In remembering this mission, each of us should consider the significance of the event, what it stands for and, most important, the debt that our country owes to the men and women of World War II who gave their lives for freedom. These were the best of times and the worst of times! - Dub
WAR AND REMEMBRANCE
THE MIGHTY MINE DODGERS
* SAGA OF THE SEA DOG *
SEA OF JAPAN
JUNE 4-25, 1945
Date: August 1, 1998
I want to express my good fortune in having had Max J. Thibodeaux, Jr., my brother-in -law, to edit this book. As a writer and history buff. . . especially the history of World War II. . . he helped me to select the right words and put these words in readable form that enabled me to relate an event in history in which I, during the innocence of my youth, had the extreme honor of being a part of.
Much has been written on the subject of submarines in the Sea of Japan, but few, if ever, by people who were actually there and have given first hand accounts of their thoughts, fears, concerns and how they personally fared through this dangerous adventure. Most people have a general idea of the great contribution made by our submarine force in defeating Japan, but, because of the secretive nature of the operations of the submarine force in the Pacific area during World War II, very little information was released to the general public as it could have given the enemy a better insight into our overall operation plans.
With so many of our submarines operating alone, it would have been very dangerous if the enemy had any type of information that would have given them an idea of what we were up to. Therefore, the name SILENT SERVICE, is very appropriate as it left few outside the Submarine Service with the slightest knowledge of the problems, the fears, hopes and thoughts.....in moments of intense danger.....shared by the men who served so gallantly in this dangerous struggle to preserve freedom throughout the world.
I feel that we are letting a very important part of our Naval History pass us by in not letting more people know of this dangerous and historical adventure we were involved in..... conceiving the plan, planning the mission and executing the mission into the SEA of JAPAN. If no one passes this information on to our children, grandchildren and others, it will die with us and be lost forever. Remember what I have said, only we, the ones who shared this most dangerous of experiences, really know what happened.
This kind of information can come only from us, the men who lived it moment-to-moment and shared our most private thoughts and fears only with our shipmates. That submarine warfare was dangerous, can be attested to by the loss of 52 boats, out of our submarine force in the Pacific theater, during the struggle to ultimately defeat Japan.
I have no doubt that this mission into the Sea of Japan will go down in history as one of the greatest planned Naval operations of all time. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief Pacific theater (CincPac ) and Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood Commander Submarines Pacific (ComSubPac), on many occasions, have expressed this as their personal opinion about this turning point in the war, and they are the ones , beyond all others, who should know.
The purpose of this remembrance is to give those who were not there a better insight into some of the operations we were involved in and were not made public, outside of the Submarine Service. There were some things that happened that only a few of our shipmates knew about or even suspected. As we gained entrance to the Sea of Japan, we were well aware that the Japanese would cover all of our possible escape routes. It was not a simple mission and it was our duty to do the best job we possibly could, with the stark realization that in the end we could possibly be trapped within the Sea of Japan and destroyed.
By: Willie Z. "Dub" Noble
In late 1943 ComSubPac was looking for something that would convince Japan of the futility of continuing the war. From past experience with the Japanese war machine, it was known that as long as one man was there to fight the war would continue. This would cause many unnecessary casualties to our American Forces. We had to find a way to cut off their supplies to lower morale to the point where the Japanese people would demand stopping the fighting. The best way to do this was to cut off their food and military supplies from China and Korea. The U.S. Navy War College at Newport, Rhode Island believed that as long as Japan had a supply line she could not be defeated. To achieve this objective, it was necessary to gain access to the Sea of Japan.
Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Commander Submarines Pacific (ComSubPac), also believed that there was a need to get submarines into the Sea of Japan. All of the supplies going to Japan were being transported on ships, and targets outside the Sea of Japan were drying up. The Japanese, aware that the passes were deep enough for submarines, mined the area. It became increasingly difficult to devise a workable plan to gain entry and exit the passage ways. Admiral Lockwood assigned Commander Barney Sieglaff, to head up the research and help devise a plan for executing the perilous mission into the Sea of Japan. The plan was given the code name "Operation Barney".
