SS in Korea

Discussion in 'Korean War' started by Interrogator#6, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    Yesterday, 19 Feb., 2015, I met an interesting fellow at the doctor's waiting room. He was Assistant Engineering Officer, later Engineering Officer, in the SEA ROBIN, an American desiel-electric submarine. Just before I met him he was relating how his boat and crew had spirited some covert operatives into North Korean held territory.

    Our time was brief. About the only information I pressed him for was concerning depth charge attacks. Yes, they were attacked but never closely.
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Interesting story . . . golly, I hate to be a wet blanket, but USS Sea Robin (SS-407) did not deploy to Korea during the Korean War.

    Sea Robin's history, from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS in the vernacular) can be found through this handy link:
    the direct link for Sea Robin is:

    For those outside the US who may have trouble accessing an official USN website, the nice folks at have the DANFs entry on their site:

    Skimming through various documents one can find identities of US submarines which did operate in relation to the Korean War . . . Pickeral, Perch, Remora, Catfish, Scabbardfish, for examples, are all easy to find. And there’s this:

    “The only actual combat mission performed during the war was made by the Perch, which participated in a landing raid with Royal Marine Commandos against the enemy east coast of Korea on 1 October 1950.” - Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Interim Report No. 6, as quoted in LCDR Gregory M Billy’s “An Operational Analysis of United States Submarine Employment in the Korean War” (1994). Billy goes on to write: “. . . Mines along the North Korean coast precluded further operations of this type.
    “By far the majority of submarine at-sea time was spent providing exercise services to U.S. and British ASW units. Over the duration of the war, services comprised 57% of submarine employment; after 1951, services accounted for more than 60% of submarine operating time . . .”

    You can download Billy’s analysis, his thesis paper for the US Naval War College, from here: , not to mention various accounts of the adventure of Perch with No 41 Commando can be found with some judicious google work.
  3. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    Thank you for your timely responce. As the fellow in question did refer to the SEA ROBIN as SS-407 I might suppose either he did a lot of research or something like serving aboard her. I will have to do some more research,find his name, maybe have coffee with him.

    He did speak of the use of the Sea Robin to deploy SEALS or some covert unit(s) behind enemy lines, so one wonders if they were not operating as a CIA unit, which would mean their deployment would have been covert and 'unrecorded'. I have spoken with enough credible persons to know some missions are not recorded on the books. I went through interrogation training with a marine who spent 18 months 'not in Vietnam or S.E. Asia', for instance.

    The CIA has a wall memorializing fallen heroes, known only as STARS, no names.
  4. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    R. Leonard, can you tell me either the names of the Engineering or Asst. Engineering officers forthe SS-407 during the 1950s, or can you tell me how to find this information?

    I am a US citizen.
  5. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    The USN stopped listing duty assignments in its registers of commissioned officers after the 1940 edition. From that point the registers were simply a list. During the war years, there were two registers, one for the regular navy which listed by precedence in each grade, and the other for reservists which was an alphabetical listing. The regular register had an issue date of 1 July during WW2 and was issued annually. The reserve register was issued 1 July 1941, 31 January 1943 and 31 July 1944. Postwar registers included both regulars and reservists as was the pre-1941 practice; entries are by precedence in the list. The best I could do for you at this point would be, if provided a name, to determine if the individual was even commissioned during the Korean War years.

    What you need would be operational reports or deck logs:
    Operational reports are held by the Navy History and Heritage Command in Washington at the Anacostia Navy Yard. You cannot just walk in, you need an appointment just to get on the base. Accessing their archives can be a bit daunting and, for purposes here simply are probably not worth the trouble. See all the links and sub-links here:

    Deck logs rolls are for the most part (and read references in the links at the above site carefully) at NARA in Maryland. You’d have to go in person or hire someone to go for you. See:

    The question is, how much time and money you are willing to expend to see if someone was pulling your leg. Do you really need to chase it down or can you figure it out through deduction.

    The USN is pretty clear on the general whereabouts of USS Sea Robin during the Korean War, the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. If you hear the words “it is too, too secret, so they falsified the records” or similar (in this and any case) you might wish to think about just how many people might have to be involved in such an unseemly activity. It is far, far, easier to simply slap on a “Top Secret” label and say “The USN cannot confirm nor deny the whereabouts of USS Sea Robin between 1950 and 1953.” No, my friend, you have been spoofed . . . for whatever reason the perpetrator wanted to do so . . . maybe he just wanted to jerk your chain. When you bang up against the public record and it is completely at odds with what one guy is saying . . . well, how come no one has set up a web page for USS Sea Robin veterans to line up, one and all and, decry the DANFS entry as poppycock? Maybe because no one else is making the claims as the gent with whom you spoke?

    Frankly, the thing that attracted my attention was the reference to depth charging . . . one might ask, with what ships? The North Korean navy, such as it was, rapidly ceased to exist once UN (read mostly USN) naval forces started to make their presence.

