The history of the USS Irex SS-482:
A peace-time role, May 1945–January 1946
Under Captain Crowley

A newspaper account of the Irex's 9000th dive stated that the construction of the Irex had been authorized by an act of Congress on 17 June 1940. However, this account is not reliable.

The twenty-five or thirty Tench-class submarines built and completed between 1944 and 1946 represented an improvement over the previous Gato and Balao classes only in regard to a better arrangement of ballast tanks and interior machinery. The only visible difference was in their armament. The first of the class was the U.S.S. Tench SS-417, which was commissioned on 6 October 1944. Most of the class, including the Irex, did not enter service in sufficient time for a war patrol.

On 2 October 1944 the Irex's keel was laid at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Her displacement was 1570 tons on the surface and 2416 tons submerged. Her length was 311.8 feet overall and 307' at the waterline (later reported as 308'). She was 27.4' at the beam and had a draft of 16'5". Facing aft was a 5"/25 deck gun, and there was originally two smaller 40 mm. cannons, one located on a chin mount below the bridge and the other on the cigarette deck extension of the bridge deck aft of the shears. On many fleet boats this cigarette deck was removed in order to reduce the silhouette of the shears, but not for a while the Irex.

The crew complement was apparently meant to be six officers and sixty enlisted men, but the Tench Class was supposed to be 80-90 altogether, and the Irex in 1947 was said to have 80 men, and in the 'fifties, 84.

[ Irex launching ] The boat was named and launched on 26 January 1945 in Portsmouth/Kittery (apparently the launch was delayed by one day). The launching was sponsored by Mrs. Allen J. Ellender, the wife of a senator from Louisiana. This photograph of the launching was taken by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and is the cover photo for Bruce J. Schick, Whale's Tales: Recollections of a Diesel Submariner (DBF Press, 2006).

Final delivery to the Navy and commissioning took place on 14 May 1945 at Portsmouth, at which time the boat received hull number SS-482 and was placed under the command of Commander John Daniel Crowley on that same date. Both the Captain and the Exec, James W. Liddell, came from the ill-fated USS Flier, which had struck a mine in the Pacific during the war, with eight survivers. For the Flier, see Michael Surma, USS Flier (2009). The XO served on the Irex until December 1945. The first Chief of the Boat was Eugene F. Zeimer.

The boat was named after the “Irex Americanus”, which is an old generic name applied to fish of the Carandidae family, specifically the Amberfish or Blue Runner genus. The scientific name was abandoned in the 1860s and replaced with Elagatis bipinnulatus.

[ Captain Crowley ] Captain Crowley was born in about 1910, and was part of the USN Academy class of 1931. In 1961 he retired from the Navy and became manager of Navy products planning for the Martin Company in Baltimore, MD. He died on 28 November 1997.

The XO was James W. Liddell, Jr., who died on 27 May 2004 in Conestoga, PA. He left the Navy after the Second World War and founded a company that he named the Irex Corporation. I believe the COB was Eugene Zeimer.

The first test dive was made on 7 June 1945. Aboard for that dive was an officer, S.T. Bussey, who returned to the boat to take her down for her 9000th dive in 1964. This initial dive was made off Portsmouth, near where the USS Squalus had sunk on her first dive in 1939 with the loss of 29 lives.

After a two-month shakedown cruise in the New London area, the Irex sailed for the Pacific. On the way there, she spent some time in Port Everglades for more training. Then on to the Pacific via the Panama Canal.

However, after passing through the Canal Zone and while training off the West coast of Panama, on 15 August 1945, the war ended, signalled by a blast on the ship's whistle.

After a rollicking shore leave in the Canal Zone, the boat was ordered back to Key West, Florida, for a year of operational training duty as part of Submarine Squadron Four. She spent the remainder of 1945 engaged in various training exercises out of Key West.

Captain Crowley was relieved of duty on 2 January 1946 by CDR Ward.

History index
History 1946–1947