PATROL NUMBER 1
DANIEL IN THE LIONS DEN

This first appeared in The Tinosa Blatt, August, 1985, page 8.
Excerpted from the book Encounter by Watrous and published by Wittmer in 1988.
Edited for web site.

TINOSA arrived in Pearl Harbor on 16 April 1943, fresh from a new construction training period in San Diego. On 3 May, after an intensive training session and upkeep, she took departure, Pearl for Midway, and after topping off, sailed into unknown and hostile waters that were controlled by the enemy. Basking in the glory of a year and a half of victory, little did the Japanese realize that from that day on their doom was sealed! TINOSA was on patrol! "Dangerous Dan" Daspit was in command!

The area assigned TINOSA for her initial sortie was an "Empire Area" bounded by Shikoku on the north, Kyushu on the west, by a line running south from Murota on Shikoku on. the east and a line running east from the Ryuku Islands on the south. The focal point of the area was the strait between Shikoku and Kyushu, the notorious Bungo Suido, where much shipping activity was expected. TINOSA arrived on station 17 May at 0230.

The first day was spent submerged about 60 miles south of Bungo Suido at a point that was considered to be an intersection of the sea lanes from the south and the Japanese ports in the area. The day submerged was uneventful.

At 2030 TINOSA surfaced in a heavy swell. The sky, which had been overcast all day, began to clear and the moon, which was nearly full, peeked out intermittently through the clouds.

At 2045 radar made contact with a group of ships ten miles away. Evaluation of the contact determined that it was a convoy of four ships with four escorts heading northeast at nine knots.

TINOSA was abeam to starboard of the contact, and it was necessary to "pour on the coal" to achieve a satisfactory firing position ahead of the target.

By 2316 TINOSA was at a point ten miles ahead of the convoy. To see the targets in the heavy swell and to remain unseen, the sub attempted to run submerged at 40 feet, but depth control was poor and when the enemy was almost in firing range TINOSA broached. The convoy immediately dispersed and the ships headed off on various courses.

TINOSA was able to cross ahead of one ship to get into position for a stern tube shot, but when she was almost ready to fire, the target made a radical turn to the right and then another to the left and headed straight for the submarine. When the charging ship was 500 yards away, TINOSA went to ninety feet and attempted to make a sonar evaluation of the situation above.

Sonar made numerous reports of high speed screws close aboard and Daspit decided that it would be injudicious to go up for a look. After an hour, during which there were no depth charges or echo ranging, it was assumed to be safe to take a look. When radar was clear of the water, contact was made at 6700 yards. TINOSA surfaced at 0112 and attempted an end run, but at 0335 reached the limit of the assigned operating area without being able to attain an attack position and was compelled to break off the attack.

A post attack analysis decided that TINOSA had been detected when she broached and/or when exposing so much tophamper in trying to stay above the swell. The fire control party and sonar team came under some criticism for being unable to establish a clear picture of the target organization, which was attributed to inexperience.

TINOSA's baptism was, at best, an unsatisfying experience. The crew, which had spent an exhausting and harrowing night, was, quite discouraged. The frustration was not done, however, as you will see.

For the next twelve days, TINOSA conducted submerged patrols in various parts of the area without enemy contact other than sampans etc., but on May 29, fate dealt another hand.

One half hour after surfacing, a radar contact was reported at 3-1/4 miles. The target was identified as a 6,000 ton freighter heading northwest at seven knots. Her destination appeared to be Bungo Suido which was about fifty miles away.

The night was very dark and the sea was choppy. Lookouts reported two other ships with the first, one of which was confirmed by radar. The approach was made on the surface. One half hour after making contact, TINOSA fired four torpedoes forward. The water was very phosphorescent and the torpedo wakes were highly visible. Three torpedoes were seen to miss astern but one hit the target.

Two explosions were heard, one of which was definitely identified as a torpedo exploding at the end of its run. Inasmuch as the target was able to maintain speed, it is quite probable that the other explosion was from the same source. One torpedo apparently hit the ship but did not explode, for her crew commenced countermeasures immediately. They began firing their deck gun and making smoke to screen themselves. It was unlikely that they had sighted TINOSA for their gun was firing in all directions.

In an attempt to stop the target before the escort could force a breakoff of the attack, TINOSA went in for a shot from directly astern. The forward tubes were reloaded and twenty minutes after the initial attack, four more torpedoes were fired forward.

The first two were observed to miss close aboard to the left. The last two veered off to the right 30 degrees. These last two had been part of the reload and there was some question as to whether the torpedo gyroscope spindles had been engaged on 0 degrees at the reload. The other two reloads were pulled and found to have been properly set so it may be assumed that the torpedoes that were fired were defective.

By this time it had been determined that there was only one ship and no escorts, so TINOSA reloaded and commenced an end run. The heavy phosphor- escence made TINOSA's wake light up like a Christmas tree, and when the target lobbed two shells in the vicinity, the Captain felt compelled to open the range. At 2159 TINOSA fired four torpedoes forward. The long torpedo run, coupled with the high visibility of the torpedo wakes, enabled the target to avoid them.

TINOSA then crossed astern of the target in an attempt to gain firing position on the starboard side. At 2300, Daspit, fired two torpedoes from 1,000 yards. The first missed ahead, the second hit the target amidships but did not explode. The target started to list but did not slow. Both deck guns were now shooting and the shells were getting closer. TINOSA broke off the attack and submerged to, "mediate sins of omission and commission", as stated in the patrol report.

June 4 TINOSA received a report that an enemy convoy was proceeding northeastward through the East China Sea toward Nagasaki and was ordered to leave the area and intercept. The night was spent transiting the straits between Kyushu and the Ryukyus.

A submarine was sighted at 0600 the next morning. Since it was on a course to intercept the convoy, it was probably SEAWOLF which had also been ordered into the action. A few minutes later the convoy was sighted with the high periscope.

TINOSA bore off to get ahead of the convoy and clear of the other submarine. An attack position was achieved at 0646. There were twelve ships in the convoy, four columns of three ships each with one destroyer one mile ahead of the main body. Captain Daspit maneuvered into a position between the two starboard columns which gave him an opportunity to attack both columns. Unfortunately, there were only two torpedoes remaining forward.

When the periscope was raised for the final bearing the convoy was in the process of zigging, and the escort passed 200 yards ahead of TINOSA. At 0910 TINOSA fired two torpedoes aft. Both torpedoes were observed to hit the target. There were no explosions, but the target stopped dead in the water.

A new target was selected and plotted for a bow tube shot. One torpedo was fired forward. The fish ran on an erratic course, and a check disclosed that the gyro angle setter forward had not been cut in after the stern shot.

That corrected, a second torpedo was fired. The target, now anticipating attack, was able to avoid. While maneuvering to set up a new target, TINOSA went deep because of the threat of a depth charge attack by the escort. The escort apparently did not have contact, but kept dropping depth charges sporadically until 1500.

TINOSA was able to surface at 1600 and attempted to overtake the convoy, without success. She returned to her area on 9 June.

The 9th was spent on submerged patrol. At 1752 there was a possible smoke sighting. A rain squall made positive identification difficult. One half hour went by before the contact could be verified. It was southbound seven miles away with a large port angle on the bow and TINOSA would be hard pressed to get into attack position submerged with any "juice in the can."

At 2010 she surfaced, commenced a battery charge and set a course to intercept. At 2248 Tinosa arrived in an attack position seven miles ahead of the convoy, which consisted of seven ships, four merchantmen and three escorts.

At 2259 TINOSA made contact with another convoy, this one headed north. There was a destroyer on the starboard screen, and a PC on the port screen. They were escorting a freighter that had a half loaded tanker in tow. Since, at this time, tankers were a high priority target, it was decided to go after this one.

The night was very dark which made seeing the target difficult, so a dawn attack was planned with an approach from the west to take advantage of the light sky in the east. It must be remembered that TINOSA had expended all torpedoes forward and would be forced to utilize the six remaining fish aft.

At 0341 TINOSA submerged to commence her approach and at 0444 fired four torpedoes. Two torpedoes hit the target, one exploded prematurely and the other missed. The units that hit the tanker were seen to "throw water up the side but were not particularly violent."

The PC on the port screen turned immediately and headed straight for TINOSA in an unfriendly manner. At 0447 TINOSA went deep and rigged for depth charge. The enemy had obviously obtained a good contact, for TINOSA was subjected to a barrage of twelve depth charges, one of which was very close and inflicted considerable damage.

Both gyro compasses were disabled and the trim pump as well.

After the initial barrage the attacking vessel lost contact, for although the depth charging continued until 0542, none of the explosions were close. During the depth charge attack, two distant muffled explosions were heard and were interpreted as the tanker sinking. Not so, as it turned out.

TINOSA surfaced after dark and radioed contact and action reports. At midnight orders were received to return to Midway.

Patrol number one was over and TINOSA was credited with inflicting damage to the extent of 31,600 tons. It was, under the existing criteria, a successful patrol and the combat device was awarded.

It must be said that TINOSA patrol number one did not exactly bring the enemy to his knees. There was, during the early attacks, the confusion that comes with inexperience under actual battle conditions but there was notable improvement as the patrol progressed. Most of the crew was made up of men from the Panama squadron and sub school graduates. As I remember, only seventeen men had ever served on modern fleet type subs and less than ten had made war patrols. From Admiral Lockwood, "It is hoped that the experience gained during the first patrol will bear good results in the second."

FIRST RUN TRIVIA

Duration of Patrol: 47 days

Ship Contacts: 67

Air Contacts: 16

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