Launched on 20 January 1943 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, SS-289 U.S.S. Capelin was the fifth submarine to be built in the Balao class. She was commissioned on 4 June 1943, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Elliot E. Marshall, who would be her only commanding officer.
After completing trials, Capelin departed New London on 3 September 1943, for duty with Submarine Force, Southwest Pacific, out of Fremantle, Australia. She set out on her first war patrol on 30 October. She was credited with sinking two enemy ships, for a total of 7,400 tons. Postwar, JANAC reduced this to a single ship and 3,127 tons. Capelin concluded her patrol at Darwin on 15 November, where repairs were made to correct problems discovered in her short first war patrol.
Departing Darwin on 17 November 1943 for her second war patrol. Her only contact after that date was on 2 December 1943, by the growler underwater phone with U.S.S. Bonefish (SS-223). This was, however, only a tentative contact, as Bonefish used Marshall’s nickname, “Steam,” in making the contact, which was acknowledged. Capelin did not surface following the contact, and no further contacts were made.
On 9 December 1943, the Navy broke radio silence in an attempt to contact Capelin, but received no response. She was reported lost with all hands. No definite reason was ever established for her loss. During her first patrol, Capelin had experienced problems with her conning tower hatch, one of her bow planes, and her radar. The latter was unlikely to cause an operational loss, but either the hatch or problems with the planes were potentially fatal if they had not be properly repaired. The only enemy attack on a U.S. submarine in the appropriate area was on 23 November 1943. The Japanese did not report sinking the submarine, and the contact with Bonefish in December makes it unlikely that the Japanese attack proved fatal, so the actual cause of her loss remains subject to speculation.
|HISTORY FOR U.S.S. Capelin|
|1/20/43||Portsmouth||Mrs I.C. Bogart||6/4/43||LCDR Elliot E. Marshall||Lost 12/43|
|1||Elliot E. Marshall||Fremantle||10/30/43||17||2/7,400||1/3,127||Darwin|
|2||Elliot E. Marshall||Darwin||11/17/43||0/0||0/0||Lost 12/43|