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USS Bergall SS 320 Specifications

Builder:   Electric Boat Co.
Series:   Balao Class (320 is a Perch variant)
Number Built and Fiscal Years:   256 ordered 1942-45, 119 completed
    Hull Numbers: 285-360, 365-416
Design Agents:   Design development - Portsmouth Navy Yard
Contract:   Electric Boat Co.
Building Yards:   Portsmouth - 44
    Electric Boat Co. - 40
    Manitowoc - 14
    Cramp - 10
    Mare Island - 9
    Boston - 2
Length Overall x Max. Breadth:   311 ft. 9 in. x 27 ft. 3 in.
Displacement:   Surfaced 1,525 tons standard, 2,010-2,075 tons normal
    Submerged 2,415 tons
Operating Depth:   400 ft
Watertight Compartments:   8
Pressure Hull Plating:   35-35.7 # Tensile Steel (Approx 7/8" Thick)
Crew:   10 Officers & 70 - 71 men
Torpedo Tubes:   6 Bow, 4 Stern
Torpedo Load:   Max 24 (Conventional Torpedoes)
Mines:   Two in place of one torpedo up to a maximum of 40
Deck Guns:   2 each 5-in./25cal and 2 each 40mm
Max Speed:   Surfaced 20.25 Knots; Submerged 8.75 knots
(designed) Cruising Range:   Surface 11,000 Miles @ 10 knots
(rated) Submerged Endurance:   48 hrs @ 2 knots
Fuel Capacity:   116,000 gal.
(rated) Patrol Endurance:   75 days
Propulsion:   Diesel-Electric Reduction Gear E-4 Arrangement (four GM-Winton 1,600 hp engines)

One of the best kept secrets of the war was the increase in the operating depth of our submarines, from 300 feet in the Gato class to 400 feet in the Balao design. This was accomplished by shifting from mild steel to high tensile steel and increasing the thickness of the pressure hull plating, using the weight saved in previous classes by meticulous attention to design details in every area. Naturally the new boats where dubbed as the "thick skins", while the Gatos where dubbed the "thin skins" In outward appearance and internal layout the heavy-hull boats where practically identical to the earlier type and many people including the Japanese where unaware that there had been any change. Most of the other new features in the Balao design had already been incorporated in the later Gato class boats as alterations or contract changes, so the Bureau of Ships skipped the usual step of preparing a preliminary design and simply issued a so-called Circular of Requirements setting forth the changes and test specifications. Orders were placed for 256 units of this class but only 119 were completed to the original design, the rest being either canceled or reordered later in the war. As in the other war programs Hull numbers and names tended to get out of sequence, as contracts were awarded for large blocks of boats and adjustments were later made to balance the workload among the construction yards. War losses totaled nine, the low toll being due to the completion of many unit too late in the war to encounter much opposition from the battered Japanese antisubmarine forces. Most Balaos underwent conversion to new configurations after the war, and made up the bulk of the navy's active Submarine force until nuclear powered attack boats replaced them during the 1960's.

Internal Submarine Organization

The submarine's crew is an organization of specialists. Brain rather than brawn is the selection criterion. There are many "sergeants" but few "privates"--non-rated men constitute less than 20% of the entire complement. Each officer and man must be a specialist in his own job, but he must know his shipmate's job as well. Before an officer or man can be designated as "qualified in submarines" he must pass a rigid written and oral examination on all machinery, piping and equipment throughout the boat. The electrician's mate must know how to fire the torpedo tubes, the torpedoman's mate how to charge the batteries. There are no spare parts in a submarine's crew--each member is a cog in the wheel, and each cog must do its job to perfection if the organization is to function smoothly, efficiently, and above all, safely.

From a numerical standpoint, motor machinist's mates, electrician's mates and torpedoman's mates predominate in the crew. These three groups approximate half of the enlisted personnel. Next come radiomen and operators of the submarine's electronic gear. Three quartermasters or signalmen, two ship's cooks, two steward's mates, one pharmacist's mate, one gunner's mate, one yeoman, and a number of firemen and seamen complete the complement. The senior chief petty officer on board, usually a chief torpedoman's mate, is designated the "Chief of the Boat."

