USS BURRFISH (SS-312) (SSR-312) /


Researched by: Robert Loys Sminkey

Commander, United States Navy, Retired

The formal legal steps leading to the acquisition of United States naval vessels are confusing to many people but are very important to an understanding of the United States Navy's submarine programs. Generally speaking, the Navy cannot acquire a ship until Congress has both authorized the size of the fleet and appropriated funds for the procurement of new vessels. This requires two separate acts of Congress, as a result of which ships have frequently been authorized several years before funds were actually appropriated for their construction, and some authorized ships have never been built at all. Authorization and procurement procedures are usually quite formal in peacetime but more expedient methods are usually followed during wars or national emergencies. In the past, Congress was often very specific in defining the characteristics of particular ships, their cost, and sometimes even their names and where they were to be built.

USS Burrfish (SS-312), named for a swellfish of the Atlantic coast, was originally named "Arnillo." The submarine was authorized to be built by the United States Congressional Act of 9 July 1942...which stated in part:

"...The authorized composition of the United States Navy in under-age vessels, as established by the Act of March 27, amended by the Acts of May 17, 1938...June 14, 1940...July 19, 1940...December 23, 1941...and May 13, hereby further increased by one million nine hundred thousand tons of combatant ships,"...Provided, that the foregoing increases in tonnages for each of the three classes of aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers and destroyer escort vessels may be varied downward in the amount of 30 per centum of the total increased tonnage authorized herein, and if so varied downward, the tonnage so decreased may be used to increase the tonnage of any other class of vessel authorized above, or to increase the tonnage of submarines heretofore authorized, so long as the sum of the total increases in tonnages of these classes, including submarines as authorized herein, is not exceeded:...."

USS Burrfish (SS-312) was laid down on 24 February 1943 on Building Way 1A at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. The submarine was christened by Miss Jane Elizabeth Davis, daughter of the Senator from Pennsylvania, and launched on 18 June 1943. Commissioning took place on 14 September 1943 with Lieutenant Commander William Beckwith Perkins, Junior, in command.

USS Burrfish (SS-312) was a unit of the Balao Class. The design development of this class was accomplished by the Portsmouth Navy Yard...and she was built by the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Thus, USS Burrfish was a "Portsmouth Boat."

One of the best-kept secrets of World War II was the increase in the operating depth of our submarines, from 300 feet in the Gato Class to 400 feet in the Balao Class. This was accomplished by shifting from mild steel to high-tensile steel and increasing the thickness of the pressure-hull plating, using the weight saved in previous classes by meticulous attention to design details in every area. Naturally, the Balao Class boats became known as the "thick skins"...while the Gato Class and earlier classes were dubbed "thin skins." In outward appearance and internal layout, the heavy-hull boats were practically identical to the earlier type, and many people--including the Japanese--were unaware that there had been any change. Most of the other new features in the Balao design had already been incorporated in the later Gato Class boats as alterations or contract changes, so the Bureau of Ships skipped the usual step of preparing a preliminary design and simply issued a so-called Circular of Requirements setting forth the changes and new test specifications.

Orders were placed for 256 units of this class, but only 119 were completed to the original design, the rest being either cancelled or reordered later in the war. World War II losses totaled nine, the low toll being due to the completion of many units too late in the war to encounter much opposition from the battered Japanese antisubmarine forces. Most of the Balao Class underwent conversion to new configurations after World War II, and made up the bulk of the Navy's active submarine force until nuclear-powered attack boats replaced most of them during the 1960s.

When commissioned, USS Burrfish was 311 feet 8 inches in length overall and had a maximum beam of 27 feet 3 inches. Her standard displacement on the surface was 1,526 tons, her normal displacement on the surface was between 2,010 and 2,075 tons, and her submerged displacement was 2,401 tons. USS Burrfish was designed to safely submerge to 400 feet...her operating depth. She has eight watertight compartments plus a conning tower. The pressure hull plating was 35 to 35.7 pound high tensile steel (approximately 7/8ths of an inch thick).

