PATROL NUMBER 2

A "T" PARTY
(TINOSA, TENACIOUS TANKERS AND TERRIBLE TORPEDOES
)

This first appeared in The Tinosa Blatt, December, 1985, page 26.
Excerpted from the book Encounter by Watrous and published by Wittmer in 1988.
Edited for web site.

TINOSA arrived at Midway Island from patrol number one on 19 June 1943 to undergo a seventeen day refit, reload, and recreation period. The refit and reload was conducted by the U.S.S. SPERRY (the recreation was conducted by the sailors). Upon arrival, fourteen men were transferred to the relief crew. Everyone else moved into the R & R facility, which, at that time, was the little hotel that had served the Pan American Airlines as a stopover for the big Clipper flying boats that crossed the Pacific prior to hostilities.

Most of the refit consisted of routine maintenance and minor repairs. One noteworthy change to the ship involved an exchange of deck guns. MUSKALLUNGE (or was it LAPON) was going to a coastal area which involved a shore bombardment possibility, so TINOSA's 4"-50 cal. gun was put aboard that sub and her 3"-55 cal. piece was installed on TINOSA. Patrol run number two for TINOSA was to be a sea area about 200 miles west of the atoll known as the "Gibraltar of the Pacific" - Truk!

TINOSA took departure Midway on 7 July on a course and at a speed that would get her on station by 16 July. The assigned area had considerable potential for targets, for the sea lanes from Japan to Truk ran through the northern part, and the sea lanes from the oil fields of southeast Asia ran through the southern part. There was much hope and every reason to believe that a successful patrol would ensue.

Action came sooner than expected. On 13 July, an intelligence report was received containing information of a Naval Task Force that was enroute from Japan to Eniwetok Island and TINOSA was directed to intercept. She arrived in position to do so at 0700 on the 14th. Scheduled arrival time for the Task Force was the next morning.

As luck would have it, a morning haze came with the dawn and visibility was somewhat limited. Daspit decided that the chance of being surprised by the fast moving ships suddenly appearing from the haze or being spotted by her dawn patrol aircraft dictated that TINOSA submerge.

At 0653 sonar reported hearing high speed screws. A periscope check on the sonar bearing revealed a destroyer coming into sight. Fifteen minutes later an aircraft carrier emerged from the haze and then another and then a heavy cruiser all zigging radically and tracking at 22 knots. The range was 9,000 yards with a large angle on the bow.

More and more ships became visible and it was at length determined that the Task Force consisted of two aircraft carriers, two heavy cruisers, one auxiliary aircraft carrier, one light cruiser, one seaplane tender, and several destroyers. The auxiliary aircraft carrier was bringing up the rear, and since it was the ship TINOSA could get closest to, it was selected as the target.

At 0732 at a range of 3800 yards four bow tubes were fired. The torpedoes ran hot, straight and normal, but the long run gave the target time to detect and evade the fish. Daspit had anticipated this probability but could not pass up a shot at so desirable a target.

TINOSA remained at periscope depth since there were no threats of reprisal from any of the escorts. Suddenly there was a barrage of explosions all around the sub which were thought to be aircraft bombs. However no planes were seen.

The Task Force altered course directly away from TINOSA and conducted no further countermeasures. Attack number one was over and again success had eluded TINOSA. At 1900 she surfaced and proceeded to the assigned area where she arrived as scheduled.

TINOSA made her way to the southern part of the area to cover the sea lanes from Asia. The following four days were uneventful without ship or aircraft contact. At 0713, 20 July, the monotony ended, for a ship was sighted on the high periscope heading right for TINOSA.

At 0726 TINOSA submerged. There was a six foot swell running but the winds were light and there was no chop. At 0846 four bow tubes were fired at a range of 1,100 yards. The heavy swell did not permit observation of the torpedo tracks, but sonar reported all units running. There were no explosions at the estimated time of torpedo impact, but one minute later there were three, which were presumed to be depth charges dropped by the target. The target proceeded on its way with no reduction in speed.

TINOSA surfaced at 0951 and commenced an end run keeping the masts and stacks of the target in sight on the high periscope. Visibility was "spotty". Attack position was achieved at 1526. Eight minutes later two bombers were sighted five miles away at low altitude and headed directly for the sub. Daspit "pulled the cork".

When she submerged, TINOSA was right on the target track. 1634 would have been the earliest that a periscope sighting could be had and then only if the target had not changed course. When the periscope was raised at that time one aircraft was seen still patrolling in the place where TINOSA had submerged and the target was now 11,000 yards away with a 90 degree port angle on the bow.

By 1810 it was clear to surface and under four engine power TINOSA set course to a new attack position. At midnight the target was 13,000 yards away with zero angle on the bow. There were intermittent rain squalls transiting the area which interfered with visibility and radar operation.

