The USS Tarpon is a 298 foot long Shark-Class U.S. Navy submarine that lies in 140 feet of water. The bow is bent back, probably the result of a snagged trawling net. The gun and conning tower have both fallen off of the sub to the ocean floor. The sub is listing 20 degrees to port.
During the summer, the water temperature ranges from the upper 70's to the low 80's. Visibility averages 60 feet but can get up over a 100 feet. There can be moderate currents on the USS Tarpon, so it is best to swim into them on the first part of the dive and let the current bring you back to the anchor line. The inside of the USS Tarpon is filled with silt, which can easily reduce a diver's visibility to zero. Only penetration-trained wreck divers should attempt penetration. There is plenty to see on the outside of the USS Tarpon.
The USS Tarpon's keel was laid on December 22, 1933, her hull was launched on September 4,1935, and she was commissioned on March 12, 1936. The USS Tarpon was a modified Porpoise-Class sub. She was a Shark-Class sub and that class only had two subs. They had a range of 11,000 miles at speed of 10 knots without refueling. Her surface speed was 19 knots and her submerged speed was 8 knots. She had enough provisions to stay at sea for 75 days. The USS Tarpon was designated as P-4, and the USS Shark was designated P-3, the two members of the Shark-Class. The hulls of these two subs were all-welded, the difference in the other Porpoise-Class subs. These were the first all-welded hulls on U. S. Navy subs. This gave their 5/8 inch steel hulls a crush-depth rating of 250 feet.
Upon commissioning, the USS Tarpon was assigned to the Pacific Ocean. She was in the Philippines when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. She was sent out to sink Japanese ships under the command of Lt. Commander Weeden. The USS Tarpon didn't fire a single torpedo on her first patrol. After the patrol, she put into port in Darwin, Australia and Lt. Commander Wallace took over command of the USS Tarpon. On February 1, 1942, she fired four torpedoes at an enemy freighter. Of those four, one hit the freighter. She then fired two more torpedoes that hit the freighter and sank the ship. Post-war investigation could find no Japanese ships sunk at that time or location. The USS Tarpon wasn't credited with a kill.
On February 11, 1942, the USS Tarpon was depth charged for the first time by a Japanese ship. The USS Tarpon dove to 235 feet in an attempt to evade the depth charges. The bow planes, rudder angle indicator, and the port annunciator were disabled. The USS Tarpon later ran aground while passing through a narrow strait. Many attempts were made to free themselves but the falling tide prevented them from leaving. They were finally able to get free as high tide arrived.
The USS Tarpon spent the summer of 1942 in dry dock in San Francisco. While she was there, she got new engines, a modification to the conning tower, and had two torpedo tubes added to the outside of the pressure hull. Commander Thomas Wogan took command of the USS Tarpon. On February 1, 1943, she fired four torpedoes at a passenger-cargo ship. Of those four, one hit the passenger-cargo ship. She then fired two more torpedoes that hit the passenger-cargo ship and sank the Fushima Maru. This was a confirmed kill. The next day a Japanese plane spotted the USS Tarpon and 22 explosions were heard and felt by the crew. Two of the explosions were close enough that the main induction was flooded. They left the area for repairs and on February 5, 1943, she was back in service.
On February 8, 1943, she fired four torpedoes at a troop transport ship. All four torpedoes hit their target. After firing her torpedoes, she did a crash dive to avoid 19 depth charges from the escorts. The depth charges missed their target. The Tatsuta Maru was sunk and the escorts picked up her surviving troops that were treading water in full military gear. Many of the troops drowned because they were pulled down by the weight of their gear.
On October 17, 1943, she fired four torpedoes at a Japanese ship, which stopped the ship dead in the water. The target soon got underway again and headed for the USS Tarpon. The USS Tarpon submerged and went under the ship and fired three more torpedoes at the ship. One torpedo hit the stern, but the ship continued on. The USS Tarpon fired another torpedo at the same spot as the first one. The ship exploded and disappeared below the water. The ship was the Michel, a German raider that was preying on Allied shipping in the Atlantic and the Pacific. It was the first German raider to be sunk in the Pacific.
She saw little action in 1944. On December 24, 1944, the USS Tarpon left Pearl Harbor for the east coast. On November 15, 1945, the USS Tarpon was decommissioned in Boston. She was reactivated in 1947 and towed to New Orleans where she served as a dockside Naval Reserve training boat until 1956. On September 5, 1956, the USS Tarpon was removed from the Navy's list of ships. She had earned 11 battle stars in the Asiatic-Pacific theater.
In June of 1957, the USS Tarpon was sold for scrap. As the tug Julia C. Moran was towing the USS Tarpon past Ocracoke Island, the USS Tarpon started taking on water in the stern. On August 26, 1957, the bow of the USS Tarpon rose up out of the water and she slid stern first to the bottom of the ocean.