25 Victory In The Pacific
From 'World War 2' part 3 of 'Action In Submarines' By Arthrur Widder (1967)

Though victory was in sight in the Pacific, American submarines continued to fight grimly, and continued to suffer losses.

Hardest of the attacks to take were those made by friendly forces. Submariners of every navy know that they may have to undergo these bitter accidents of war from time to time, but the knowledge that the attacks are mistakes makes them even more harrowing.

It is known that at least twenty-eight attacks were made on American submarines by American ships or planes, and at least two submarines, the Dorado and the Seawolf, were sunk in these attacks with all hands. The submerged Seawolf went down while trying to transmit sonar recognition signals.

Nine other American submarines were damaged in "friendly" attacks. In the case of the Nautilus at Tarawa, a 5-inch shell from an American destroyer actually slammed into and pierced the conning tower — but failed to explode. The shell, with its explosive charge removed, was installed at the submarine officers' club in Pearl Harbor as a mute indictment of submariners' erring brethren in the surface fleet, and as a pointed reminder to submariners themselves that a patrolling submarine cannot afford to trust the intentions of any destroyer. As for trusting aircraft, many submariners felt that the safest guidance was to be found in the wry maxim, "If it flaps its wings, it's friendly."

The Patrol Of The USS Tang
Sometimes submarines even had reason to fear their own torpedoes, as submariners on the USS Tang learned. The Tang was one of the top American submarines of the war. It was one of only two to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation twice. On September 24, 1944, it left Pearl Harbor for the Formosa Strait on what was later officially described as "the most successful patrol ever made by a U.S. submarine."

On the night of October 10-11 its captain, Comdr. R. H. O'Kane, found and sank two large Japanese freighters. On October 23 he waded into a well-guarded Japanese convoy at night and torpedoed seven ships, of which three sank. At the end of the engagement, with his torpedo tubes not yet reloaded, O'Kane boldly turned his bow head-on toward an attacking destroyer. The destroyer, bluffed by torpedoes, which O'Kane knew were not ready, veered off. The Tang, running at top speed, eluded its attackers and submerged to safety.

The next night O'Kane encountered another convoy, this one carrying troops and supplies to the island of Leyte in the Philippines where American invasion forces had landed. Again O'Kane took the Tang in for a solo attack on the surface, this time in the face of Japanese gunfire.

O'Kane fired six torpedoes —two each at two transports, and two at a tanker. All hit their targets and exploded. In the yellow-orange light of resulting oil fires, O'Kane found himself boxed in between a destroyer bearing down on him from one side, and two destroyer escorts attacking from the other. Astern of him were a transport and a tanker, their guns blazing at the submarine along with those of the attacking Japanese warships.

O'Kane chose to fire his first torpedo at the oncoming destroyer, then shift his fire to the other ships. This time, with loaded tubes, his attack was not a bluff. Three torpedoes sped from the Tang's bow. The first hit the destroyer, the second hit the transport, and the third hit the tanker. With his tubes now empty, O'Kane turned the Tang out of the convoy and loaded his last two torpedoes. Turning back into the convoy, he fired them at a damaged troopship.

The first sped true to its target and exploded, but the second did not. Under the horrified eyes of O'Kane and his men in the conning tower, it turned in the water and headed back straight toward the Tang. With a thunderous roar it struck the submarine's stern, throwing O'Kane and nine others into the sea and sinking the submarine in 180 feet of water.

In spite of depth charge attacks on the sunken submarine by Japanese ships, thirteen survivors trapped in its hull attempted to reach the surface using their Momsen lungs, and eight made it. They joined O'Kane and the others who were treading water.

In the morning only nine of the men were left on the surface, and they were picked up by Japanese ships. With their capture, another ordeal began —an ordeal of brutality at the hands of their captors. However, as O'Kane said later,

"When we realized that our clubbings and kickings were being administered by the burned, mutilated survivors of our own handiwork, we found we could take it with less prejudice."

After his release from a prison camp at the end of the war, O'Kane received the Congressional Medal of Honor from the hands of President Harry S Truman.

Rescue At Sea
The thirteenth of June, 1944, though not a Friday, was a day in which the fates seemed to combine against Ens. Donald C. Brandt. At 14,000 feet over the Japanese-held island of Guam, Brandt's plane was hit by enemy fire and Brandt had to bail out — quick. Somehow in the process of bailing out, Brandt managed to entangle himself in his parachute harness in such a way that he made the last 12,000 feet of his descent head down.

