SS-41, S-36 submarine was at sea off Luzon at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and commenced her first war patrol at the outbreak of hostilities. Returning to Mariveles, she was off again after repairs and resupply, by the end of December.
On New Year’s Day, 1942, S-36 found a 5,000 ton Japanese freighter moored at Calapan, on Mindoro. Lieutenant John McKnight, S-36‘s commanding officer, fired a single torpedo at the moored freighter, which promptly sank. (The S-boats were equipped with the older Mark-10 torpedo which, unlike the new Mark-14s, could generally be counted on to actually explode if they hit the target.) The sinking was, however, disallowed post-war.
On 15 January 1942, while running surfaced in the Sulu Sea, S-36 was discovered by a Japanese destroyer. Efforts to dive were complicated by problems with the starboard engine, and McKnight was unable to set up a shot at the destroyer. Various systems failed as S-26 attempted to elude the destroyer, but most of the problems were eventually sorted out and she managed to escape.
The next day there were more problems, including a motor fire, all of which would require two days to sort out.
On 20 January the considerable skill of her officers and crew in keeping the old submarine functioning proved to be no match for an inaccurate chart and she ran aground in the Makassar Strait. All efforts to refloat her failed, and the crew was taken off by the Dutch submarine Attla, after the S-36 was scuttled to prevent capture.
Sponsor: Miss Helen Russell
First Captain: Lt. Leon C Alford