“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Washington Navy Yard in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

USS Balao (SS-285)

USS Balao (SS-285) Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, August 12, 2008
1. USS Balao (SS-285) Marker
Inscription. Battle Flag of USS BALAO [illustration]

Displacement: 1,526 [tons](surfaced), 2,414 (submerged)
Length: 311' 9"
Draft: 16' 10"
Speed: 20.25 k. (sufaced), 8.75 k. (submerged)
Complement: 6 officers and 60 enlisted men
Armament: 10 21" torpedo tubes, 1 4" gun, 2 20mm. A.A. guns
Class: BALAO

USS BALAO's keel was laid by the Portsmouth (NH) Navy Yard on 26 June 1942. She was launched 27 October 1942 (sponsored by Mrs. Theodore C. Aylward) and commissioned on 4 February 1943, LCDR Richard H. Crane commanding.

BALAO's combat operations spanned the period from 25 July 1943 to 27 27 August 1945. She carried out 10 war patrols, during the course of which she was credited with sinking seven Japanese ships, totaling in excess of 32,000 tons, as well as 1,100 tons of small craft sunk by gunfire. BALAO earned nine battle stars for her World War II service. Her battle flag was designed by a Disney artist at the request of Motor Machinist Mate 3rd Class William G. Hartley in 1945.

BALAO returned to the United States in 1946, ultimately arriving at New London, Connecticut, where she was decommissioned on 28 August 1946 and placed in reserve.

Recommissioned on 4 March 1952, she was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and based at Key West, Florida. There, she served
USS Balao (SS-285) Monument and Sail Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, August 1, 2008
2. USS Balao (SS-285) Monument and Sail
primarily as a training ship for antisubmarine units and the Special Development Force in the Key West and Guantanamo Bay operating areas. She was decommissioned on 11 July 1963, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 August 1963. Her hull was sunk as a target off the northern coast of Florida on 6 September 1963; however, before this occurred, her conning tower was removed, and it has been restored by the Naval Supply Systems Command for display here on the waterfront of the Washington Navy Yard.
Erected by U.S. Navy.
Location. 38° 52.376′ N, 76° 59.921′ W. Marker is in Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia, in Washington. Click for map. The marker is on the starbord side of the restored conning tower which is on the lawn, near the Anacostia River, approximately 70 yards southwest from the corner of Sicard Street and Isaac Hull Avenue, SE. Marker is in this post office area: Washington Navy Yard DC 20374, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "4-in. 40 caliber rifles" (within shouting distance of this marker); Frank W. Crilley Building (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Leg of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren (about 500 feet away); Willard Park
USS Balao Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, August 12, 2008
3. USS Balao
restored conning tower, displayed near Washington Navy Yard waterfront.
(about 700 feet away); Washington Navy Yard Chapel (about 700 feet away); 16-inch Projectiles (about 700 feet away); Navy Gun Car (about 800 feet away); a different marker also named Willard Park (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Washington Navy Yard.
More about this marker. Parking is restricted during business hours. Visitors without military identification are required to enter the Yard via the west (Isaac Hull Avenue) entrance off M Street, SE. Drivers must obtain a visitor's pass and proceed to an authorized parking area as directed.
Regarding USS Balao (SS-285). Please feel free to edit the following change to the caption that appears beneath the Balao battle flag: This is the original Battle Flag created in 1944 by Bill Hart. Bill together with shipmate Joe Klein donated the flag to the Department of the Navy Historical Center at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard in 1982.
Also see . . .  USS Balao Photos. More photos of the USS Balao. (Submitted on August 18, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
USS Balao (SS-285) Battle Flag Photo, Click for full size
By Bruce Williams
4. USS Balao (SS-285) Battle Flag
This print of a U.S. Naval Historical Center photograph was included on the mounting of the artwork which was donated to the contributor by the original artist, Bill Hart.
Additional comments.
1. "Battlin Bee" emblem
In a number of places on the internet, including this site, it is stated that the "Battlin' Bee" emblem of the U.S.S. Balao (SS 285) was "designed by a Disney artist". The artist was in fact Pearl Harbor veteran Bill Hart, who was like my father Joseph F. Williams, a 1943 Balao plank-owner. I have an original painting of the "Bee" emblem given to me by Bill Hart many years ago, with the following inscription: "This is a replica of the original "Battlin' Bee" designed and painted by me on the fifth war patrol of the USS Balao (SS 285) in 1944.

The original emblem was flown on a burgee type of flag... as the Balao skimmed in under the Golden Gate Bridge in October of 1944. I now have the original flag in my posession. A copy of the battle flag (with the "bee" emblem) was made and additional Japanese ensigns added. At last report the flag occupied a space in the EM Club at Pearl Harbor." Bill Hart died at Seattle in 2002, and his old Balao shipmate and best friend my dad, died aboard the U.S.S. Nerius (AS-17) in San Diego Harbor fifty years ago this month, September 1959 at the age of 37 years.

If anyone has an interest in an email copy of Bill Hart's "Battlin' Bee" motif or his supporting
USS Balao (SS-285) Battle Flag Artwork Photo, Click for full size
By Bruce Williams, October 1, 2009
5. USS Balao (SS-285) Battle Flag Artwork
A picture of the original artwork on the USS Balao battle flag provided by the artist, Mr. Bill Hart.
letter, I am happy to provide it. As for the Disney connection, Bill Hart had the opportunity to work as a cartoonist for Disney after the war, but he decided to work for Boeing instead.
    — Submitted October 1, 2009, by Bruce Williams of Centerville, Massachusetts.

Categories. War, World IIWaterways & Vessels
USS Balao (SS-285) Battle Flag Artwork Photo, Click for full size
By Bruce Williams, October 1, 2009
6. USS Balao (SS-285) Battle Flag Artwork
Note made by the artist, Mr. Bill Hart, on the back of the mounting of the original battle flag artwork. Provided to the contributor 20 years previously.
USS Balao (SS-285) Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Larry Sorensen, circa March 16, 1962
7. USS Balao (SS-285) Marker
Mark 16 torpedo recovery ops
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,428 times since then and 86 times this year. Last updated on , by Bruce Williams of Centerville, Massachusetts. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Bruce Williams of Centerville, Massachusetts.   7. submitted on , by Larry Sorensen of Cumming, Usa. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on July 31, 2016.
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