RETURN FROM PARADISE
TINOSA spent the summer Christmas season in Fremantle / Perth and the crew was able to enjoy the best liberty they had had since leaving stateside. Compared to the island stops made between previous patrols, Australia was indeed a paradise. Enough sea stories were accumulated there to entertain shipmates for at least the next patrol run.
During the upkeep, the problems with the Bendix log and the torpedo tube outer doors were given some attention, and the ship was decked out in a new coat of camouflage. On January 10, 1944, she was ready for sea, and at 1310 took departure Fremantle for Exmouth Gulf under the command of a new skipper, Donald F. Weiss. The weapon load consisted entirely of Mk XIV torpedoes. (A happy innovation in the conduct of war was a load of Swan Lager in the chill box.)
In addition to the ships company, TINOSA carried a detail a six Australian Intelligence Force men under, the command of Major W.J. Jinkins. The first order of business on this patrol was to land these men at Labian Point on northeast Borneo. There they were to engage in the perilous occupation of coast watchers. They would operate under the nose of the enemy, observing enemy ship movements, and radioing the information to their headquarters.
TINOSA arrived at Exmouth Gulf at 0830 on 13 January, took on fuel, and set about conducting a training exercise for landing the Aussies. The exercise consisted of bringing three life rafts topside through the after torpedo room hatch, inflating them, and loading them with 5000 pounds of equipment and supplies. Then, with two men in each raft, the plan was to flood down and float the party off. When all was ready, the forward and after group vents were cycled and TINOSA settled in the water. The vents were recycled with no apparent result. The vents were cycled again and suddenly TINOSA went down fast -by the stern. Bow buoyancy tank vent had not been opened! Water was pouring through the conning tower hatch before an emergency blow could get the boat back to the surface. The rafts floated off just fine though. They were recovered and piped below, and, in spite of the limited success of the exercise, TINOSA confidently sailed off for Borneo.
Progress was slowed by many contacts with patrolling aircraft which compelled TINOSA to submerge frequently. During the night of the 16th, she transited Lombok Strait and entered the Flores Sea.
On the 17th at 1648, an object was sighted about three miles dead ahead. TINOSA started to develop an attack but the target suddenly disappeared. It was thought to have been an enemy submarine which had submerged.
The next day there were sailing craft in sight all day. At 1628 TINOSA pulled up alongside a prau which contained a crew of three who were interrogated in Malayan by one of the Aussies. No useful information was forthcoming, and, inasmuch as there were no Japanese on board, TINOSA proceeded on her way.
At 1730 a ship was sighted on the port bow at a range of ten miles. By 1808 this was identified as a destroyer, which, ten minutes later, spotted TINOSA and turned towards her. Weiss bent on two more main engines and was able to evade her in the gathering darkness.
TINOSA continued her transit of Makassar Strait toward the rendezvous point for landing the passengers. She arrived there on 20 January, submerged at 0542, and began a cautious approach to the beach. The shore party was to display a white sheet spread between two trees to indicate that it was all clear and to fix the exact site to land. The signal was sighted early in the afternoon and TINOSA headed for it. Shortly afterward it was determined that the sub was grounded and Weiss decided to sit there until dark. At 1820 she surfaced and closed the shore.
Unexpectedly, a prau came to meet TINOSA and moored alongside to take the landing party off. The occupants came aboard where they were fed and given some of the necessities of life, of which they had obviously been deprived for a long time. The makeup of this group consisted of a U.S. Army Captain, a Cavite Navy Yard worker, and two Philippine Scouts, all of whom had escaped from Bataan, and an Englishman who was living on Borneo when the war broke out. They had been operating as coast watchers since the beginning of hostilities, in constant danger of capture. Their emaciated appearance bespoke the privation they had undergone and of the hard life in the tropical jungle. A submariner's lot did not seem so bad. At 2030 they left TINOSA with the Aussies and their gear.