As the plans for invading the Sea of Japan approached finality, the international situation changed with the surrender of Germany. Most people thought Russia should come in and help us to defeat Japan. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief Pacific (CinCPac), was told that Russia had agreed,. . . . . at the Potsdam conference from July 17 through August 2, 1945. . . . . to come into the war in three months after the surrender of Germany. Admiral Lockwood was directed by CinCPac to divide up the Sea of Japan into areas where the U.S. Navy would operate and where the Russian Navy would operate.
The Pacific Submarine Command did not relish the idea of dividing up the territory of the Sea of Japan with Russia as we were having enough problems preventing fatal mistakes by our own people. If we could not successfully indoctrinate our own surface ships and airplanes in identification of U. S. submarines, how could we hope to educate the Russians? All CinCPac wanted from Russia was to grant United States submarines permission to dock in the port of Vladivostok and take refuge in the event one of our submarines became disabled. This change of events put a lot of pressure on the planners of Operation Barney to complete preparations as soon as possible without outside assistance or hindrance.
Many months before the boats made the actual run through the minefields of Tsushima Straits, a group of nine boats were picked for this perilous job. During the last week of May 1945, the boats were ordered to proceed to Guam for final preparations. The nine boats were equipped with outside and inside equipment necessary to make the perilous trip through the treacherous mine fields. FM Sonar, the latest underwater sonar mine detecting gear perfected especially for this trip, was installed. Many days were spent testing and learning how the equipment would work and how dependable it would be.
Very quickly it was determined that the mine detecting equipment could be extremely temperamental and could give confusing information. With practice it was learned that we could pick out what was mines and what was false echoes. Admiral Lockwood and Commander Barney worked with all the boats while making practice runs learning how to use the mine detecting equipment.
The Seahorse was one of the original, nine boats picked to go into the Sea of Japan. Due to a terrific pounding by the Japanese, for 16 hours in the East China Sea, the Seahorse suffered considerable damage to the periscope, radio, radar equipment, and caused numerous leaks throughout the boat. Due to the damage, she was not able to join in the mission. This was a terrible blow to her skipper, Commander H.H. Greer Jr. The FM Sonar equipment was transferred from the Seahorse to the Sea Dog.
On July 2, 1998, Lieutenant Commander James P. Lynch (Captain USN, RTD), Executive Officer of the Sea Dog, passed the following information on to me:. . . . .
"The Sea Dog was refitting in Guam and the decision was made by Vice Admiral Lockwood to transfer the FM Sonar Mine detection equipment to the Sea Dog and have the Sea Dog replace the Seahorse. This was accomplished on an emergency basis and the Sea Dog commenced a frantic period of approximately one week learning to operate the FM Sonar, under the guidance of Commander Barney Siegloff. A practice minefield had been set up offshore, just west of Guam, to afford realistic conditions for our training in using the FM Sonar mine detecting equipment."
"When the Sea Dog joined Operation Barney, Commander Hydeman became the senior Commanding Officer in the nine submarine group and commander of the operation at sea."
"Although the purpose of Operation Barney was very closely held, the CO and EO of the Sea Dog were well aware of what was expected. We were concerned that the last minute substitution of the Sea Dog had not provided sufficient experience with the operation and maintenance of the FM Sonar. In spite of our qualms, CDR Siegloff gave us his unqualified endorsement, after personally observing our short training period at Guam."
"So, in the course of two weeks time, the Sea Dog went from what was to be a normal refit, in preparation for a routine fourth war patrol, to the lead submarine in the war's most adventurous and daring submarine operation."
A 1 1/4 inch steel cable was installed. . . . . on each of the nine boats from the tip of the bow planes and stern planes to a point on boat forward. . . . . to deflect any anchored mine cables from being drawn down onto the boats by the bow and stern planes. This did not guarantee that a mine could not be caught and pulled down on us. With strong side currents it would be possible to pull a mine down on us by the boat being pushed sideways.