The designed compliment was for six officers and sixty enlisted men.

Armament consisted of 6 bow and 4 stern 21-inch torpedo tubes. The maximum torpedo load was twenty-four Mark 14 Mod. 3A torpedoes. In place of torpedoes, a maximum of 40 mines could be carried. One 5-inch/25-caliber dual-purpose deck gun was fitted. Antiaircraft guns consisted of one 40-mm, one 20-mm, and two .50-caliber machine guns.

Fuel capacity was 94,000 gallons (rated) of diesel oil, which fueled 4 main Fairbanks-Morse opposed piston 1,600 horsepower diesel engines, and one auxiliary Fairbanks-Morse opposed piston diesel engine...which turned generators...which made electricity...which turned two Elliot main propulsion motors of 2,740 shaft horsepower...which could drive the boat at 20.25 knots on the surface...and gave her a cruising range on the surface of 11,000 miles at ten knots (rated). The generators were also utilized to charge 2 Gould 126-cell main storage batteries...which could power the Elliot main propulsion motors... which could drive the boat at 8.75 knots when submerged. Her submerged endurance, at 2 knots, was two days. Her patrol endurance was rated at 75 days. USS Burrfish had a mean draft of 16 feet 10 inches when on the surface in diving trim.

USS Burrfish's World War II operations extended from 2 February 1944 to 13 May 1945 during which period the submarine completed six war patrols...sinking one 5,894-ton Japanese tanker. Her operating area extended from the Western Caroline Islands to Formosa and the waters south of Japan. USS Burrfish also participated with USS Ronquil (SS-396) in the destruction of a 200-ton patrol vessel.

During her third war patrol, the submarine accomplished several special missions, conducting reconnaissance of the beaches of Palau and Yap...where landings were planned. She also rendered invaluable services as "Lifeguard" to Army B-29 fliers who were forced to bail out or ditch as they returned from bombing missions to Japan.

The following awards were made to personnel in USS Burrfish:

Commander William B. Perkins, USN

- Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (2)

Lieutenant John J. Martin, USNR

- Bronze Star

Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas C. Patterson, USNR -

- Letter of Commendation (with ribbon)

Machinist's Mate Robert L. Manning, USN

- Letter of Commendation (with ribbon)

Hospital Corpsman William J. Riddle, USNR

- Letter of Commendation (with ribbon)

Motor Machinist's Mate 1st Class Kenneth P. Rutherford, USNR

- Letter of Commendation (with ribbon)

Boatswain's Mate Geno L. Pernichele, USN

- Bronze Star

Coxswain Herbert A. Foster, USN

- Purple Heart

Torpedoman's Mate Roger Lopez, USNR

- Purple Heart

The following engagement stars were earned by USS Burrfish for services rendered during World War II:

1 Star: Asiatic Pacific Raids - Truk Attack: 16-17 FEB 1944

1 Star: Second War Patrol - Pacific: 14 APR-4JUN 1944

1 Star: Third War Patrol - Pacific: 11 JUL-27 AUG 1944

1 Star: Fourth War Patrol - Pacific: 19 SEP-2 DEC 1944

1 Star: Iwo Jima Operation - Pacific: 15-21 FEB 1945

1 Star: Okinawa Gunto Operation - Pacific: 29 MAR-30APR 1945

War Patrol Report Summaries:


2 February 1944 to 22 March 1944. On the way to the Western Carolines made contact with a large tanker, two heavy cargo ships and several escorts. After several hours of tracking "312" fired four torpedoes, all missing their mark. The submarine went deep as 3 escorts converged on her at different angles. Four depth charges damaged the main induction valve...which leaked a steady stream of water. Out distancing the escorts, BURRFISH surfaced to repair the damage.

16 February. Two ships, one merchant and one escort, were tracked but could not close within sufficient range to attack. Eight depth charges were heard but none close enough to do any damage.

