September 6, 1944. BREAM underwent a refit by the tender Euryale before getting underway for Darwin, Australia on October 2. She paused at the latter port on October 9 for minor repairs and refueling before continuing on to her patrol area off the Philippines which extended from the northern end of Palawan Passage to Manila. On October 16 she sighted a two-masted barge with an escort but decided to let them pass to avoid alerting more worthy targets of her presence. On October 23,three large ships, which proved to be two Japanese light cruisers and one heavy cruiser, appeared on the radar scope. One of the enemy warships approached to within 800 yards of her port quarter before BREAM fired six torpedoes at this tempting target. Soon thereafter, the submarine’s crew heard three loud explosions and believed that they had destroyed an enemy cruiser. A study of Japanese records after the war revealed that BREAM had damaged the Japanese heavy cruiser AOBA severely enough to keep her from participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Over the next five hours BREAM was subjected to intermittent depth charging but suffered no damage. While continuing her patrol the next day, BREAM picked up six survivors of a Japanese ship sunk several days earlier by BLUEGILL (SS 242). On October 25 BREAM moved into position in an attempt to intercept the Japanese fleet retiring from battles in Philippine waters. On October 30 the submarine spotted a convoy, fired a six torpedo spread at a large transport, and went deep to avoid depth charges. Her torpedoes damaged the target ship, but she was able to continue under her own power. On November 4 the submarine fired four torpedoes at another enemy transport but none found the mark. After weathering a total of eight depth charges, she eluded her pursuers and resumed her patrol. Two days later, BREAM spotted two Japanese cruisers and began closing for an attack on the leading ship. After careful maneuvering to avoid the cruiser’s escorts, the submarine fired four torpedoes. Members of the crew heard three explosions, but no damage resulted. BREAM then shaped a course for Fremantle where she arrived on November 22, 1944.

Following a refit and a period of training exercises, BREAM commenced her fourth patrol on December 19. She entered Exmouth Gulf on the 22nd and was refueled that same day. She then continued on through Lombok Strait and entered the Java Sea where she spotted a sailboat on December 31. While attacking the sailboat with her 4” gun, she was approached by an enemy plane. This forced her to check her fire and go deep. On January 9, 1945, the submarine began patrolling off the western approaches of Balabac Strait. After four uneventful days on station, BREAM moved to the northern Balabac Strait area but again made no contacts. She was ordered to Miri, Borneo to begin reconnaissance work. She sighted a large enemy vessel on the 24th, but the contact proved to be a hospital ship. The submarine transited Lombok Strait on February 4 in route to Onslow, Australia where she refueled two days later. She finally arrived back at Fremantle on February 10.

BREAM left Australia on March 7, 1945 for her fifth patrol. She refueled at Exmouth Gulf on the 10th and proceeded through Lombok Strait to the Balikpapan-Surabaya shipping lanes. On March 13 she intercepted two sea trucks and dispatched them with her deck gun. The following day BREAM came across a convoy of three small freighters and an escort. She fired three bow tubes at the leading freighter but all of them broached. She then got off one more torpedo that seemed to hit the target, which blew up with a tremendous explosion. However, postwar accounting failed to confirm a kill. On March 15 BREAM sighted an enemy destroyer escort and began preparing for an attack. Instead, the Japanese ship picked up the submarine’s trail and began raining depth charges on her. Several went off close aboard and drove BREAM to the bottom in 100 feet of water. The submarine remained on the ocean floor, mired in mud, for five hours and underwent numerous depth charge barrages. During one attack, the vessel's conning tower hatch was lifted, forcing the abandonment of the conning tower and the closing of the lower hatch. When the Japanese ship gave up the chase later that night, the submarine surfaced and began evaluating the extent of her damages. Material destruction was quite extensive, and work making temporary repairs lasted several days. BREAM later picked up on her radar screen two ships which proved to be enemy freighters. She fired four torpedoes from the bow tubes, but all four promptly sank. Apparently the tubes had been damaged in the earlier encounter with the Japanese destroyer escort. The submarine then set a course through Lombok Strait for Australia and reached Fremantle on March 22. During her refit, both the submarine’s periscopes, her starboard shaft, and both her screws were replaced, and the defects in her torpedo tubes were corrected.

On April 20, 1945, BREAM set sail for her sixth, and what proved to be her final, war patrol. She transited Lombok Strait on the 25th. Early the next morning, BREAM spotted what appeared to be an American submarine. The second submarine quickly turned and headed toward BREAM, which dived at this point and manned her battle stations. The submarine was shaken by several depth charges dropped by a Japanese escort vessel but managed to safely leave the area. A few hours later, she encountered two small patrol craft, but they were too small to merit a torpedo attack. While patrolling off southern Borneo on April 29, BREAM picked up the trail of an oiler. After trailing the target for several hours, the submarine fired four torpedoes at the enemy vessel. The first torpedo hit the target, and it disintegrated in a mass of flames. The submarine continued her patrol uneventfully until pulling into port at Subic Bay on May 14 for voyage repairs and fuel. Two days later, she put back out to sea and headed for lifeguard duty off the southern tip of Formosa. During her time on station, BREAM rescued five downed American aviators. On May 31, the vessel was relieved and got underway for Saipan, where she arrived on June 5. She set sail once more the next day and, following a two-day stop at Pearl Harbor, arrived at San Francisco, California on June 24, 1945. Upon her arrival, BREAM entered overhaul at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard in San Francisco. While the work was in progress, the war in the Pacific ended with Japan’s surrender. The submarine was later transferred to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Valejo, California. She was decommissioned there on January 31, 1946 and was placed in the reserve fleet.

As part of the Navy’s fleet expansion program in response to the communist invasion of the Republic of Korea, BREAM was recommissioned on June 5, 1951 and reported to Submarine Squadron 3, Pacific Fleet. From June, 1951 until August, 1952 she was engaged in type training and provided services to the Fleet Sonar School at San Diego. She was decommissioned once again on September 10, 1952 to undergo conversion to an antisubmarine “killer” submarine at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. The conversion included the installation of a snorkel, which enabled her to take in air and operate her diesel engines while submerged. In addition, her conning tower fairing was streamlined, the habitability of the crew’s living spaces was improved, and special sonar listening equipment was installed. The vessel was redesignated SSK 243 in February, 1953. BREAM was placed back in commission on June 20, 1953.

Following her conversion, BREAM resumed operations with the Fleet Sonar School at San Diego. She also took part in numerous Pacific Fleet operations and exercises and conducted type training. The submarine commenced a cold weather training cruise to Alaska in September, 1954. She returned, via Pearl Harbor, to San Diego on November 15. She continued local operations along the California coast until she made another voyage to Pearl Harbor in May, 1955. During her stay in Hawaiian waters, the submarine participated in an extensive antisubmarine warfare operation. She returned to San Diego late in May and was occupied with routine operations through September. On September 22, 1955, the ship entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for a post-conversion overhaul.

In February, 1956, her home port was moved to Pearl Harbor. There she was assigned to Submarine Squadron 7, Submarine Division 72. BREAM left Hawaiian waters on March 6 for an extended Western Pacific (WesPac) cruise. She reached Yokosuka, Japan on June 11 and operated in that area during the next two months. In early August she made a short cruise to Chinhae, Republic of Korea. She returned to Yokosuka via Yokohama, Japan. Her duty there was interrupted in early October by a return to Chinhae and a liberty call in Hong Kong during the first week of November. The ship began the voyage back to home port on December 2 and arrived at Pearl Harbor seven days later. During the first five and one-half months of 1957, the submarine carried out local operations from her base at Pearl Harbor. While carrying out these local operations in March, 1957 BREAM rescued the crew of a US Navy P2V Neptune that had crashed in waters off Oahu. She commenced a trip to the west coast on June 4 and arrived at San Francisco on June 13. After a week long visit, BREAM retraced her course to Hawaii. She remained at Pearl Harbor until getting underway in mid-July for a cruise to Alaska. She submerged on August 1 and remained submerged, operating on snorkel, until August 31. She paused at Adak, Alaska on September 3 and arrived in Pearl Harbor one week later. BREAM left port on the last day of October, bound for the far east.  Following port calls at Pago Pago, American Samoa and Auckland, New Zealand she arrived in Yokosuka in time to spend Christmas and New Years Day there. She got underway for Subic Bay, Philippines and Hong Kong on January 7, 1958. After three more months of providing services in support of Seventh Fleet ships, the ship returned to Pearl Harbor in early April. Shortly after her arrival, the submarine began an overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Her yard work was completed on September 13 and she resumed local operations.

She sailed for the Orient on April 6, 1959 and reached Yokosuka on April 18 where she remained for 10 days. The vessel then proceeded to the Philippines for operations in Manila Bay and then visited Hong Kong; Buckner Bay, Okinawa; and Sasebo and Kobe Japan. She returned to Yokosuska on June 2 and remained there for the rest of the month. In July, the submarine got underway for special operations. While she was carrying out that assignment, her designation was changed back to SS243 in August. She touched briefly at Yokosuka before departing Japanese waters on September 21, 1959, bound for Pearl Harbor. BREAM entered her home port on October 2, 1959 where she had a new battery installed and underwent major repairs on Number 1 Main Engine prior to beginning local operations.