The group of submarines that went into the Sea of Japan were known as "The Mighty Mine Dodgers" They were officially called "Hydeman's Hell Cats" and referred to as Operation Barney. The nine boats were organized into three groups with three boats in each group. . . . .ydeman's Hep Cats;
Sea Dog Commander Earl T. Hydeman --- Flagship
Lieutenant Commander James P. Lynch, Executive Officer
Crevalle Commander Everett H. Steinmetz
Spadefish Commander William J. Germershausen
Pierce's Pole Cats;
Tunny Commander George E. Pierce
Skate Commander Richard B. Lynch
Bonefish Commander Lawrence L. Edge
Risser's Bob Cats;
Flying Fish Commander Robert D. Risser
Bowfin Commander Alexander K. Tryee
Tinosa Commander Richard C. Latham
On the evening of Monday, May 27 we were tied up along side our submarine tender, Apollo, in Apra Harbor, located on the West side of Guam. Some of our officers were having a going away party with Admiral Lockwood and his staff, so we were having a party of our own. I don't remember who was topside behind the conning tower that evening, but those who were there will remember it.....although they may not remember going below and hitting the sack.
A group of us were sitting on deck behind the conning tower when someone came up with some cans of fruit juice and a bottle of clear liquid. He put them on the deck and opened one of the cans of pineapple juice, poured some in a glass and poured some of the clear stuff into it. The rest of us did the same. Believe me, you did not want too much of that clear stuff (pure medical alcohol) in the juice. When we ran out of pineapple juice, someone went down to the galley and looked for more. . . . . but there wasn't any left. He brought up several cans of yellow cling peaches in heavy syrup juice. We got rid of the peaches and mixed the juice with the medical alcohol. If you were not there, you have no idea what this concoction was like.
The next morning Monday, May 28th, at 0400 we left Guam for our mission in the Sea of Japan. We must have gotten hold of a bad can of peach juice because I don't remember leaving the Apallo. That ' ;# @ % & * $ peach juice sure did me in. In fact, I did not wake up until that afternoon and oh, what a headache. I would not recommend that type of liquid refreshment to anyone on any occasion.
The rank and file of the crew knew that something big was up, but none of us were sure what it was. There was much speculation. Probably some of the crew guessed where we were going and the objective of the mission. In the afternoon of the first day out of Guam, Captain Hydeman opened the sealed orders, informed us of our destination and the dangers involved. As I remember the feeling of hearing the news, it was just too much to comprehend at the moment. There wasn't too much talk about our projected destination for awhile. After the initial shock, you would see small groups discussing our plight. This worked itself out to where all of the crew had a very positive attitude of what we were up against.. . . . .
From the Sea Dog's patrol log
"On Monday, May 28, at 1230. H.L. Wilson, QM2/c. commenced showing symptoms of catarrh fever or possible pneumonia. Commenced prescribed treatment for the latter, including sulfadiazine. By 1930, patient was having problems breathing: definite moist rales evidenced in lower lungs. Sent request to ComSubPac for plane at 0700 tomorrow, and commenced administering oxygen as a precaution".
"By Tuesday, May 29 at 0300, definite improvement in patient, temperature down to normal again (from 103 deg. of eight hours ago), oxygen no longer necessary. The feeling was that the patient still needed to be transferred for proper recovery and recuperation. Received word from ComSubPac that plane transfer impracticable, and orders to rendezvous with the destroyer, U.S.S. LAMSON at 1700. We sighted LAMSON at 1620 and they came along side the Sea Dog at 1650. By 1655 the patient was exchanged to the Lamson and we were underway at 1657..There was very efficient exchange operation by the LAMSON. As we departed with no loss of time, to continue our mission, we took advantage of the occasion to get some radar tracking and gun pointing drills."
Enroute to the Tsushima Strait, the Tinosa picked up 10 airmen from a downed B-29. When the airmen found out where we were going, they were unanimous in their desire to be put back into their rubber life boats and take their chances on the open sea. Arrangements were made for the airmen to be transferred to the Scabbardfish which had completed its patrol and was returning to Guam.
Evading the mine fields and the escape from the Sea of Japan, through the La Perouse Strait, was considered by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz as one of the most difficult and dangerous submarine operations of the war. Admiral Nimitz said,. . . . .
"It was one of the best planned and successful blows against the Japanese Empire. The objective of this operation was to cut Japan off from the Asiatic mainland whence came her absolutely essential raw materials, petroleum, food and other supplies that she was receiving from China and Korea."
The Sea Dog had problems that began early during our mission. On the way to Tsushima Strait, our radar went out about a day before we arrived to begin our deadly cat and mouse game with the mine fields. The Crevalle guided us through the fog and bad weather to the strait by use of their radar and short range radio communication. When we arrived our radar technician had the radar working properly.
