During President Franklin Roosevelt’s brief visit to Mare Island in September 1942, he viewed two submarines – one Japanese and one American. The name of the U.S. submarine was not reported due to wartime secrecy. The Japanese sub was a small two-man vessel captured at Pearl Harbor and subsequently sent on a fundraising tour to U.S. military bases around the country. The photograph that accompanies this post shows Roosevelt in his car with Mare Island Commander RADM Willhelm Friedell as they stopped to look at the Japanese sub during the President’s visit. Reporter Merriman Smith of United Press reported the visit as follows:
U.S. Sub That Bagged Jap Ships Viewed by President at M.I.
“President Roosevelt looked today with great satisfaction upon two submarines – one Japanese craft captured at Pearl Harbor, the other an American sub with nine Japanese flags painted on her conning tower. Touring the San Francisco Bay Area, the President saw graphic evidence of the war in the Pacific, including sea-beaten submarines, wounded marines and sailors and supply ships loading for another long haul to the fighting fronts.
"Moving down the Pacific coast and the western sea frontier of the nation, the President paused for an afternoon’s inspection of installations in the San Francisco area, which showed plainly the signs of high-gear war activity.
"Inspecting the Mare Island Navy Yard and the embarkation station and naval supply depot at Oakland, the President got a good and realistic picture of the work involved in keeping forces of the United States in top combat condition.
See Historic Sub
"At Mare Island on San Pablo Bay, the Chief Executive saw one of the nation’s most active navy yards. Fighting ships of varied type were in for service, but the ones that caught the President’s eyes were two submarines – Japanese and American.
"The Japanese undersea craft was caught at Pearl Harbor. Small but menacing, she carried a crew of two men.
"A few minutes later Mr. Roosevelt saw a weather-streaked American sub moored at the navy yard and paused to look at her conning tower which bore nine red-and-white Japanese flags, each indicating a victim and probably ranging from small cargo craft to big Nipponese fighting ships.
"There were other fighting ships at Mare Island for repairs and supplies and the President examined each one as closely as his limited schedule would permit.”