PATROL RUN NO. 4 -- AS I REMEMBER IT
As I remember this patrol, it was noteworthy for having more significant individual events than any other during my tour of duty on board. (First patrol through the eighth.)
It was the last war patrol for Captain Daspit and many other plank owners.
It was the first war patrol for Captain Weiss who rode the boat as PCO (Prospective Commending Officer.)
It was the first that we had a full load of good fish.
It was the first run that we sank a ship without having to share the credit with another sub.
We received the most awesome depth charging of my eight runs.
We logged more depth charges on that run than any other.
It was the only time we refit in Australia.
We arrived on station in an area west of the Palau Islands in November and made our way into the western entrance of the harbor of Malakal. Better than anything else that happened on that run I recall the series of haunting and exasperating events that transpired the next couple of days.
As we approached the harbor entrance in the very early morning, we commenced to hear the sound of distant explosions. At first, we thought that we lead been detected, but as the depth charges did not get very close to us and were very intermittent it was assumed that they were designed to make undetected submariners nervous-- a valid conclusion.
It wasn't long before a convoy was sighted leaving the harbor. We went to battle stations and ran north to intercept. The convoy turned south and we were unable to overtake it. Secured from battle stations --- More depth charges.
Smoke was sighted coming our way. Went to battle stations. Targets turned out to be "Spit Kits''-- too small to torpedo. Secured from battle stations. --- More depth charges.
Convoy sighted leaving harbor. Went to battle stations. Unable to get into attack position. Secured from battle stations.--- Depth charges continue.
General alarm. Went to battle stations. There was a destroyer lying to, about 900 yards away, a sitting duck. Captain Daspit decided that he did not want to signal our presence for a destroyer that would prevent us from getting a shot at a convoy. Secured from battle stations.--- more depth charges.
A ship left the harbor and headed north too far to catch it submerged. As it was getting close to sunset, we decided to try and catch it after dark on the surface.
At the proper time, we surfaced and spent a couple or three hours getting in front of her for an attack. When the target came into view it, was a Hospital ship!
And so it went for two or three days until we came to believe that the enemy had a fix on us. No one was sorry when the captain decided to leave the western approaches to Palau and see what was doing on the eastern approaches. It had to be better!
And so it was. As we took station off the harbor entrance, a convoy consisting of two freighters and two escorts was sighted making its way to the harbor and TINOSA was in an excellent position to intercept.
Captain Daspit, as was his custom, made a perfect approach that placed us between the two freighters. I believe we fired two, three fish spreads, first aft and then forward. In any case both ships were hit and sank in short order.
Inasmuch as the escorts were nowhere in sight, we remained at periscope depth so as to assess the situation. Our confidence was shaken though, when there was a sudden explosion nearby. Apparently a patrolling aircraft had spotted our scope and dropped a bomb. At that moment the two escorts came into sight heading directly at us. we started deep and rigged for depth charge. It was apparent that they had good contact on us and we knew we, were in for it.
The first barrage consisted of nine charges, which fell toward the forward end of the ship. The explosions occurred above us and each one drove us deeper and deeper at a steeper down angle. Things were a little touch and go as we passed test depth without complete depth control. The second barrage was also nine charges and fortunately they were over the stern of the TINOSA. This tended to level, us off and we regained control. These two attacks had upset the echo ranging of the escorts, and although they dropped charges through several more attacks, we were never again in any great danger.
During the attack on the convoy, sonar (Rustad) reported that all but one torpedo had run hot straight and normal. One fish had not been heard running at all! Now the forward room reported that they couldn't close the outer door of one tube. it looked like there was a Mk 14 stuck part way out of the tube.
So there we were, early in the morning, unable to surface until after 2000 and too close to land to surface even at night. So we ran away from the island at slow speed, wondering if there was indeed a torpedo hanging out of the tube and would our progress through the water arm the warhead by the time we could surface. And how do you eject an armed torpedo without blowing the bow off the ship?
We surfaced gingerly after dark and Lt. Van Gorder went over the side and verified that there was a unit protruding from tube No. 5. The impeller was wedged to prevent further arming. During the course of the day, a plain of action had been decided on that would dispose of the unwelcome fish.
The captain assembled those who would take active roles in the process to the conning tower. (I was summoned from my hiding place in the after-torpedo room to take the wheel.) He explained that it was his intention to charge the impulse air to reduced pressure, to set the ship in motion astern, slowly increasing speed. I can't remember at what part of this evolution we fired the tube, but I do remember well, the sigh of relief when the forward room announced that the outer door was closed.
We sank two more ships on that patrol. The only thing I can recall about these attacks is that we fired a three fish spread at one of them, which disappeared with the dust of the third explosion. We simply blew the bottom out of it.
When our patrol time was up, we headed for Fremantle, Western Australia via Darwin where we stopped for fuel. After topping off in Darwin harbor, we took departure, and upon clearing port ran into extremely heavy seas. There was no storm for the skies were clear and cloudless but the swells were enormous. On the way, we fell in company with the USS COD and the two of us wallowed on into port for a well-deserved rest.
As I remember it, that rest was well worth remembering.