PATROL NUMBER 4
THE WORM TURNS

This first appeared in The Tinosa Blatt, August, 1986, page 14.
Excerpted from the book Encounter by Watrous and published by Wittmer in 1988.
Edited for web site.

At Midway, TINOSA was scheduled for a five day refit by SPERRY, two days for training and three days for reload. Because patrol run number three had been so brief, Daspit requested that the usual replacement of twenty five per cent of the ship's company be waived. He reasoned that the crew had had a long rest prior to the run and that there had been insufficient time to train the new men. The request was granted and only Jim Hunnicutt and two enlisted men were replaced.

Commander D.F. Weiss was assigned aboard for indoctrination as a prospective commanding officer. Naturally, there was considerable speculation as to whether or not he was to be Captain Daspit's replacement.

The previously gray TINOSA, now wearing a new coat of black paint, was ready for sea as scheduled and took departure Midway on the afternoon of October 27 (Navy Day). The weapon load consisted of Mk XIV torpedoes with a modified firing mechanism which was intended to eliminate the problem of dud torpedoes that had plagued TINOSA on her previous runs.

By 5 November, TINOSA was on station in the same area that she was in on the previous patrol and commenced scouting the Palau Is. - Truk Is. sea lanes. Two days later she moved north to patrol an intercept position in the Empire - Truk Is. sea lanes. The move produced a target.

On 7 November, while on surface patrol, masts were sighted on the horizon to the west at an estimated range of 19 miles. The mast alignment indicated a small target angle, so Daspit, believing that he was close to the target track, submerged and set a course to close the range. It was 0741 before the target could be seen on the periscope. The range had closed to twelve miles, but the angle on the bow had increased to 45 degrees and there was danger that the target would pass out of firing range. This must not happen for the target was identified as a Mogami class cruiser.

TINOSA changed course to the left and increased speed to full. The next look was at 0804, and at that time it was seen that a DD of the Shiguri class was in company with the cruiser. All was in vain, however, for the target passed too far away for a shot. At 0922 TINOSA surfaced and headed for a new area.

The new area was on the west coast of the Palau Island group. Japan had acquired Palau from Germany after World War I and was using it as a principal shipping terminal in support of her war effort in the islands to the south. Considerable activity was anticipated here. TINOSA commenced a patrol in the northern part of the area at 0900 on November 9th.

The weather was stormy with low visibility for the next four days, and no targets were sighted. On the 14th, TINOSA set a course for the approaches to Toagel Mlungui Passage which was the western entrance to the principal ports on Palau. At 0505 TINOSA submerged on station.

At 1316 a PC type patrol craft came near to TINOSA and remained in sight all afternoon. Nothing else was sighted.

On 16 November at 0500 TINOSA submerged south of the channel entrance with the intention of moving in close to the barrier reef and then proceed north past the channel entrance. There was, however, a strong ocean current that prevented enough headway to accomplish this. At 1215 a destroyer of the Asashio class was sighted and TINOSA went to battle stations. The target was making twenty two knots and turned into the harbor channel before TINOSA could get close enough to attack. At 1840 TINOSA surfaced.

The next morning TINOSA moved as close to shore as was considered safe in the bright moonlight and submerged at 0446. A patrol craft was sighted to the north at 0554. At 0613 a small tanker was sighted heading north inside the reef, so Daspit set a course to follow her in the expectation that sooner or later she would have to pass through the reef and he would be waiting. But the patrol craft was in the way and TINOSA had to go under her. By the time she had regained periscope depth, the target was headed south and going away.

At 0729 a five ship convoy was sighted headed for the channel entrance at a range of eight miles. TINOSA went to battle stations and increased speed. At six knots a loud rumbling sound was heard in the fairwater and then two depth charges, not terribly close. The patrol craft turned toward the sub. Speed was again increased and at six knots the same rumbling was heard followed by two depth charges. TINOSA slowed for a look. The patrol craft was searching close by. Speed was increased as much as possible without creating the rumble in the hope that there would be a shot at the tail end of the convoy. It was not to be, for the convoy slipped into the harbor unscathed. That the little tanker was a decoy to entice submarines from the harbor entrance was considered a possibility.

It appeared that TINOSA had been detected. Five patrol craft arrived on the scene and commenced a search. At 1120 an Asashio class DD joined the search and TINOSA went to battle stations. Five minutes later a convoy cleared the harbor and headed north (through the area where TINOSA had been patrolling earlier). Daspit secured general quarters and started to trail the convoy, which consisted of two tankers and two freighters, with the intent of establishing the course and speed for an after dark pursuit. At 1338 a depth charge exploded in the distance. The convoy was still in sight and there were six patrol craft between it and the sub.

At 1435 another convoy appeared, consisting of a submarine tender and a freighter escorted by a Chidori class torpedo boat. TINOSA went to battle stations and attempted to attain an attack position. At 1446 four depth charges were heard in the distance. At 1448 the targets made a radical course change to the east. Two more depth charges exploded. TINOSA was unable to get closer than three miles to the convoy and at 1513 broke off the attack. At that time more depth charges were heard.

At 1630 a lone freighter was sighted five miles away. By 1651 the convoy to the north had disappeared, but the single ship was visible and it was decided to make that one the target after dark.

At 1816 TINOSA surfaced and the chase was on, At 1935 the OD reported seeing a red light on the target. At 2200 the red light was identified as a red cross on the stack with a flood light on it. Hospital ship!

It had been. an exhausting two days of almost constant enemy contact. From one to seven patrol craft were in sight most of the time, and aircraft made frequent searches and provided coverage for all convoys entering or leaving the harbor. As testimony to the effectiveness of the Japanese antisubmarine capability in this area, no enemy ships were sunk by submarines within fifty miles of Toagel Mlungui Passage during the war. Daspit decided to quit fencing with this efficient system and headed for a new station.

TINOSA spent the 19th and 20th patrolling the Molukka Passage-Palau sea lanes and the 21st the Yap-Palau route without incident. At midnight she set a course for Malakal Passage, which was the eastern counterpart to Taogel Mlungui, and submerged on station at 0507.

Smoke was sighted at 0741 and TINOSA went to battle stations. The target was a two ship convoy steaming in column with an escort ahead and another behind. Daspit maneuvered to get between the two freighters for a bow and a stern shot. The leading escort passed close aboard oblivious to the submarine presence. At 0838 TINOSA fired three stern tubes at a range of 700 yards. There were three hits and then a strange thing happened -- they exploded! The target rolled over on its port side and was seen to be rapidly sinking. At 0842 TINOSA fired three bow tubes at the other merchantman at a range of 1100 yards. There were two hits and the target began to settle by the stern.

The converging torpedo wakes gave the escorts a good fix on TINOSA's firing position and they hastened to take advantage of that. TINOSA went deep and opened at high speed. At 0848 the first escort on the scene launched a thirteen depth charge barrage which was not close enough to do any damage. At 0850 there was a fourteen depth charge pattern which was not very close either. At 0852 there were two more ineffective depth charges. It seemed that TINOSA had successfully evaded the escorts but at 0911 without warning four depth charges exploded very close knocking out power to the planes, steering, gyros and other IC equipment.

TINOSA lost depth control and started up with a 15 degree angle. At 250 feet she took a 29 degree down angle and reached 380 feet (test depth was 312 feet) before she regained depth control. During this evolution six more depth charges were dropped, all of them close. The proximity of the escorts kept TINOSA down until 1237. The escorts were still searching and both targets had disappeared from the scene. Daspit continued to open to the east and surfaced at 1850.

The next day TINOSA spent on submerged patrol and surfaced after dark. At 2328 an aircraft flew over and dropped a flare and Daspit submerged. There was no further incident. The 24th was spent on surface patrol without contact.

At 0115 on the 25th there was an aircraft contact on the SD radar at eight miles and TINOSA submerged. Immediately sonar reported hearing echo ranging. At 0147 TINOSA surfaced and set out in pursuit of the sound signal. By 0332 she had made contact on a three ship convoy with two escorts apparently headed for Malakel Passage.

When contact was made the convoy was five miles ahead of TINOSA so a chase was necessary. At 0445 it was clear that there was no chance of making an attack before daylight, so TINOSA opened out for an end run. Because of aircraft contacts on the SD radar, it was not possible to surface until 0805. It was 1405 when TINOSA arrived in an attack position and submerged.

At 1532 TINOSA fired three stern tubes at a range of 900 yards, but a control error caused all three to miss. The escorts commenced an ineffective attack, and Daspit was able to evade at periscope depth. Four depth charges were dropped but not very close.

At 1830 TINOSA surfaced and started a search for the convoy. It was 0711 the next morning when contact was finally made. Because she was getting close to land, TINOSA had had to submerge earlier and now found herself too far off the target track to make an attack. It took fifteen minutes of high speed running to get into position. At 0931 she fired three bow tubes at a range of 1150 yards. One hit aft with a tremendous explosion and the other hit amidships, but there was no apparent damage from that one.

Daspit selected another target at the same time that the target picked up the periscope and started firing at it with two deck guns. At 0935 three bow tubes were fired at a range of 750 yards. There were two explosions heard at the timed end of the torpedo run, but Daspit was busy with the third ship and the escorts and did not observe the hits. At 0938 there was an explosion close aboard which must have been a depth charge dropped from an aircraft. Although the escorts were heading for TINOSA, they were not very close.