The Australians had been very eager for TINOSA to sink an enemy ship while they were aboard, and they (especially Major Jinkins) spent considerable time on the bridge peering through binoculars. They were, of course, disappointed in this; however, the same party was taken off Borneo by HARDER on 8 June and on 9 June, HARDER sank the destroyer TANIKAZE in the Celebes Sea. Good on ya Yank!
TINOSA headed for Balabac Strait which was between the northern tip of Borneo and Palawan Island. She transited the strait on the night of the 21st, and on the 22nd she was patrolling on the surface fifty miles to the west.
At 1439 smoke was sighted to the southwest at an estimated range of fifteen miles, and TINOSA moved into position for an attack. At 1508 she submerged and manned battle stations. At 1558 the convoy was identified as four ships arranged in two columns with one destroyer leading them. The convoy zigged as TINOSA closed to firing position, and it was necessary to maneuver for a stern shot. The two leading ships were overlapping, and Weiss decided to get them both with one salvo.
At 1634 TINOSA fired three stern tubes.
One torpedo hit the near ship under the bridge and her bow broke off. She immediately took a thirty degree down angle and her screw came clear of the water, still rotating.
The other two torpedoes hit the far ship, one under the stack and the other under the after well deck. The target disappeared leaving a raging fire in the place where she had been. It was a freighter, but it was obviously loaded with oil or gasoline.
The escort headed for TINOSA and dropped two depth charges even though she was some distance away. The sub went deep and commenced evasive action. At 1650 the escort was overhead and loosed a four charge barrage that was evidently set too shallow. This was followed by a six charge barrage at 1700 and at 1704 four more, also ineffective. At 1734 she dropped one more charge at a distance and broke off the attack.
At 1743 TINOSA returned to periscope depth. The two remaining ships were headed back from whence they came, and the destroyer was at the scene of the sinkings apparently looking for survivors. TINOSA commenced tracking the escaping ships with a night attack in mind.
At 1908 TINOSA surfaced. The potential targets were eight miles to the south, the destroyer six miles to the north. Rapid pursuit! At 1941 radar had the targets at five miles and by 2030 TINOSA was in position with a perfect setup. At 2031 Weiss fired three bow tubes. Two of the torpedoes exploded prematurely, close enough to send spray to the bridge. The other unit missed. At 2037 TINOSA maneuvered to regain an attack position and at the same time started a reload forward. At 2108 there was gunfire from the target's vicinity. The escort had rejoined the convoy and had spotted TINOSA. Projectiles could be heard as they passed by and one landed close enough to spray the bridge.
Weiss decided to stay on the surface and turned away at increased speed. By 2115 the gunfire had ceased, so TINOSA set a course to get astern of the target. The escort could not be seen, but the two freighters were visible at one and a half miles. At 2157 TINOSA fired three bow shots from a range of 3000 yards.
One hit was observed and the target lost headway and sent up a dense cloud of smoke. The escort opened fire again but was shooting at shadows for no hardware was delivered in TINOSA's vicinity. At 2211 a reload was started as TINOSA made preparations to attack the remaining ship.
At 2253 she commenced an approach. At 2303 the target, apparently aware of TINOSA's presence, lighted a searchlight and swung it back and forth past the sub. Weiss continued to bore in, and at 2317 the shelling began again. At that time TINOSA fired three bow tubes at a range of 2000 yards. All torpedoes missed ahead.
Both the escort and the target were now firing at TINOSA with machine guns and four or five inch deck armament. Weiss bent on four main engines in an attempt to open the range. At 2350 the destroyer was able to get her searchlight on the sub, but the range was now 9500 yards and the shells were falling short. At 2355 TINOSA lost contact with the targets. By now, the crew had been at battle stations for nine hours and had had no evening meal, so it was decided to break off the attack and to try to reestablish contact the next morning.
