From: Toledo, Ohio
5 May 1942, Celebes Sea
USS Shark is on her fifth trip around the Celebes Circuit heading east just north of Sangi. LT DJ Haskins is standing the Morning Watch on her bridge.
“Bridge, RADAR reports multiple contacts bearing 340, range 15,000 yards,” a nameless voice calls though the 7MC.
“Aye,” Haskins replies, “inform the captain and get a plot going”
DJ scans the dark ocean for any shapes along the indicated bearing. So far there is no sign of the contacts. After a few minutes, LCDR Shane calls up for a sighting report. DJ tells him there is no ships in sight along in the suspect area. The boat begins to pick up speed and changes course. Shane informs the bridge that they are trying to get into firing position ahead of the contacts which now apear to be some sort of convoy on nearly exactly an easterly course. The skipper calls up every three or four minutes to verify there are no ships in view. It is an odd experience for Haskins as he only knows what little information is being passed up to him. He really wants to descend down to the control room to get a peak at the plotting board for just a second, but he knows that would ruin his night vision to the point of uselessness for a good half hour at least.
The run east continues for almost an hour. Finally Shane calls up to order the bridge crew below. DJ slides down the ladder and verifies the hatch is properly dogged. The control room is dark with online the red lights on so as to not affect night vision. LCDR Shane orders the ship to dive.
“Aye sir,” Haskins says. “Dive, dive. Make your depth 0-6-0 feet, course 2-9-0, speek 5 kts. Sound General Quarters, Torpedo”
The orders are repeated as the crew already is opening valves and adjusting the boat's course. speed, and trim. After a few minutes, Shark has leveled off at periscope depth on the proprer course. Shane has once again steered a very wide course around the Japanese convoy. DJ is afraid they will miss this group just like the last due to Shane's caution. After 25 minutes, the enemy is finally sighted.
“Contact, bearing 2-9-0,” Shane says while peering through the periscope. “Looks like some sort fo patrol craft. Wait, there's more. One......two ...... three tankers in line behind her. There's a destroyer too off their starboard beam. Take a look, Mr. Haskins.”
DJ steps up to the scope and takes a look. He verifies the skipper's sightings. Range appears to be about 8,000 yards.
“Destroyer appears to be a Kagero class, sir,” he says.
Shane looks at the Identification Book and nods in agreement.
“Let's try to get in position to get a shot at that first tanker,” Shane says
They alter the course just slightly. The destroyer is going to be a problem. The need to time their approach to coincide with the time the destroyer countermarches to the aft end of the convoy. They have the shot set. Shane takes one last peak through the scope.
“Check, check,” he says, “the convoy is changing course the northeast. I don't think they see us. I think its a planned zig-zag. Crap, here comes that destroyer. New target. Bearing 264, mark; speed 20 kts, mark.”
Ensign Beasley quickly enters the new data into the Torpedo Fire Control system. DJ has been drilling him hard during this cruise and it pays off now. He has a new solution entered and calculated in less than 30 seconds.
“Fire solution, plotted and ready,” Beasley calls out.
Shane calls out the final adjusts as Beasley turns the dials accordingly.
“Fire one, fire two, fire three, fire four,” the skipper calls out.
Beasley repeats and the crew feels a slight bump as the compressed air pushes each torpedo from it's tube.
“Four torpedos running true,” the SONAR operator calls out.
Shane, Haskins and Beasley all have their attention fixed on their stop watches. The running time should only be about 80 seconds. It seems like an eternity. Once again the calculated time passes and there is no indication of an explosion.
SONAR, torpedo status?” Shane asks
“I can only hear two, the other two stopped running a few seconds ago,” he says. “Change on target angle and increase screw count!”
“Mr. Haskins, take her deep!” Shane says urgently
“Aye sir, 20 degrees down on all planes, new depth 2-8-0, course 2-2-0, speed 10 kts,” DJ shouts out.
The orders are repeated and the boat begins to dive. LCDR Shane and DJ had prearranged an evasive plan for this kind of situation. The preset orders saved precious seconds in getting the submarine safely away from an enemy attacker if they were detected.
“Depth charges in the water!” the SONAR man practically screams out.
“New course 2-6-5, all ahead full,” DJ orders in hopes of moving away from the explosive charges now sinking down upon them.
The charges explode. One of them is close off the port beam. The sub heels to starboard and the lights blink for a moment.
“Flooding in the engine room,” OJ Moss's voice says over the 1MC. “Its minor. We have it under control”
“Maintain present course and speed,” Shane says
The destroyer circles around for a second attack. The depth charges drop just as Shark falls below 150 feet which is the calculated point of the thermocline.
Once again one of the charge goes off close astern. The stern is lifted up and the boat takes a dangerously steep negative trim.
“Full up angle on the bow planes,” DJ orders.
The boat slowly recovers and assumes a level plane once again. The destroyer has now obviously lost them. The depth charges keep falling but are progressively further and further behind them. Shane orders the speed slowed to a creep as they slip away from their attacker. Damage reports indicate the outer door on two of teh port tubes has been damged. The tubes cannot be opened to reload. Shane orders best speed for Perth. The boat's damage is minor otherwise, but there is no point in continueing on with half of it's forward torpedo battery out of commission.
"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry