Buck And Bobbie Catlin

Nothing Else Counts In This World!   

Friends For Years....

We met them via Topper's a long time ago and have enjoyed their company and stories ever since....


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Did You Know...

FULLERTON For retired Navy Commander A.B. "Buck" Catlin, Pearl Harbor means more than the Dec. 7, 1941 surprise attack on the battleship USS Arizona.

It's the site where five Japanese submarines were brought back at the end of World War II, evaluated and sunk under Catlin's command.

In essence, United States forces had tried to torpedo the silent enemy ships during the conflict, but magnetic detonators didn't work properly. Catlin and his crew were ordered to find cause for the malfunction.(continued below photos)


Retired U.S. Navy Commander A.B. "Buck" Catlin, left, of Fullerton looks over a Honolulu newspaper his friend, Paul Dudley, right, spotted during a vacation. A newspaper columnist recounted the sinking of five Japanese submarines that were under Catlin's command after World War II.


Japanese subs housed at Pearl Harbor after the war Five Japanese submarines are housed at Pearl Harbor after World War II for U.S. Navy crews, under the command of A.B. "Buck" Catlin, now of Fullerton, to evaluate. Catlin retrieved the photograph from the U.S. Navy Photo Lab.



The Japanese I-203 submarine is returned to Pearl Harbor at the end of World War II.

Fast forward to September 2008 when vacationing Fullerton resident Paul Dudley picked up a Honolulu newspaper and spotted a photo of the Japanese Sub I-401 lying off Barbers Point. Dudley remembered Catlin's account of the sub during a Fullerton Rotary talk two years earlier.

Catlin had recounted the war ended before the 400-foot submarine could launch three planes to attack and destroy the Panama Canal. Instead, the warship that was brought back to Pearl Harbor and sunk during Catlin's command, now sits in two pieces – five stories tall – in 2,854 feet of water off Barbers Point.

The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory research lab had chronicled four ships returned to the Harbor, but Catlin has since contacted the lab to verify there were five under his command – and has the photos to prove it.

"No one knew I have photos of the five subs tied up in Pearl Harbor," said Catlin, thumbing through a photograph album of his World War II exploits in his Fullerton home. "I just went to the Navy photo lab and asked if I could have some of the photos from their collection."

As Catlin flips through pictures of explosions and surfacing Japanese subs, he starts to recount his role in history.

After the war, the U.S. submarine crews were assigned to locate, evaluate and dispose of the Imperial Japanese Navy submarines, according to Catlin. The U.S. Navy boarded 24, but to keep the technology out of enemy hands, most of the subs were filled with explosives and sunk off Nagasaki.

The larger subs were found in Sasebo, Kure and Yokohama, Japan.

While four of various-sized subs were sent to Pearl Harbor, Catlin was ordered to work with the Japanese crew aboard the high-speed I-203 ship and plan a 6,000-mile trans-Pacific voyage "powered by unfamiliar equipment bearing only nameplate instructions in kanji Japanese."

On the day of departure in January 1946, the Japanese crew left the ship and bade Catlin farewell. As a sign of friendship, a Japanese Navy lieutenant presented the American lieutenant commander a samurai sword.

"It carries a personal history of tradition between two submarine officers of different navies, something more than one bought at a post-war auction," Catlin said.

The I-203 – with four other subs – was brought to Pearl Harbor for evaluation. The Navy learned the Mk-4 torpedo with a magnetic exploder didn't go off when detonated beneath the ship. The subs were eventually taken 20 miles south of Barbers Point and sunk after modifications were made to the torpedoes.

"You must remember the dynamics of the day," Catlin said. "Submarine forces were the silent service until late 1944. And we certainly didn't want to make much of the tests and post-war sinkings because we were afraid the Russians would get in there and get hold of the spoils."

Catlin retired from the Navy in 1961, and moved to Fullerton where he headed an operational sonar test force at Hughes Aircraft. During another 21 years, he taught technical education at Fullerton College, served on the Fullerton Planning Commission and as the city's mayor.

Reviewing his moment in history, Catlin concluded: "Today's submarines are complicated; they're not really the seamen's ships of our day."