In the early morning of Monday, June 4, 1945, the first group of subs, Hydeman's Hep Cats, entered the Nishi Suido (west channel) of Tsushima Strait and the mine fields protecting entry into the Sea of Japan. On Tuesday, June 5, Pierce's Pole Cats, and on Wednesday, June 6, Risser's Bob Cats began their trek through the deadly minefields. The plan was for the boats to enter the minefields at a depth greater than 150 feet.
On July 2, 1998, Captain Lynch and I were discussing this event and his observations and comments were: . . . . .
Sea Dog was to be the lead submarine traversing the straits and precise navigation was essential. So, it was with great relief when our radar technician succeeded in repairing the SJ in time for the EO, who was the boat navigator, to accretion, with precision, the planned position to commence the submerged passage through the straits."
"The malfunction of the radar was a most serious development, since
"The passage through the straits will always remain one of the most vivid of my wartime experiences. I knew from the intelligence reports, that three Anti Submarine Warfare mine fields were present in the straits. We were depending on the FM Sonar to locate any mines so that Sea Dog could maneuver to avoid. During our submerged passage through the straits, the FM Sonar gear appeared to be functioning normally. The CO and I divided the time in transit, monitoring the FM Sonar and navigating the straits. At no time did the FM Sonar make a positive contact on a mine. On one of my "off watch" periods, I was in my bunk when I heard what sounded like a cable scraping alongside the hull. I held my breath and prayed."
After reflecting a moment and giving a sigh of relief Captain Lynch continued,. . . . .
Sea Dog, detected several mines on their FM Sonar. Had Sea Dog passed through gaps in the minefields or were we just lucky??"
"I was never more relieved, than when we surfaced after completing the transit and opened the hatch to let in the sweet night air. We had compensated accurately for the current and were right on schedule. Our immediate task was to charge batteries and get on station."
"The amazing postscript to the story of our passage through the straits was that all of the other eight boats that followed the
The following is the author's personal observations and opinion regarding the FM Sonar incident. . . . .
"We did not just pass through gaps in the minefields because I have too many reports of a cable scraping along the side. As for not detecting any mines with the FM Sonar equipment, I do feel and always have, that the equipment developed a defect and was not working properly while we were traversing the straits, and this has been my sentiments since we made the trip through the mine fields, with no HELLS BELLS. Lucky? Yes!!"
When we began our run through the mine fields Captain Hydeman highly suggested that all personnel, not on watch, stay in their respective bunks to prevent any form of confusion, and to conserve oxygen as we would be submerged for a longer time than usual. If for some reason we would be forced to remain submerged as we entered the Sea of Japan, we could run short of oxygen.
On July 11, 1998, I received a letter from Ivan Nicodemus, TM3/c, with some comments about the problems with the FM Mine detecting system:. . . . .
Sea Dog never picked up one single mine on the FM Sonar while going into the Sea of Japan. AND no one can convince me that we were not just lucky. I am positive that Captain Hydeman knew it wasn't working, when we left Guam. The BRASS had turned down his request for two more days for repairs and testing the FM Sonar mine detecting gear."
"Going through those mine fields on the way into the Sea of Japan was hair raising. The scariest part was the expressions on the faces of the crew. They were scared too . . . . and none of us were aware that the "Hells Bells" were not working.
The Sea Dog had no contacts with mines that showed up on the FM Sonar scope. We did have a cable scrape along our side. . . . .a most weird sound and feeling.. Bob Swain, EM3/c, on April 13, 1998, described it as follows. . . . .
"When I came off watch, I crawled into my sack, as suggested by Captain Hydeman, and assumed the fetal position, expecting anything to happen at any moment It was then that I heard the awaful sound of that mine cable scraping down the starboard side. It sounded like someone dragging a wire across an old tin can. It hung up momentarily and then went on dragging on back aft. I believe this cable may have something to do with loosening the cable protecting the starboard stern plane."
On June 20, 1998 (53 years after the mission) Wayne "Bus" Zimmerman, EM1/c, told me,. . . . .
Sea Dog birthday party in Portsmouth, NH, that I was made aware that our mine detecting gear had gone out while we were in the mine fields. Lt. Comdr. Jim Lynch asked me, 'What did you guys think when you heard the mine cables scrape the hull?' My comment to that was, I expected the mine tracking party knew what was going on, so I was not unduly concerned. He replied, 'Our Mine Detecting equipment had malfunctioned and was not working. "Had I known at the time, BIG CONCERN." After all these years, now I know why the HELLS BELLS, did not ring on the Sea Dog."