Fortunately he came down in the water and not on the island. Quickly he cut the encumbering shroud lines of his parachute and inflated his liferaft. Surveying his situation, he found himself to be out of the frying pan and into the fire. He was within a mile not only of Guam but of the Japanese airfield there. Ringing the airfield was defensive artillery that could easily reach the young flier.

Brandt lay flat in his raft, hoping to escape observation, but his head-first drop out of the sky had been seen. He saw a gun flash on the shore, and seconds later there was a roar and a water spout uncomfortably close by. Again the gun flashed, and again there was a roar and a water spout —this time closer. The Japanese artillerymen were using the American in his bobbing raft for target practice. At their leisure they were firing, adjusting their aim, and firing again. Shells were walking closer to Brandt.

Though the outlook must have seemed black indeed, unexpected help was on the way. Brandt's fellow pilots had seen him fall into the water and get into his raft. By radio they sent word of his plight to their carrier. The carrier in turn sent a message to the submarine Stingray patrolling off Guam.

The Stingray's captain, Lt. Comdr. S. C. Loomis, Jr., gave orders that headed his submarine for the aviator at top speed on the surface. It arrived in sight of the beleaguered aviator only to have a shell explode off its starboard beam. "Lookouts below!" Loomis ordered. "Clear the bridge! Take her down! Flood negative!"

In less than a minute the Stingray had slipped beneath the surface of the sea to continue its progress toward Brandt. Loomis's plan was to approach the liferaft with his periscope sticking up out of the water, hoping that the aviator would have the good sense to grab it and hang on while the Stingray towed him safely out of gunfire range.

With the sound of exploding shells clearly audible in the submarine, Loomis brought his periscope slowly toward the liferaft. To his amazement and annoyance, the pilot paddled furiously —to get out of the persiscope's way. Again Loomis made a pass, and again Brandt managed to take himself and his raft clear.

Loomis checked the time. It was only 2:30 in the afternoon. Darkness was still a long time away. He could not surface this close to shore in daylight, nor could he even remain for long in such shallow water with Japanese air or surface attack an imminent possibility. The Stingray had to get the pilot now or leave him to be picked off by gunfire. The only way to save the uncooperative aviator was to get him to grab the submarine's periscope. Loomis gave the orders that took his vessel in for another pass.

In his patrol report, Loomis wrote:

1453: Pilot missed the boat again. On this try he showed the first signs of attempting to reach periscope. Maybe shellfire has made him think that a ride on a periscope might be all right after all. I am getting disgusted, plus a stiff neck and a blind eye.
1500: Heard another shell.
1516: Fourth try. Ran into pilot with periscope and he hung on! Towed him for one hour during which he frantically signaled for us to let up. His hand was cut badly and it must have been tough going hanging onto the bitter end of the line with one hand while bumping along the whitecaps.
1611: Lowered towing scope, watching pilot's amazed expression with other scope.
1613: Surfaced.
1618: Picked up Ensign Donald Carol Brandt, USNR, suffering from deep wound in left hand. Glad to finally get him aboard. He said that during first and third approaches he was afraid periscopes were going to hit him and he tried to get out of the way and come in astern of me. He's taken quite a running, and taken it well. We're on speaking terms now, but after the third approach I was ready to make him captain of the head.

The Stingray's rescue of Brandt was part of an organized plan for the rescue of downed American aviators. By 1943 and 1944 air attacks against the Japanese-held islands of the Pacific and the home islands of Japan itself had begun in earnest, and many a damaged American plane had crashed at sea on its way back to its carrier or base.

To save as many of the surviving aviators as possible, a number of American submarines were assigned to lifeguard stations, or were sent on individual rescue missions. In 1943 seven downed aviators were saved by them. In 1944 the number had risen to 117, and in 1945 some 308 were plucked from the sea, making a total of 432 lives saved by submarines in all.

Eighty submarines rescued one or more men. The Tigrone was the champion lifeguard, saving thirty-two. The Tang of Comdr. R. H. O'Kane saved twenty-two, making it second even though its career was tragically cut short by its erratic last torpedo.

One of the more audacious rescue missions took the submarine Pomfret almost into Tokyo Bay on February 16, 1945. The day was cold, there was a heavy sea running, and the cutting wind carried snow in it. From waters less than nine miles from the Japanese mainland south of Tokyo the Pomfret rescued two U.S. naval aviators and two Japanese, and escaped to tell the tale at its base several weeks later. By that time the more tractable of the two Japanese prisoners-dubbed "Butterball" and assigned as the cook's assistant —was able to sing "God Bless America."