18 February. Radar contact was made with a large enemy ship with an escort. As "312" closed for the attack, she was sighted by the escort. Clearing the bridge, BURRFISH submerges and made her way to safety.

29 February. An enemy freighter guarded by two escorts was tracked and three torpedoes fired...missing the freighter. The escorts were alerted and pressed home an attack with thirty more depth charges causing damage to the submarine.

2 March. Three torpedoes were fired at a destroyer guarding a convoy already under attack by USS Picuda (SS-382) but none hit their mark. The first patrol ended when the submarine entered the port at Midway Island on the 22nd of March 1944.


14 April 1944 to 4 June 1944. On 7 May, a lone tanker was sighted and three torpedoes were fired. Three hits were observed evenly spaced from bow to stern.

The submarine arrived at Pearl Harbor on 4 June and the Submarine Combat Insignia was awarded for the patrol.


11 July 1944 to 27 August 1944.

Reconnaissance missions between Anguar and Peleliu Islands. Sighted by enemy aircraft and three aerial bombs dropped. No damage reported.

The following writeup describes Underwater Demolition Team

operations conducted from USS Burrfish during her third war patrol:

During the period 9-20 August 1944, Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) operators in the Pacific Theater of Operations conducted submarine launched reconnaissance operations from USS Burrfish, which was under the command of Lieutenant Commander (later Rear Admiral) William B. Perkins. The USS Burrfish mission was unique, because it involved the only United States submarine-launched reconnaissance operation conducted by a Underwater Demolition Team during the entire period of World War II. Seven embarked UDT personnel were involved in the nearshore reconnaissance operations: five from UDT-10 and two from the UDT training staff in Maui. They were:

Bob Black - UDT-10

John MacMahon - UDT-10

William E. Moore - UDT-10

Leonard Barnhill - UDT-10

Warren Christensen - UDT-10

Lieutenant R. Massey - UDT at Maui

Chief Petty Officer Howard L. Roeder - UDT at Maui

With little time available, mission preparations commenced immediately. The seven-man group conducted boat launch and recovery rehearsals from a destroyer in the waters off Maui, and brushed up on hydrographic survey techniques. The five men from UDT-10 were specially selected because of advanced swimming, diving, rubber boat, and reconnaissance training they had previously taken as members of the classified O.S.S. Maritime Unit.

During the same period, USS Burrfish was outfitted with free flooding, eight-foot long cylindrical tanks. They were bolted to the deck aft of the conning tower fairwater to house the deflated rubber boats. The boats were inflated and deflated by a special device originally designated for United States Army rubber pontoons.

On 10 July 1944, the UDT group embarked in USS Burrfish. The submarine slipped out of Pearl Harbor and headed west southwest to her objective. Once aboard the submersible, the recon group became integral with the crew. The problem was to give them something to do during the run to the objective; so, a high periscope watch was assigned to them during daylight assist in detecting any approaching enemy craft.

Enroute, the submarine received word that carrier air strikes and bombing raids had been planned for the Palaus, and that USS Burrfish was not to enter her assigned area until 30 July. Further word was received from Commander Submarine Force, United States Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) that USS Burrfish was to collect data on the ocean currents in and around Peleliu in addition to information on reefs, water depths, and underwater obstacles.

On the night of 9 August 1944, USS Burrfish rendezvoused with USS Balao (SS-285) at a point east of Angular Island to deliver periscope photographs and updated charts. The submarine then returned to the waters off Peleliu.

Two nights later, USS Burrfish surfaced off Peleliu's southeastern tip with her main deck awash. Assisted by submarine crew members, five UDT personnel, smeared with camouflage grease, and equipped with fins, facemask, and knives, paddled into the darkness for their first reef reconnaissance.

