TINOSA'S FOURTH PATROL
By: Elroy Wilke

Leaving Midway Island on 27 October 1943, we proceeded southwest. The assignment area was between Palau and Truk Islands. On November 7, 1943, we were on station after proceeding north to get into the shipping lanes between the Japanese Empire and Truk.

Approach on several targets was called off after the targets made zigs as much as 50 percent on course.

The TINOSA moved south and was again patrolling the shipping lanes between Palau and Truk. The weather turned heavy with clouds and rough seas. Various patrols and destroyers were sighted. On 17 November, many ships were sighted and the Japanese became aware of our presence in the area. After the convoy got safely into the harbor, the patrols came looking for us.

Another convoy was sighted, but this one had planes guarding it. Later the third convoy of the day was, sighted but distances and the reef were in their favor. Depth charges were being dropped periodically.

We surfaced at dark on the 17th and began a battery charge. We sighted a ship and we began an approach - - - it turned out to be a hospital ship, so we withdrew.

The next three days were spent dodging various patrols and planes. On 22 November, a patrol ship was sighted. We dodged it and started an approach on two ships zigging and zagging radically. The escort passed very close and a few minutes later we fired three torpedoes and got three hits at 700 yards. Target rolled over to port and sank rapidly. The escort was confused and a zig made it impossible to fire on her. The second ship swung hard to right and made an unexpected fine setup. Three torpedoes were fired with two hits. She started down by the stern. We left two sets of torpedo wakes, so the escort knew where we were for sure.

We went deep at high speed and turned 90 degrees. We got thirteen depth charges in one minute followed by fourteen more, within three minutes. None were too close. Later, three more depth charges were dropped at greater distance.

The patrol was still there waiting for us.

Using evasive tactics we were finally able to surface at 1850 that evening. Radar picked up various contacts of patrols and we headed south only to pick up other patrols. Rainsqualls helped us evade contact with the patrols. We were able to establish that the Japanese had established shipping lanes east of their normal runs.

The hunt for us continued into the next day. When we were on the surface the SD radar would pick up planes forcing us to dive. Later, echo ranging was picked up shortly after midnight on the 24th. We surfaced and ran towards the echo ranging, stopping periodically to listen. Later it was established that we had picked up that echo ranging at about 18 miles.

Smoke was sighted at 0326 hours at 10,000 yards. There were three ships in a convoy and one or two escorts. We were trailing the escort when suddenly he turned and came right at us while the convoy opened up the range. We lost both visual and radar contact. Later we picked up the convoy again but it was hopeless to get in an attack before daylight.

Radar kept picking up plane contacts while depth charges were being dropped at a distance.

Shortly after 9:00 A.M. the escort came back at us after we got ourselves between the escort and the convoy. The TINOSA kept boring in and at 1532 hours, three stern tube shots were fired at 900 yard range - - - all missed. We were able to avoid anti-submarine measures at periscope depth. A second escort now joined in the hunt for us. Four depth charges were dropped after we fired our torpedoes.

The following day, at 0711, we sighted smoke. Convoy was zigging radically but we were able to bore in and at 0931 fired three from the bow and got two hits, one amidships and one aft that blew the whole stern off. We swung hard and escorts were confused. Three minutes later we fired three torpedoes at a target at 100-yard range. The second torpedo failed to run or something but the first and third were hits. Hits were not observed as the third ship was being watched and the escorts were headed our way. The first depth charge was dropped at 0939; the second charge was very close with numerous charges over the next forty-five minutes. Number five torpedo failed to run and we were unable to close the outer door. Later it was discovered that a torpedo was stuck in the tube.

We began pumping to get up to periscope depth and at 150 feet, the escort moved in again. Too much noise was made in pumping. At 1117 the escort dropped two more depth charges. We used that noise, to flood tanks and get back down deep.

At 1243, we reached periscope depth after getting thirty-four depth charges that morning.

One escort was still in sight as well as a burning ship spewing heavy columns of smoke. At 1527, there was one large billow of smoke from a burning ship then no more. Believe this was the NAGANO MARIJ. As she was sighted badly damaged after the attack.

At 1852, we surfaced and lay to. Lt. Keith Van Gorder went over the side and placed a wedge in the impeller in the torpedo warhead to prevent further rotation. Door seemed clear and at 1954, commenced backing at eight knots and fired the tube. The torpedo cleared and sank and, the outer door was closed.

From that time on, through December 3, 1943, we spent patrolling the Molukka Passage - - - Palau Route. At 1730, on Dec. 3rd, one large ship with escort was sighted. They had popped out of a rainsquall at 16,000 yards. We turned away to open the range and draw ahead.

Target was zigging often and radically. At 1820 we built up speed and turned toward the ships, picked up targets by radar and got them in sight. At 4500 yards, we submerged and began our approach. A zig spoiled a shot for two ships and at 1946 fired three bowshots. One hit aft set ship afire lighting up the whole ocean.

The range was 520 yards. We swung to get on other target but visibility was too poor so began reloading forward tubes.

At 1953 first depth charge was dropped. Escort passed very close and sound reported another escort coming in, so we went deep. Just 14 minutes later, we came to periscope depth and target was still burning and low in the water aft. High-speed screws were heard but we surfaced anyway at 2131 and found that the target was still moving at eight knots and on fire aft with intermittent explosions.

We had six torpedoes left. At 2101 fired one torpedo at 2100-yard range and missed ahead. Target opened fire with machine guns and two large guns while circling with what appeared to be a damaged rudder. Apparently that is why we missed, as she could not control left rudder. At 2105, we submerged and worked in close. At 2127, we were nearly run down by the target and forced to make another periscope approach. Visibility was poor due to darkness, furious flames and smoke. At 2120 three bowshots were fired with two hits, one amidships and the other forward. Target disappeared in about one minute and the spot where last seen continued to burn furiously for an hour or more.

At 2127 we surfaced and with only two torpedoes left, our fuel low and the other ships at least 20 miles ahead, we decided not to chase. At 2142, we made radar contact with what appeared to be a Chidori class destroyer that made signals to a boat in the water, believed to be survivors from the sunken ship.

The following day, at 0000 hours, we reported to duty with CTF and set course for, Darwin, Australia. From Dec. 3rd and on through Dec. 7th, we sighted many planes and a few escort vessels. At 0824 on Dec. 10th, we arrived in Darwin to take on fuel. We departed from Darwin at 0238 hours for Fremantle, Australia. On Dec. 13th, we were forced to slow because of heavy head seas. On Dec. 16th, we arrived at Fremantle at 1800 hours.

The TINOSA had just completed a very strenuous hard patrol.

Prior to this patrol, I had made two tough runs on the SILVERSIDES. I was ready to stay ashore for awhile. I stayed in the relief crew at Fremantle until March 1944, and then went to Beloit, Wisconsin to Fairbanks Morse Diesel School. From Beloit, I went to Portsmouth, N.H., and was made an instructor in the advanced submarine school. That school closed and I was assigned to COMSUBPAC and got back on the TINOSA again just as it arrived at Mare Island Navy Yard at the end of the war. In February 1946, we put the TINOSA out of commission. Some years later it was again commissioned during the Korean War.

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