July 31, 2011, Manila Bulletin

The Region 13 office of the Department of Tourism (DoT-13) disclosed that the first United States (US) World War II submarine surfaced in this town.

Due to the significant event, DoT-13 officials suggested that this town should be declared as a “World War II Tourism Site.”

As this developed, the local government unit here and the provincial government of Agusan del Norte are poised to develop this area as vital “tourism site” in the region for having a “historical treasure.”

The DoT-13 said public-private partnerships (PPP) must be enhanced by the LGU so that this historical treasure must be jointly developed by the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) or other tourism institutions.

“Tourism industry encompasses other business or economic activities, and historical treasures must be developed to boost tourism industry,” said DoT-13 Director Letecia D. Tan.

It was learned that this town hosts the international seaport in Northeastern Mindanao.

Developing this town as “World War II Tourism Site” will also push the progress of the Caraga Region, Tan stressed.

Tan said she had wanted the project to be launched because the USS Narwhal SS-167, the US submarine surfaced at the seawaters of this town.

The submarine, according to her, unloaded arms and logistics for the freedom fighters against the Japanese Imperial Army at that time and was also in a rescue mission of some trapped American nationals.

Based on the USS Narwhal SS-167 Log for the years 1927 to 1945 (data gleaned from The Dictionary of American Fighting Ships) in a Web site maintained by Harry Kholer, son of Harry F. Kholer, EMIc, of the submarine, it was mentioned that on Nov. 15, 1943 the USS Narwhal SS-167 loaded with 92 tons of cargoes under the command of Commander Frank D. Latta, as part of its 7th War Patrol, docked at Nasipit to unload some of its cargoes.

The submarine then accommodated 32 evacuees, including eight women, two children, and a baby destined for Darwin, Australia.

And that was not the last patrol that the submarine had engaged in this region.

During its 8th War Patrol, the submarine came back with the usual cargo and 11 Army operatives and sailed for Cabadbaran town (now a city).

“These will just prove the richness of our historical heritage which may cater to historical quests of our domestic or foreign tourists,” Tan pointed out.