One man stayed with the boat approximately 1,000 yards offshore, while two swim pairs separately gathered hydrographic information under the noses of enemy beach patrols. All hands returned safely to the submarine after its sonarman homed in on a pre-arranged signal tapped out on a piece of coral by the UDT men.

Bright moonlight and heavy enemy radar activity precluded further missions until 16 August. That night, Lieutenant Massey led a team into the southern Yap Island's beaches. The valuable data they collected was never used. Yap, the enemy's central Pacific command headquarters, was bypassed.

On the night of 18 August, another team was instructed to recon a beach on Gagil Tomil's northeast coast. After departing the submarine at 2000, they paddled to within a quarter-of-a-mile of their objective, where they discovered a barrier reef just below the surface. Fearing breakers would carry their boat ashore, Chief Petty Officer Roeder ordered the anchor dropped. Leaving Ball, his best navigator, behind, he led the rest of the men on in. Fifteen minutes later, Bob of the ten original 1943 Naval Combat

Demolition Unit (NCDU) volunteers...returned to the anchored boat with Carpenter, who could not handle the strong currents. They reported to Ball that they had found palm log crib barricades complete with wire-linked rocks. Black then swam back to rejoin the other men.

Several hours later, well past the time of their scheduled rendezvous, a worried Ball and Carpenter pulled up the anchor and commenced a sweep along the reef looking for their overdue mates. They found no one.

At midnight, USS Burrfish surfaced at the pre-arranged rendezvous location. There were no UDT men waiting to be retrieved. So, the submariners waited and watched. At about 0300, a rubber boat's light was sighted. Fifty minutes later, Ball and Carpenter were helped back aboard. The Captain had to dive the ship almost immediately to avoid incoming radar-equipped Japanese planes.

Despite these and other enemy dangers, USS Burrfish patrolled off Gagil Tomil beach until daylight on the 19th, then over the agreed upon escape course for a daylight pickup. Search efforts continued into the 20th. The Commanding Officer had to firmly but regretfully tell powerful UDT swimmers Barnhill and Moore that their proposed rescue attempt would be suicidal in the existing stormy seas.

At dark, on 20 August, it became apparent that rescue of the three missing UDT men was not to be. Accordingly, USS Burrfish departed the area and transited to Majuro Island for refit. Later, an intercepted radio message confirmed the worst fears of UDT-10 personnel. Black, Roeder, and MacMahon had been captured by the Japanese. Before being killed, they provided false information under intense torture - per instructions - about UDT capabilities. All were posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal.

Christensen, Barnhill, and Moore were also awarded the Silver Star Medal during ceremonies at Maui, plus entitlement to wear the Submarine Combat Insignia. Lieutenant Massey received the Navy Cross for his participation in the only submarine-launched UDT recon in the Second World War.


18 September 1944 to 2 December 1944. USS Burrfish, with seven other submarines, join picket line north of Bonin Islands and Saipan ("Operation Hotfoot"). Fired six torpedoes on 27 October with no hits. USS Ronquil and USS Burrfish engaged heavily-armed enemy patrol boat where a surface gun action ensued. Two USS Burrfish crew members wounded during exchange of fire. USS Burrfish ended this patrol upon entering the United States Naval

Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii.


3 January 1945 to 24 February 1945. USS Burrfish arrived at lifeguard station off Hachija Chima on 24 January 1945. Fired torpedoes at a surface vessel with no hits. Continued lifeguard duties. Fired torpedo at a submarine chaser, with target coming back down wake of torpedo track, rocking USS Burrfish with a string of eighteen depth charges, causing some damage. A total of nearly forty depth charges and twenty aerial bombs came her way before eluding the enemy. This patrol ended with USS Burrfish's arrival at Guam.


