PATROL NUMBER 6
A GANG FIGHT

This first appeared in The Tinosa Blatt, April, 1987, page 7.
Excerpted from the book Encounter by Watrous and published by Wittmer in 1988.
Edited for web site

TINOSA had arrived in Pearl Harbor from patrol number five on March 4 where she was scheduled for a twenty five day availability to be conducted by Bushnell. Number four MBT was to be converted to a FBT, the bridge was to be cut down to minimize the silhouette, and a four inch deck gun was to be installed to replace the three inch one that had been put aboard after run number one. Twenty-three men were transferred off and they were replaced by twenty-five new hands.

Notable among the new arrivals was one who was not so new. Jim Hunnicutt, who had commissioned the boat and made the first three runs in the engineering department, returned to the boat as executive officer and navigator.

Fifty new submarines were commissioned in 1943 and these, plus the boats that had been on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean, were now engaged in the war in the Pacific. It was no longer necessary to spread the submarine attack force so thin, so in October of 1943, Subpac commenced to use the tactic that the Germans had utilized so successfully. The Wolf Pack.

For patrol number six, TINOSA would be a component of a wolf pack that included PARCHE (L.P. Ramage) and BANG (A. Gallaher).

The Officer in Tactical Command (O.T.C.) was Captain G.E. Peterson in PARCHE. The assigned operating area was the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and Luzon Island, P.I.

At 1600 on March 29, the wolf pack departed Pearl Harbor for Midway Island where they spent April 2nd topping off with fuel.

At noon the next day, they took departure Midway for enemy territory.

April 5 and 6 were occupied with battle surface drills in which all deck armament was fired. Up to now TINOSA had fired her deck gun in anger only once, when, on patrol run number three, she bombarded one of the Paluwat Islands. But the war was changing for TINOSA and these exercises were a harbinger of things to come. And soon.

At 1808 on April 12, the mast of a small boat was sighted at a range of seven miles. OTC ordered that it be sunk with gunfire.

PARCHE made an attack at a range of 1,000 yards and TINOSA followed suit. As it turned out, the Sampan had been abandoned and was simply a derelict. TINOSA made two more attacks in an attempt to sink the wooden craft but she would not go under.

When the siege was ended, the bow and masts were still visible.

(The patrol report makes no mention of BANG in this affair nor makes no mention of rounds expended, number of hits or sea conditions.) At 1910, the submarines resumed course to the assigned operating area, where they arrived on April 16 at 1625.

BANG was ordered to patrol the southern third of the area off the coast of Luzon Island, TINOSA, the northern third off Taiwan, and PARCHE, in between. For thirteen days, there was no enemy contact save for an occasional sampan transiting the area.

At 1604 on April 29, TINOSA received a contact report from BANG.

There was an eleven ship convoy off the northwest coast of Luzon headed toward Manila at ten knots. PARCHE and TINOSA set out to join her. TINOSA was almost ninety miles away and would not make contact until 0512 the next day, when smoke was sighted. Weiss started an end run.

BANG had already made an attack and sunk one ship from this convoy by the time that the other subs arrived. PARCHE was to make an attack on the port flank before TINOSA, during which time Weiss maneuvered to follow up.

At 0828, TINOSA went to battle stations and commenced an approach. The primary target was to be a large tanker in the starboard column, and the freighter leading this column was to be the secondary target.

Luck was with TINOSA as the convoy made a zig to the left which put her in excellent position for the attack. Two explosions were heard and then a barrage of forty-two depth charges were heard in the direction of PARCHE. The convoy immediately started to disperse and turned away from TINOSA spoiling the set-up. Then luck returned. The target group unexpectedly turned back to the right in a formation that presented TINOSA with the spectacle of five ships overlapping each other.

Weiss decided to treat the five ships as a single target and at 1919 fired a six torpedo spread from the bow tubes at a range of 3,000 yards. One torpedo hit the leading freighter, two torpedoes hit a second freighter (which sank according to the patrol report, but TINOSA received no credit for it in the postwar analysis) and one torpedo hit the tanker. TINOSA lost depth control and by the time she was able to return to periscope depth, the three escorts that had been attacking

PARCHE were bearing down. Weiss attempted to swing around into position for a stern shot but again lost depth control.

Before she could regain periscope depth, two depth charges exploded close aboard, probably dropped by the aircraft that was covering the convoy. TINOSA went deep and in the next fourteen minutes received twenty one depth charges but only two or three were close.

At 1046, Weiss got back to periscope depth - in time to see a freighter sink. BANG was credited with this one. The convoy was sighted to the north, so TINOSA was still between it and the apparent port of call. At 1407 TINOSA surfaced with the

expectation of moving into attack position but was promptly chased down by an aircraft.

It was 1823 before she could safely surface and give chase. The wolf pack had lost contact with the convoy and had not regained it by early the next morning when OTC ordered it back to patrol stations.

Back on station, TINOSA attempted to conduct surface patrol, but before noon was chased under three times by aircraft, it was decided to stay submerged.

At 0552 on May 3, the masts of a convoy were sighted. There were twelve ships, which included one tanker, one troop transport, six freighters, one destroyer, and three smaller escorts. TINOSA trailed the convoy and sent hourly contact reports to PARCHE and BANG. At 0957, Weiss surfaced and started an end around, but at 1335 was chased under by an aircraft sighting.

A patrol craft was sighted at 1800 headed for TINOSA. Weiss thought the aircraft might have spotted him so he took steps to evade. The patrol craft was on some other business apparently, for it went on by. At 1900, a series of five distant explosions were heard. Darkness had set in by 1922, so TINOSA surfaced and headed for the convoy.

