During its 142 years as an active military base, the Mare Island Naval Shipyard built nearly 50 submarines for the U.S. Navy. Many of those subs were launched during the tumultuous years of WWII. On this date in 1942 Mare Island launched the submarine USS Sunfish (SS 281), a Gato-class, diesel-electric vessel that would serve heroically throughout the War.
At 4:15 on that sunny May afternoon, Mrs. J.W. Fowler christened the sub with the ceremonial bottle of champagne and sent her down the ways. Shipyard Commander RADM Wilhelm Friedell hailed the Sunfish as “another answer by Mare Island to what we think of the Axis powers.” As a further demonstration of the Shipyard’s dedication to the war effort, USS Sunfish was completed a full eight months ahead of schedule.
USS Sunfish made eleven war patrols during WWII and earned nine battle stars. She returned to Mare Island for overhaul in May 1945 and departed for Pearl Harbor on 31 July. While Sunfish was preparing for her 12th war patrol, the war ended and she returned instead to Mare Island where she was decommissioned on 26 December 1945.