Not all of the Japanese rescued by American submarines were as amenable to captivity as was Butterball. Some Japanese even refused to be rescued at all, and succeeded in drowning themselves in preference to being captured. Others had to be taken aboard forcibly. Submariners were never happy about burdening themselves with the job of fishing Japanese out of the water —sometimes at no small risk to the submarine. Moreover, having prisoners aboard meant guarding them for the rest of the patrol. Nevertheless, orders required submarines to bring in two prisoners for intelligence purposes if possible.

The worst prisoner problem was faced by Lt. Comdr. Cyrus C. Cole, captain of the submarine Spearfish, in January, 1945. The Spearfish had already rescued seven Americans from a downed B-29 and had taken aboard the required two Japanese prisoners.

Cole had little desire for more prisoners, but after sinking a Japanese small craft he found that three of its crewmen had climbed aboard the Spearfish uninvited. Unwilling to toss them cold-bloodedly back into the water, Cole had them placed with the other prisoners under the guard of the rescued American aviators.

Two of the uninvited Japanese caused no particular trouble, but the third, Cole noted in his log, "has tried to commit suicide by self-strangulation and by bashing his head against the torpedo tubes. Gave him sleeping pills to quiet him. That was in the morning, but by midnight our fractious passenger had recovered and again insisted on self-destruction. We administered some morphine tartarate which quieted him."

The next day the effects of the morphine had worn off and,

"he has bitten his tongue nearly off, and has transformed his vicinity into a pigsty —a beast could not tolerate the filth he has tried to maintain," Cole noted. "Decided to put him out of his misery before he has a chance to do any more damage. Administered a lethal dose of morphine and then jettisoned him over the side, having made sure that he would not suffer."

At Pearl Harbor Cole's action was carefully reviewed, and approved as being proper under the circumstances.

Though in many ways the job of lifeguarding was welcomed by submariners —primarily because it gave them the chance to save American lives —it was nevertheless regarded as the most dangerous of submarine assignments because it required submariners to venture into shallow waters where their chief defense mechanism —a deep dive —was denied to them. In spite of this, not a single submarine was lost on lifeguard duty. At the war's end there were twenty-two of them stationed off the coast of Japan.

Red Ramage
The third Congressional Medal of Honor to be awarded to a submariner went to Comdr. Lawson P. "Red" Ramage, a tall young man topped with a rippling mop of carrot-colored hair.

Ramage, commanding the submarine Parche, engaged in a night action against a Japanese convoy off the island of Formosa in the predawn hours of July 31, 1944. Remaining on the surface, the Parche torpedoed a freighter and two tankers. One of the tankers sank immediately.

With the sky ablaze from tracers probing the darkness for his speeding and twisting submarine, Ramage kept himself in the middle of the Japanese force, maneuvering violently once to escape the onrushing bow of a Japanese escort ship which passed by only a scant 50 feet away. Undaunted by the near collision, he fired three torpedoes "down the throat" of an oncoming passenger-cargo ship, two of which hit. With his stern tube Ramage gave it the coup de grace.

In the course of forty-six minutes of action Ramage fired nineteen torpedoes and scored fourteen hits. The Japanese counteraction was described in the citation accompanying his Medal of Honor as

"probably the most intensive and thorough . . . ever encountered by a submarine engaged in surface approaches and attacks against the enemy."

The citation commended the redheaded skipper for

"the ultimate in aggressiveness, exceptional courage, personal heroism" and for "consummate skill"

Bus Torpedoed
In one of the more unusual incidents of the war, the submarine Bowfin was scouting for ships to attack in August, 1944, in the vicinity of the Ryukyu Islands when its captain, Lt. Comdr. J. H. Corbus, sighted through his periscope a brand-new concrete pier jutting out into the water. Approaching it were two small freighters. Corbus waited until the freighters were alongside the pier before releasing the Bowfin's torpedoes, which were set to run under the ships' keels and strike the pier beside them. Corbus hoped that in the resulting explosion both the ships and the pier would be destroyed.

The submarine captain watched through his periscope as the torpedoes sped through the water. Just before they struck, a bus loaded with a working party of Japanese sailors arrived on the scene —in time to be blown up with the pier and the ships. The Bowfin was the only submarine of the war to claim credit for torpedoing a bus.

