for Submariners

by Hamilton 1:1 Communications, LLC

Submariner Oiler (SSO)

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Submarine Oiler (SSO) Conversion:

The Navy planned to use submarines to refuel the new jet powered P6M flying boats. As part of this program the USS Guavina (SS-362) was converted to carry 160,000 gallons for aviation fuel, with blisters added to her sides and two stern torpedo tubes were removed. When the P6M project was canceled, there was no further need for submarine tankers.

USS Guavina (SSO-362) Balao Class

USS Guavina (SS-362) Sub Oiler

The USS Guavina (SS-362) was launched by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, Wis., 29 August 1943, and commissioned 23 December 1943.

After shakedown, Guavina was towed down the Mississippi in floating drydock by the tug Minnesota, reaching New Orleans 24 January 1944. She underwent training exercises at New Orleans and at Balboa, C.Z., before reaching Pearl Harbor 5 April to prepare for her first war patrol.

Guavina sailed 6 April 1944, on her first offensive cruise. She conducted 6 war patrols in total. Shortly after the end of the war Guavina put in at Mare Island and was placed in commission, in reserve.

From March 1949, Guavina underwent extensive overhaul and modification for conversion to a submarine oiler at Mare Island, and was even equipped with a snorkel. Guavina recommissioned in the active fleet as (SSO-362) 1 February 1950 at Mare Island.

After operations along the West Coast, she sailed to Norfolk via Balboa and San Juan 24 July to 25 August. Further operations out of Norfolk were followed by overhaul at Philadelphia and on 29 January 1951, Guavina reported to Key West, her new homeport. Operating out of Key West, Guavina cruised to the Caribbean and up the East Coast to Nova Scotia to test the concept of fueling seaplanes and other submarines.

To aid refueling, Guavina gained a large, raised platform over the after torpedo room, which was soon dubbed the "flight deck." And a flight deck it soon became as in January 1956 Guavina began testing the concept of mobile support of seaplanes from a submarine oiler. After an initial 2-week trial period, Guavina and a variety of seaplanes carried out refueling development for most of 1956.

Guavina sailed into the Charleston Navy Yard 4 January 1959, and decommissioned there 27 March, going into reserve. She served as a training ship for reservists in the 5th Naval District until struck from the Navy List 30 June 1967 and used as a target for the Atlantic Fleet.

Boats Converted:

USS Guavina  (SS-362) (Balao)



Could also refuel submarines submerged, after hooking up fuel hoses on the surface. However, fuelling took ten hours, and the saddle tanks were easily breached if the submarine was bombed.

Could refuel a seaplane while submerged at 100 feet, at the rate of 400 gallons a minute via a floating buoy. Additionally, minor repairs on her seaplanes could be performed, as well as the boat acting as a navigational beacon.




311' 7” length
38' 3” Beam
1,750 tons Surfaced Displacement
2,950 tons Submerged Displacement
2,740 SHP Electric Motors, 2 Shafts
16 kt surfaced speed
7 kt submerged speed
300 ft Test Depth
76 Crew

2 x 21” TT Stern (6 Torpedoes)

Modifications Made:

1- One torpedo tube was left in the bow; but converted to a cargo discharge tube.

2- Electric motors replaced with quieter types; and Snorkel fitted.

Cargo Capacity:

585 tons (159,864 gallons) of liquid fuel
(Saddle Tanks