TINOSA spent the rest of the night moving to a likely intercept position. At 0646 she submerged on what was believed to be the target track. Meanwhile the torpedomen were busy rendering the magnetic exploder mechanisms inoperable, for that was thought to be the cause of the premature explosions. The targets did not put in an appearance.
Surface patrols were conducted until 4 February. During this two week period no enemy ships were sighted, but there was constant harassment by aircraft, two of which dropped bombs. The SD radar was not working properly and all contacts had been visual. Since there was not likely to be any shipping coming through while the aircraft were reporting his position, Weiss decided to patrol submerged during daylight hours. No targets were forthcoming, however, so on the night of the 12th, TINOSA cleared Balabac Strait into the Mindanao Sea heading east toward Surigao Strait.
On 14 February, the day was overcast and a steady rain was falling. At 0710 three small fishing vessels were sighted, and TINOSA pulled up alongside two of them to investigate and to obtain information. The boat crews were Filipino, friendly and anxious to come aboard the submarine.
Weiss allowed one of them who spoke pretty good English to come aboard for interrogation. He then submerged and went sailing off with one new, and somewhat reluctant, crew member. At 1800 TINOSA surfaced and made a transit of the Surigao Strait into the Pacific Ocean.
The morning of the 15th was spent patrolling on the surface, when at 1110 smoke was sighted on the horizon to the northwest about twenty miles away. TINOSA commenced tracking the target and at 1122 submerged.
It was 1210 before the targets could be seen by periscope. They were identified as two freighters, one transport and one tanker type. The convoy had changed base course, however, and would pass too far away for an effective attack. Weiss set a course to open the range so that he could safely surface and conduct an end around. At 1537 TINOSA surfaced.
By 1957 TINOSA was in position for a surface radar attack. The sky was overcast and visibility was poor. The convoy was arranged in two columns of two ships each with the two largest in the van. Weiss would try to get both of the latter.
At 1958 TINOSA fired three bow tubes at the near ship at a range of 2100 yards and then three bow tubes at the far ship. The torpedoes fired at the near ship were seen to miss astern, but two of the three that were fired at the far ship hit, one of which failed to explode.
At 2001 one of the trailing ships fired a star shell which lit up the area, and now, with TINOSA in sight, both of the trailing ships opened fire with their deck guns. By this time TINOSA was speeding away and the shells fell short.
At 2018 the gunfire ceased. Radar still had contact on the ship that had been missed, and Weiss set out to intercept her. At 2023 a loud explosion was heard from the ship that had been hit, but that ship was out of radar range, and there was no assurance that it sunk.
The moon had risen by the time TINOSA was in position for an approach, so it was decided to make a submerged attack, and at 2335 she dove to radar depth. By 2342 the target was in sight on the periscope at a range of 6700 yards. TINOSA went to periscope depth and started the approach.
At 0000 the target made a radical change of course and now was heading directly for the attacking submarine. Weiss increased depth to ninety feet. At 0002 the target passed overhead and TINOSA returned to periscope depth.
At 0007 three stern tubes were fired at a range of 2000 yards "up the rump." There was a loud explosion and a column of smoke arose from the target.
The hit in the stern had stopped the target, so Weiss maneuvered toward a position to finish it off. There were several explosions that sounded like depth charges. By 0012 the target could be seen clearly and was not only stopped, but her bow was high in the air and she was sinking stern first.
TINOSA now had only one torpedo forward and two aft -- and the Swan Lager was all gone -- so she was ordered to proceed to Midway Island. At 0018 she surfaced and headed for the barn. The patrol run was not yet over however.
On 19 February at 1047, three columns of smoke were sighted and once more TINOSA made preparations to attack. The convoy consisted of four freighters, one tanker and three escorts. At 1437 TINOSA entered a large rain squall and lost contact with the targets. At 1605 Weiss, believing that he was on the target track and not wanting to be caught on the surface if the rain should stop suddenly, submerged. At 1650 the convoy was sighted but the base course was twenty degrees to the right of that previously estimated and TINOSA would not be able to close to an effective firing range. At 1811 TINOSA surfaced and commenced pursuit of the targets.