The Harder
Among submarine captains there was one, Sam Dealey, who was rated by his colleagues as "the submariner's submarine" — a man of superb skill and cool daring. Under the gold-adorned bill of his commander's cap, Dealey's face was one of handsomely even features, with blue eyes, and a mouth which found it easy to smile. Like most of the other submarine captains of the Navy at the time, he was an Annapolis graduate.

His submarine was the Harder, and its motto was a natural: Hit 'em again, Harder! The Harder began its first war patrol in May, 1943, and by June, 1944, it had sunk eleven ships and had been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

On the sixth of June, while Allied troops were invading France over the beaches of Normandy, the Harder was churning over the night-darkened waters of the Strait of Macassar in pursuit of a Japanese convoy. The sudden appearance of the moon from behind a cloud disclosed the speeding submarine to a Japanese destroyer, the Minatsuki, which promptly peeled off from its position protecting the convoy's flank to attack.

Dealey submerged and turned away from the oncoming destroyer, bringing his stern tubes to bear. On his command, three torpedoes were fired from their tubes, and two of them hit the Minatsuki head-on. Dealey surfaced in time to see the destroyer sink. Another destroyer attacked, but this time the Harder's torpedoes missed. When the submarine could surface again after being depth-charged, the Japanese convoy was gone.

The next morning Dealey sighted still another enemy destroyer, and the destroyer in turn saw Dealey's periscope. Zigzagging to foil the submarine's aim, the Japanese ship plunged to the attack. The Harder was prepared for it. When the destroyer was hardly more than a quarter of a mile away, Dealey "fired one — two — three in rapid succession," as he noted in his action report. "Number four wasn't necessary!

Fifteen seconds after the first shot was fired, it struck the destroyer squarely amidships. Number two hit just aft — number three missed ahead. Ordered right full rudder and ahead full to get clear of the destroyer. At range of 300 yards we were rocked by a terrific explosion believed to have been the destroyer's magazine. In less than one minute after the first hit, and nine minutes after it was sighted, the destroyer sank tail first. . . ." It was the 2,100-ton Hayanami.

On the night of June 9, Dealey and the Harder sank still another in its one-submarine campaign against Japanese destroyers. This time the victim was the Tanikaze. In retaliation, Japanese aircraft worked the Harder over, but without success.

The next day, June 10, Dealey was at periscope depth again, and this time he sighted in the distance an enemy force of three battleships, four cruisers, and a number of escorting destroyers and aircraft. Although the American submariner did not know it, the force was leaving its base at Tawi Tawi because of the presence of a "great force of submarines" which had already sunk three destroyers. Unknown to the Japanese, the "great force" was the Harder alone.

Even as Dealey saw the Japanese ships pass, a Japanese plane saw the Harder, and a destroyer from the speeding enemy force turned and headed for the American submarine at top speed. In moments

"the picture had reached the stage where we had to get him —or else!" Dealey noted. "At a range of 1,500 yards three bow torpedoes were fired with gyro angles near zero on a 'down the throat' shot. Fifty-five and sixty seconds after the first shot, two torpedoes struck with a detonation that was far worse than depth-charging. By this time we were just passing 80 feet and were soon almost beneath the destroyer when all hell broke loose. It was not from his depth charges —but a deafening series of progressive rumblings that seemed almost to blend with each other. Either his boilers or magazines, or both, had exploded and it's a lucky thing that ship explosions are vented upward and not down."

In the volcanic blasts several of the Harder's crewmen were thrown from their feet, and one man was knocked unconscious.

For this patrol Dealey was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor, but the "submariner's submariner" did not live to receive it. On its next patrol the Harder fell victim to the attack of a small Japanese minesweeper which dropped a string of fifteen depth charges — probably all it carried —and reported that

"much oil, woodchips, and cork floated in the vicinity. "

Sinking Of The Shinano
For Dealey and the Harder the war had ended.

With Japanese shipping growing scarce, a rare and unexpected opportunity came to the submarine Archerfish on lifeguard duty south of Tokyo on the night of November 28, 1944. It was the opportunity of attacking a Japanese aircraft carrier —and what a carrier it was! Commissioned only ten days before, it was the largest in the world. Named the Shinano, it displaced 59,000 tons —more than twice the displacement of the Essex-class carriers, which were the U.S. Navy's largest at the time.

