January 23, 1943, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Great sheets of cold blue steel take shape to become the keel of a new submarine. Life is beginning for another silent killer of the deep. Only four short months later the new sub is launched. This fledgling submersible is christened USS Archerfish (SS-311).
Archerfish is a fleet type submarine. She displaces 1807 tons and is 311 feet in length. She is powered by four huge, nine cylinder, opposed piston diesel engines. Her low silhouette is accented by a conning tower with two periscopes and several radio antennae. Fore and aft of the bridge are two .50 caliber machine guns. On her main deck, fore and aft of the conning tower, two three inch cannons are mounted.
She must have been a beautiful sight to the officers and men who were to be her first crew.
For the next several months, Archerfish and her crew worked together to become a seaworthy fighting unit. Intense training at battle stations, torpedo firing drills, flooding and fire drills, depth charge drills and much, much more molded seventy minds and bodies to work as one. For Archerfish, this was a period of correcting little flaws and problems. She was being prepared for battle.
Now ready to join the war in the Pacific, Archerfish and crew depart the relatively safe waters of the East Coast. She sets sail towards the Panama Canal.
Pearl harbor, November 1943. Archerfish slips into her berth at Sub Base Pearl and reports to Commander Submarine Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet for duty. From here, she will conduct seven war patrols.
On her very first patrol, and exactly one year after her keel was laid, she drew enemy blood. Several well placed torpedoes sent a 9,000 ton Japanese freighter to Davy Jones' Locker. Archerfish had celebrated her birthday well. Her present was the first enemy insignia on her battle flag.