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War Career of the USS Seal

 
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War Career of the USS Seal - 7/6/2010 4:36:38 AM   
brhugo

 

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By 11/10/42, the Seal was close enough to an operational Australian seaplane base that a flying boat was able to rendezvous with the Seal and take off some of her most seriously injured crew. The Seal did pick up one new temporary crew member: LT Donnely who was an Engineering Duty Officer assigned to the Australian Navy as a liaison. His assignment was to identify the repairs required to return the Seal to service and return to Perth with this information so that the necessary parts and equipment could be made ready for her arrival. The Catalina had also had room for some fresh food, but most of the supplies transferred to the submarine we essential consumables such as medicine and critical spare parts. The crew also sent back a mail bag full of letters to the home front, but censors would redact much of the information the senders had included about their ill-fated patrol.

Four days later LT Donnely with a case full of marked up-drawings, sketches, and work requests was picked up by another Catalina for the first leg of his trip back to Perth. Although essentially in friendly waters now, the Seal still was at risk of being sighted by a Japanese long-range patrol and her track hugged the coast of Australia to maximize the chance of survivors making landfall should the ship be unable to complete the return trip. On 11/18/42 LCDR Hurd announced that the ship was within 500 nautical miles of Perth.

Four days later a tug from Perth came alongside and helped guide the Seal into Perth harbor and her berth at one of the repair piers. With a sigh of relief, LCDR Hurd ordered the diesel shutdown and the cold iron watches set. Against the odds, his battered command had survived the 3200 mile, 36 day transit from the Pusan minefield to the safety of the Perth shipyard.

Next, Part 3: Perth
[I am in a busy portion of my rotating shift cycle at work and haven't had as much time as before to work on my AAR. Also, it is only Oct 43 in my campaign so when I catch up with that (if the Seal has survived) then the story will really slow down as I am playing one-day turns.]

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War Career of the USS Seal - 7/9/2010 5:37:23 PM   
brhugo

 

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Part III: Perth


After unloading all ordnance, including the last of the Mk-14’s (which had not had to be jettisoned) the Seal pulled into Perth’s drydock. To the crew’s surprise, she was not there long. Perth’s drydock, although small, was the only one for thousands of miles and it had a lot of customers. Besides having been a repair refuge for allied subs damaged by escorts in the Dutch East Indies, there had been a steady stream of merchants damaged in collisions and other mishaps including a few that had survived I-boat attacks. Although warships had priority, ships were frequently rotated out of the drydock to make room for those with damage that could be repaired in no other way. And the Seal had lots of damage that could be repaired pierside. During her first brief time on the blocks, the Seal received a temporary patch consisting of a curved steel plate backed by a rubber sheet that was attached to the hull over the hole by strongbacks bolted to temporary anchor points.

After the crew had been debriefed by the squadron intel officer, about one third were given transfer orders to other commands including the executive officer. The Seal’s off-going XO was transferred to New London where he would become the commissioning CO of the USS Bluefish (SS-222) under construction at Electric Boat. His replacement would be LT Schneegas, who had been the navigator on an East coast submarine before a short shore assignment with COMSUBLANT.

During his welcome aboard meeting with LCDR Hurd, LT Schneegas showed him a copy of a naval message he had received while at COMSUBLANT. The message was from BUORD and was their response to the initial complaints of poor Mk-14 reliability. LT Schneegas had underlined one portion in blue pen: “EXTENSIVE PREDEPLOYMENT AND OPERATIONAL TESTING OF THE MARK FOURTEEN TORPEDOE HAS DEMONSTRATED THAT IT IS A RELIABLE WEAPON WHEN MAINTAINED AND EMPLOYED PROPERLY.” The Seal had never received this message because COMSUBPAC had declined to forward it to their submarines. But COMSUBLANT had transmitted it and copies had made their way to the Pacific fleet. One enterprising submarine skipper had fired warshot into the torpedo nets at the Hawaiian Islands test range to prove that the torpedoes ran deeper than set. Another had fired a four shot spread into a cliff face and had gotten only two explosions. Only the direct intervention by Admirals Kimmel and Nimitz had stopped disciplinary action against the two commanders.

At the going away party for the departing wardroom members, the JO’s presented the off-going XO (LT Traverso, who had been spot promoted to LCDR) with a plaque containing an altered version of the ship’s emblem: the image of the stern seal had been replaced with one carrying a net full of mines and the ships hull number had been changed to “SSMS-183”. LCDR Hurd had received some of the same ribbing when the Australian CO of the Perth facilities has asked him if the US was experimenting with a submarine minesweeper. The get-together was an upbeat one even though all present knew that there were long odds of all of them surviving the war. But the crew had survived long odds already and still had some of the bullet-proof optimism of the young.

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 7/9/2010 6:53:09 PM   
Kwik E Mart


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great stuff! hope you keep it up...

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 7/13/2010 12:07:56 AM   
brhugo

 

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I will be unexpectedly out of town for two weeks but will continue this after action report when I get back.

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Bruce R Hugo

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War Career of the USS Seal - 7/26/2010 2:40:20 AM   
brhugo

 

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Repairs to the Seal were performed in parallel with refresher training for her crew. Although submarine facilities available at Perth were limited to those required to perform major repairs, training and administrative functions were available at a hastily constructed facility at Brisbane. Personnel and equipment surviving the Japanese attacks at Darwin and Broome had been transported to Brisbane which was the new headquarters on Submarine Squadron 9.

The Seal’s approach team was flown to Squadron 9’s attack trainer which consisted of a mockup of a Gato class control room. Above the mock-up was a small room into which the periscope extended to provide a view of a scale model of a potential target. The model rode on a disk that could both rotate on its axis and revolve around the periscope at a fixed distance. As the OOD ordered changes in course and speed, a set of gears translated the relative motion between the submarine and its “prey” into dials that read out the resulting range, bearing, and angle on the bow of the target. An operator then adjusted the orientation of the target model using hand-cranks for bearing and angle on the bow and adjusted the magnification of the periscope optics to simulate the appropriate target size. The trainer could not simulate effects such as smoke, weather, and a “hull down” condition (due to the target being slightly beyond the periscopes “horizon” but it did allow the crew to practice closing on a target, collecting target motion data, and obtaining a firing solution.

Although the Mk-14’s reliability problems had been adequately demonstrated, COMSUBPAC suspected that crew proficiency weaknesses had also contributed to poor attack results and so a Squadron representative observed the first day of each submarine crew’s performance in the trainer. LCDR Hurd’s ability to accurately determine target height and angle on the bow was about average compared with the crews that had been evaluated so far, and the crew as a whole was slightly above average in obtaining accurate firing solutions. The only crew performance issues identified were due to the new members of the approach team who were still relatively green, but after a week of practice in the trainer the crew was judged to be satisfactory and was flown back to Perth to assist in the Seal’s overhaul.

With the Seal’s temporary patch installed, the mine-damaged compartment could be partially addressed while waterborne. All of the electrical equipment and wiring was a total loss and several of the pumps were too badly damaged to be refurbished. The initial repairs consisted of ripping out wiring, sprung piping and deformed supports. Several components were too large to be removed through the hatches and a hull cut was briefly considered to allow replacement of these before the sub reentered drydock; this plan was rejected when it was determined that a large enough section of the pressure hull around the explosion site would have to be replaced later anyway. The inner hull surface was stripped down to bare metal and repainted, and the damaged bulkhead penetrations were repaired.

The damaged diesel was overhauled, and when it became clear that the hull repairs would be the limiting factor for the Seal’s return to service, an overhaul of the undamaged diesel that had been scheduled for July 43 was pulled up and performed in parallel.

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War Career of the USS Seal - 7/26/2010 2:42:06 AM   
brhugo

 

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Additionally, an upgrade that had been authorized for April 42 but never installed due to operational demands was finally implemented. An SD air search radar was installed on a fixed mast above the conning tower. Operated from the conning tower, the SD radar was only vaguely directional. It was capable of warning that a plane was within about 6 miles of the boat, but couldn't pinpoint a bearing, or give much in the way of information on the type of air contact detected.




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War Career of the USS Seal - 7/26/2010 2:43:11 AM   
brhugo

 

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The Seal also received an SJ surface search radar. This was a directional radar, which could be used to sweep the surrounding sea for targets. The primary limitation on range was the height of the retractable mast since radar is limited to line-of-sight. The SJ radar was designed for search, ranging, and navigation. In addition to conducting surface searches, the radar masts could also be extending above the water before surfacing, to check the area for enemy warships and aircraft.




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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/1/2010 4:15:47 PM   
brhugo

 

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On 12/3/42 repairs to the Seal had progressed as far as they could pier side. Using her “head-of-the-line” privileges, the boat was nudged into Perth’s small dry-dock by a tug. The temporary patch was removed and a hull cut was made to remove the torn and deformed section of the pressure hull. Ruined equipment that was too large to have been removed earlier was extracted and replacements winched, “come-along’ed” or otherwise persuaded into position in the refurbished compartment. Then began the laborious task of connecting scores of power, cooling water, pneumatic, and hydraulic connections to the replacement pumps, motors and other auxiliary equipment. In may cases the old parts had been obsolete and field changes were required to make everything fit.

When not assisting the shipyard workers or participating in retraining, the Seal’s crew enjoyed the hospitality of their temporary duty station. Unlike Darwin, Perth has been relatively untouched by the war although the crew did have to contend with the fuel shortage and nightly blackouts. Additionally, the Aussies were much friendlier that the Soerabaja locals had been and it was said that a sailor couldn’t pay for a drink in any of the local taverns. Few of the crew were disappointed when the word was leaked that the Seal’s repairs would extend into late January or early February.

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/2/2010 2:25:12 AM   
Whipple

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: brhugo
it was said that a sailor couldn’t pay for a drink in any of the local taverns.


Exactly what I experienced as a young MM2 last time I was there back in '86. Since the young ladies of Perth/Fremantle were interested in a sailor in uniform, there were other benefits to be experienced as well.

Whipple

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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/13/2010 7:01:04 PM   
brhugo

 

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President Roosevelt’s fears concerning the midterm elections were validated when the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives by a small margin (208 to the Republicans’ 223 with four seats being held by minor parties). Concern over World War II and American losses in it was one factor in majority party decline. Polls showed that had the presidential election had also been at stake in November, Roosevelt would have lost by about 4 percentage points. Hoping to turn public opinion, Roosevelt opened the spigot of combat citations and flooded state and local newspapers with press releases for these. The residents of LCDR Hurd’s home town of Metamora Michigan learned that he had received the Navy Cross:

“The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander Kenneth Charles Hurd, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in combat and meritorious conduct in offensive engagements with enemy Japanese forces as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. SEAL (SS-183), in action on the night of 17 October 1942, during the SIXTH War Patrol of that submarine in Japanese controlled waters. While patrolling the Yeloow Sea, Lieutenant Commander Hurd’s ship was severely damaged in an engagement with overwhelming enemy forces. Without regard for his own safety, Commander Hurd refused to give up the ship and led his crew in a 3000 mile transit to a safe port. Commander Hurd’s determination and nautical skills are reminiscent of those of John Paul Jones’ and reflects great credit upon his command and the United States Naval Service.

SECNAV’s staff had gotten the war patrol number wrong and a mine hardly constitutes “overwhelming enemy forces” but LCDR Hurd had in fact been promoted. Notification of the citation and the promotion did not reach the Seal until 1/28/43, two days before she left Perth following completion of repairs.

While the Seal recovered from her battle damage, the allied offensive in the Pacific and Burma theaters was beginning to pick up. Magwe was recaptured by British, Australian, and Indian forces on 12/6/42 with about 50% of that city’s oil wells and refineries still operational. The US was able to exert enough control over the Solomons/New Britain airspace to support occasional battleship bombardments of Rabaul and with Japanese defensives so blunted, the Shortlands were captured on 12/9/42.

The poor performance of the Mk-14 torpedo was not the only factor hampering US submarine effectiveness. Expansion of the Japanese base network and the neutralization of Australia’s northern ports by air bombardments were resulting in long, non-productive transits for submarines based at Brisbane and Pearl Harbor. The well developed base at Shortlands was on the target list both to support the later offensive against Rabaul and to provide a forward base for submarines operating against the Japanese sea lanes from the Dutch East Indies to Japan. A second operation to recover the port of Darwin was also being developed -- code name “Popcorn”. Operation Popcorn was audacious given the balance of forces at the time: a transport force defended by CVEs and escorted by a second CV task force would force its way to Darwin and provide badly needed supplies and additional fighter air groups for the air base there. The CVs would continue to provide temporary air cover until the airfields could be returned to operation. The hope was that once Darwin could defend itself against enemy air attacks, Submarines could be re-based there from Perth and Brisbane.

Operation Popcorn was “placed on the back burner” when the Japanese navy sortied on 12/12/42. Attacking from an initially undetected position, the Saratoga was hit by a bomb and the CLAA San Juan torpedoed. The Japanese strikes were substantially blunted by a heavy CAP that included land based fighters operating from the Shortlands. The US counterstrike (reportedly) scored three bomb hits on the Hiryu, four on the Kaga, and four on the Hiei. The returning aviators excitedly reported that the Hiryu had “definitely been sunk”. But the Japanese carriers were still capable of launching a late afternoon strike; despite a few close calls, no hits were scored. A second US strike hit the “sunk” Hiryu with 5 more bombs, put another bong and a torpedo into the Kaga, and hammered the Hiei with 5 bombs and a torpedo. Combat continued sporadically over the next three days with the BB Maryland chasing down the damaged Hiei and sinking an escorting destroyer, and another Japanese carrier strike hitting a transport group and torpedoing the escorting CVE Nassau. By this point, Naval Intelligence could not determine if there were more Japanese carriers in the action beyond the Hiryu and the Kaga, or if the damage to the Hiryu and the Kaga had been significantly over reported, or both. Accordingly, the undamaged US carriers remained within range of land based fighter support until the situation could be sorted out.

The Japanese tried to take advantage of the confusion by racing in a small cruiser task force to engage and sink transports at Lunga. Lunga was being covered by battleships, but in a night action still dominated by superior Japanese training, the Nevada and Tennessee were torpedoed in exchange for heavy damage to the CA Ashigara. The Japanese were slow to clear the area and were intercepted by undamaged forces the next day: Two Japanese destroyers were sunk and the CA Furutaka took two 14” hits in her superstructure. The BB Tennessee was torpedoed; this was attributed to a Japanese submarine but in reality it was the work of one of the Japanese destroyers (the capabilities of the pure oxygen-using Long Lance torpedo were still not fully understood). Another Japanese carrier strike was made against the damaged US BB’s with no hits being scored and finally one additional opponent was identified: the CVL Ryujo.

The allies and the Japanese continued to throw clumsy blows at each other like two punch-drunk boxers: the task force containing the CVL Ryujo was encountered at night by an allied task force that included an undamaged BB, 3 CAs, 4 CLs, and 3DDs. In an engagement similar to the June 1940 sinking of the Glorious by the Scharnhorst, One CVL was hit by a 16” shell and a second CVL by two. The second CVL suffered an obvious magazine explosion. The CA Chikuma, CA Kinugasa and CL Tenryu were also damaged in exchange for damage to three US destroyers. Naval Intel determined that that the CVL Ryuho had been sunk along with the Kinugasa and Tenryu, but all three of these ships were sighted within a few days (alive if not well).

And yet the days-long battle that would be known as the "Battle of the Solomon Islands" was far from over ...

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/13/2010 7:48:35 PM   
HMS Resolution


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Wow! Exciting stuff, there. What two CVLs did the surface group encounter?

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/14/2010 2:25:02 AM   
Cribtop


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Holy crap! Is this game vs AI or a human opponent?

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/14/2010 6:10:03 AM   
brhugo

 

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I'm pretty sure it was the Ryuho and the Ryujo, but several "sunk" ships have been coming back from the dead over the course of the game and were sometimes replaced with sinkings of others of the same type that I didn't think I had hit.  I love the way fog of war is implemented and it seems realistic.

I am playing against the AI in the standard Dec 8 scenario.  This is my first time playing the campaign game (I had previously played the Guadalcanal and Coral Sea scenarios).  Although I had extensive experience with Pacific War (15 years earlier!!) there was a lot of learning to do and I am sure I actually started out playing worse than the AI.  See the description of the Java Sea Slaughter earlier in the post.  And I continue to have no idea what's going on in China.  But I think I have the basic mechanics down well enough to try one of the harder versions next.

Any seasoned human player would wipe the ocean with me, as either side in any scenario.  For one thing I have "ADDD" (Attention to Detail Deficit Disorder).

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/14/2010 7:44:25 AM   
thegreatwent


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AI or not this narrative is riveting. Keep at it. I'm sure that when you are ready that there will be folks eager to jump in as PBEM opponents. I must warn them, you seem to have an insiders knowledge of the real word concepts. The ones that should be applied. As a former Redleg, I urge you to drive on!

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/14/2010 2:53:34 PM   
DOCUP


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very interesting aar keep it up bubble head thought id throw out another submariner term

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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/16/2010 3:58:32 AM   
brhugo

 

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On 12/24/42, MacArthur’s forces broke through the defenses at Lae and captured that key base. US CVs hunting down the damaged enemy CVLs found a cruiser force instead and damaged two CLs and 2 DDs with one bomb hit each in the course of two attacks. The next day a submarine managed to hit the Ryujo but the torpedo failed to explode. Still, the location of the retreating Japanese task force was known well enough to allow a morning carrier strike that hit the Ryujo with two bombs and a torpedo and scored another bomb hit on the “sunk” Ryuho. A late afternoon strike found the two CVLs somehow still afloat and each was hit with at least two more 1000 lb bombs. These final injuries proved fatal to both light carriers. The damaged carriers’ damaged escorts fared no better with the CA Kinugasa and DD Hatsuyuki receiving their final blows at the hands of US naval aviators.

At this point in the Battle of the Solomon Islands, the Japanese had lost both control of the air and sea. A Japanese cruiser force was ambushed at night near Rennell Island when a surface combat group that included the BB Maryland picked up the approaching ships on radar. One Japanese DD was sunk along with the CL Nagara; the CL Natori and CL Tatsuta were heavily damaged and survived the night only to succumb the next day to unquenchable fires.

The intensity of the fighting is illustrated by the Japanese warship losses between 12 Dec and the end of the year: 1 CV, 2 CVL, 2 CA, 3 CL, and 6 DD sunk. Although several allied ships were significantly damaged, all survived the action and reached repair ports. The Japanese navy’s piecemeal approach to the campaign was costing them dearly.

Near the end of 1942 a message originating from BUORD was forwarded to all submarines. At last the deficiencies with the production version of the Mk-14 had been officially acknowledged and remedial measures identified. The Mk-14 was found to run 10 feet deeper than the selected depth setting; this could be easily worked around by using a shallower setting. The magnetic exploder was the cause of most of the premature detonations and so submarine crews were directed to disable this fuze mechanism. Finally, the firing pin was susceptible to sticking due to friction when the torpedo struck the target at close to a 90 degree angle; ironically this was the ideal striking angle based on all other considerations (such as target aspect length). The direction in the message was to “avoid firing with a target angle of ninety degrees” which was tantamount to direction to either fire early or fire late and would continue to complicate the employment of this weapon until the deficiency were corrected in later production runs.

What was not included in the message was that many of the quality issues were due to a lack of competitive pressure on the manufacture due to the decision to use a single source (Naval Torpedo Station, Rhode Island) for most of the pre-war period due to pressure the Rhode Island congressional delegation had applied to the Department of the Navy. This information did become public and the adverse publicity resulted in increased public distrust of the government’s pre and post Pearl Harbor handling of the war effort.

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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/17/2010 7:07:55 AM   
brhugo

 

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Part IV: The Relief of Darwin


With the Japanese navy seemingly neutralized for the time being, operation Popcorn was dusted off. Planning resumed for this effort to restore Darwin as an advanced base for submarine operations and as a check on Japanese activity in the area. The problem was two-fold: the long overland supply lines to Darwin could not support the desired level of activity at its associated military facilities, and it was not possible to repair the fighter air strips long enough to be able to mount any air defense against the frequent raids by Bettys and their escorting Zeros. The existing defensive fighter squadron had no operational planes and its surviving pilots had been moved to a relatively safe location away from the airbase. The Australian government was demanding direct support from Great Britain and the US.

All serviceable US carriers had been recalled to Noumea and their air groups reshuffled so that the primary complement was fighter aircraft with a few token squadrons of SDBs and TBDs to provide ASW coverage for the task force. An Army fighter squadron had been loaded onto one of the CVs and was to be transferred to Darwin to augment the Australian forces once the airfields were serviceable. This carrier task force was to provide air cover for an armada of transports assembling at Sydney that had its own intrinsic air cover provided by several CVEs. The transport force completed loading and put to sea and was followed by the faster CVs on 2 Jan 43.

Japanese fortunes improved in early January 43 when an allied cruiser group in route to bombard Milne bay encountered a Japanese task force that included the BB Nagato. Although most of the allied ships escaped this uneven battle, the CA Australia was sunk. Less than 24 hours later the CVE Altamaha was torpedoed by an I-boat; the Louisville suffered the same fate two days later. Both submarine victims limped back to ports but were out of the action for months. Revenge came soon after: a Rabaul bombardment force consisting of the BBs Washington and Indiana along with their escorts engaged a task force that included BB Musashi and BB Kongo in a daylight action; the CL Kinu and and DD Shiokaze were sunk and the allied ships remained in good enough condition to complete the bombardment mission.

By 9 Jan 43 the “Popcorn” CVs had closed to within CAp range of Darwin and were able to jump one of the now routine raids from the DEI. 2 Zeros and 10 Bettys were shot down and 7 of the bombers damaged in exchange for one Wildcat lost. Subsequent raids were also mauled by the newly arrived air cover:

Date Aircraft Losses
Zero Betty Allied CAP Results
1/9 2 10 1 No hits on Darwin
1/10 3 7 2 “
1/11 2 8 1 “
1/12 1 1 - “
1/14 Night raid 2 hits on Darwin airfield
1/16 N/A Darwin airfield operational
1/17 4 10 1 No hits on Darwin
1/20 N/A 52 operational land based fighters.

On 1/10 the transport group arrived at Darwin’s shattered docks and began unloading. On 1/20, with Darwin’s “shelves restocked” and enough land based fighters to provide air defense, both the transport group and the CV covering force began the return transits to Sydney and Noumea, respectively. The submarine tender that had fled Darwin got underway for a return voyage.

Operation “Popcorn” was evaluated to be an “unmitigated success,” an assessment that would ultimately prove fatal for the CV Hornet which had played a key role in Popcorn. The British advance in Burma had been stalled by an inability to resupply the troops that had made it as far as Akyab but were now literally almost starving at that base. Convoys from Columbo to Akyab had been savaged by land based bombers and on 1/25/43 the British government began demanding that enough US carriers be provided to that theater to allow Akyab to be safely resupplied. Roosevelt agreed (against the wishes of CINCPAC) but Admiral Kimmel did persuade the president to delay this commitment until after the planned invasion of Rabaul.

The Seal received orders changing her post-repair home port from Brisbane to Darwin two days before her Perth drydock was reflooded on 1/28/43. She was transferred to a repair pier and repairs and war patrol loadout completed on 1/30/43. CDR Hurd and his crew were back in the fight.

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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/18/2010 5:43:38 PM   
brhugo

 

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Part V: Poor Hunting


The Seal’s first post-repair patrol assignment was in the Dutch East Indies, southeast of Borneo. COMSUBPAC had given this area a high priority due to the expectation that tanker traffic between Java and southeast Borneo would heavy as Japan struggled to feed the factories providing her wartime materiel needs. The transit to this area was longer than normal since it was being made from Perth rather than the Seal’s new home port of Darwin, and CDR Hurd took maximum advantage of this opportunity to train the boats newcomers and shake the “dust” off her old-timers. Crash-dive drills were common, along with practice approaches on allied shipping in friendly waters. But the absence of Japanese air and surface patrols did not mean that the transit was completely safe – more than one allied submarine had been severely damaged or sunk by I-boats operating in “friendly” waters.

The constant drilling tended to be exhausting to the crew. Most of the crew were on a three section rotation; but, for positions recently vacated by experienced personnel there were only two qualified sailors available and this required a two section (or “port-and-starboard”) watch rotation. This provided an unfortunate incentive for the qualified watchstanders to “accelerate” certain watch qualifications so as to provide for a third qualified watchstander. One such newly qualified hand, Seaman Kinney, was assigned to the after ballast tank vent when a crash dive was ordered for training. Kinney missed a signal and didn’t open the vents when he should have. Kinney knew that he should open the vents after a certain point after hearing the diving klaxon even without direction but he waited too long. The Seal began to take on a very large down angle as the forward ballast tanks filled with water but not the aft ones. The diving officer tried to correct the excessive angle by ordering the planesmen to compensate but the subs speed was far too slow for this to have much effect. As the stern began to clear the surface what water was in the aft ballast tanks drained out and the Seal’s angle increased to nearly 40 degrees. Loose gear and some of the crew slid forward. The OOD ordered a forward ballast tank blow to correct the situation and CDR Hurd ordered him to keep the boat to the surface. Seaman Kinney was convinced he would be taken to mast for his error but the skipper quietly told the OOD to “chew him out, … but remember that’s why we run these drills.”

The Seal commenced her war patrol but there was less traffic and more air patrols than they had been told to expect. The Seal was dogged by air patrols on 2/6/43 and 2/8/43 and had yet to find an opportunity to close to within striking distance of a convoy. When her first encounter finally occurred, it was with a destroyer on 2/10/43 near Balikpapan. CDR Hurd searched in vain from PD for evidence that there were higher valued ships being escorted, then fired a spread of four torpedoes at the DD before diving deep and changing course. One of the torpedoes hit the Uranami, but BUORD’s workarounds for the Mk-14’s deficiencies were insufficient in this case and the weapon failed to explode. The Uranami established intermittent contact on the Seal and dropped a few depth charges but the boat escaped the counterattack unscathed. Nonetheless the Seal’s primary weapon of stealth had been compromised and she was shadowed by aircraft for nearly a day after the encounter with the Uranami. Although the crew did not know it, an oiler (AO Iro) had been trailing the Uranami at a distance beyond the limited horizon provided by the sub’s periscope.

It took three days for the Seal to completely shake the air patrols. On 2/13/43, the radar operator picked up a distant surface contact; the sub dove and began closing the projected track at PD. The contact was another destroyer. Unable to detect any other ships, and concerned that a spread of Mk-14’s might only serve as inadvertent signaling devices, CDR Hurd waited to see if the DD was an advanced unit of a larger force. The DD was hull down when a much larger ship appeared on the horizon; this was the AO Kyokuto Maru. Four torpedoes were fired at this high value target but the single hit failed to explode. The oiler began maneuvering and CDR Hurd dove and began clearing datum rather than attempt another attack. His instincts were confirmed when sonar reported the distant sounds of (the DD Hakaze’s) pinging but the destroyer had arrived too late to have any reasonable chance of locating the Seal.

Air patrols in the Seal’s patrol area intensified and shipping traffic continued to decrease. CDR tried operating exclusively at PD during daylight, surfacing only at night to reposition the ship and recharge her batteries. This measure reduced the number of encounters with patrol aircraft but also hampered the Seal’s ability to locate potential targets using radar. The Seal had a close call on 2/19/43 when an aircraft sighted her silhouetted against the dawn horizon and managed to drop a bomb near her. The next two weeks passed with only additional aircraft sightings and CDR Hurd radioed squadron to report the disappointing results. The Seal was ordered to return to Darwin to refuel and reload.

(Note: the account of the Seal's practice crash dive gone awry was adapted from a real event documented in RADM Daniel V. Gallery's excellent account "U-505", C 1956 by Warner Books).

(in reply to brhugo)
Post #: 48
RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/19/2010 5:04:25 PM   
lb4269


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I really enjoy this AAR!

Can we get more in-game combat reports from how she is doing?

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Post #: 49
RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/19/2010 6:39:36 PM   
brhugo

 

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Do you mean these in-game combat reports?

Sub attack near Balikpapan  at 66,98
 
Japanese Ships
      AO Kyokuto Maru
      DD Hakaze
 
Allied Ships
      SS Seal
 
 
 
SS Seal launches 4 torpedoes at AO Kyokuto Maru
Seal diving deep ....
DD Hakaze fails to find sub, continues to search...
DD Hakaze fails to find sub, continues to search...
DD Hakaze fails to find sub, continues to search...
DD Hakaze fails to find sub, continues to search...
DD Hakaze fails to find sub, continues to search...
Escort abandons search for sub

I could include these but it seems that by themselves they are dreadfully boring.  I wish that the more interesting animation messages such as "Near miss starts fires" were captured.  I have been "narrativizing" these reports instead from my game notes and the combat report files.  If you had something else in mind please let me know.

_____________________________

Bruce R Hugo

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/19/2010 7:02:26 PM   
Jones944

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: brhugo
... but it seems that by themselves they are dreadfully boring.

Agreed. Please do not include these. Including them is the best way to make your AAR dull dull dull.

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/19/2010 8:00:04 PM   
HMS Resolution


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Indeed. BRHugo, you're doing a fine job. You have a splendidly readable AAR here.

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RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 8/20/2010 3:49:08 AM   
lb4269


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Those were the ones I was referring to.

I agree that always putting them in would be a fast way to diminish the fun of this thread.

I was just hoping to occasionally get a few more interspersed between postings to help remind me that this an AAR and not real life!

(I shall eagerly await hearing about her next exploit.)

Thumbs up to this AAR!

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Post #: 53
War Career of the USS Seal - 8/21/2010 4:47:37 AM   
brhugo

 

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The next major step in the Solomons was to be the recapture of Rabaul, which reconnaissance confirmed to be heavily garrisoned (~ AV 1820). The assault was to be from two directions: an overland march across New Britain to cut off the retreat paths following by an amphibious attack. The advanced base at Shortlands was built up to allow battleships to rearm there and provide frequent naval bombardment of the troops and facilities at Rabaul. On 2/1/43 the transports began loading troops bound for Gasmata and air and surface combat task forces left port to provide cover for this invasion. The carrier task force, which had only recently returned for the Popcorn operation, managed to pick off a few trasports and cargo ships north of Rabaul while providing air cover for the bombardment and transport groups. Aerial bombardment of Rabaul had sapped its air base of striking power, but Betties from Truk managed to put two torpedoes into the BB Washington as she was retiring from an otherwise successful 2/6/43 bombardment. Gasmata fell on 4/14/43 after a week of heavy fighting and the land based prong of the Rabaul operation was in motion.

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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/21/2010 4:48:54 AM   
brhugo

 

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Part VI: The Deadly Seal


While rearming in Dawin, the Seal received orders assigning her to a patrol area off the Korean peninsula – essentially the same area she had been in when she struck the mine. Other submarines had been assigned to the waters off Borneo in the Seal’s absence and COMSUBPAC wanted to capitalize on the crew’s familiarity with this area close to Japan. Some of the boats old-timers thought that this area was bad luck but when the COB brought this concern to the skipper he dismissed it and told the Master Chief to tell the men it was time to “get back on that horse.” Barely 24 hours after arriving in port, the Seal was underway for another war patrol.

The new patrol area at least proved to be more productive than the previous one. On 4/8/43, the Seal detected a tanker convoy escorted by a single escort. After a quick discussion with the XO, CDR Hurd decided to torpedo the escort and then attack the convoy on the surface. This plan went awry when the E Hatsukari sighted the four torpedo wakes in time to maneuver and comb them and launched an enthusiastic depth charge counter attack on the Seal. One near miss caused minor damage but it was well within the capability of the crew to repair. CDR Hurd managed to break contact with the escort before his ship received any other damage. AOs Toho Maru and Notoro and TK Kanto Maru thus avoided the sub’s attack.

The next day a radar contact was picked up and the Seal changed course on the surface to intercept it. It was a single cargo ship and CDR Hurd ordered battle stations manned for a gunnery attack. Two three-inch shell hits were scored but the merchant fired back with its own deck gun and one shell penetrated the superstructure. Initial damage reports were confused and CDR Hurd conservatively ordered the Seal to crash dive and break contact. The damage turned out to be superficial, but the petty officer reporting it had been temporarily deafened by the concussion outside the hull and had been shouting into the sound powered phone without realizing it.

A chance to improve on the poor convoy attack results of 4/8 came just two days later when the Seal dove and closed on a column of at least four ships that included E Aotaka, xAK Yahiko Maru, xAK Eizan Maru, and xAK Toei Maru. This time CDR Hurd didn’t bother with the escort -- he instead fired four torpedo salvos at each of the two lead merchants and then dove to clear datum. The Yahiko Maru was hit with two torpedoes and sank within an hour; the Eizan Maru avoided all but one of the Mk-14’s but sank the next day when her crew could not control the flooding. The Aotoka searched unsuccessfully for the Seal then rejoined the undamaged ships in the convoy.

On 4/15/43 the Seal intercepted a convoy near Saishu To that included the PB Ginyo Maru, xAK Nittei Maru, xAK Hokuzyu Maru, and E W-20. There were a total of five cargomen in two columns with their E and PB escorts; CDR Hurd conducted a submerged attack on the leader of the near column as the formation zigzagged toward the submarine. Less than a minute after firing, the Seal collided with, or was rammed by, another enemy ship. The periscope went black and vibrated severely. The submarine rose to 55 feet (17 m); hung there nearly a minute then started down. A few minutes later, depth charging began and Seal leveled off at 250 feet (76 m). Four hours later, the area was clear and Seal surfaced. The high periscope had been bent horizontally, and the housing on the low periscope had been sprung, preventing its operation. The radar antenna had been broken off the radio mast. Quantities of uncooked rice and beans, unlike those used on the submarine, were found between the wooden deck pieces of the cigarette deck, on the bridge, and caught in the bathythermograph. The periscope shears yielded "a good sample of Japanese bottom paint." The Seal’s torpedoes has missed but captured Japanese documents later confirmed damage to the 3,500-ton Boston Maru by an American submarine on that date in that location. Although the Seal's crew did not know it, the PB Ginyo Maru had been hit by a Mk-14 that failed to explode; but, the freighter's hull had been badly punctured by the submarine's periscope shears in the subsequent collision. The Seal returned to Darwin to repair the collision and depth charge damage. [The Seal’s crew’s experience at this point was 68 Day, 60 Night).

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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/24/2010 4:34:36 AM   
brhugo

 

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Part VII: Operation Powder Horn


By early February 1943 it was clear that operation Popcorn had been a complete success. Darwin’s reconstituted air defenses had prevented damage from most of the subsequent Japanese air raids, and what damage was being caused was paid for disproportionately with Japanese aircraft losses. Darwin ability to function as an advanced submarine base was being maintained and only a large commitment of scarce IJN resources was likely to change that.

In Burma, the allies had advanced as far as Akyab but ground activities in this theater had ground to a halt due to the inability to provide adequate supplies to the troops there. Overland supply capacity was insufficient and land based aircraft from the numerous Japanese bases were mauling convoys delivering supplies. The British government had been lobbying hard for sea based air cover for these convoys, and the success of Popcorn reinforced their case. Against the wishes of CINCPAC, the Saratoga, Enterprise and Hornet were transferred to the Indian Ocean during a lull in the Solomons campaign.

Per OPSEC requirements the code name for this operation was randomly selected to be “Powder Horn”, but its unofficial name was “Popcorn II”. The success of Popcorn proved to be a liability for Powder Horn since many of the measures that had been adopted in the earlier operations were discarded due to complacency. The CVE escorts that had provided close air cover for the transports were left at Noumea due to the additional transit time that the slower jeep carriers would require. And the three fleet carriers’ air groups were not shuffled to provide enlarged fighter complements. This latter decision was due to retain sufficient striking power to neutralize air fields or to engage the IJN should the opportunity arise (at least two Japanese CVs were know to be operational but their location was unkown). Unlike Darwin, the British would be able to provide significant land based fighter support throughout the operation since fresh squadrons based at Calcutta could be rotated to Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar to provide air cover over Akyab.

The three US carriers and their escorts completed the transit to Ceylon, hugging th northern Australian coast to avoid air attacks from the nearby occupied islands. A few days were spent in Colombo repairing overworked machinery and then the CV covering force rendezvoused with the transport force at Madras to make the trip to Akyab. The first Japanese strikes did not begin until the combined force was within British fighter cover: two raids totaling 114 Oscars, 22 Lilys, and 9 Sonias attacked the transports with no hits being scored. 12 Oscars, 7 Lilys, and 6 Sonias were shot down in exchange for 3 Wildcats and a Hurricane [This was based on the combat report. Japanese losses reflected in the Intel screen were about double these]. Similar results were obtained on the second and third days but by this point operational fighter strength on the carriers was down to one-third of normal. The bulk of the CAP support was now being provided from Cox’s Bazar which still had 81 operational fighters. Supplies were flowing to the troops at Akyab but the base still had not accumulated any surplus.

By the fifth day the CAP over Akyab was beginning to weaken and bombers were getting through. An xAK was hit twice and sunk but Japanese air losses remained high. The size of the strikes was nonetheless growing as the Japanese shifted more combat aircraft to bases within range of the targets. Allied fighters were maintaining a 4:1 kill ratio, Akyab engineers had built a small [level 1] port facility, and a small supply surplus had finally been accumulated [1,114]. With supplies now available, 31 Hurricanes were transferred to the Akyab airfields to provide more effective land based air cover.

No air attacks were made against Akyab on day six of Powder Horn, but days seven through nine saw heavy attacks with large numbers of escorts. Total sorties were 22 Zeros, 203 Oscars, 92 Nates, 45 Lilys, 6 Sonias, and 32 Sallys vs. 459 CAP sorties. No hits were scored. Akyab supplies had built up [to 26,531] and the transports had two days of unloading left. Engineers had managed to expand Akyab’s primitive port facilities further and this accelerated the supply transfers to shore. Smaller raids over the next three days seemed to indicate that Japanese air strength was waning; the only shipping damage suffered was a bomb hit by a lone search plane that had eluded CAP cover. On day 13 the carriers and transports withdrew and began the return transit to Colombo and Madras respectively.

On 3/26/43, the transports began reloading at Madras for a second supply run to Akyab. The carriers took on replacement aircraft at Colombo that had been ferried in in advance of the operation, and aircraft mechanics labored to return damaged air frames to service. Although no shipping targets had been available, the fighter pilots were gaining combat experience even more rapidly than they had in the Solomons fighting and US naval commanders’ objections to investing scarce carriers to this operation were softening. Their resolve was to harden again two days after the carriers and transports returned to Akyab. On 4/3/43, the pilot of a Sally that had been severely damaged by AA fire managed to crash his flaming plane onto the aft section of the Hornet’s flight deck. Casualties were heavy and the Hornet’s airborne CAP and ASW patrol aircraft had to divert to other carriers or air bases. Although the ship was in no danger of sinking [Sys 24, Flot 30, Eng 9] it was clear that carrier support of Powder Horn had been reduced at least temporarily by a third. But the British had promised to give damaged US carriers in Colombo’s shipyard and there was every expectation that the Hornet could be repaired and returned to service in a month or two.

The weaknesses in Powder Horn became evident when the ships withdrew after unloading. As soon as the carriers were outside of effective land based support, a strike by Betties and Zeros from Port Blair put two torpedoes into the damaged Hornet. The wounded carrier was in grave danger [Sys 61, Flot 40, Eng 32, Fire 4]; the risk of another successful air strike against her the next day influenced the task force commander to order best speed away from the Japanese air base and toward the safety of Colombo. But the increased hydrodynamic loads on the Hornet’s weakened bulkheads caused more failures and flooding and efforts to keep the ship afloat finally failed three days later.

With only two carriers left to support Akyab’s continuing supply convoy needs CINCPAC requested permission to suspend Powder Horn until all available CVEs and possibly an additional fleet carrier could be transferred but British government pressure again won out and ADM Kimmel was directed to continue the operation with the assets available. By concentrating bombing raids on the nearby Japanese airfields beginning a few days before the expected departure of the transport ships, a repeat of the Hornet disaster was avoided. Hugging the Burmese and Indian coasts until out of torpedo bomber range of Port Blair also helped although this added to the return transit time. Powder Horn did achieve its objective of restarting the stalled British and Indian drive through Burma.

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Post #: 56
War Career of the USS Seal - 8/24/2010 10:20:30 PM   
brhugo

 

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Part VIII: War Patrol “Routine”


The Seal returned to Darwin with a growing list of victories: 14,000 tons of shipping sunk [28 victory points] and damage inflicted three other merchants (not including the ramming victim). Due to the repairs required to the sub, this was not going to be a “quick turn-around” port visit and thus the crew had the opportunity to enjoy a few days of shore leave. As CDR Hurd had dreaded, there were also several personnel transfer orders waiting as the growing fleet continued to cannibalize its more experienced predecessors. CDR Hurd was half expecting to find receive his own transfer orders, but BUPERS and COMSUBPAC had been extending the tour lengths for submarine commanders that had proven sufficiently aggressive in taking the fight to the Japanese.

This Darwin visit was to prove to be the last for the Seal barring the unexpected need for an extended refit. The new allied base at the Shortlands had been expanded to include submarine repair and rearming facilities, and this was now the preferred forward base for boats in the Seal’s squadron. The same orders reassigning the Seal to the Shortlands included the location of her next patrol area: a return to the south Korea/ west Japan waters. Repairs were completed a day later than expected but no one got to enjoy an extra day of liberty because the crew had been kept within the confines of the sub’s pier due to the expectation that the yard birds would finally complete their work “within an hour or two.” The Seal finally pulled out of Darwin just after midnight on 4/26/43.

After a long transit the Seal settled into patrol routine in now familiar waters. Shipping had become scarce in this area but on 5/7/43 the Seal got lucky and was able to attack the unescorted xAKL Yamamizu Maru on the surface near Tokara Retto. The first two torpedo salvos missed, but with characteristic good gunnery marksmanship the Seal engaged the merchant ship and scored eleven shell hits. Return fire from the crew of the Yamamizu Maru was also accurate and the Seal took two hits. This time the damage reports were coherent and CDR Hurd remained on the surface to continue running down the merchant which was slowing losing way. A third torpedo salvo hit the target and the combination of gunfire and the torpedo hit proved to be fatal to the Yamamizu Maru. The Seal used up most of her 3 inch ammunition during this engagement.

With her general position now known to the Japanese, the only contacts the sub had for the next week and a half were patrol aircraft which shadowed her on three occasions, and one close encounter with convoy escorts that resulted in a lengthy depth charging but no damage. CDR Hurd shifted the boat daily within his assigned patrol area but was not able to generate any more contacts with the enemy despite the use of her surface search radar. Finally the Seal encountered a lone merchant (the xAK Noto Maru) and hit her with two torpedoes of a four torpedo spread in a daylight submerged attack; the quartermaster good several photos of the merchant in her death throes as she settled bow first beneath the choppy East China Sea.

With fuel and provisions running low, the Seal radioed squadron that she was leaving her patrol area and heading to the Shortlands. CDR Hurd hoped that an opportunity would arise to attack shipping during the return transit but on this leg of the trip there weren’t even any air contacts.

The Seal received a new surface search radar set during her port visit, and this added a full week to what would otherwise have been a brief refueling stop. Although squadron had made an effort to provide comfortable accommodations and recreation for the idled crew, it certainly wasn’t Darwin or Perth. The Seal’s sailors had to be content with memories of previous port visits while resting on cots in tents of canvas and netting. The crew did enjoy one beer ball game with another submarine crew but didn’t otherwise miss the primitive port when their boat pulled out to return to her previous patrol area.

Japanese merchant traffic seemed to vary widely from week to week. The Nav/Ops boss tried to identify a pattern that would allow the Seal to be in the right place for attacks but this innovation led nowhere. The new radar didn’t seem any more effective than the old one; the Seal spent a lot of time and fuel chasing down contacts at night only to have them vanish from the scope. Finally traffic picked up again for a few days: following a successful approach on the xAK Muroran Maru, two of four torpedoes in a salvo hit and exploded, sending the hapless merchant to the bottom. Three days later, xAK Fushimi Maru receives similar treatment, three torpedoes hit and two exploded.

Hunting was poor again for the next month. Then on 7/21/43 after stalking a convoy for days, the Seal managed to put a torpedo into xAK Fukoku Maru. A brief look through the scope revealed that the ship was in flames but an approaching escort forced the Seal to dive deep to avoid attack. No breaking up noises were heard and it appeared that the damaged merchant had remained afloat long enough to reach port. The patrol area off the south coast of Korea remained well traveled and the Seal sank the unescorted xAK Keisyou Maru in a prolonged night action. Like the Fukoku Maru nine days earlier, this merchant refused to sink following the first two torpedo hits, but five 3” shell hits and one more torpedo finished the job.

The rest of July 43 and most of August was nothing but trouble for the Seal. Following her successful attack on the Keisyo Maru, CDR Hurd moved the ship to a new area only to find the escorts to be more plentiful than the prey. On 8/2/43 she was detected by E Hatsutaka and forced to break off an approach on a convoy; although the Hatsutaka banged away with sonar for several hours, the Seal was spared a depth charging. On 8/8/43 the Seal found herself in the same predicament, this time hunted by DD Tanikaze but again no ordnance was dropped on her. At this point in the war the Seal had the highest experience rating of any US submarine [73/68].

With fuel and stores running low, the Seal radioed squadron to prepare for her return and was surprised to be directed to make her port call at Rabaul!

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War Career of the USS Seal - 8/28/2010 3:40:25 AM   
brhugo

 

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Part IX: A Vice Around Rabaul


Battleship and cruiser task forces had been periodically bombarding Rabaul since the weeks long Battle of the Solomons; with the Shortlands base expanded to allow rearming of the Navy’s heaviest gun platforms, the frequency of these visits had increased due to the reduced transit time. Kavieng was occasionally bombarded also although the primary means of suppressing its airfields was land based bombers. Carrier aircraft and land based bombers stationed at Gasmata and the Shortlands helped to prevent resupply convoys from reaching the garrison at Rabaul.

By 5/12/43 the troops landed at Gasmata had forced their way through the New Britain jungle to the outskirts of Rabaul, driving the former defenders of that smaller base ahead of them. To cut off a possible Japanese retreat from the base, these troops divided and made their final approached from both the West and Southwest.

The first direct assault on Rabaul came a few days after additional troops were landed amphibiously. The first assault achieved a 3:1 ratio but the defenders were well dug-in despite the weeks of aerial and naval bombardment that preceded this first attack. Still, the fortifications around the base were breached in several locations. Direct assaults over the next two days were less successful although Japanese losses (as a percentage of total troops) were slightly higher.

On 5/18 allied troops pulled back slightly to allow a series of naval bombardments to pound the defenders’ positions. Battleships hammered away on 5/18 followed by cruiser bombardments on 5/19 and 5/21. With the allied troops somewhat rested from the intense fighting a few days earlier, a pre-dawn assault was ordered and Rabaul was finally overrun with 8:1 odds. As expected, there was extensive damage to the piers (100%) and air base facilities (92%) and the runways were so cratered (79%) as to be unsafe for immediate use. Within hours of the Japanese withdrawal into the surrounding jungle, bulldozers driven by Construction Battalion personnel were moving onto the torn up air fields.

Eliminating the surviving Japanese so that the allied troops could be used for the invasion of the Dutch East Indies proved to be much more difficult than dislodging them had. An attack made at 10:1 odds on 5/24 resulted in 1,767 allied casualties, which exceeded those inflicted on the defenders. Reasoning than all potential supply routes to the Japanese troops had been eliminated, allied commanders directed that attacks on the Japanese be limited to bombardment while the ground troops planned for their next offensives.

The Rabaul airfields were fully operational on 5/27 and the port air airfield facilities were completely repaired by 5/30. Most submarine operations were shifted from the Shortlands to Rabaul to take advantage of the better facilities there. Cosntruction crews continued to work on the runways, expanding them significantly on 6/15 [size 7 airfield] , 6/21 [size 8] and 6/28 [size 9].

The “reverse siege” continued until 7/6/43 when the decision had to be made to either withdraw troops from Rabaul to support other operations or to resume heavy fighting until the Japanese troop threat was eliminated. Since the first option would have required leaving a substantial garrison to protect the base, the troops were ordered to assault the Japanese hiding in the jungles. The first assault (at 15:1) inflicted 1,939 casualties in return for 1,900 received but subsequent attacks were made with less allied loss. On 7/7, an attack at 50:1 resulted in 870 allied casualties, on 7/8 an attack at 100:1 resulted in 731. Finally on 7/11 the remaining Japanese defenders made a frenzied charge and were eliminated. The only enemy soldiers captured were those too badly injured to resist.

The estimated casualties in the Rabaul land campaign, from initial assault through mop-up, were 10,600 allied and 43,000 Japanese.

Attachment (1)

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War Career of the USS Seal - 9/6/2010 3:31:43 AM   
brhugo

 

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Part X: On the Enemy’s Home Turf


The Seal arrived at Rabaul and reprovisioned there on 8/21/43 before making the long transit to her patrol area off the south coast of Korea. The return trip was uneventful except for the need to crash dive after being spotted by a Japanese long range patrol plane. The action began soon after the Seal arrived in her patrol area. Perhaps the Japanese had shifted their shipping routes into this area based on the lack of submarine sighting, but the Seal was back and on 8/30/43 put three torpedoes into the xAK Atlas Maru with one failing to explode. The escort E Fuyo counterattacked and subjected the Seal to a seven-hour depth charging that was terminated only by the Japanese ship expending all of its depth charges. The Seal avoided damage in this engagement other than some severely frayed crewmember nerves. CDR Hurd suspected that the damage to the merchant would prove fatal and this was later confirmed by Naval Intelligence.

This patrol area, which had seemed so barren only a month earlier, was now a target-rish environment. Only two days after the attack on the Atlas Maru, the Seal’s radar operator detected a single, slow contact closing from the east. The sub remained on the surface to attack when the contact proved to be a small freighter (the xAKL Mitsuri Maru). The Mitsuri Maru was small and nimble enough to evade the Seal’s torpedoes, but the 3” gun crew did manage to put three shells into the target before an airborne contact forced the boat to dive to avoid a counterattack. Three days later the Seal made a submerged attack on a convoy approaching from the same general direction, putting two torpedoes into the xAK Liverpool Maru before being driven deep by the E Hatsutaka. The Seal avoided a depth charge attack but the Liverpool Maru was able to limp to safety when one of the two hits proved to be a dud.

On 9/5/43 the Seal conducted her fourth attack in a single week when she put a torpedo into the TK Ryoei Maru. Again she was forced off by an escort (E Tsuta) but avoided a depth charge attack and again the target survived to reach a friendly port.

For the rest of September, the Seal’s contacts consisted exclusively of ASW craft and air patrols. The PB Shonan Maru #2 prosecuted her on 9/8/43 and managed to drop a depth charge close enough to rattle the #1 trim pump which seized and tripped its circuit breaker [3% system damage]. Then less than a week later a radar contact turned out to be the E Nuwashima which bore down on the diving sub and ensonified the water for hours with her sonar but never became confident enough of her contact to drop any ordnance. Although she had enough torpedoes ton shells left to take on a ship or two, the Seal had to return to Rabaul for refueling and left her patrol area for that purpose on 9/30/43.

The Seal was now the most experienced allied submarine [day 75, night 68] and had sunk 44,700 tons of enemy shipping [worth 88 victory points] and had sent seven other ships limping back to port.

(in reply to brhugo)
Post #: 59
RE: War Career of the USS Seal - 9/6/2010 2:27:06 PM   
nicwb

 

Posts: 275
Joined: 4/26/2010
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quote:

The Seal was now the most experienced allied submarine [day 75, night 68] and had sunk 44,700 tons of enemy shipping [worth 88 victory points] and had sent seven other ships limping back to port.


A Presidential Unit citation for the Seal ?

(in reply to brhugo)
Post #: 60
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