The Archerfish picked up the Shinano on radar at long range at 8:48 P.M. It was being escorted by four destroyers, and the group was making 20 knots. This was more speed than Comdr. J. F. Enright, captain of the American submarine, could coax out of his laboring diesels even with a following wind, but one thing worked to give the Archerfish the possibility of a shot at the Japanese giant —the Shinano was zigzagging. Stealing a march on the carrier by not zigzagging itself, the submarine doggedly churned through the seas, hanging onto its whopper by radar.

All seemed lost when at 11:40 the Japanese carrier and its destroyers made a sharp course change that put the plunging Archerfish even farther away from the carrier than ever. It was clear to Enright that the chase was useless if the Shinano continued as it was going. At 2:41 he flashed a message to Pearl Harbor saying that he still had the carrier on his radar scope, but that unless some other submarine could intercept it, the Japanese ship would get away.

It almost seemed as if the Shinano received the message too and decided to make things easier for the submarine. At 3 A.M. the huge carrier changed the base course of its zigzagging again, and the change put the persevering submarine actually ahead of the oncoming Japanese ships. The distance between the submarine and its target began to close rapidly.

At five minutes after three Enright gave orders that cleared the Archerfish's bridge, and the submarine slipped beneath the sea to make preparations for an attack. Twelve minutes later, with the range only three-quarters of a mile, Enright fired a spread of six torpedoes, set to run 10 feet beneath the surface. Forty-seven seconds later a hollow thud was audible to all on the submarine.

Through the periscope Enright could see the blaze of an explosion where the torpedo's warhead had detonated near the carrier's stern. A second explosion followed, and Enright ordered the submarine down to greater depth in preparation for the inevitable attack from four revenge-bent destroyers. As the submarine descended, four more reports were heard — the Archerfish's entire salvo of six torpedoes had struck their target. Almost immediately the submarine's sonar operator began to hear the snapping and groaning sounds of steel buckling under the pressure of water it could not hold back —the sounds of a ship sinking. For twenty minutes the sounds continued, and then there was silence.

The destroyers' attack was less aggressive than Enright had feared. Only fourteen depth charges were dropped, the nearest some 300 yards away.

After dawn broke, Enright eased the Archerfish's periscopes up from the depths. The surface of the sea was empty. The submarine captain gave his radio operator a message to send to Pearl Harbor, a message that ended with the statement, "I think that baby sank."

And sunk it had. Though Enright and the Archerfish's crew did not find out about its size until after the war, they had sunk the largest ship ever to fall victim to a submarine's torpedoes.

The Awa Maru
The sinking of Japanese ships by American submarines met with the approval of the naval command in Pearl Harbor in every case but one. As a result of that sad exception, a general court-martial ended the chances for promotion of an outstanding submarine captain.

The submarine was the Queenfish, and its captain was Comdr. Charles E. Loughlin. A strapping officer, Loughlin had been a nationally prominent basketball player in his midshipman days at Annapolis. As an officer his record gave promise of his promotion into the most senior ranks.

His disaster came on April Fool's Day, 1945. While patrolling in the Formosa Strait the Queenfish picked up a contact on its radar at about ten o'clock at night. The contact was a ship more than 8 miles away. It was totally invisible to anyone on the submarine because, in addition to the darkness of the night, fog reduced visibility to hardly more than 600 feet. The oncoming ship, which appeared to the Queenfish's radar operator to be about the size of a destroyer, was making 17 knots and was following a straight course.

From the submarine's conning tower Loughlin tried in vain to catch sight of it. Seeing no reason to submerge, he lined the Queenfish up to fire, using radar bearings. At 11 P.M. four torpedoes sped toward the Japanese ship, and in less than two minutes all had struck their mark. Though he could not at any time see the ship, Loughlin saw the flash of the torpedoes as they exploded.

The submarine made for the sinking ship to pick up survivors. Fifteen or twenty Japanese were sighted in the water, but only one would come aboard the Queenfish. He identified his ship as the passenger liner Awa Maru of 11,600 tons.

The Awa Maru was returning from a mission of transporting Red Cross supplies to Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in the Dutch East Indies and Malaya. For the round trip from Japan it had been granted immunity from attack, the only such instance in the Pacific war. Though not seen by any eyes on the Queenfish because of the fog, it was traveling fully lighted, with red crosses illuminated on its sides.

The Japanese were outraged at the sinking, charging the United States with willfully committing an indefensible crime in which 1,700 lives were lost. Their case was somewhat weakened, though, by evidence recovered from the sea by the Queenfish, evidence which showed that, contrary to the agreed-upon terms, the Awa Maru had been carrying several thousand bales of crude rubber to Japan from the Indies.