25 March 1945 to 4 May 1945. USS Burrfish patrolled off Luzon Straits south of the China coast as part of wolfpack operations...known as "Wallings' Whalers" (wolfpack comprised of USS Burrfish, USS Bang, and USS Snook). On 11 April, USS Burrfish surprised by approaching aircraft. On 22 April, USS Burrfish dives off Ryukyu Sho and was strafed as stern of submarine went under water. Suffered no serious damage from floating mine that was encountered on 15 April. USS Burrfish shelled radio station on Bataan Island on 30 April. This patrol ended with USS Burrfish's arrival at Saipan.

USS Burrfish (SS-312) transited from Saipan to Pearl Harbor from her last World War II patrol...and arrived at the Submarine Base in the Hawaiian Islands on 13 May 1945. Three days later, the submarine was ordered to return to the United States for major overhaul and arrived at the Portsmouth Navy Yard at Kittery, Maine, on 19 June.

On 2 September 1945, representatives of the Empire of Japan signed the instruments of surrender on board battleship USS Missouri, which was anchored in Tokyo Bay, Japan...thus officially ending the Second World War.

Upon completion of overhaul on 10 October 1945, USS Burrfish conducted a two-day transit to the United States Naval Submarine Base at New London/ Groton, Connecticut, and, upon arrival, reported to the Commander of the Submarine Force, United States Atlantic Fleet, for duty. The submarine participated in Navy Day festivities at Baltimore, Maryland, on 27 October 1945. After conducting various local operations off the east coast of the United States during the next twelve months, the submarine was placed out of commission, in reserve, at the New London/Groton submarine base, on 10 October 1946, and placed in the "Mothball Fleet" in the Thames River in the northern portion of that naval installation.

On 2 November 1948, USS Burrfish (SS-312) was recommissioned and assigned to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard at Kittery, Maine, for conversion to a radar picket submarine. Her designation was changed to "SSR-312" to reflect the submarine's new configurations and missions on 27 January 1949...and the conversion work was completed by November of that year.

Upon completion of the "Migraine I" radar picket submarine conversion, USS Burrfish (SSR-312) was 312 feet in length overall; had a maximum beam of 27 feet 4 inches; had a standard surface displacement of 1,525 tons, a normal surface displacement of 2,085 tons, and a submerged displacement of approximately 2,410 tons; was manned by 12 officers, 5 chief petty officers, and 77 to 85 enlisted personnel (approximately); was only armed with four bow 21-inch torpedo tubes and one 40-mm antiaircraft gun (mounted on the main deck just forward of the conning tower fairwater); and had diesel-electric direct drive (converted from original reduction-gear drive) which could produce 4,610 shaft horsepower on the surface. Small cell Guppy- type batteries were substituted for the original type batteries. SS, SV-1, SV-2, and AN/BPS-2 radar equipment was installed. So was a YE-2 beacon. Much equipment was updated and rearranged...and a snorkel system was installed.

The United States Navy's first two radar picket submarines grew out of World War II experience with Japanese kamikaze aircraft. These boats were put into service in 1946 but neither vessel was classified as an SSR at the time. The installation was rather hastily improvised using surface-ship equipment modified for submarine use and mounted in odd places throughout the boats. As might be expected, so many problems developed during the service evaluation of those submarines that the Navy instituted the so-called Migraine program under which three revised radar-picket designs were produced.

The Migraine I conversion was first applied to USS Tigrone (SS-419), a Tench-Class boat, and later to USS Burrfish (SS-312) of the Balao type. The area formerally used for the crew's mess and galley was turned into an air-control center while the after torpedo room was stripped of its torpedo tubes and used exclusively for berthing. In this conversion, the battery wells were made smaller by substituting two banks of the small Guppy-type battery cells. Two of the six torpedo tubes in the forward torpedo room were also removed to provide more space for berthing and equipment.

Migraine II conversions was the name applied to a reworking of the original two radar-picket conversion layouts...based on the lessons learned from those early attempts.

The continued problems created by crowding so much electronic equipment, along with a larger crew, into the fleet-boat hull led to the Migraine III program. In this program, six submarines were cut in half so a 24-foot section could be spliced between the forward battery compartment and the control room to accommodate the air-control center and the electronic equipment.

