EXITING THE SEA OF JAPAN
by: Captain Latham

Appeared in the April 1992 issue of the Tinosa Blatt pages 6 and 7.

In the last issue, the KASEI MARU had just completed a 35 second dive 'on the morning of 20 June, 1945. That was at 0715 in the morning. At 0832, after a good breakfast, we surfaced and commenced patrolling on a northerly course.

How lucky we were to have been able to make that end around on the surface in order to gain a firing position on the KASEI MARU! With us being this close to the island of Tsushima we could expect some air activity, and it came along soon.

We were able to patrol on the surface for less than an hour before being driven down by an APR contact and radar interference on 3,000 megacycles. We continued submerged, coming up frequently to shallower keel depth in order to raise the height of eye search through the high scope.

At 1720 we logged ship contact #20, smoke on the horizon, bearing 247 degrees true, bearing drawing south. The target's course was estimated to be 120 degrees true. TINOSA came to the optimum approach course at standard speed. With the angle on the bow about 35 degrees port and the range estimated at 20,000 yards, we manned battle stations submerged. At the same time we took her down, to 100 feet in order to hide her wake and went ahead full speed, keeping a wary eye on total battery voltage. Every fifteen minutes or - so we would slow and come to periscope depth for a check on the target, and then would go deeper and speed up again. At, 1924, TINOSA made torpedo attack #6 by firing four bow tubes at a torpedo run of 120 yards with a 100-109 degree port track angle.

There were two torpedo hits. The first hit was aft and was followed immediately by a broiling, orange flame that shot up at least 800 feet above the ship. This ship disappeared in about fifty seconds, and the total for two ships must be eligible for the Guinness Book of Records.

About three minutes after the first torpedo hit, there was a loud explosion which seemed close and which might have been an aircraft bomb. Since we had been too busy to look for aircraft during the attack, and since number two poppet valve didn't work and a large impulse bubble had been noted, it was possible that we were under aircraft attack.

So at 1928, we rigged for depth charge and went to 250 feet and secured from battle stations. Nothing further developed and at 1951, we came to periscope depth and found all clear. At 2054 TINOSA surfaced. Our latest victim was the TAITO MARU, a cargo vessel of 2,726 tons sunk at Lat. 3604N, Long. 130-26E.

The night of 20-21 June was spent cruising north on the surface toward our rendezvous with the other Hellcats, which was set for the evening of 23 June. At 0203 we sighted a steady white light on the island of Utsuryo To, bearing 350 degrees T, distance 30 miles. The day of 21 June was spent on the surface with our noon position being Lat. 38-28N, Long. 132-57E. When these positions are given you might find it fun to look at the location in your atlas. At 1820 we heard very plain and loud a Japanese female voice on SCR 610, 31.7 mgc, otherwise the day of 21 June was uneventful. 22 June was also spent on the surface with the noon position being 42-14N, 135-15E. At 2244 we made ship contact #21 and commenced closing a white light. This was determined to be a properly illuminated Russian tanker. She was loaded and headed westerly and was estimated at 10,000 tons. We all wished that some of our sinkings could have been as big as this fellow.

Some of the continuous tension, alertness and readiness permeating TINOSA can be imagined from the log entry at 0253 23 June. Submerged when lookout thought he saw and heard a plane flying overhead. 0306 Surfaced. Visibility was variable, 2-5 miles all day. Noon position 45-54N, 13857E. 1650 at rendezvous. Submerged.

2013 Surfaced. From here I have to describe our exit from the Japan Sea from memory, since the log entry says only, "See Special Report." As I recall, shortly after surfacing in the evening of 23 June we had plenty of interference on our radar as the other boats of Hydeman's Hellcats surfaced nearby, calls were exchanged, and we sorted ourselves out into three groups of Hydeman's Hepcats, Pierce's Polecats and Risser's Bobcats., only, the BONEFISH of Pierce's Polecats failed to appear, and we all hoped that Larry Edge and crew were only temporarily delayed. The decision was made that we would exit through La Perouse Strait on the surface the next night, 24 June. The formation would consist of two columns of four ships each, the columns to be separated by 1,000 yards and each ship to be 500 yards astern of its leader. Speed was to be full on four engines, about 18 knots. During the day of the 24th, we all submerged at dawn, and proceeded slowly along parallel courses at speed three knots, resting and preparing for the big event.

About 2100 on 24 June we were all, on the surface and forming up in our two columns. About 2200 we started for the approximate center of the strait and increased our speed to full on four. It was a black night with haze and fog reducing the surface visibility to about one-mile. SEADOG almost immediately reported her surface search radar out of commission and her lead ship duties were taken over by CREVALLE. About 2300 we were all alerted to a surface ship contact ahead and the columns changed course slightly to leave the stranger about a mile to port. He was tracked on a course opposite to ours and was soon determined to be a properly illuminated Russian ship. We were glad to see a big surface ship making transit of the Strait through the same water we were traversing because it indicated that the water might not be mined. However, we cursed the Russian when at about 2330 he turned on a big searchlight and illuminated the line of hurrying submarines. I think we had some other radar contacts of possible patrol ships in the strait, but none came after us and we did not pass close to any. By about 0300 we were safely through La Perouse Strait and into water that was undoubtedly not mined because of its depth. At this point each sub was released to proceed independently with George Pierce in TUNY being given permission to wait in order to provide possible assistance to the missing BONEFISH. As we know now, BONEFISH was at that time on eternal patrol.

The day before the exit from the Sea of Japan, COMSUBPAC had sent a message to all subs in the vicinity asking them to create whatever diversions they could on the night of the 24th in order to attract the attention of the Japanese and thus divert attention from La Perouse Strait. Perhaps the scheme worked. At any rate, Hydeman's Hellcats were not hindered in their passage. When TINOSA and the others were told to proceed independently after clearing La Perouse, it was left to our discretion to chose a passage through the island chain, which stretches, from Japan's northern island of Hokkaido to the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Island Chain. TINOSA chose the third passage north from Hokkaido, the Kita Uruppu Suido, going through unmolested on the surface on the night of the 25th. We expected that there might be some action in the strait because as we approached we exchanged calls and conversation via the SJ radar interference with, I think, USS DACE, skipper Otis Cole, who informed us that he had created a diversion for us the evening before by shelling the coast of the island forming the edge of the strait. However, the expected hornet's nest did not ensue.

The remainder of the trip back was uneventful. TINOSA stopped at Midway Island on 30 June for fuel. On the evening of 3 July, we met and formed up with SPADEFISH, FLYING FISH, SKATE and BOWFIN. On 4 July at 0800, we all dove on signal and at 0806 all surfaced on signal, for movies I presume, and at 1120, TINOSA moored at pier Sail Nine, U.S. Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, T.H. Our credits for this Eleventh Patrol included ten aviators rescued plus four ships sunk for a total postwar tonnage credit of 6,701 tons.

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