A Simple Epitaph


The USS Harder, SS-257 has been found thanks to the Lost 52 Project a private organization founded by Tim Taylor to research lost submarines on patrol during WW II. To date, the Lost 52 Project has found 7 lost WWII submarines.

Overdue and Presumed Lost will no longer be the epitaph for USS Harder and her 79-man crew. The Harder was found several days ago 3,750 feet below the ocean’s surface. This will be their tomb and the discovery of the crew’s final resting place comes shortly before Memorial Day.

The Harder sank 20.5 ships on her six war patrols. In total, the Harder accounted for 82,500 tons sunk and damaged seven additional ships for 29,000 tons. Commander Samuel D. Dealey, known as “a submariner’s submariner,” led the Harder throughout her service.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and received four Navy Crosses during his lifetime, and her crew earned a posthumous Presidential Unit Citation.

Lost Harbor
by Leslie Nelson Jennings
There is a port of no return, where ships
May ride at anchor for a little space
And then, some starless night, the cable slips,
Leaving an eddy at the mooring place . . .
Gulls, veer no longer. Sailor, rest your oar.
No tangled wreckage will be washed ashore.

The 3-D image of the Harder courtesy of The Lost 52 Project and the US Navy.

USS Harder: Wreck of famed US Navy World War II sub found off the Philippines | United States ...

“Despite constituting a mere fraction, approximately 2 percent, of the U.S. Navy’s fleet, submarines proved to be a formidable force, accounting for the destruction of over 30 percent of the Japanese Navy’s assets, with their operations resulting in the demise of 8 aircraft carriers, 1 battleship, and 11 cruisers from the Japanese fleet. Furthermore, US submarines orchestrated the destruction of more than 60 percent of the Japanese merchant fleet, dealing a crippling blow to Japan’s capacity to sustain its military forces and industrial war effort”.

Published in Military
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There are 7 comments.

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  1. Doug Watt Member
    Doug Watt

    The Harder story is a reminder of my late dad. He was a submarine combat veteran in the Pacific and earned both his Silver Dolphins as an enlisted man and his Gold Dolphins as an officer. He was on his first war patrol as an 18-year-old, and he beat the odds of being one in five submariners that were lost in WWII.

    He had completed four war patrols, and he was 19 years old when the war ended. We have his ribbons and Submarine Combat Pin. We also have a copy of the cease fire message sent to submarines. He asked the radio operator for a paper copy of the message while serving on the USS Sand Lance.

    His Asia-Pacific ribbon has four battle stars, and he has a Presidential Unit Citation with one star. The three stars on his combat pin indicate three or more successful war patrols.

    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor

    May I take the opportunity to make folks aware of my new book on US Navy submarines in World War 2?

    It includes parts of an interview I made with Elmer “Zeke” Zelmer, who was communications officer aboard Cavalla when it sank Shokaku.

    It will be out in January 2025

    • #2
  3. Doug Watt Member
    Doug Watt

    My wife’s family has some different history involving submarines. Her late dad joined the Merchant Marine during WWII. A farm boy from the Dakota’s whose first ship and his first voyage ended when a German U-Boat sunk his ship.

    The U-Boat surfaced near the lifeboat he and several sailors managed to get aboard. They thought that the German captain was going to finish what he started. They were given some rations, and the U-Boat captain gave them the directions to reach the nearest shore.  

    • #3
  4. ctlaw Coolidge

    Soon to be x-ray machines:



    • #4
  5. EODmom Coolidge

    @dougwatt You always write of your father with such love. I appreciate your loving memories. Thank you. 

    • #5
  6. EJHill Staff

    I can not imagine. I get claustrophobia in the shower. I’ve been aboard a couple of WWII era boats (if you’re ever in the Cleveland area I recommend visiting the USS Cod) and they are cramped. 

    Other than flight crews, I know of no other group of combatants who admired and respected one another quite like submariners.

    • #6
  7. Doug Watt Member
    Doug Watt

    Some of the stats for US Subs depend upon the tonnage of each Japanese ship sunk depending upon the researcher. For example, 38 Japanese destroyers were sunk by US Subs and that is not mentioned by some researchers.

    Towards the end of war some patrol boats and destroyers remained in harbors and Japanese fishing vessels were used as scouts to locate subs and then the heavily armed warships would leave the harbor to hunt for a sub. Stats on some sites just list those Japanese losses as numerous.

    A tall antenna on a fishing vessel was a tell for sub crews and they would be sunk by using deck guns in a surface action.

    One US Submarine, the Barb featured a locomotive on its battle flag. Click on the link for the story.

    US Navy photo:

    Members of the USS Barb's crew hold the submarine's battle flag aloft after returning from a final patrol in 1945. The train kill can be seen in the bottom-center of the flag. (U.S. Navy)

    • #7
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