Sorensen, Vernon Frederick, LT

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Line Officer
Primary Unit
1941-1943, USS Triton (SS-201)
Service Years
1940 - 1943

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by Bersley H. Thomas, Jr. (Tom), SMCS to remember Sorensen, Vernon Frederick, LT.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Seattle, WA
Last Address
Seattle, WA

Casualty Date
Mar 15, 1943
Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Other Explosive Device
Pacific Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial - Manila, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates

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Last Known Activity

USS Triton (SS-201) began her final war patrol on 16 February 1943. After a series of Successful attacks early in March, she reported attacking a convoy on 15 March and was being depth charged. This was the last communication from the Triton. Post- war examination of Japanese records indicates that they had sunk a submarine slightly northwest of Triton's reported position. Lieutenant Sorensen was listed as Missing in Action and later declared dead 9 April 1944.

Service number: 087692

Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Awarded for Actions During World War II
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Division: United States Submarine
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 316 (July 1943)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy and Marine Corps Medal to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Vernon F. Sorensen, United States Navy, for heroic conduct as Torpedo Control Officer of a United States Submarine during a highly successful war patrol during World War II. Through the prompt and accurate operation of the torpedo fire control equipment and the excellent performance of control personnel under the command of Lieutenant, Junior Grade Sorenson, the submarine succeeded in delivering a fatal torpedo attack on a Japanese destroyer leader of 1,700 tons.
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USS Triton (SS-201)
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End Year

USS Triton (SS-201), a Tambor-class submarine, was the first submarine and third ship of the United States Navy to be named for Triton,a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the sea. Her keel was down on 5 July 1939 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was launched on 25 March 1940 sponsored by Mrs. Ernest J. King, wife of Rear Admiral King, and commissioned on 15 August 1940 with Lieutenant Commander Willis A. "Pilly" Lent (Class of 1925) in command.

The new submarine held her shakedown training in the Caribbean Sea from 14 January 1941 to 26 March and then conducted training and minelaying exercises in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire - New London, Connecticut area. Triton departed Portsmouth on 1 July, transited the Panama Canal on 12 July, and arrived at San Diego, California, on 20 July. Nine days later, she and sister ship USS Trout (SS-202) headed for Hawaii and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 4 August.
Falling under the strict tactical control of Admiral James Fife, Jr., Triton (now in the hands of George K. MacKenzie)[29] on 16 February began her sixth and final war patrol, hoping to destroy enemy shipping between the Shortland Basin and Rabaul. She reported smoke on 22 February and a new Japanese radar at Buka. On 6 March, the submarine attacked a convoy of five destroyer-escorted ships, sinking the cargo ship Kiriha Maru and damaging another freighter. One of her torpedoes made a circular run, and Triton went deep to evade it. She attacked another convoy on the night of 8 March and claimed that five of the eight torpedoes she had fired scored hits. She could not observe the results or make a follow-up attack because gunfire from the escorts forced her down. On 11 March, Triton reported she was chasing two convoys, each made up of five or more ships. She was informed Trigger (SS-237) was operating in an adjoining area and ordered to stay south of the equator. On 13 March, Triton was warned that three enemy destroyers, including the Akikaze were in her area either looking for a convoy or hunting American submarines.

On 15 March, Trigger reported she had attacked a convoy and had been depth charged. Even though attacks on her ceased, she could still hear distant depth charging for about an hour. No further messages from Triton were ever received. Post-war examination of Japanese records revealed on 15 March 1943, three Japanese destroyers attacked a submarine a little northwest of Triton's assigned area and subsequently observed an oil slick, debris, and items with American markings. On 10 April 1943, Triton was reported overdue from patrol and presumed lost, one of three lost in a month. This gave her 6,500 tons for the trip to Brisbane.

There are persistent rumors Triton was actually lost off Moreton Island near Brisbane, sunk either to friendly fire from an Australian pilot or Japanese mines or torpedoes. Her loss was allegedly covered up by the Australian military. It is undisputed two weeks after Triton was supposed to have been sunk, a welcoming committee, complete with band, mail delivery, fresh fruit and ice-cream was waiting for her on the dock at New Farm on the Brisbane River; since she could simply have suffered a radio casualty, this is unsurprising. The Australian Defence Department refers inquiries to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The Memorial's position is, it was highly unlikely Australian fire had sunk the submarine, and if there had been a cover-up during the war, the truth would have come out in the intervening years.

Triton received five battle stars for World War II service.

The Triton is the subject of an episode of the syndicated television anthology series, The Silent Service, which aired during the 1957-1958 season.

The bell for the USS Triton, which has been missing since around 1967 has been located and steps are being taken for it to be returned to Master Chief Harold Weston of the USS Triton SSRN-586. It will then be available for reunions, ceremonies and display.
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