"I recall: long hours transcending the southern entrance to the Sea of Japan, explosions at a distance and we were concerned about the two other boats going in with us. Later we were told the Japs were blasting on the beach to install a large battery of guns."
"It was not until our 50th,
It was known that even if the diversion cables on the bow and stern planes worked properly, the side currents could push us over so far it would pull a mine down on top of us and explode. The current was running into the Sea of Japan between 3 and 4 knots. This would automatically have had the mines pulled down and the mine anchoring cables leaning at roughly 25 to 35 degrees.
If we should be going to the right or left of the current direction and should have to make a sudden turn and a cable should be on the bow on the down current side, the current could push us to a point where the mine would have been pulled onto the boat. This would have been especially bad if we would have slowed down our forward speed. During our run through the mine fields, this very real possibility was not shared with the crew. Personally, while off duty watch, I slept most of the way through the mine fields.
The mission was not without some anxious moments. A few hours after submerging, we heard several explosions in the distance. Minutes later, we heard nine more explosions which shook us up a little, followed by six additional explosions. We had no idea what caused the explosions or where they were coming from. Our concern was the Crevalle and Spadefish. Were they being depth charged and if so, how did they fair out? With these thoughts it did not help our already anxious spirits. Years later it was learned that there were rock quarries on the two Tsushima Islands in the strait. Rock blasting was taking place and the reverberations were carried through the water, sounding like depth charges or exploding mines in the distance.
The Skate had a hair raising event with a mine located 400 yards ahead, and then the mines cable scraping very hard from the bow to the stern of the boat. The Tinosa had a similar incident happen to them. They ran upon a mine and could not maneuver to miss it. They stopped their motors so the screws would not turn and catch the mine cable. After scraping along the starboard side, the cable slowly slid to the stern, past the stern planes, the screws and finally off the sub.
By night fall, on Wednesday, June 6, 1945, the nine boats were in the Sea of Japan.. All of our boats got in undetected and without damage. Our orders stated that we could not let our boats be seen or fire a torpedo until June 9, at sundown. This gave each boat ample time to get into their assigned position and relax a little before the anticipated fireworks.
On Saturday, June 9, 1945, the fireworks began a few minutes after the sundown deadline at 2000. We were just preparing to surface, about 10 miles northeast of Hime Sake light on Sado Island, when the sonar man reported medium screws. Captain Hydeman swung the periscope and sighted the target, a medium freighter of about 2,500 tons, 250 feet long, similar to the Hozan Maru class, running with running lights on. . . . . without a care in the world. . . . . at steady course of 205T, at 8 knots which would take it to Kyoto, Japan. Within minutes we fired one torpedo at 2015-15 from range of 1,200 yards. At 2015-45 we were jarred by the concussion from a direct hit forward. The ship sank in 60 seconds. . . . . a pretty good dive, even for a submarine.
We surfaced at 2023, and saw two life boats astern of the ship just sunk. At 2023-15, "S-J contact, bearing 060 true...10,000 yards...Wow, oh-boy, a saturation pip, Captain," said the radar man. "Bring her around to course 135," said the Captain. "Keep the ranges coming in. Tell forward torpedo room to make ready all tubes."
This "saturation pip" was a large fully loaded 10,500 ton tanker, similar to the Nissyo Maru class, 550 feet long and headed on course 40T which would take it close to Akita, Japan. This type of tanker sometimes took a lot of sinking. Three torpedoes were fired from the bow tubes, spread, 200 feet between torpedoes. Set depth at 6 feet. Interval, eight seconds. Range at firing 2400 yards. At 2044 "Commence firing." At 2045-38 one hit aft. Two misses. One torpedo of this spread was seen to make a surface run for most of it's travel.
We pulled away to watch what would happen. Fire and steam were coming from all of the aft part of the tanker. After a short while, it appeared that the crew had extinguished the fire. The ship got under way at 5 knots on reverse course of 240T. We went back in to finish him off. At 2112-40: "Fire five". As this torpedo was leaving it was seen to veer about 25 degrees right, then settle in on a course that missed. At 2113-45: "Fire six." A hit! Forward of amidships. There was a big explosion, the bow broke off and sank. After burning brightly for awhile, the other half of the tanker sank. This turned out to be a 10,500 ton, fully loaded tanker.
