USS S-23 (SS-128)

USS S-23
By Steve Shay (#L-10,821)

The submarine S-23 was launched in 1920 and commissioned a full three years later on October 30, 1923. She was initially home ported in Groton, Connecticut but exercises occasionally took her to the Pacific. S-23 was transferred to Pearl Harbor in April 1931. This cover was mailed by the Commander of Submarine Division 7, on April 2, 1938 with the US Submarine Detachment Pearl Harbor Branch postmark of the Honolulu post office. Mailed via airmail, the cover is franked with 20¢ postage for the journey via the Pan Am Clipper. S-23 was part of Submarine Division 7, with commanding officer Lieutenant Philip Nickum, Jr. Aboard was Commander Submarine Division 7, Commander Cassin Young, with S-23 being the flagship.

The sender, Commander Young had served in the Navy since his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1916. He served on battleships, submarines and commanded destroyer USS Evans. Young left Submarine Division 7 for the repair ship USS Vestal where he served as Commanding Officer. On December 7, 1941, Vestal was moored near the USS Arizona. Already hit by Japanese bombs, the Vestal was heavily damaged when the Arizona’s magazine exploded. Commander Young was blown overboard. Determined to save his ship, Young swam through burning oil, was pulled back aboard and got the ship underway, beaching her and ensuring later salvaging For his actions Young received the Medal of Honor.

Young was promoted to Captain in February 1942 and given command of the cruiser USS San Francisco. The ship engaged the Japanese at the Battle of Cape Esperance October 11-12, 1942. The following month on November 13, San Francisco engaged a Japanese fleet during the Battle of Guadalcanal. During the confusion of the battle, San Francisco fired on USS Atlanta, killing Admiral Scott and most of the bridge crew. Later in the battle while engaging Japanese battleships, a Japanese cruiser and destroyer attacked the USS San Francisco, with hits on the navigation bridge. Among the 77 killed during this attack were Admiral Daniel Callaghan and Captain Cassin Young. Captain Young posthumously was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in the campaign.