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World War II: 1939 ~ 1945
United States of America (All Branches)
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Selling Price: $985 - Postage in the U.S.A. is: $15
I also own Bill Barker's earliest issue War Patrol Submarine Pin!

This original Deep Dive "PLANKOWNER" or "PLANK OWNER" Diploma was presented to William A Barker, as he was part of the original skeleton crew who trained on and were included on the first shake down, "Deep Dive" for the submarine (One being issued to the sub itself).

The term, PLANKOWNER means that a crew member was around when the ship was being built and commissioned, and therefore has bragging rights to the "ownership" of one of the planks in the main deck.

Others call this a Shake Down or Deep Dives diploma. In any regard, such a new crew dive contained about half the normal crew of 59 at that time, so if you calculate all the pre-war subs to ever present these diplomas (they did not award these throughout the war for every boat), there are not many Deep Dive Diplomas that could ever possibly become available. They are of the rarest of documents that could ever be offered in submarine history. The actual diploma is framed, as it came to me. The diploma itself looks to be 15 by 12 inches, and the frame adds an extra inch to each side. There is a mild watermark on the lower left where it is signed by "LIEUT T.G. REAMY, U.S.N. Commanding." He was the first Searaven skipper, and Bill described him as a "timid and scared" man who took no chances.

I interviewed Bill Barker in 2009 (age 94) and got to know well over the last years of his life. He was a machinist's Mate and served as Throttleman in the rear Engine Room during the 4 years he was with the boat, much of it in combat. Bill was quite a great man to sit with, describing how the engine room's overhead cork lagging (used to prevent condensation and noise dampening) shook loose and flew onto him during Japanese depth charge attacks, and how he joined the Navy in 1933 to avoid the depression, then got out in 1937 after being on the BB California but re-enlisting a few months later for Sub duty as the depression was still biting hard. He had been on the original SeaRaven crew when the January 9TH of 1940 at 262 feet Deep Dive took place. (That is given as Latitude 43-00 North by Longitude 70-24 West, which is just about 25 miles due East from Portsmouth, NH.)

Below are extracts from the "AHOY - MAC'S WEB LOG" that I found on the web:

Searaven was laid down on 9 August 1938 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard; launched on 21 June 1939, sponsored by Mrs. Cyrus W. Cole; and commissioned on 2 October 1939 with Lt. Thomas G. Reamy in command.

In the two years preceding America's entry into World War II, Searaven operated in Philippine waters conducting training and maneuvers. At the outbreak of war, the submarine was at the Cavite Navy Yard in Manila Bay. During her first two war patrols in December of 1941 and the spring of 1942, she ran supplies to the American and Filippino troops on Bataan and Corregidor. In a night action in the Molucca Strait on 3 February 1942, she torpedoed a Japanese destroyer and claimed her first victim of the war.

Searaven conducted her third war patrol in the vicinity of Timor Island of the Netherlands East Indies, from 2ND to the 25TH of April 1942. On the 18th & 19th and rescued 33 Royal Australian Air Force men from enemy held Timor. One of the RAAF officers wrote in a dispatch of the 2nd Searaven commander (Reamy was transferred and Cassedy was in Command - who Bill described as a magnificent fighter):

"It was the courage of Lieutenant-Commander Hiram Cassedy Hiram Cassedy and his crew of the Sea Raven that made the rescue possible. Cassedy, whom I met, is a great chap, typical of the US submarine service - quiet, soft-spoken, but a regular tiger when there was work to do."

Sea Raven's fourth war patrol was quiet. Her fifth patrol claimed 23,400 tons sunk and 6,853 damaged. This tally went unconfirmed. The 5TH patrol ended on 24TH of November 1942 at Fremantle, Australia, where she underwent refit.

On 18 December, she got underway from Fremantle, bound for the Banda Sea, Ceram Sea, and the Palau Islands. In the Banda Sea, she welcomed the New Year by loosing a spread of three torpedoes at the Japanese minelayer, Itsuku Shima. Again the sinking claimed by Searaven went unconfirmed. Two weeks later, on 14 January 1943, the submarine pumped four torpedoes into the freighter Siraha Maru as a confirmed victory.

On 10 February 1943, she sailed into Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and, two days later, set out for overhaul at Mare Island, California and completed overhaul on 7TH of May (returned to Pearl Harbor on the 25TH). On 7 June, Sea Raven departed from Pearl Harbor for her seventh patrol this time in the Mariana Islands area. During this patrol, she reconnoitered Marcus Island, but encountered no enemy shipping. She put into Midway Island on 29 July 1943 for refit.

Her eighth war patrol began at Midway on August 23RD. She plied the waters off the northeastern coast of Honshu, Japan, but found no enemy ship worthy of a torpedo. After a month and one-half at sea, the submarine made Pearl Harbor on 6 October.

A month later, she stood out for her ninth patrol in the Eastern Carolinas and, for a three-day period, operated with a wolf pack of submarines which was used as part of the defensive screen for the Gilbert Islands operation. On 25 November 1943, she got her second confirmed kill, sending the 10,052-ton tanker Toa Maru, to the bottom with four torpedoes. She sailed back into Pearl Harbor on 6 December. Her tenth war patrol, 17 January to 3 March 1944, was occupied by photo reconnaissance of Eniwetok Atoll and lifeguard duty for the air strikes on the Marshalls Marianas, and Truk. She rescued three airmen, but put into Midway on 3 March with no additional sinkings to her credit.

On 26 March, she embarked upon her 11th war patrol. Her assigned area was the southern islands of the Nanpo Shoto, the Bonins. She made two attacks during this patrol, claimed two more sinkings, but was officially credited with none.

After a complete overhaul at Pearl Harbor Searaven set course for the Kuril Islands area. Twelve enemy vessels were sunk during this patrol. On 21 September 1944, in a night surface attack, the submarine torpedoed and sank an unescorted Japanese freighter Rizan Maru, that had dropped behind her convoy. On the night of 25 September, Searaven engaged two trawlers, four large sampans, and four 50-ton sampans by passing down the column of eight sampans and two trawlers, 250 yards abeam, engaging from one to three at a time at practically point blank range. Those that did not sink on the first pass were given another dose of the same treatment until all were destroyed.

On 1 November, Searaven sailed as part of a coordinated attack group which also included Pampanito (SS-383), Seacat (SS-309), and Pipefish (SS-388) for her final war patrol. Operating in the South China Sea, east of Hainan Island, the submarine closed out her combat career by sinking one transport of the Hainan Maru class and an oiler of the Omurosan Maru type. With combat ended, Searaven was one of the target ships in the 1946 atomic bomb test, Operation "Crossroads," at Bikini Atoll and eventually scuttled.

Note that during World War II, 314 submarines served in the United States Navy. On December 7, 1941, 111 boats were in commission but many were 1918 or barely older class boats and used for training and were not true combat worthy vessels. There were 203 submarines from the Gato, Balao, and Tench classes commissioned during the war. During hostilities, 48 boats and 3,294 men were lost (53 boats if you count non-combat incidents: 1941 = 1; 1942 = 9; 1943 = 16; 1944 = 20; 1945 = 7), making submariners of the highest percentage killed in action of any US service arm in WWII. US submarines sank 1,392 enemy vessels, a total tonnage of 5.3 million tons, including 8 aircraft carriers and over 200†warships.

Also, included is an original first day cover that I picked up a few years ago, from the same dive. It rode along as well.

I include a digital 2013 image of Bill while he was at the VA home in January at 98 years of age!

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