From: Toledo, Ohio
19 December 1941, Southeast of Amani Shima
LT(jg) DJ Haskins is standing his usual mid-watch on the bridge of Swordfish. Suddenly a flash of light catches his eye off to the north
“Did you see that?”, Dan asks Seaman Torres who is on the bridge next to him.
“Yeah”, replied Torres. “What was it?”
“I think it was a blinker light”, Haskins replied as he was peering in the direction from which it came. He focused on the bit of ocean that was the source and finally could make out the shape of a ship.
Dan leaned over to the sound tube that lead to the control room and pratically shouted, “Captain to the bridge, enemy ships off the port bow”.
Almost instantly the ship came to life as Dan could hear the movement of men below him. It only took a few minutes, but by the time LCDR Smith reached the bridge Dan had identified the Japanese force as containing at least three destroyers escorting either a tanker or an oiler. As the skipper took Torres' place beside him, Dan directed him to the direction of the enemy ships.
“There, sir”, Dan pointed. “I caught the flash of a blinker light a few minutes ago. “
“Good job, Dan”, Smith replied as he scanned the seas to the north. “Looks like a fleet oiler being escorted by some tin cans. “ He leaned into the sound tube and barked, “Control Room, make your course 315. Sound Battle Stations, torpedo and prepare to dive!”
Instantly the bridge crew began securing all the top side gear and rushed below decks as the sub heeled over to the port. LCMDR Smith was the last man down the ladder as Torres dogged the hatch.
“LT Phelps take us down. Make you depth 0-6-0 feet, course 315, speed 7 kts”, Smith ordered calmy.
“Aye, sir. Depth 0-6-0, course 315, speed 7 kts”, replied Phelps. The 1MC blared the dive warning as Chief Schmidts directed the opening of valves and the proper angle of the boats's bow planes. In a matter of just a few minutes, Swordfish had settled in at 60 feet.
“Up scope”, ordered Smith. “There she is: fat and sassy. LT Phelps......” he said as he backed away to allow the XO a chance to see the target.
Phelps whistled, “Fat and sassy. Indeed. Thats an oiler for sure and a big one to boot”.
Swordfish was almost perfectly positioned for the attack . Two of the three destroyers were on the far side of the oiler as she approached. The destroyer on the engaged side had just reversed course and was trailing away from the sub passing left to right. Smith ordred the boat in to 3000 yards before ordering the torpedos to be fired. Stop watches were watched intently as the nearly two minutes it took for the torpedos to travel to the oiler slow passed. Chief Stevens was standing next to the sonarman who was listening closely through his headphones. The anticipated explosion didn't occur as the calculated moment of impact passed in silence.
“Two of the torps stopped running, sir”, the sonarman called out. “I thought I heard something, though. Kinda like a bell ringing”. Suddenly he shouted, “The destroyers have all sped up, sir. I think the spotted the torpedoes. Bearing of the destroyers changing. They are turning towards us!”
“Down scope”, Smith blurted with frustration. “Mr Phelps make your depth 3-0-0, course 2-8-0, speed 5 kts”. LT Phelps repeated the skipper's order back and the sub settled into the depths. The destroyers began dropping depth charges far off to Swordfish's stern. LCDR Smith had to make a few course adjustments to be sure, but it was not long before it was obvious that the Japanese had no idea where the sub really was. Still, it was the boat's first depth charge attack ever and the shock of the explosions even at a distance gave more than one man the worst scare of his life.
In twenty minutes, it was over. Smith ordered the boat back up to periscope depth only after he was sure the destroyers were at a safe distance. Unfortunately, the AO was no longer in sight. The skipper ordered the boat to the surface and once he was sure everythign was secure withdrew with Lt Phelps to his cabin. Dan knew what they were talking about. The Swordfish had attacked a lightly escorted cargo ship two days ago with similar results. Despite what seemed to be flawless calculations, all their torpedos had missed. And what was that “bell” sound the sonarman had heard?
< Message edited by vettim89 -- 12/14/2011 6:10:29 AM >
"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry