From: Oregon, USA
August 4, 1943
Attached to: Disbanded in port
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Orders: Proceed to Tokyo and await assignment
“Welcome aboard Hibiki, gentlemen,” says Lieutenant Sugiyura cheerfully. Standing at attention in front of him are three new crewmen, all recent graduates of the basic torpedo course for enlisted men at the Yokosuka Torpedo School. Though all three of them had some experience at sea before being selected for torpedo school Sugiyura thinks they looks rather young and wet behind the ears.
In a way it is a bit of a surprise. He had not realized until this moment how much the war has changed Hibiki’s crew. He realizes that when the destroyer set out for Malaya at the beginning of the war most of the men aboard probably looked like this, young, inexperienced, and eager. They don’t look that way now.
“You are replacing experienced men, sailors who have helped this ship to distinguish itself in battle,” he continues. “You will be expected to uphold the very highest standards of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Captain Ishii expects nothing less. I expect nothing less. I will be watching you closely.” The men remain rigidly at attention, alert to every word.
“At ease,” says Sugiyura. He walks over to the nearby aft torpedo mount and leans against it, then gestures the three new men over. They gather around.
“Let’s find out what they are teaching you at school these days,” he says. He points to the first man. “Seaman Hosogaya, is it? Yes. Tell me, Hosogaya, assuming the torpedo is already open, what is the first step in removing the oxygen tank for testing or replacement?”
“Sir, you must first make sure that all valves on the tank assembly are closed,” says Hosogaya promptly. Sugiyura nods.
“Good, very good,” he says. He turns to the second man. “Seaman Chuyo, assume we are in dense fog. An enemy cruiser suddenly appears directly on the port beam, range 300 yards, moving at 20 knots. Assuming we calculate a firing solution for the target of ten degrees and launch a full spread of torpedoes, how many hits on average should we expect to get?”
“No hits, sir,” says Chuyo. “The distance is too short for the torpedoes to arm.” Sugiyura smiles.
“Excellent,” he says. “You would be surprised how many torpedo men and even officers forget that fact in the heat of the moment.” He turns to the third man. “I am sorry, your name again?”
“Seaman Senior Kinsei, sir,” responds the third sailor.
“Kinsei, yes” says Sugiyura, “Kinsei, assume the ship is in battle and taking damage. A shell has knocked out the torpedo director station and communications are disrupted. Your officers are dead or disabled. The bridge calls for torpedoes to be launched. What formula do you use to calculate a firing solution?” Kinsei looks nervous.
“Sir,” he says, “you get the line of fire by calculating…by calculating the sight angle. To get this you need to know the speed and bearing on the target…I mean, the angle on the bow. Uh, you divide the angle on the bow by the speed of the torpedo and…no, wait, you need to multiply the target’s speed by the angle first, then…” Sugiyura holds up a hand.
“Enough,” he says. “You will have to do better than that. Much better.” Kinsei looks mortified.
“You will get a chance to redeem yourself,” Sugiyura tells him, not unkindly, then addresses all three. “We will hold instruction and drills until I am satisfied that all of you are up to Hibiki’s standards. For the moment, however, you are dismissed.” The three sailors troop off.
Sugiyura watches them go. There is some work to do there, he thinks, there always is with new crewmen. But he rather likes the teaching aspect of his job. They may get to hate the very sight of him, but that is all right. By the time they leave Hibiki, he is confident, they will be torpedo men any other ship in the navy would be glad to have.