Daily Event for July 30, 2008

An unlucky submarine came to a final end on July 30, 1919 when USS G-2 sank off New London, Connecticut.
G-2 was built at Newport News Shipbuilding for the Lake Torpedo Boat Company of Bridgeport, CT, they later sold her to the U.S. Navy. Originally named Tuna she was renamed G-2 on Nov. 17, 1911. On May 15, 1912, while on her delivery trip to Bridgeport, the boat ran aground off Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Fog contributed to the accident, but the boat was also too close to shore and now was stuck fast. There were nineteen men on board and they at first refused to leave the boat, but with the seas getting heavier fourteen were removed by the Longport Lifesaving Station at the request of the commanding officer Ens. Sloan Danenhower.

Danenhower and four others remained with the boat and attempted to refloat her. Tugs later arrived and pulled the boat off the shoal the next morning. The boat was repaired and finally commissioned into the navy on Feb. 6, 1915. USS G-2 grounded again on Oct. 1, 1918, this time on Bartlet's Reef near Niantic, Connecticut, again she was refloated. After the Great War she was decommissioned on April 2, 1919. It was later decided to use her as a target to test depth charges.

It was during one of these tests that she sank. The boat was taken out into Two Tree Channel near New London, Ct. to prepare for the test when at 09:30 she began to sink stern first. A witness, Henry L. Wilkinson, said he saw the stern of the G-2 begin to go under. He stated "They (the boarding party of G-2) cried for assistance and within a few minuets the bow of the G-2 began to lift into the air, probably rising about ten feet. Then the submarine sank suddenly and the members of the boarding party were struggling in the water."

USCG Acushnet, which was also involved in the test, launched her two lifeboats and Wilkinson also rounded up a couple of boats and attempted to reach the survivors. The Coast Guard crew were closer and quickly reached those in the water picking up five men. There were four men missing, but soon one body was found floating in the water. Two others, to the best of my knowledge, were never found, but there was one other man unaccounted for, QM1 Clair Kirk, he was trapped inside the boat.

Details of his escape were not published at the time of the loss and were generally not known until a letter he wrote to his grandmother was published in a local newspaper a couple of weeks later. Even then exactly how he escaped from the boat was not revealed. He did say that the body of one man was still in the sunken boat. It was not until a 1957 interview for another paper that he told his story in detail. Kirk kept his wits about him and used his navy training to flood the compartment he was in and force a hatch open. He said he was shot to the surface inside a large air bubble. After he was picked up he was hospitalized from the effects of the pressure used to blow the hatch and the rapid decompression he suffered when coming to the surface. One detail had changed as he said in the later interview that he was the only man in the boat when she went down.

I have not been able to find the results of the inquiry into the loss of G-2, but early on it was believed that a hatch at the stern was either open or improperly closed allowing the flooding. To the best of my knowledge the boat is still where it sank, but parts of it have been salvaged.
© 2008 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Henderson, Arnold G.
Electrician 3rd Class
Kervin, Doyle
Electrician 2nd Class
body recovered
Uhlic, Sidney D.
Gunner's Mate 3rd Class

April 2, 1912: G-2 fitting out after first grounding.

October 1918: USS G-2 aground on Bartlet's Reef.

2006 Daily Event
2007 Daily Event