USS Burrfish (SSR-312) transited from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to the Naval Submarine Base at New London/Groton, following her conversion and trials, and became an active fleet unit on 7 February 1950. On 15 March 1950 she commenced a transit to the Destroyer-Submarine Piers at Norfolk, Virginia, and, upon arrival, reported to Commander Submarine Squadron Six, embarked in USS Orion (AS-18), for duty. The following month, USS Burrfish was conducting training exercises out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She then joined a force of Navy ships, which included the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea. These warships operated in the Virginia Capes Operating Areas and northward along the east coast of the United States. A port call was made at New York City during 19 and 20 May 1950.

USS Burrfish resumed local operations out of Norfolk. On 16 September 1950, she completed a transit to Augusta Bay, Sicily...where the submarine joined units of Submarine Division 61. On 30 September 1950, the radar-picket submarine was operating in the Malta Operating Areas in the central portion of the Mediterranean Sea.

Later, the submersible visited: Navaron Bay, Greece; Toulon, France; Souda Bay, Crete; and Taranto and Naples, Italy. She put to sea from Naples on 3 January 1951 and commenced a transit to Norfolk. En route, the submarine visited Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. The transit was completed on 2 February 1951.

Local operations on the eastern seaboard of the United States were conducted until 13 September 1951...when she arrived at the Charleston Naval Shipyard at Charleston, South Carolina, for overhaul.

Completing overhaul on 23 January 1952, USS Burrfish (SSR-312) headed for a refresher-training cruise to Puerto Rico...then transited to the Mediterranean for another tour of duty with the United States Sixth Fleet.

From 24 August 1952 to 13 February 1953, the radar picket submarine operated out of Norfolk along the east coast of the United States...and in the Caribbean, where she deployed to Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands with other units of the United States Atlantic Fleet.

From 29 June 1953 to 18 December 1953, USS Burrfish was overhauled at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following overhaul, the submarine conducted refresher training during a transit to Hamilton, Bermuda. Alterations were made to the submersible in a dry dock of the Boston Naval Shipyard at Boston, Massachusetts, during the period 27 March 1954 to 4 April 1954.

On 4 May 1954, USS Burrfish, once again, became a unit of the United States Sixth Fleet upon completing a trans-Atlantic transit at Gibraltar, British Crown Colony. Various maneuvers and operations in the Mediterranean ended in port visits to Naples, Italy; Malta, George's Cross; and the French ports of Hyeres and Cannes.

On 22 July 1954, USS Burrfish was back on ocean radar picket duty off the eastern seaboard of the United States in the Virginia Capes Operating Areas. She spent the winter months in the Caribbean...and returned to Norfolk on 4 March 1955.

USS Burrfish's last deployment for the United States Navy commenced during September of 1955...while she was flagship of Submarine Division 62. USS Burrfish and USS Redfin (SSR-272) transited, by way of Spitzbergen, Norway, to the Arctic Ocean area.

The object of the mission was to collect intelligence on potential enemies of the United States. During this operation, a damaged sea-flushing valve admitted much water into the submarine, necessitating a pit stop at Reykjavik, Iceland, to effect emergency repairs. During this cruise, the submarine negotiated the Kiel Canal, ran through the Baltic Sea, visited Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway. The submarine arrived back in the United States on two main propulsion diesel engines (and those had leaky cylinder liners). And, the bow planes were broken. USS Burrfish went straight to the Electric Boat Company's shipyard at Groton, Connecticut. There, she was hauled out of the water on a marine railway and given a complete survey.

Following repairs, the submarine transited to her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia...from where she operated until June of 1956.

On 5 June 1956, USS Burrfish (SSR-312) transited from Norfolk to the United States Naval Submarine Base at New London/Groton, Connecticut, where, upon arrival, she commenced inactivation activities. The submarine was placed out of commission, in reserve, on 17 December 1956, and placed in the Reserve Fleet on the Thames River in the northern portion of the Connecticut submarine base.

