Gun Action in the SEA of JAPAN

By: Captain Latham

Appeared in the August 1981 issue of the Tinosa Blatt on pages 4 and 5

On her eleventh patrol into the Sea of Japan, TINOSA sank the WAKATAMA MARU, 2,211 tons, on 9 June 1945. On June 10th, while surfaced, a contact was made on the SJ radar at a range of 21,750 yards. We manned battle stations at 1230, but secured at 1255 when contact was determined to be a false echo. The peculiar atmospheric conditions that day and the effect on the radar are demonstrated by the next event.

At 1524 with TINOSA still on the surface, the SJ radar had a contact at 62,000 yards. This distance of approximately 31 miles was twice the straight line or eyeball range of the SJ radar from the raised periscope position of the fully surfaced submarine. We were receiving an echo, which had bounced off the water once at 31 miles! TINOSA commenced tracking and closing the target.

At 1659 we sighted smoke and the top of a ship through the periscope at a range of 32,000 yards. The target tracked on a course of 285 degrees true, at a speed of eight knots and we were on his port beam. Thus began the long end-around run in order to get into position to fire torpedoes. TINOSA went to full power on four engines on course 285 degrees true and stayed on the surface, keeping the target in sight at 32,000 yards.

As the range increases, slowly, TINOSA turns to the right a little in order to bring the range back down to 32,000. In this manner we can see the target, but he cannot see us, and we are gradually drawing ahead of him and closing in on his track. At 1934 we are on the target's track and ahead of him at a distance of 32,000 yards. He has been on course 285, speed eight, since we have had him in sight, about four hours.

1936 - DIVE! DIVE! Since we have this guy, so dead to rights, we'll amble along ahead of him, but towards him. If he doesn't change course, we'll turn 90 degrees to the right at the proper time and give him three fish on a 90-degree port track at 1,000 yards firing range. 1940 - Man battle stations! 2032. Turn right and pull off the track. Our target is a medium sized and medium loaded AK. 2040. FIRE ONE! FIRE TWO! FIRE THREE! 2041. See water splash amidships and hear muffled thud of a dud hit.

Sound reports torpedo making circular run!

Can hear screws plainly as torpedo, set at six feet in depth, passes close overhead with screaming whine. FLOOD NEGATIVE! TAKE HER DEEP, CHARLIE! (Charlie Sanders, Diving officer at GQ.)

We've got to get out of the way for the second pass of that wild torpedo!

Several sources report hearing muffled thud of number three torpedo.

Final set up and shoot! As scope goes under we fire our fourth torpedo, with no effect. Level her off at 300 feet!

Sound reports target turning and approaching. 2050, First depth charge. 2053, Second depth charge. 2100, Started back up, determined to sink this target. 2106, Third depth charge. All were not close, seemed small and appeared to be set shallow. 2125. Depth 56 feet. Sound conditions are terrible. JP and QB hear nothing. JK could only hear target at 1500 yards and can hear nothing now. 2148 Surface! SJ radar all clear.

We are 35 miles into BOWFIN'S area. The way our luck is running just now, let's not make a blind search into BOWFIN'S area on the surface, let's get out of here. 2200. SJ interference on the radar. Attempted to exchange recognition, but the signals were too weak to read. Believe this to be BOWFIN. The bearing of the interference drew north towards our last contact. We hope BOWFIN can shed some light onto what happened to the ship, which we attacked. Attempted to call him on the SCR610 voice with no success. We learned after the war that BOWFIN sank our target early in the morning on 11 June, the SHINYO MARU NO. 3, passenger - cargo 1,898 tons.