On November 26, 1960 she sailed again for Japan. After a stop in the Bonin Islands, at Chichi Jima, on December 9 the submarine arrived in Yokosuka on December 11, 1960. Among her ports of call during this deployment were Atami, Japan; Buckner Bay; Hong Kong; Manila and Subic Bay, Philippines; and Guam, Mariana Islands. The cruise ended on May 24,1961 when BREAM returned to Pearl Harbor. She participated in local operations until September 1 when she entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.

She left the shipyard on January 28, 1962 and got underway for the west coast four days later. She arrived at San Francisco on February 10 and moved to Long Beach a few days later. BREAM left California on February 19 and returned to Pearl Harbor. During the next few months she was involved in training exercises and upkeep.

On August 8, she began another WesPac cruise and visited Yokosuka, Japan; Chinhae, Korea in the fall and early winter months. The vessel also provided services to Task Group 70.4, a Pacific Fleet hunter/killer group. She also took part in Exercise “Pilot Light” before pulling into port at Yokosuka for the Christmas holidays. BREAM departed Yokosuka on January 1, 1963 en route to Okinawa. After a brief pause there, she sailed for Hong Kong. The submarine also visited Guam before returning to Pearl Harbor on February 9.

In Pearl Harbor she participated in local operations until August 27 when she began another special operation. This mission terminated at Adak, Alaska on October 18. BREAM departed Alaskan waters on October 20 and proceeded , via Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington. The submarine arrived back in Pearl Harbor on November 13 and spent the rest of the year in local operations. The ship’s designation was changed to AGSS 243 on February 1, 1964. She continued to operate from Pearl Harbor until June 1, 1964 when she got underway for her new home port in San Diego.

Upon her arrival in San Diego on June 11, she was assigned to Submarine Squadron 3 and operated in the San Diego area for approximately two months. On August 31 she entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul which was completed on January 26, 1965. BREAM then began a training cruise which included stops at Port Angeles, Bangor, and Bremerton, Washington. She returned to Mare Island on February 27 for the installation of a new battery and an engine overhaul. She returned to San Diego on July 11 and resumed local operations.

The submarine departed the California coast on November 12 for operations in WesPac with the Seventh Fleet. Upon her arrival in waters off Vietnam, she assumed duty on Yankee Station. She was relieved on January 6, 1966 and headed for Thailand. She visited Sattahip and Bangkok and held joint operations with the Royal Thai navy. On January 20 BREAM got underway for Kaohsiung, Taiwan and arrived there six days later. The submarine operated out of Kaohsiung until February 16 when she sailed for Yokosuka. Local operations in Japanese waters were carried out until March 15 when BREAM departed for Sangley Point, Philippines. While en route, she provided services to aircraft. The submarine reached Sangley Point on March 29. She later made a brief liberty call at Hong Kong before returning to Yokosuka on April 16. BREAM left Japan on April 24. After a short stop at Pearl Harbor in early May, she arrived in San Diego on May 15. Following a leave and upkeep period, the ship carried out local operations from San Diego until making a brief visit to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for installation of communications equipment.

She returned to San Diego on August 6 and resumed local operations which continued through the Christmas holidays. BREAM departed San Diego on an extended training cruise on March 3, 1967. While on this cruise, she visited Acapulco, Mexico. She returned to San Diego on March 25 and began preparation for a scheduled deployment to WesPac. In April the submarine entered the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco for drydocking and repairs. She then returned to San Diego to complete her preparations.

On June 9 BREAM got underway for the Far East. During this cruise she visited Hong Kong; Songkhla and Bangkok, Thailand; Subic Bay and Cebu City, Philippines; Keelung and Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Chinhae, Korea; and Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan. The submarine provided services to the Korean and Nationalist Chinese Navies as well as operating with the Seventh Fleet. BREAM departed Yokosuka on December 3 and sailed directly to San Diego. She arrived in her home port on December 19 and began a holiday leave and upkeep period.

During January, 1968, the submarine operated off the southern California coast. On February 6 she sailed for Mare Island Naval Shipyard where she was drydocked for repairs. She returned to action on March 21 and once again operated along the southern California coast. BREAM departed San Diego on October 16 to carry out another WesPac cruise. In addition to her duties with the Seventh Fleet, BREAM operated with the Philippine and Nationalist Chinese Navies. During this deployment BREAM visited Hong Kong; Subic Bay and Manila, Philippines; Kaosiung, Taiwan; and Yokosuka, Japan. The vessel left Yokosuka on February 21, 1969 and sailed for San Diego. She arrived in California waters on March 12. After a period of leave and upkeep, the submarine once again participated in local operations off the southern California coast.

BREAM was decommissioned at Mare Island on June 28, 1969. Her name was struck from the Navy list and she was sunk as a target on November 7, 1969 by the USS Sculpin III (SSN 590).

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