Bits of History – Submarine Patrol in Sorsogon Bay


On December 8, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the Philippines, just ten (10)  hours after attacking Pearl Harbor. Even before the attack on the Phlippines, part of the Submarine Asiatic Fleet was already patrolling portion of Celebes Sea and western approaches of the Philippines.

How does this relate to Sorsogon? Apparently, there was a submarine from the Submarine Division 201, lead by Commander R. B. Vanzant, that was standing by in Sorsogon BayS-39, lead by Lt. James Coe – even before the war broke out. After she received the fragmented message: “FROM COMMANDER ASIATIC FLEET… TO ASIATIC FLEET… URGENT… BREAK… JAPAN HAS COMMENCED HOSTILITIES… GOVERN YOURSELVES ACCORDINGLY…”, she moved to San Bernardino Strait – the passage between Sorsogon and Samar Island.

USS S-39 off Olongapo, Philippine Islands, 1935

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Page 26, Theodore Roscoe, Richard G. Voge, United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel

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