American submarine life guard league


Crewmen of the U.S.S. Finback are helping a Navy Avenger pilot who had to ditch when his plane was shot down. They help him get out of his raft to climb onto the deck. This aviator's name was George H. W. Bush. Slowing to a crawl make them vulnerable to enemy attack.

Often American aircraft helped submarines locate downed pilots. Other times submarines looked for pilots reported down in an area, but finding a raft as small as the one above could be difficult.

When submarines rescued pilots downed near enemy islands, our aircraft often attacked enemy guns to protect the submarine from hostile fire. A common tactic was a submerged sub brings its periscope close enough for the aviator to hold on to be carried away from enemy fire.

Pilots who ditched or parachuted often were injured and barely able to inflate their rafts. Our submarine used their best swimmers to help pilots get to the submarine to be brought aboard by crewmen.

Some 500 downed pilots of the Air Force, the Marines, and the Navy were rescued. Most volunteered to take over duties in the operation of the submarine, enjoyed the food, and endured depth charging.

Note the round holes along the edge of the deck to the right that were drilled to help air escape to speed crash dives by submarines. The slatted deck with space between the wood was to let air out when diving, but not fast enough, so holes were drilled on many submarines and many limber holes were cut in the sides of the hull.