Although the Migraine boats had more than their share of headaches, their careers were terminated because the Navy decided to abandon the basic concept of radar picket ships, both surface and submersible, after 1959. Most of the radar picket submarines were either discarded shortly thereafter or reclassified and used as general-purpose submarines and miscellaneous auxiliaries for several more years. Few submariners were sorry to see them go.

In order to provide a submarine target for training Canadian antisubmarine forces along the west coast of Canada and the United States, the Canadian government decided to lease a surplus United States Navy submarine for that purpose. USS Burrfish was the submarine selected to become the first submarine of the new Canadian submarine branch in the Canadian Navy in forty years. USS Burrfish was towed in late 1960 to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to undergo conversion from a radar picket submarine to a vessel appropriate for service as a fleet-type submarine. After spending approximately $900,000, USS Burrfish was restored to her basic World War II configuration...but with some alterations to meet Canadian standards.

Additionally, the submarine would be given a new name, one that honored a famous Canadian warship of the past..."Grilse." The original GRILSE was a converted yacht that had suffered major damage during a storm during December of 1916. Thought to be lost, the battered yacht managed to limp back to port, sparking the creation of a legend with her survival. In 1922, the decommissioned GRILSE was put up for sale...and became the personal yacht TILLORA of an American mining magnate named Solomon Guggenheim. The name GRILSE lived on, this time being borne by a sloop-rigged yacht of the Royal Canadian Navy Sailing Association from 1947 to 1960. When USS Burrfish was selected by the Royal Canadian Navy, the yacht was renamed GOLDCREST, freeing up the famous name GRILSE.

On 15 January 1961, USS Burrfish (SSR-312) was reclassified USS Burrfish (SS-312). "SS" is the designation for "submarine" in the United States Navy...that is: diesel-powered attack submarine.

While being converted and overhauled, the submarine was recommissioned into the United States Navy on 17 January 1961.

With conversion and overhaul completed, USS Burrfish (SS-312), on 11 May 1961, was decommissioned; then, in a ceremony with over 300 people attending, papers formally transferring (under lease) the submarine to Canada were signed, and USS Burrfish (SS-312) became HMCS (Her Majesty's Canadian Ship) Grilse (SS-71). Her new crew marched aboard, and the submarine began her career in the Canadian Navy. These events and ceremonies took place at the United States Naval Submarine Base at New London/Groton, Connecticut.

HMCS Grilse (SS-71) was destined to spend her time in the Pacific, based out of Esquimalt in British Columbia, where she would serve as an antisubmarine warfare training ship for the Canadian Pacific Fleet.

After transiting the Panama Canal and making a port visit at San Diego, California, HMCS Grilse arrived at Esquimalt on 14 July 1961. During her first months in Canadian service, HMCS Grilse conducted some brief local operations.

For the next sixteen months, the submarine conducted extensive training operations with surface units of the Canadian Navy and with air units of the Canadian Air Force. During this period, HMCS Grilse transited 51,740 miles in 374 days at sea, spending 34 percent of the time fully submerged and 31 percent of the time snorkeling.

During November of 1963, HMCS Grilse went into drydock, and spent the next six months undergoing refit and overhaul.

In April of 1964, after completing her overhaul, HMCS Grilse conducted a set of dockside "fast cruises," with the full crew aboard, operating under "at sea" conditions. A week after these in-port exercises, the submarine put to sea to conduct actual sea trials.

After completing these trials, the submarine returned to Esquimalt, where she was provisioned and fitted out for thirty more months of operations. Her first trip out of Canadian waters since the overhaul saw the submersible operating off San Francisco, California, for refresher training, as well as operating with United States Navy submarines off San Diego, California. A few weeks later, on 21 July 1964, HMCS Grilse again left Esquimalt, this time providing services to the Canadian Navy's Fourth Escort Squadron in the Pearl Harbor,

Hawaii, operating areas. Returning to Esquimalt in August of 1964, the submarine received a distress call from a burning tugboat, and assisted a United States Coast Guard cutter in rescue efforts. The fall saw HMCS Grilse operating according to her normal schedule, providing services to United States Navy aircraft flying out of Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Washington State...and services to Pacific Command ships.

