Construction began on the USS Sterlet on 14 July, 1943 when its keel was laid on the building ways at Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. Once completed, the submarine was launched on 27 October, 1943 alongside the USS Pompfret (SS-391) and the USS Piranha (SS-389) with Mrs. Charles Plumley as its sponsor.
The Sterlet was a Balao class submarine of the Sandlance variant and only one of the 119 Balao submarines built during the Second World War for the US Navy.
With an overall length of 311' 8" and a beam of 27', the Sterlet displaced over 1,500 tons while surfaced and nearly 2,400 tons submerged. Four, 5,400 HP Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines supplied power to four Elliot main motors, two per shaft at 2,740 SHP each, enabling the sub to reach a top speed of 20.25 knots on the surface.
Following the necessary tests and builders trials, the Sterlet was commissioned and joined the fleet on 4 March, 1944 with Cdr. Orme C. Robbins as CO.
During the remaining 17 months of WWII, Sterlet participated in five successful war patrols. She shank 13 Japanese ships totaling 54,900 tons, damaged a 5,000 ton vessel and rescued 8 allied aviators. As a result, her officers and crew were awarded 33 decorations and the submarine insignia with four gold stars.
After WWII, Sterlet conducted routine training operations until September 1948 when she was inactivated and placed in the reserve Fleet at Mare Island, Vallejo, California.
The Cold War View Cold War Timeline
When hostilities broke out in Korea, Sterlet was the first submarine to be taken out of the "mothball" Fleet. In August 1950, she was recommissioned and shortly thereafter was operating with West Coast based units of the air and surface units of the US Pacific Fleet. During the early months of 1952, Sterlet was converted to a modern, streamlined, snorkel-equipped submarine. A snorkel is a retractable breathing tube which permits a submarine to take in and exhaust air while submerged. This enables the ship to operate her diesel engines and to receive fresh air for prolonged periods while under water.
In September 1954, Sterlet was transferred from San Diego to Pearl Harbor and became a unit of SubDiv 12 which is a command within Pearl Harbor's SubRon 1. In July 1959, Sterlet was assigned to SubDiv 72 in SubRon 7. Then in August 1962, Sterlet was again transferred to SubRon 1, becoming a unit of the newly formed SubmDiv 13.
In keeping with the rigid operational requirements generated by the world situation, Sterlet has made six-month deployments to the Western Pacific (WESPACS) area in January 1953, February 1955, February 1957, October 1958, October 1960, October 1962, July 1964, June 1966 and December 1967. Periods between deployments have been utilized by local operations with units of the PacFlt, shipyard overhauls and leave and upkeep periods.
On 31 Jan 1969: Sunk as a target by the USS Sargo (SSN583)