page contents

USS Perch Challenge Coin

SS-176 Coin
SS-176 Coin
Item# coin-ss-176
Display Options:  Velveteen Gift Bag: 

Product Description

March 3, 1942 -- 6 Men Died as POW's

A beautiful 1.75-inch brass coin honoring the men of World War II who gave their lives fighting for our country...

The front of the coin honors the USS Perch (SS 176). The back has the following quote:

"To the 374 officers and 3131 men of the Submarine Force who gave their lives in the winning of this war, I can assure you that they went down fighting and that their brothers who survived them took a grim toll of our savage enemy to avenge their deaths."

-Vice Admiral C.A. Lockwood, Jr. Commander Submarine Force, 1943 - 1946

About the USS Perch (SS 176)...

Having been serviced at Port Darwin, Australia, PERCH (LCDR D. A. Hurt) departed on February 3, 1942, for her second patrol, in the Java Sea. At this time the Japanese campaign to secure the Netherlands East Indies was at its height. The Philippines had been efficiently neutralized by them, and their fall was only a matter of time. The Japanese were forcing their way down the Strait of Makassar, and an invasion of Borneo or Java was imminent.

From February 8 to 23 PERCH was sent several reports concerning enemy concentrations near her area, and was directed to patrol or perform reconnaissance in various positions near the islands of the Java Sea. On February 25 she was directed to go through Salajar Strait and patrol along the 100-fathom curve northeast of the Kangean Islands as part of the force then attempting to defend Java.

On February 25 she reported two previous attacks with negative results and stated that she had received a shell hit in her conning tower, which, damaging the antenna trunk, made transmissions uncertain, but she could receive. On February 27, she sent a contact report on two cruisers and three destroyers. No further reports were received from her, and she failed to arrive in Fremantle where she had been ordered by dispatch.

The following account of what happened to PERCH is taken from a statement made by her surviving Commanding Officer, who was repatriated at the end of hostilities, having been held by the enemy. The last station assignment was given PERCH on February 28, 1942, in the Java Sea. A large enemy convoy had been cruising about for several days, waiting to land on Java; now the objective had been discovered, and submarines were to disregard their areas and attack at the landing point.

Shortly after surfacing on the night of March 1, PERCH sighted two destroyers, and dove. After the destroyers had passed well clear, they came back, one near PERCH. Hurt prepared to attack with torpedoes, but at 800 to 1,000 yards the destroyer turned straight toward him. The Commanding Officer ordered 180 feet. At 90 to 100 feet, the destroyer passed over and dropped a string of depth charges; shortly after that PERCH hit bottom at 147 feet.

During the depth charge attacks which followed, the ship lost power on her port screw, but she managed to pull clear of the bottom and surface when depth charging had ceased. Shortly before dawn two Japanese destroyers again were sighted, and once more PERCH went to the bottom, this time at 200 feet. Efforts to move from the bottom were unsuccessful, and the attackers continued depth charging until after daylight.

At dusk on March 2, PERCH again surfaced after an hour of effort. There was no enemy in sight. Reduction gears were in bad shape, there were severe electrical grounds and broken battery jars, and the engine room hatch leaked severely, so arrangements were made to scuttle if necessary.

On trying to dive before sunrise on March 3, 1942, it was found that due to the severe depth charge attacks she had been through, water poured in from conning tower and engine room hatches, the three-inch circulating water line and leaks in the hull. Nothing the crew did seemed to help the leakage, and while further attempts were being made to repair the ship, three enemy destroyers came in sight and opened fire. The submarine's gun was inoperative, and torpedoes could not be fired. Enemy depth charges had caused three of PERCH's torpedoes to run in their tubes, and the heat, exhaust gases, and mounting nervous tension aggravated already challenging conditions. The decision was made to abandon and scuttle her. The entire crew got into the water safely, and all were picked up by Japanese ships. The significant statement of Japanese antisubmarine capabilities is made by LT K. G. Schacht, a PERCH survivor, that "loss of air and oil during attacks caused both previous enemy groups to believe their target had been destroyed."

Personnel of PERCH were held for a few days on a Dutch Hospital Ship and transferred on March 10, 1942, to a prison camp at Makkasser Clebes, Dutch West Indies until found by Brigadier General Barnes on Sept. 13, 1945. Fifty-three of their crewmembers were handed over to the United States at the end of the war. PERCH was credited with sinking a 5,000-ton enemy freighter on her first patrol, conducted west of the Philippines.

UPDATE: FOUND USS Perch (SS-176) was found on November 23, 2006, in the Java Sea north-northwest of Surabaya City, Java, at a depth of 190 feet. The dive group was led by Vidar Skoglie. In December 2006, diver/photographer Kevin Denlay sent numerous photos of the wreck to USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. Her identity has not yet been confirmed by the U. S. Navy, although physical evidence of the vessel's identity appears conclusive.

Would make an excellent addition to your collection or for your favorite sailor! Collect the entire series!

OPTIONAL: Our Air-Tite acrylic cases provide the ultimate long-term protection for your coin. They are made of crystal clear, hard Acrylic and will never yellow over time; the foam rings are made of Volara and both are free of PVC that could damage your coin.


Submariner's Memorial Coin
Exclusive Coin