The USS Perch (SS-176) was a Porpoise (SS-172)-class submarine commissioned on 19 November 1936. In 1939, the Perch sailed for the Philippines and became a division flagship. In the summer of 1940, she sailed to Tsingtao and Shanghai, China. She continued operations around the Philippines, and during the final week before the United States entered World War II, the Perch escorted the 4th Marines from China to the Philippines. After carefully sailing through the minefields around Corregidor, the Perch looked for targets between Luzon and Formosa and later off Hong Kong.
On 25 December 1941, the Perch sighted a convoy. She fired four torpedoes at a 4,000-ton freighter, but they all missed. The following day, two more torpedoes were fired in a submerged attack; again the torpedoes missed their intended targets. Finally on the 27th, the Perch attacked an 8,000-ton Japanese merchantman and reportedly sank the vessel, although she immediately took evasive action and was unable to observe or confirm the kill.
On her next deployment she sailed for the Celebes. Off the east coast of the Celebes, the Perch suffered damage to her superstructure by a high-explosive shell, which also blew away her deck bridge, punctured her antenna trunk, and temporarily put her radio out of service. Following repairs in enemy-patrolled waters, the Perch sailed for the Java Sea.
On 1 March, the Perch started an attack against an enemy convoy northwest of Soerabaja, Java. Upon sighting enemy destroyers, the commanding officer ordered the submarine down to 180 feet. At 100 feet, enemy depth-charge explosions began to toss the submarine about. Because of a depth miscalculation, the submarine bottomed out before reaching 150 feet. The enemy destroyers continued their devastating attack. The crew undertook more repairs in a valiant effort to save the boat, but after surfacing, the Perch was driven down again. The Japanese, convinced that the Perch was dead, left her limping to the surface.
On 3 March 1942, the Perch attempted a near-fatal test dive. Soon afterward, she was attacked by an overwhelming enemy force of two cruisers and three destroyers. The crew abandoned ship, and the Perch was scuttled. Her crew—53 of whom survived to see the end of the war—was captured by the Japanese. The Perch was stricken from the Navy list on 24 June 1942.