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US Navy issue submarine escape belt

Date: 14 December 1940(?)
Overall: 257 x 1005 mm, 0.7 kg
Medium: Metal, elastic, rubber backed canvas
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Escape belt
Object No: 00030069
Place Manufactured:Akron

User Terms

    This US Navy issue submarine escape belt manufactured by The Firestone Tire and Rubber Co was issued to the USS S-39. USS S-39 was part of submarine division 201 commanded by Lt. James W. Coe, USN. Subdivision 201 consisted of boats S-36 - S-41. USS S-39 was lost on 14 August, 1942.
    SignificanceThis US Navy issue submarine escape belt is significant in identifying the small number of US submarines that operated out of Australian submarine bases during World War II.
    HistoryThe USS S-39 was one of a small number (6-8) of US submarines built in the 1930's that were identified by number only. They operated out of the submarine base at Fremantle, Western Australia.

    During 1941, S-39 under the command of James W. Coe, patrolled off Southern Luzon. In late December 1941, an attempt to impede Japanese mining activities saw her move into the San Bernardino Strait. This proved unsuccessful and she returned to Manila. S-39 became famous during March 1942 when it scored 3 direct hits on the Japanese tanker Erimo.

    On the night of 13/14 August, the submarine grounded on submerged rocks off Rossel Island in the Solomon Islands. S-39 was left on the rocks, rather than destroyed by gunfire, as the commanding officer was satisfied the vessel would continue breaking up. The crew were taken to Townsville and reassigned to other submarines.

    S-39 earned two battle stars for her World War II service.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: United States Navy issue submarine escape belt

    Web title: US Navy issue submarine escape belt

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