    In my experience, in 99.9999% of cases when the teller of a tale invokes the secrecy behind events - ask yourself, if it is such a hushity-hush secret, how come this guy is talking about it? Of course, by hiding behind a, nudge-nudge-wink-wink, veil of secrecy, the teller of the tale has to provide no details, just tantalizing tidbits.

    Oh, and there were no SEALs for Sea Robin or any other submarine to haul around in the Korean War, the first SEAL unit was established in 1962.

    Now everyone can jump up and scream “NO, NO YOU FOOL THEY GO BACK TO WW2!!!”

    Well, yes and no. Yes, SEAL teams can be traced directly back to the NCDU and UDT units established during WW2; and no, until 1962 they were just UDT units (NCDU units were rolled into the UDT structure), not SEAL units. And, if you were to look at orders of battle for various planned or executed amphibious operations in the Korean War, you would find that the UDT detachment assigned to same were to be found aboard APD’s, (fast attack transports converted from destroyers) and deployed from them in small fast surface vessels, not from submarines. Did UDT personnel skulk ashore and do nasty things to people and property, most certainly, but an equally important part of their activities were clearing of obstacles and facilities demolition and the ubiquitous "fishing nest slashing".

    It would do well to remember that the biggest obstacle to littoral naval operations in the Korean War was the profligate use of sea mines by the North Koreans (not a just few of which were set by the Soviets, the Chinese, and mostly, from fishing boats), damn things were everywhere and sank more than one USN ship, including minesweepers . . . something that made small, fast, surface skimmers far more practical for coastal approach than a submarine, not to mention the practicality of an offshore presence of a mother-ship lurking on the horizon with lots of nice 5 inch guns to handle unexpected problems. They needed no submarines for transport because, short of extending the minefields seaward or lobbing a few artillery rounds (quickly found to be a really bad idea) there was not much the North Koreans could do about USN warships bent on mischief from ranging up and down their east and west coasts.

    I’d suggest as a place to start looking at naval operations in the Korean War would be Cagle & Manson’s The Sea War in Korea.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
  6. Diptangshu

    Diptangshu Active Member

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
  7. Diptangshu

    Diptangshu Active Member

    Here is another crew list from the crew database, please select Diesel Boats or SS Boats, next select SS 407, the crews with service details :
  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Thanks for that. I usually think of just the official records, not the SIG websites. Looks like the guy to whom one might address the questions as to who was the engineering officer aboard Sea Robin and the ship's whereabouts and activities would be this gent, a retired Commander, but a Lieutenant aboard Sea Robin during the Korean War years:
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  9. Diptangshu

    Diptangshu Active Member

    Thank you R Leonard! As far as I know that Lt Com Paul C Stimson (SS 407) served in Mediterranian with his 6th Fleet during late '50s but For What we're taking about Korea, it was the case that happened in circa '51 (middle/late, I'v to check) with V Adm E P Wilkinson aboard SS 490, participated in action around Korea.
  10. Diptangshu

    Diptangshu Active Member

    One but most important part of Bobbin's Life, we should'nt forget her service ('51) as GUPPY 1A, ie., an upgradation programme upto seven variants (I, IA, II etc) under the USN Subs upgradation programme for the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Project.
    I never find any Korea 'connection' but in '50, '51 either, thanks.
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Paul Cecil Stimson, born 3 Feb 1914, was the first commander of USS Sea Robin when the ship was commissioned on 7 August 1944 and commanded her through the end of the war. Stimpson was USNA class of 1936 and retired a Captain on 31 March 1966. Stimson had earlier in the war served aboard USS Finback. He commanded Sea Robin in all three of the ship's war patrols. His awards included the Navy Cross, Silver Star (2), Legion of Merit w/V, Navy Marine Corps Medal, Bronze Star w/V, and the Navy Commendation Medal. He died on 13 July 1995. His promotion to Commander came on 15 March 1944, to Captain on 1 April 1955. I have no idea as to his assignment(s) during the Korean War years, but he was no longer commander of Sea Robin, having been relieved of that command in August 1948. While still CO of Sea Robin, though, the submarine made the first passage of a submarine around Cape Horn in 1947. From 1962 until his retirement he was, first, chief of staff to the Commandant and then Commandant of the Fourth Naval District headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Info drawn from USNA Alumni Registers from 1995 and 2003; Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1956 and 1951, from his obituary and various other sources).

    From the website page for USS Sea Robin, photos from the Korean War period (none of which were taken anywhere near Korea or even the Pacific Ocean):

    USS Sea Robin entering Toulon harbor, early 1950

    USS Sea Robin in Naples harbor, summer 1950

    USS Sea Robin sometime between May and October 1950 at Augusta Bay, Sicily, tied up alongside the tender USS Yellowstone.

    And USS Sea Robin in 1952 in Long Island Sound after the 1951 yard period for the GUPP-IA “Guppy” conversion

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