WWII ‘Hit ‘em Harder’ Submarine Wreck Site Confirmed


DALLAS, TX  - The wreckage of a famed World War II-era U.S. Navy submarine, which sank a record number of Japanese ships with Dallas-born naval commander Samuel David Dealey at the helm, has been found.

This was announced by the U.S. Navy’s History and Heritage Command shortly before the Memorial Day weekend when the department’s Underwater Archaeology Branch confirmed the discovery of the USS Harder.

Using data collected and provided by Tim Taylor, CEO of Tiburon Subsea, and the Lost 52 Project, the NHCC's Underwater Archaeology Branch confirmed the wreck site they discovered as the final resting place of USS Harder (SS 257).

Taylor received a Distinguished Public Service Award from the Navy in 2021 for the Lost 52 Project’s work to locate, discover, and memorialize the 52 submarines lost during World War II. Previous submarines located by the Lost 52 project include USS Grayback (SS 208), USS Stickleback (SS 415), USS R-12 (SS 89), USS S-26 (SS 131), USS S-28 (SS 133), and USS Grunion (SS 216).

The first USS Harder (SS 257) was commissioned on Dec. 2, 1942, with Cmdr. Samuel D. Dealey in command; and lost at sea with 79 souls aboard on Aug. 24, 1944.

USS Harder (SS 257)

Resting at a depth of more than 3,000 feet, the vessel sits upright on her keel relatively intact except for the depth-charge damage aft of the conning tower. Submarines by their very design can be a challenge to identify, but the excellent state of preservation of the site and the quality of the data collected by Lost 52 allowed for NHHC to confirm the identity of the wreck as Harder.

“Harder was lost in the course of victory. We must not forget that victory has a price, as does freedom,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired). “We are grateful that Lost 52 has given us the opportunity to once again honor the valor of the crew of the ‘Hit ‘em HARDER’ submarine that sank the most Japanese warships – in particularly audacious attacks – under her legendary skipper, Cmdr. Sam Dealey.”

Harder's fifth war patrol was the submarine’s most successful. Harder depleted the critical supply of destroyers by sinking three of them and heavily damaging or destroying two others in four days, and her frequent attacks resulted in Adm. Ozawa's Mobile Fleet departing Tawi-Tawi a day ahead of schedule. The premature departure upset the Japanese battle plans and forced Ozawa to delay his carrier force in the Philippine Sea, contributing to the defeat suffered by the Japanese in the ensuing battle.

The submarine’s last known location was in the South China Sea off Luzon during her sixth and final war patrol. Early on Aug. 22, Harder and USS Haddo (SS 255) attacked and destroyed three escort ships off Bataan – Harder sinking escort ships Matsuwa and Hiburi. Joined by USS Hake (SS 256) that night, the coordinated attack group headed for Caiman Point, Luzon. At dawn on Aug. 23, Haddo attacked and fatally damaged the destroyer Asakaze off Cape Bolinao. Haddo informed Harder and Hake that her torpedoes were expended and left for replenishment. Harder and Hake remained off Dasol Bay, searching for new targets.

Before dawn on Aug. 24, Hake sighted the escort ship CD-22 and Patrol Boat No. 102. As Hake closed to attack, the patrol boat turned away toward Dasol Bay. Hake broke off approach, and turned northward, sighting Harder's periscope 600 to 700 yards dead ahead. Swinging southward, Hake sighted CD-22 about 2,000 yards off her port quarter.

To escape, Hake went deep and rigged for silent running. Hake’s crew reported hearing fifteen rapid depth charges explode in the distance astern. Hake continued evasive action, returning to the attack area shortly after noon to sweep the area at periscope depth – only finding a ring of marker buoys covering a radius of one-half mile. Japanese records later revealed Harder fired three torpedoes at CD-22. The Japanese ship evaded the torpedoes and began a series of depth charge attacks. The fifth depth charge attack sank Harder and her crew.

Commander Samuel D. Dealey, USN

Harder received the Presidential Unit Citation for her first five patrols, and six battle stars for World War II service. Cmdr. Dealey was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his outstanding contribution to the war effort on Harder's fifth patrol.

Dealey’s other awards included a Navy Cross (Sept. 1943) for Harder’s first war patrol; a Gold Star in lieu of second Navy Cross (Nov. 1943) for second war patrol; second Gold Star in lieu of third Navy Cross (Feb. 1944) for third war patrol; the Distinguished Service Cross (July 1944); a third Gold Star in lieu of fourth Navy Cross (July 1944) for fourth war patrol; and the Silver Star (posthumously, Oct. 1948) for the sixth war patrol.

The wreck of USS Harder (SS 257) is a U.S. sunken military craft protected by U.S. law and under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy. While non-intrusive activities, such as remote sensing documentation, on U.S. Navy sunken military craft are allowed, any activity that may result in the disturbance of a sunken military craft must be coordinated with NHHC and, if appropriate, authorized through a relevant permitting program.

Most importantly, the wreck represents the final resting place of Sailors who gave their lives in defense of the nation and should be respected by all parties as a war grave. For more information on USS Harder (SS 257), visit www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/harder-i.html.

Subscribe to the LIVE! Daily

The LIVE! Daily is the "newspaper to your email" for San Angelo. Each content-packed edition has weather, the popular Top of the Email opinion and rumor mill column, news around the state of Texas, news around west Texas, the latest news stories from San Angelo LIVE!, events, and the most recent obituaries. The bottom of the email contains the most recent rants and comments. The LIVE! daily is emailed 5 days per week. On Sundays, subscribers receive the West Texas Real Estate LIVE! email.


Most Recent Videos


Please ignore whatever cheesy ad may be attached to this.  The URL brings up a magnificent piece of music that includes visual tributes to many of those who died for this country and some who have served recently and hopefully survived.  We owe them all an enormous debt.

I confess that I still cry a bit when I watch this thing.  I simply do not want to ever forget these men and women.




One cannot help but look back on the wars of the 20th century—particularly WWII—with a deep sense of sadness for what was lost. Not even in 10,000 years, never forget!

It's really sad to see homeless veterans, left to rot by the people that asked them to serve their country. What's even more sad is seeing the state of the country they fought for. rest in peace may your sacrifices never be forgotten.

If you give General Patton any credence, (or Willie Nelson & company, for that matter,) the actual fallen soldiers probably "respawned" somewhere else after their respective tours of duty, FWIW. Possibly as internet trolls, haunted by vague recollections of the Tet Offensive...

It's like having Mexico available straight from the tap, complete with traffickers and light-to-intermediate corruption in the background environment. You might consider day drinking, midday naps, and starting a secret family to compliment the experience. 🪇🤷‍♂️ 

Post a comment to this article here:

X Close