These entries from the TINOSA log may bring memories to some that were there. 11 June 1945. 0038 Entered own area again. 0435 Submerged. 0538 Surfaced. Patrolling shipping lanes. 1100 APR signal on 147 mgc. 1115 A/C #6. Sighted large unidentified . plane, range 11 miles. Submerged. Just as we submerged, SCR-610 picked up voices in English, loud and clear, "Hello, Smitty. This is flight number seven. have a message for you." The reply was unreadable, but was English. We have no information of our planes using 31.7 mgc voice. (Some routine entries are omitted.) 12 June 1945. 0300 Completed converting #4 F.B.T. (Fuel Ballast Tank.) Excessive trouble, as usual, encountered with blank flanges in 10-pound blow. 0330 Submerged to flush out #4 F.B.T. 0343 Surfaced. 9514 Sighted small fishing boat. 0534 Submerged 15 miles off Bokuko Ko, headed in to investigate port. 0920 SIC #11. (Ship Contact.) Smoke and masts sighted bearing 194 degrees true. 0948 Manned battle stations. Commenced submerged approach. 1012 Broke off approach. Secured from battle stations when target determined to be small fishing boat. Continued in toward Bokuko Ko. 1055 SIC #12. Sighted large sea truck on course 340 true, range 7,000 yards. Angle on the bow 90 S. Cannot close submerged. Came to parallel course. 1240 Visibility 3,000 yards. Lost sight of sea truck. Surfaced for end around. 1311 Sighted sea truck again. Range 6,000 yards. 1325 Visibility 1,000 yards.

Decided we could sink him with deck gun by being all ready and suddenly appearing out of the fog. Submerged approach is impractical in this visibility. 1330 While manning battle stations surface, fog suddenly began to lift. Small wooden sailing trawler on starboard beam 1500 yards. Sea truck visible at 4,000 yards. Men are on deck. We are committed now. Don't believe sea truck has seen us, so ducked into a patch of fog until all guns are ready, but he is visible all the time.

1335 Ready. Closing on four engines. Fog lifting rapidly. We feel awfully naked. Shore is visible in places at range nine miles. Trawler has a box seat. 1339 Gun Attack #1. Sank loaded seatruck, type E2 modified. Loaded displacement 1583 tons. Full movie coverage. Ranges from 4,000 yards to 750 yards. 1400 Leaving scene of action. 1404 One lifeboat sighted to south. Must have departed unnoticed from disengaged side of target.

That's what the log says. Now I'll tell you how I remember the action.

While we are submerged and after losing the target in the fog, our gunnery officer, says to me, "Captain, come on! For God's sake, lets get him with the gun in a surface action and save the fish for something big later!"

"O.K., we'll try it." So we surface. Man battle stations surface!! "Daranowich, get your camera ready and get yourself up top of the periscope shears. No matter what happens, take pictures continuously. I'll call you down before we submerge again."

While people are scurrying around readying guns and ammo, TINOSA runs out of fog and there we are, naked as a jaybird, in broad daylight and there is the target, but we are not ready! Right full rudder! Back into the fog! 'Ready! Left full rudder, steady on the sea truck! There she is.

Range 4,500. She has a deck gun visible on the raised bow. Figures are running towards it. Range 4,000. COMMENCE FIRING!

We can see the shells from our forward mounted five inch, 25 caliber deck gun as the orange tracers speed toward the enemy ship. WHAMMO! Our first shot lands squarely on the deck gun and pieces go flying. They can't shoot at us with that gun anyway. We bore on in. A few of our shots go into the pilothouse, but as we get closer we concentrate on the engine room. We are lying nearly stopped on her port quarter, range 750 yards. She has a raised section aft, and we can see the hole, which our shells have made just above the waterline. One after another our shells land in the same hole and we could clearly hear the shells explode inside the engine room.

The diving officer can hear, too, and Charlie Sanders told me later that he would hear our gun go off and then hear an explosion which he thought was them shooting back at us. This made it more scary in the control room than it was on the bridge. Slowly she sank, stern first, and nothing was left.

TINOSA cleared the area to seaward receiving friendly waves, we thought, from fishing vessels we passed. Afterwards we found out that the bright sun and fog had caused over exposure of the movie film and our pictorial record consisted of a black screen frequently showing a blaze of orange light!

The final tally gives us credit for sinking the KEITO MARU, a cargo vessel, 880 tons.