Prior to Seawolf Park, the area was port of entry for immigrants.
Today the Seawolf Park pays tribute to submarine *USS Seawolf (SS 197) on Eternal Patrol.
USS Seawolf is credited with sinking twenty enemy ships. She damaged fourteen more. It was considered one of the navy’s most productive submarines of WWII.
Seawolf was commanded by thirty one year old Commander Albert Marion Bontier. He was a nine year veteran of the US Navy.
She was transporting a 17 member US Army reconnaissance team. They were in route to Samar Island, in the Philippines.
Seawolf operated in what was called a safety lane. This operating zone prohibited American forces from firing on any submarine. Unless positively identified.
Three hours before Seawolf was fired on. A Japanese submarine had fired torpedoes on US ships. A destroyer was damaged.
This vessel was lost while in tow.
USS Rowell (**DE- 403) sonar operator reported correct submarine radio transmissions, and location of a submarine in the area.
Rowell’s commander Harry A Barnard Jr., dismissed the coded message. He presumed it a ruse by a Japanese submarine.
Commander Barnard Jr. pressed the attack. During a second barrage of 24 Hedge Hog mortars. Reports were made of two large air bubbles and debris on the surface.
Seawolf lay off the Coast of Morotai Island. Morotai lies between Philippines and Papua New Guinea, and north east of Indonesia.
All hands and passengers lost.
On Cavalla’s maiden voyage she battled in the Philippine Sea.
It’s often referred to as the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.
During the battle, Cavalla torpedoed and sunk Japanese aircraft carrier, Shokaku.
The Shokaku was a capable veteran of the Imperial Japanese navy. It was involved in every carrier battle except, the Battle of midway.
Japanese losses were three aircraft carriers, two oilier ships, and over six hundred aircraft.
This effectively ended Japans capacity for air carrier engagements. The losses insurmountable.
In another engagement, Cavalla executed a surface attack. This leveled against, Shimotsuki, a Japanese destroyer.
She sent Shimotsuki to the bottom. She lay somewhere between Malaysia and Indonesia.
At Seawolf Park you enter Cavalla through the torpedo room. It is small.
The bunks look sized for junior high kids.
The torpedo room looks very serious. It feels serious. Almost like the brass soaked up the tension in there.
The hatches are small. I had to strain a little to get through. I try to imagine rushing through these. I can’t.
It had a crew size of sixty. As you travel through it, try to imagine that. If there are twenty visitors when you tour, good luck!
How on Earth did they do it? Even the walkways are tight. My shoulders almost touch the sides.
USS Stewart is one of two preserved Destroyer Escorts. And is the only survivor of its class.
The Stewart is named for Admiral Charles Stewart. He commanded the US Frigate Constitution in the War of 1812.
Stewart served extensively along the US east coast, Caribbean and South America.
During escorts to England and Naples Italy, flew the Flag in the face of Nazi Germany's Wolf pack.
Between USS Cavalla and USS Stewart is a compass rose. Around its perimeter are bronze plaques.
Each plaque bears the name of a lost vessel and its location. It includes number of hands lost.
It is a
stinging reminder of the price paid.
Seawolf Park offers less intense things to do too.
It has a lighted fishing pier. Many claim it’s the best fishing in Galveston. Of course there’s shore line to fish on to.
It is an ideal place to watch ships come and go.
The Seawolf Pavilion was damaged during Ike. It was really nice in its time. I hope it can be rebuilt.
You’ll also find picnic tables and volley ball nets. There is an abundance of beautiful coastal birds.
You will find very big, very persistent mosquitos in the grass. If you go out have mosquito repellent on those legs!
There is a charge to enter the park. I think its $6.00 and $6.00 to go aboard the Cavalla, and Stewart.
Destroyer USS Stewart DE -238
*USS, United States Ship
** DE, Destroyer or Ocean Escort
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