When the target range had reached 4,900 yards radar detected a second target at 2,700 yards in a position on the starboard bow of the primary target. Heavy rain was falling as TINOSA maneuvered to take a position 5,500 yards on the tanker's port bow. Suddenly visibility improved, and there, at 2,500 yards, was another destroyer. She saw TINOSA, too, and in less than two minutes opened up with her main battery, TINOSA went to 300 feet as expeditiously as possible. Between 0049 and 0225 eleven depth charges were dropped by two attacking destroyers. At 0327 TINOSA surfaced.

Post attack analysis determined that at least two torpedoes hit the target. A supposedly "easy" unescorted target should have been on the bottom but it was still afloat and the submarine had been placed in jeopardy. But exasperation is a way of life on the mighty T. Read on.

The TINOSA's next action has been written up extensively in submarine books and articles (including a recent issue of Polaris) dealing with the faulty torpedo. In no case that I know of, has it been reported accurately. Assisted by the War Patrol Report and a steel trap memory, I will herewith. produce an accurate account of that event.

On the night of 23 July, an intelligence report was received. It said that TONAN MARU NO. 2 was enroute from Borneo to Truk loaded with oil. It included the latitude / longitude coordinates of various points on her route and even the time and place that she was scheduled to meet her escort. TONAN MARU NO. 2 was one of two large whale factories that had been converted to oilers. It displaced 19,425 tons and was one of the biggest tankers the enemy had. TINOSA headed for a position to intercept the target two hours prior to her escort rendezvous and by 0400 was on station. You might say, "Sitting in the catbird seat."

The morning of the 24th dawned bright and sunny. There was not a cloud in the sky nor a breath of wind and the sea was like glass. At 0555 the target was sighted on the high periscope, right on schedule. She was, however, about sixteen miles south of her projected track. TINOSA made haste to move to an attack position and at 0809 submerged. At 0923 four torpedoes were fired from the bow tubes at a range of 1,000 yards. Two torpedoes were seen to strike the target, one under the bridge and one midway between the masts. There were no explosions. The target dropped four depth charges and turned away.

"I saw them hit! I saw them hit," exclaimed the Captain!

"The set up is perfect, Captain. Let's fire the other two", said the Lt. on the TDC.

"All right," said the Captain, "Final bearing and shoot!".

At 0938 tubes five and six were fired. Both torpedoes were seen to hit the tanker and, miracles of miracles, one exploded on the port quarter. The target's engines stopped and she took a port list. She also dropped four depth charges.

Since the tanker showed no signs of sinking, TINOSA headed for a firing position on the starboard side to finish her off. During this transit some of the Japanese crew were seen manning their lifeboats while the others were firing at the periscope with machine guns and a four inch deck gun.

At 1009, range 875 yards TINOSA fired one stern tube. Hit, no explosion. At 1011, range 1050 yards fired another. Hit, no explosion. Captain Daspit was not given to profanity, but he now indulged himself. At 1014 another stern shot hit the target, range 1300 yards. No explosion. A reload was conducted during which time there was discussion between the Captain, and others as to what could be the problem with the torpedo and could it be TINOSA's fault. It was decided that the fault lay with the weapon. A decision was made to fire as many units as necessary to sink the target, save one, which would be returned to Pearl Harbor for inspection.

At 1039 the attack was resumed with the firing of a stern tube at a range of 900 yards. Hit, no explosion. At 1048 a bow tube was fired from 1,000 yards. The torpedo hit the target, veered off to the right and jumped clear of the water.

This gave the faint hearted Japanese great confidence for they then left the lifeboats, unlimbered the other deck gun and commenced firing at the periscope and torpedo wakes. At 1050 Daspit fired again from a range of 900 yards. Same results. At 1100 he fired from 1,000 yards. Hit, no explosion.

At this point sonar had a contact on high speed screws. Three minutes later a destroyer was sighted headed directly for TINOSA. At 1131 TINOSA fired another stern shot that was seen to hit but there was no explosion. At 1132 with the destroyer 1,000 yards away a stern tube was fired and TINOSA headed for 300 feet. Sonar heard fish hit the target and stop running; no explosion. The destroyer had no explosion problem with her depth charges, however, when she dropped seven close ones.

At 1357, Daspit returned to periscope depth. The tanker was still afloat, down by the stern with a port list. The destroyer was alongside of her charge about three miles away. By 1800 twilight and a gathering haze closed visibility to where TONAN MARU NO. 2 could no longer be seen. At 1937 TINOSA surfaced, sent contact and attack reports. Three hours later she was directed to return to Pearl Harbor.

Thus ends the saga of TINOSA's second sortie into the enemy stronghold. It can be assumed that so far she had increased the enemy's morale and reduced his fear. It can be said that for TINOSA's crew it was just the opposite. Words like "jinx" and "unlucky" were often heard, but no one felt worse than the torpedomen who could not help but feel that their professional ability was in question. The crew could only take comfort in the fact that it was a short patrol and TINOSA was scheduled for a five week availabiliy in Pearl Harbor Navy Yard.

SECOND RUN TRIVIA

Duration of patrol: 28 days

Ship Contacts: 14

Air Contacts: 2

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