Capt. George W. Forbes Jr., 85, Navy submarine officer


Capt. George Woodruff Forbes Jr., a retired career naval submarine officer and World War II veteran who later commanded the USS Torsk, died of kidney failure Monday at Lorien Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Bel Air. The Fallston resident was 85.

Born and raised in Jackson, Miss., Captain Forbes was a 1939 graduate of the Naval Academy.

After receiving his commission, he went to sea as an officer aboard the submarine S-23, which was assigned to the fleet at Pearl Harbor. He served aboard the S-38 and USS Raton in the early years of the war before being given command of the USS Bluefish in 1944.

"It was hard to get him to talk about his submarine days. He did tell a story about being depth-charged and sitting on the bottom for nearly a day to avoid being detected by enemy destroyers," said his son, George W. Forbes III of Wilmington, Del.

"Another time, the Bluefish sank a Japanese sub that was carrying fuel. He surfaced and in the wreckage saw seven or eight sailors in the water surrounded by burning oil. He turned around and went through the flames to pick them up. What he did saved their lives," the son said.

His wartime decorations included a Silver Star, three Bronze Stars and the Legion of Merit.

After the war, Captain Forbes served briefly aboard destroyers before being promoted to commander of the Torsk in 1948. During his two-year tenure aboard the sub, it was assigned as a training vessel in the Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets.

One day in 1973, Captain Forbes noticed his old sub docked along Pratt Street in Baltimore's Inner Harbor - brought to the city that year for exhibition.

"She wasn't open to the public but he went on anyway. He was about to be thrown off by some admiral when he explained who he was," the son said.

The Torsk remains berthed alongside the National Aquarium, as part of the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

Captain Forbes retired from the service in 1959.

He worked for Martin-Marietta Corp. in the early 1960s as a specialist in underwater detection devices. From 1965 until retiring in the early 1970s, he worked for what is now the state Department of the Environment.

Captain Forbes was an avid golfer and a charter member of the Maryland Golf and Country Club. He also enjoyed sailing.

He was a member of St. Alban's Anglican Church, 1011 Old Joppa Road, Joppa, where a memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Other survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Pauline S. Jenkins; two daughters, Deborah F. Bloser of Bainbridge, Ohio, and Tracey Murgatroyd of Malibu, Calif.; and seven grandchildren.

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