Sea Leopard: A spotted Antarctic seal.

CLASS: TENCH diesel-electric


COMPLEMENT: 10 Officers/71 enlisted


    4 × Fairbanks-Morse Model 38D8-⅛ 10-


    Surfaced: 1,570 t.

    cylinder piston diesel engines driving

    11,000 nautical miles, surfaced @ 10 knots

    Submerged: 2,414 t.

    electrical generators.


LENGTH: 311'8"

    2 × 126-cell Sargo batteries

    48 hours @ 2 knots submerged

BEAM: 27'4"

    2 × low-speed direct-drive Elliott

    75 days on patrol

DRAFT: 17’

    electric motors



    2 propellers

    10 21" torpedo tubes, 28 torpedoes

    Surfaced: 20.25 k.

    5,400 shp (4.0 MW) surfaced

    1 5" deck gun; Bofors 40 mm and

    Submerged: 8.75 k.

    2,740 shp (2.0 MW) submerged

    Oerlikon 20 mm cannon





SEA LEOPARD (SS483) was laid down by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard on 7 November 1944; launched on 2 March 1945; sponsored by Hon. Margaret Chase Smith, United States Congresswoman from Maine; and commissioned on 11 June 1945, Comdr. R. E. M. Ward in command.

Sea Leopard in 1946. Click to see larger image.Following shakedown off the New England coast, SEA LEOPARD was ordered to the Pacific War Zone. However, hostilities with Japan ceased before the submarine's departure date; and she remained in the Atlantic. The submarine then proceeded to Key West, Fla., and she remained in Florida waters through 1946 providing services to the Antisubmarine Development Force.

In January 1947, she returned to Portsmouth, N.H., for her first shipyard overhaul. Next came training exercises in the Key West area until late 1948, when she entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for a Guppy II modernization. Upon completion, she was assigned to Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 6 and homeported at Norfolk, Va. In November 1949, she joined other units in cold water exercises in the Atlantic. During February and March 1950, the submarine participated in maneuvers in the Caribbean.


From August through November, she joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, visiting ports of Italy, France, and Sicily, before returning home. From December 1950 to April 1951 SEA LEOPARD was undergoing overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Sea Leopard in 1952. Click to see larger (and different) image.For the next two years, she operated in the Atlantic and Caribbean, participating in fleet training exercises. In September and October 1952, SEA LEOPARD participated in NATO operation "Emigrant," and then cruised in Bermuda waters, until entering the Charleston Naval Shipyard in December for overhaul. Returning to duty in April 1953, the submarine operated in the vicinity of Newfoundland and Iceland in operation "Mariner," before returning to warmer waters in the Caribbean.

SEA LEOPARD's second deployment to the Mediterranean took place in May and June of 1954 and was followed by her participation in NATO exercise "New Broom II," in which she made successful simulated attacks on NATO convoys. The submarine entered the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard in October for a six-month overhaul. The yard work was followed by her participation in "LantPhibEx," as a member of forces opposing a simulated amphibious assault on the coast of North Carolina.

In February and March 1956, SEA LEOPARD, along with other units of SubRon 6, set sail for the Caribbean and operation "Springboard." She then returned to Norfolk for local operations until March of 1957, when she again joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. In June, she participated in festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Netherlands Submarine Force at Rotterdam, before sailing to Charleston for an overhaul. Upon its completion in January 1958, SEA LEOPARD joined operation "Springboard" in the Caribbean and then returned to Norfolk for local operations. Joining Task Group Alfa, she participated in operations to develop antisubmarine warfare tactics and readiness, until undergoing restricted availability at Charleston Naval Shipyard (August to October 1959) to install a new high capacity battery.


During 1960, SEA LEOPARD operated in the Atlantic in training exercises and fleet operations until 23 October, when she entered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for overhaul. Following completion in April 1961, she returned to Norfolk and operated locally until 19 August when she joined Task Force 69 in the Mediterranean to participate in NATO operation "Checkmate" and visit Rota, Spain; Malta and Naples, Italy. On 3 October, SEA LEOPARD sailed from the Mediterranean for northern Sea Leopard in 1962. Click to see larger image.Europe and NATO operation "Devil Spread."

Arriving back at Norfolk on 10 November, she again joined Task Group Alfa for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) training until February 1963. She then participated in operation "Springboard" in the Caribbean. In July, SEA LEOPARD rejoined Task Group Alfa, until entering Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 16 December for an overhaul. In October 1964, after refresher training out of New London, Conn., the submarine returned to Norfolk to resume normal duties as a unit of SubRon 6, providing ASW services to units of the 2d Feet.

In March 1965, she joined Task Group Alfa, deploying to the Mediterranean and then returning to the Atlantic to participate in ASW exercises with that group until 24 November 1966. On 27 December, SEA LEOPARD entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul. In July 1967, she conducted type training with submarines SABLEFISH (SS-303) and CUBERA (SS-347). The remainder of 1967 was spent in the Norfolk area.

In 1968, SEA LEOPARD participated in exercises "Aged Daddy V" and "Rugby Match," and joined the search for the ill-fated submarine SCORPION (SSN-589). From July through October, she operated with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, ports visited included Rota and Palma De Mallorca, Spain, and Naples. Upon her return, she remained at Norfolk for the rest of the year.

 SEA LEOPARD was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list on 27 March 1973 and transferred to Brazil, where she was commissioned in that country's navy as S. BAHIA. The BAHIA (S 12) inherited both her name and hull number from an earlier BAHIA, which was former USS PLAICE (SS-390), which the Brazilians converted into a museum ship in 1972. This BAHIA served as an active duty submarine in the Brazilian Navy until 1993 when she was relegated to dockside training duties. After the boat was decommissioned, the sail was retained and placed on display in a park in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. (No longer on display).


"Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1947-1995," p.34

"The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, 1995," p.44.

[1.] This and the following sentence contributed by Roger Welch, 7/28/03

The Newsletter, Volume 3, Issue 4 - “Sea Leopard Special Insert” November 2002 answers the question: “What Ever Happened to the SEA LEOPARD???”.

This page was last reviewed/modified on April 2.pril 2.017.
If you have any comments, contact the Sea Leopard Webmaster