HMCS Grilse (SS-71) commenced 1965 by conducting a series of dependents' cruises, where the families of the submarine's crew got a taste of life aboard a submarine. During March of 1965, HMCS Grilse was able to repay the hard work of the Esquimalt dockyard personnel by taking the workers out on a series of brief cruises. The submarine spent the next several months conducting local operations and preparing for operations in the Caribbean in early 1966. That year,

HMCS Grilse saw extensive service. Spending a total of 175 days at sea during 1966, the submarine cruised 32,495 miles. From 4 January 1965 to 7 April 1966, HMCS Grilse participated with Pacific Command ships in "Exercise Maple Spring," which saw the submarine operating in the Caribbean. HMCS Grilse conducted exercises along the Pacific coast during her return to Esquimalt, and arrived there on 12 December 1966.

Spending most of the first half of 1967 in drydock, HMCS Grilse put to sea, conducting various operations with Canadian Pacific Command ships and United States Navy ships and aircraft.

The year 1968 started off with HMCS Grilse conducting a two-month long training cruise in Pacific waters. During one part of that period, the submarine operated out of Pearl Harbor...conducting exercises in Northern Pacific Ocean waters. In another first for HMCS Grilse, Corporal Garry Sandercock of the Canadian Army was stationed in HMCS Grilse, the first time an Army soldier was assigned as part of a Canadian Navy crew. Corporal Sandercock not only served in the Medical Department aboard the submarine; he also operated the bow and stern diving planes as a watchstander during submerged operations. The remainder of 1968 saw HMCS Grilse conducting local operations with ships of the Pacific Command.

The year 1969 saw the end of HMCS Grilse's service as an active Canadian warship. After conducting operations with United States Navy and Canadian Pacific Command units, preparations were made to return possession of the submarine to the United States Navy.

On 31 July 1969, the loaned USS Burrfish (SS-312) was stricken from the Navy List and was no longer an asset of the United States Navy.

After eight years of service in the Canadian Navy, the submarine was returned to the United States Navy at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo, California, during September of 1969. The submersible was towed from Canada to Mare Island by the Canadian Navy tug HMCS Saint weather as miserable as the occasion.

However, just as the tug and the submarine reached open water at the start of the towing operation, the propulsion engine on the tug broke down. Then, one of the submarine's main propulsion diesel engines was started by members of the submersible's skeleton crew...and the submarine towed the tugboat back to the Canadian base at Esquimalt.

A few days later, with a reduced crew of twenty personnel aboard, the submarine headed south, once again...this time under her own power. She arrived at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 26 September 1969, accompanied by Canadian warship HMCS Columbia.

The last day of active duty life for HMCS Grilse (SS-71) came on 2 October 1969. With bands playing and speeches made, The Canadian flag and commissioning pennant were lowered, and the decommissioned HMCS Grilse (SS-71) was returned to the United States Navy.

A few weeks later, submarine Burrfish would meet her end. Painted and rigged as a radio-controlled target ship for testing the effectiveness of Mark 46 torpedoes, the submarine was towed to a position off San Clemente Island, California. On 19 November 1969, a SH-3 helicopter dropped a Mark 46 torpedo near the submarine, which subsequently acquired the submarine. The torpedo hit the hull in the area of the pump room. The resulting explosion sent the submarine to the bottom of the 1,600 feet of water.

The final resting place of USS Burrfish (SS-312) (SSR-312) / HMCS Grilse (SS-71) is: Latitude 32 Degrees 53 minutes North Longitude 118 Degrees 36.03 minutes West