When news of the sinking reached Washington, the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, sent a message to Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz at Pearl Harbor directing him to "order Queenfish into port . . . detach Loughlin from command and try him by general court-martial."

The court, composed of two vice admirals, two rear admirals, and two captains, convened. In Loughlin's defense it was introduced that in addition to rubber, the Awa Maru had illicitly carried bombs, ammunition, and planes. The court, however, held that though the Japanese had violated the terms of the immunity agreement, their wrongdoing had not relieved Loughlin of his responsibility as captain of the Queenfish to carry out orders directing all American submarines to let the Awa Maru pass unmolested — orders which had been received on board the Queenfish by message in the middle of March but which for some reason Loughlin had never seen.

Naval justice is uncompromising in charging the commanding officer with the ultimate responsibility for a ship's actions. Loughlin was found guilty of negligence in obeying orders, and the sentence of the court ended his prospects for promotion.

Blowing Up A Train
By the beginning of summer, 1945, the victorious outcome of the war in the Pacific was certain beyond all doubt. Submarines cruising Japanese waters found fewer and fewer targets to attack. On June 22 the submarine Barb arrived off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, spoiling for a fight. On its deck were new 5-inch rocket launchers, and in its conning tower was Comdr. Eugene B. Fluckey. Fluckey, when he was arrayed in his choke-collar whites at Pearl Harbor, wore at the top of his rows of ribbons a pale blue one with tiny silver-white stars: the ribbon of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Fluckey had won the Medal of Honor, and the Barb had been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, almost six months before for a brilliant patrol in the East China Sea in which they had broken up two Japanese convoys and sunk or damaged no fewer than ten Japanese ships — seven of them in a daring solo foray into a shallow and well-guarded anchorage at night.

Now in June, though, Japanese shipping was scarce indeed. Not only was much of it on the bottom of the sea, but much of what was left on the surface was immobilized by lack of fuel oil — American submarines had effectively cut the Japanese oil life-line to the Indies.

The lack of sea-going targets notwithstanding, the Barb and Fluckey were not content to be idle with Japan lying before them. Interest among the men of the crew focused on Fluckey's audacious plan to send a party of volunteers ashore on a dynamiting mission, for which the Barb 's ordnance men wired up a 55-pound explosive charge. Its detonator was set to go off under the weight of a train.

In the dark of a night in mid-July, 1945, a party of eight men paddled away from the submarine in an inflatable raft, bent on destruction and armed to the teeth as only sailors can arm themselves when given their chance at waging war ashore. In charge was Lt. W. M. Walker.

Making their way through the surf, they landed not far from where a train had been seen to pass during the daylight hours. As the party approached the tracks another train thundered by. Working quickly in the darkness, Walker's men installed their charge under the rails and made for their landing craft.

From the conning tower of the surfaced Barb , Fluckey watched for some sign of his shore party returning. He had seen the train go by, and now as he watched, another train appeared. In their inflatable raft Walker and his men saw it too. Paddling stopped as every man watched, wondering if the charge would go off.

The unspoken question was answered by an explosion that was far more impressive than they had expected from a 55-pound charge.

"The engine's boiler blew, wreckage flew two hundred feet in the air in a flash of flame and smoke, cars piled up and rolled off the track in a writhing, twisting mass of wreckage," wrote Fluckey, who saw it all through his binoculars.

If the Bowfin could torpedo a bus, the Barb could blow up a train!

The Cost Of The War
On August 14, 1945, the war in the Pacific ended. American submarines had borne their full share of risks and losses, and had contributed more than their share of success. Altogether they had sunk 6 million tons of Japanese shipping, counting only those vessels of 500 tons or more. Top scorer among the submarines was the Tautog which sank a total of twenty-six Japanese ships, including two submarines and two of the thirty-nine destroyers sunk by American submarines. Tops in total tonnage sunk was the Flasher with 100,231 tons, representing twenty-one ships sunk.

For its successes, the submarine service paid a heavy price. Of 288 American submarines that saw action in the war, 52 were lost — by far the heaviest loss ratio suffered by any type of U.S. Navy ship in the war. With an average strength of about 15,000, the submarine force lost 374 officers and 3,131 men.

When the surrender was signed on the deck of the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 4, 1945, American submariners had more than earned the right to regard with satisfaction the part their efforts had played in achieving victory.

« NEXT » « Action in Subs » « Library » « Home »