Thirty four depth charges were dropped by the attacking escort in the next three hours, but in spite of the fact that the aircraft bomb had marked the submarine's position, they were of no consequence. At 1243 TINOSA was able to return to periscope depth and survey the scene. One ship could be seen burning until 1527 when there was a tremendous billow of smoke and then nothing.

At 1852 TINOSA surfaced to confront another problem. During the attack on the second ship sonar had reported hearing only two torpedoes run. That, coupled with the fact that the torpedo room was unable to close the outer- door on tube number five gave rise to the suspicion that the torpedo had not completely left the tube.

Lt. Bell went over the side to investigate and found the fish projecting three feet out of the tube. It was over nine hours since the war head had been exposed and there was justifiable concern that it had become armed. In case that it hadn't Ens. Van Gorder went over the side and installed a wedge in the impeller so the arming process could not continue.

It was a nervous time as Daspit backed the ship at eight knots and fired the tube with 400 pounds of impulse pressure. The torpedo very obligingly left the tube and sank with no fuss whatever. Tube number five was designated out of commission.

TINOSA was now getting low on fuel and conservation measures were in order. She spent the next six days putt - putting in an area southeast of Peleliu Island without contact.

3 December found TINOSA on surface patrol near the southern islands of the Palau group. There were rain squalls all about. It was another uneventful day until 1730 when a freighter and a Chidori class torpedo boat popped out of a rain squall eight miles to the west with a large angle on the bow. Daspit turned away to open the range and draw ahead. The plan was to make a surface radar attack after dark. By 1820 it was dark and TINOSA began to close range at maximum speed.

As luck would have it a bright half moon appeared and illuminated the attack zone to the extent that it was too light for a surface attack and hardly light enough for a periscope approach. At 1928 TINOSA submerged to radar depth and at 1938 went to periscope depth.

The convoy zigged at this time and spoiled the opportunity of firing at two ships. The freighter passed close and Daspit swung TINOSA about for an "up the rump" shot. At 1947 three bow tubes were fired. at a range of 520 yards. One torpedo hit the stern and the target burst into flames as did the surrounding water. There was no opportunity to make another attack for the depth charging commenced and TINOSA was compelled to take evasive action for the next twenty minutes. At 2016 a periscope inspection confirmed that the target was still afloat albeit burning and down by the stern. TINOSA surfaced at 2031.

The target was still making eight knots but her steering was impaired for she was making a circle to starboard. The plan was to finish her off with one torpedo and then give chase to the rest of the convoy. At 2100 TINOSA fired one bow tube at a range of 2100 yards. It missed and the target promptly opened fire with two deck guns and a machine gun. At 2105 TINOSA submerged - with a new plan.

At 2120 TINOSA fired three bow tubes at a range of 1450 yards. Two of them hit and the target disappeared.

TINOSA's fuel shortage made it unwise to attempt to catch the convoy which was now over twenty miles away and making 14 knots. With only two torpedoes left and little fuel, she was limited in her ability as an offensive weapon and on 4 December was ordered to Darwin, Australia to top off and proceed to Freemantle for upkeep. Christmas in Perth? TINOSA's luck had indeed changed.

TINOSA reached Darwin on 10 December with 5800 gallons of fuel left. She took on 39,000 gallons and headed for Fremantle that afternoon. She arrived there on 16 December at 1800, displaying a respectable array of Japanese flags. The patrol was over.

The Squadron and Force Commanders commended the officers and crew of the TINOSA for a highly successful patrol and made special mention of the high percentage of torpedo hits. TINOSA was credited with sinking four freighters totaling 18,544 tons and damaging one freighter of 7,210 tons.

When, on November 22nd, TINOSA fired three torpedoes, got three hits and - wonder of wonders -- three explosions the morale of all hands got a lift that could only be surpassed by Betty Grable making a patrol run on board. As the torpedoes continued to explode in subsequent attacks, a new confidence was born in the ship's company. One can only speculate on how the submarine force would have impacted the war if they had been supplied with a satisfactory torpedo.

Patrol run number 4 was to be Captain Daspit's last war patrol. He was of slight physique, prematurely bald, and wore metal rimmed spectacles. If you were to meet him in mufti you might think he was a bookkeeper or perhaps a professor, but never would you guess that he was in the business of leading men into battle. One could not help but be impressed with his knowledge of his craft and of his ship, his calm demeanor in battle conditions, and his composure in the face of adversity. That he attained flag rank is a testament to the respect in which he was held, Good bye. Dangerous Dan.

FOURTH RUN TRIVIA

Duration of patrol: 51 days

Ship Contacts: 43

Air Contacts: 16

OF SPECIAL NOTE:

Lt. Bell and Ensign Van Gorder received special mention for going over the side in connection with the stuck torpedo as did Fisher, Levy, Nisonger and Johnson who assisted on deck.

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