FROM A FORWARD ROOM TORPEDOMAN
Because of the bad exploders in the torpedoes most of the fish did not explode during one of the patrols. Some of the torpedoes penetrated into the ship that they hit but would not explode. It may have been this fact that saved us on another occasion.
During the fourth patrol, a fish (torpedo) got stuck half way out one of the forward tubes during a battle action. We knew that the outer door would not close and we knew that the depth and gyro spindles could be engaged. This is an indication that the tube was clear. But the outer door did not close.
We ran all night in this condition and the torpedo must have surely armed itself while we were hastily clearing the area of the last action with the enemy. A surface run with a fish sticking out of the bow end would allow water to turn a wheel under the torpedo, and after a predetermined number of revolutions, the warhead would become armed.
Once armed it only takes a nine pound impact to explode. We didn't know that a fish was sticking out the bow.
The next morning, it was decided to examine this possibility. Men were sent topside to dive and see what they could see. Sure enough, there it was; warhead protruding out the outer door.
I stayed in the forward room with some other volunteers to fire that torpedo. We were on the surface and backed down on all four engines, charged the impulse tanks way over 600 pounds per square inch and fired that fish. It didn't explode.