At 1950, there was a radar contact four miles away. There was radar interference accompanying the interference so it was assumed to be BANG or PARCHE and Weiss took steps to get clear.

At 2023 PARCHE sent a contact report and asked for positions of all submarines. TINOSA's radio transmitter was out of commission and she was unable to comply.

Radar contact on the convoy was made at 2052 at a range of seven miles to the east, and TINOSA forged ahead to get to an attack position. By 2155 she was well placed ahead of the target group. BANG had been ordered to make the initial attack and Weiss moved away out of torpedo range. It was a bright moonlight night which dictated a submerged periscope attack and at 2213 TINOSA dove and commenced her approach.

A tanker that was leading the starboard column was chosen as the first target, and at 2309 at a range of 1600 yards three bow tubes were fired. Thirty seconds later three more bow tubes were fired at the freighter that was following the tanker. The tanker was hit under the bridge and in the bow and sank. One hit was heard on the freighter but was not observed as Weiss was watching the tanker. There was another hit on the freighter and a hit on a freighter in the far column which had apparently got in the way of a torpedo that missed. The latter burst into flames. TINOSA came about in order to get a stern tube shot, but before she could get set up two of the escorts came charging in on her. Weiss attempted to evade at periscope depth.

At 2314, a loud explosion was heard in the direction of the burning freighter. Nothing could be seen, however, as that ship was enveloped in a dense cloud of smoke. At 2320, TINOSA went deep and rigged for depth charge. In the next two hours she received fifty-five of these, and made note of the fact that they appeared to be a new type that was much louder and more potent than any previously encountered.

By 0134, the escorts had broken off their attack and TINOSA surfaced. There was a radar contact seven miles to the west and Weiss headed for it. The night had darkened making a surface approach possible and at 0244 TINOSA was in position to attack.

At 0249 she fired four stern tubes at a range of 3250 yards.

The target had detected TINOSA and was firing at her with four rapid fire weapons. The first torpedo hit just abaft the bridge, another hit right under the bridge and a third hit the bow. The unfortunate victim simply disappeared.

OTC again requested position reports but TINOSA was still unable to transmit. A series of explosions were heard at 0345 but these could not be identified. There were four targets on radar, three of which. were assumed to be escorts. Weiss bore in on the single merchantman. During the approach, the usually reliable torpedo data computer developed a malfunction and the old Mark 8 angle solver had to be brought into play.

At 0409 TINOSA fired four bow tubes from a range of 3,000 yards.

The torpedoes missed ahead. TINOSA was between the escorts and the dawn sky and to prevent being detected Weiss cleared the area at full speed. At 0455 radar contact was lost.

The radio transmitter was now repaired and at 0457 a position report was sent to OTC. At 0503 TINOSA submerged and commenced a submerged patrol. A mast was sighted to the west at a distance of eight miles and Weiss set a course to intercept.

After an hour, the target was still in sight but the range had not closed. Between 0712 and 0733 forty-eight explosions were heard. Somebody was getting it! Suddenly the target group turned south and the range began to shorten. By 0847 Weiss was in position for a stern shot.

At 0850 four stern tubes were fired at a range of 3,000 yards.

The target sighted the torpedo wakes and started to turn away.

The two escorts turned towards TINOSA. Two explosions were heard at 0855 but the target was out of sight and it is not known if they were torpedo hits. The escorts were now at hand, and TINOSA underwent a long depth charge attack, during - which, thirty depth charges were dropped.

It was 1500 before Weiss could get back to periscope depth, and there was still one escort in sight. It was 1855 before TINOSA could surface. All torpedoes were expended and the crew was exhausted from thirty hours of constant enemy contact. OTC was informed of this and permission was given to proceed to Majuro Atoll. The action on this patrol, however, was not over.

On May 9, while in the area of the Mariana Islands, a small trawler was sighted at 0810. A larger one was sighted about five miles to the northeast. "Decided to knock this one off."

At 1211 TINOSA submerged and began an approach. When the range had closed to 6,000 yards, she battle surfaced in a medium sea and opened fire. The first shot missed but the second round hit the target's bridge. Forty-one rounds later, at a range of 3000 yards, the gunners got their second hit. As the range closed, the target was hit more frequently and fragments of the wooden vessel could be seen flying about. The patrol report states: "at 1400 yards, we were hitting consistently. A waterline hit started a fuel fire. Two or three more hits left her settling at the stern and burning like a bonfire."

TINOSA closed to pick up survivors. The first one was reluctant to come aboard, but a tommy gun persuaded him to do so.

The others exhibited the same reluctance and kept swimming away when TINOSA got close. Since the fire was making a lot of smoke, Weiss decided that it would be appropriate to get the hell out of there before an aircraft spotted it. He secured topside and headed away. There were ten survivors clinging to the wreckage as he left. TINOSA set course for Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands where she was to undergo upkeep by Bushnell. She arrived alongside on May 15.

Comsubpac gave TINOSA credit for sinking one freighter in the April 30 attack, one tanker and one freighter in the May 3 attack, and a fishing trawler for a total of 25,650 tons and 25,000 tons damaged. it is interesting to note that the post war analysis credits no ships sunk by PARCHE or TINOSA in the April 30 action while BANG is credited with sinking two freighters.

For the May 3 action, BANG is credited with one freighter, PARCHE two freighters, and TINOSA two freighters (12,876 tons).

TINOSA was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the 4th, 5th and 6th war patrols.

6th RUN TRIVIA:

Duration of patrol: 47 days

Ship Contacts: 34

Air Contacts: 11

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