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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Breck Chapman, 02/2004
U.S.S. TORSK (submarine)
Inventory No.: B-4112
Other Name(s): SS-423
Date Listed: 1/14/1986
Location: Pratt Street Pier 4, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1944
NHL Date: 1/14/1986
Description: USS TORSK (SS-423) was built by the U.S. Navy at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She was launched on September 6, 1944, and was placed in commission on December 16, 1944. USS TORSK is a fleet-type submarine of the Tench class. The Tench class were virtual copies of the Gato and Balao classes; however, they were more strongly built than the Gato /Balao classes and had a better internal layout, which increased their displacement by about 35-40 tons. The deck of the boat is made of teakwood, and the exterior is painted black. With a length of 311', a beam of 27', and a draft of 17', TORSK was a pre-snorkel submarine operating underwater on batteries, and powered by a diesel electrical system. In 1951 USS TORSK was converted to a snorkel-equipped Guppy submarine that allowed the boat to operate her diesel engines underwater. During this conversion all the boat's exterior guns were removed and the conning tower was enclosed by a new sail casing designed to reduce underwater water resistance. USS TORSK is in good condition, and aside from the addition of the snorkel and the exterior changes, retains much of her World War II integrity. Significance: In the conflict against Japan in World War II, the role and importance of the submarine forces of the United States cannot be overestimated. American submarines sank more than 600,000 tons of enemy warships and more than 5,000,000 tons of merchant shipping, thus destroying much of Japan's ocean commerce. This was accomplished by a force that never numbered more than two percent of naval personnel engaged in the war. The American submarine war against Japan created a blockade that denied her the oil, iron ore, food, and other raw materials she needed to continue to fight. By 1945 this submarine war made it all but impossible for Japanese ships to sail the ocean. Without this commerce and the raw materials it supplied to her war effort, Japan found it impossible to continue the war outside of the homeland. USS TORSK represents U.S. Submarine forces that fought against Japan in World War II for four reasons. Firstly, USS TORSK is a World War II Tench class submarine. The Tench class was a late World War II submarine design that represented the continued attempt by the U.S. Navy to improve on the previously successful Gato /Balao classes. Only ten Tench class submarines, including USS TORSK, were commissioned in time to see service in the Pacific during World War II. Secondly, USS TORSK conducted two war patrols and sank three Japanese ships totaling 2,473 tons. USS TORSK was awarded two battle stars for her World War II service. Thirdly, USS TORSK is credited with firing the last torpedoes and sinking the last Japanese combatant ships of World War II, when on August 14, 1945, she sank the Japanese Coast Defense Vessel No. 13 and Coast Defense Vessel No. 47. With the sinking of these two vessels the U.S. Navy completed its mission, begun on December 7, 1941, to sweep the oceans of Japanese merchant shipping and warships. Finally, USS TORSK is in good condition and, although altered as a Guppy submarine, retains much of her World War II integrity.


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