Radar contact was reestablished at 1900 at a distance of 7-1/2 miles. Since no escort could be seen patrolling the starboard column, Weiss set up for an attack on that side. As TINOSA moved across the front of the convoy, so did the destroyer who maintained a position directly between the near ship and the submarine. Weiss dropped back to attack the starboard quarter of the convoy, but the escort dropped back, too, and positioned itself about 3000 yards from the nearest target directly between the submarine and the intended victim.
Weiss then hooked up four main engines and headed around the stern of the convoy to have a go at the port side. At 2230 TINOSA was abeam of a target and the escort was interposed between the adversaries as before. Weiss then took his submarine ahead of the convoy, and at 2325 found himself well ahead and on the target track.
At 0003 TINOSA fired two stern tubes at a range of 3900 yards. There were no hits. At 0007 a destroyer was detected passing astern of the targets and heading, for the attacking submarine at high speed. TINOSA ran away at top speed and was able to avoid a confrontation.
TINOSA took station about seven miles astern of the convoy and commenced trailing and transmitting contact reports. visibility was variable because of haze and intermittent rain, and at 0537 she lost contact but continued to follow. At 0830 contact was regained.
At 1034 the rain suddenly stopped and the haze lifted and there was TINOSA in clear view of the convoy. One of the ships could be seen frantically signaling the near escort so Weiss turned away. The destroyer did not give chase, however, so at 1045 TINOSA went back to her trailing station. Not for long though, for, at 1054, two destroyers came over the horizon hell bent for election. Weiss tried once again to run away but the Japs were having none of it.
One destroyer opened fire at a range of eight miles. A projectile fell about 50 feet off the port quarter.
At 1136 the destroyer opened fire again at a range of six and a half miles. At 1140 a pattern of four rounds landed within twenty yards of the port side and one round passed so close overhead that the bridge personnel thought it was going to take off the periscope shears. With the approval of all hands and the ship's cook, Weiss decided that discretion was the better part of valor and "pulled the cork." TINOSA went deep and rigged for depth charge. At 1155 the destroyer was overhead alternately echo ranging and listening, but was unable to make contact. By 1300 the destroyer was gone and TINOSA returned to periscope depth. It was raining again. Weiss decided to give it up and head for home, and at 1330 surfaced and set out for Midway.
TINOSA arrived Midway at 1600 on 28 February, topped off fuel, and at 1330 the next day departed for Pearl Harbor where she arrived at 1130 on 4 March.
In his remarks concerning the conduct of the patrol, Weiss made the following entry: "Gunfire was encountered from each convoy during the patrol, and though mostly erratic in range, excepting the attack of 20 February, the wisdom of the decision to remain on the surface could have been embarrassingly wrong. No suggestion is made here because of the speed, range, visibility, and luck factors involved and to which the known vulnerability of a sub to gunfire should be added and considered in any decision made."
On this subject Comsubpac made the following comment: "The cool daring of the Commanding Officer in electing to remain on the surface during several attacks under heavy, accurate gunfire so as to retain the initiative is noted with admiration and alarm. It must be borne in mind that the Japanese are continually improving their gunnery against submarines, and the risks involved in remaining on the surface in the face of enemy gunfire must be very carefully weighed with the value of the target being attacked."
TINOSA was credited with sinking three freighters totaling 16,071 tons and damaging two freighters totaling 9,097 tons on this patrol.
Post war examination of Japanese records indicate that the ship that was hit in the attack of 15 February and for which damage credit was given, did indeed sink and TINOSA was eventually given credit for sinking four ships on this patrol.
5th RUN TRIVIA
Duration of patrol: 55 days
Ship Contacts: 24
Air Contacts: 36