The senior officer on board is, of course, the submarine's captain. ("Old Man" to the crew, he was, at the outbreak of World War II, a lieutenant commander whose age was probably 34 or 35.) He is followed in seniority by the executive officer who also serves as navigator. Aside from these two--captain and exec--seniority does not enter into the picture. The submarine captain assigns officers to the various ship's duties in accordance with their experience and capabilities. There are the chief engineer, torpedo and gunnery officer, communications officer and commissary officer. (When radar equipment was installed during Word War II there was sometimes a radar officer.) The officers may be, and frequently are, assigned more than one of the above duties.

In the pre-war days the complement of a fleet-type submarine consisted of five officers and 54 enlisted men. As newly developed fire control, radar, radio and sound equipment was added to the submarines, and as war experience dictated the need for more personnel, the complement grew. At war's end it approximated eight officers and 75 enlisted men.

For purposes of watch-standing, the submarine crew is divided into three sections. All hands, the captain excepted, stand watches "one in three" with four hours on duty and eight hours off. The work of the captain, in the words of the well-known sideshow pitch, "is goin' on all the time."[SIC] He must be constantly on the alert and always on call. Each section is organized to man all necessary stations for diving, surfacing, and surfaced or submerged cruising. With the exception of routine cleaning and minor repair jobs, little work is done on a submarine at sea, and sections off watch occupy their time with eating, reading, acey deucey, and sleeping.

Torpedo and gun attacks are, of course, all-hands evolutions. When contact with the enemy is made, the general alarm is sounded and everyone mans his battle station. The captain takes over the periscope and conducts the approach and attack. Breathing over his shoulder is the Exec who, as assistant approach officer, is the "official kibitzer."[SIC] It is his job to check the captain's observations and estimates, and to assist with the adroit mental gymnastics required for a submarine approach. In pre-war days the assistant approach officer was called the "yes man." The term fell into disrepute because of its unintended connotation with obsequious kowtowing. [WHEW!] There is no time for "yessing" in a submarine when the life of all on board may depend on "flooding negative." The only answer permitted in submersible operations is the right answer.

On board the submarine going into action, other officers serve as diving officer, torpedo data computer operator, and plotting officer. One officer is usually assigned to each torpedo room to supervise the readying of all tubes, or to take charge of torpedo reloads. The battle station duties of the crew keep the enlisted men busy. Some serve as members of the approach and fire control party, others as telephone talkers, timekeepers, or recorders. Torpedomen's mates, of course, man their torpedo rooms, and all men not otherwise specifically assigned proceed to these rooms to assist with reloads. When attack and inevitable counter-attack are concluded, the word is passed, "Secure from battle stations--first (or second, or third) section on watch." Normal routine is resumed.

The stranger on board a submarine on war patrol might have difficulty distinguishing between captain and seaman. Both eat the same food and wear the same garb -- shorts and leather sandals being standard costume for patrols in the tropics. And both might be found engrossed in a fast game of chess on the control room deck. Submarines and submarining do not provide space for the protocol of rank. Each member of the crew, from cook to captain, stands on his own two feet as an individual

The rates used early in the Bergall's career are as follows:

EM= Electrician Mate
EN= Engineman
ET= Electronic Technician FN= Fireman ( a striker for a below deck rate such as EN (ENFN)
CS= Commissary steward (Cook)
FN= Fireman ( a striker for a below deck rate such as EN (ENFN)
GM= Gunner's Mate
MoMM= Motor Machinist's Mate (called Auxiliaryman) This is JJ Ott to a "T"!
RM= Radioman
SC= Ship's Cook
SO= Sonarman
SN= Seaman (or a striker for a above deck rate such as TM (TMSN)
TM= Torpedoman
QM= Quartermaster
YN= Yeoman