All of this happened with Hime Saki light on Sado Island still burning brightly. The glare of the lights from Niigata were plainly visible against the sky to the southeastward with an occasional beam of a searchlight. At this rate, we were expecting to really have a time of it in the Sea of Japan.
On Sunday morning, June 10 at 0320, while running on surface, just east of Oga Hanto, we made SJ contact on two ships at 14,000 yards which were on a southerly course along the beach. Visibility was very good and it was beginning to become daylight. The ships were at too great a distance for us to close on before it became too light to be running on the surface. At 0343 we dived . At 0650 we watched a medium AK steaming down the coast. We were still too far away to make a run on the AK. The only objects we encountered for the remainder of day were some fishing boats.
Monday, June 11 at 1307, while patrolling submerged, just north of Oga Hanto, we sighted a target, medium AK, 4,000 tons, bearing 125T, Range 8,000 yards. We tried to close the range while submerged without success. Visibility was very poor so we surfaced at 1355. The ship was running 10T. We commenced an end around by moving westward then to the north where we could get in front of the AK without him seeing us in the hazy and foggy weather.
As we were making this maneuver, at times the fog would clear and we could see the ship very plainly. We wondered why they did not see us. As we were making our run to get in front of the target our radar began acting up and the fog would roll in and we would loose him. Then visibility would improve and the radar would again pick him up at about the expected location. At 1510 a light rain covered us at just the right time, permitting us to turn in a closing range direction.
At 1519, we dived, closed track and when the position was good, we fired one torpedo at 1555, range of 1280 yards and at 1555-43, scored a "Hit, at MOT." The target broke in two, up ending both the bow and the stern. As the ship was sinking we took moving pictures through the periscope. Captain Hydeman spent a short while allowing some of the crew to have a view of Japanese seamen climbing aboard lifeboats. I was one of those who had a chance to view this as two of the survivors were climbing aboard some floating wreckage. It was an eerie feeling, watching those events as they happened, because those men could just as easily have been the men of the Sea Dog
At 1758, we sighted a destroyer (probably Asashio class, due to the haze we were unable to be certain). It was northwest of us headed on a southwesterly course, pinging as though it was looking for submarines. It was pinging on long scale at about 17.5kc's and soon disappeared to the southwest. We surfaced at 2027 and continued patrolling during the night in the vicinity north of Nyudo Saki. There were no sightings worth fooling with for the rest of the day.
On Tuesday, June 12, at 0320, we dived, ten miles north of Nyudo Saki (on Oga Hanto), and patrolled to the southward. At 0635 we sighted smoke bearing 080T. We headed for the smoke which was taking us toward the beach. Closed on a normal approach course at high speed for an hour. In observations during this period, we made out four ships in a rough box formation well spread out. They had just rounded Nyudo Saki and were headed into shallow water along the coast between Capo and Henashi Saki. There were two medium AK's leading with two medium, engines-aft, AK's on the after corners of the box. We attempted to close the leading AK of the left column but couldn't get in. Shifted target to the engines-aft, Ak on the left, and closed him. He still posed a long shot, but Captain Hydeman decided to chance three torpedoes on it because he appeared to be of fair size and there was a good chance of hitting the far AK with a remaining torpedo from the spread.
At 0822, fired three torpedoes, spread 150 feet apart, torpedo run 3,200 yards. At 0824-10, one hit, slightly abaft of amidship. Target broke in two and sank within 2 minutes. We were unable to get too much recognition of this target. It was 420 feet long, had two stick masts with booms, plumb bow, counter stern, fairly large superstructure and stack aft, very low deck house forward, just forward of the foremast.
The other three ships were headed at full speed for the coast, and shallower water. We moved out to somewhat deeper water and patrolled southeasterly for the rest of the day. Surfaced at 2010 and at 2240 and made two radar contacts with patrol boats making a swoop down the coast from the north of Oga Hanto. They tracked at 12 knots southerly then westerly and finally northerly courses before contact was lost.
Wednesday, June 13, at 0315, dived at a bearing of 250T, six miles distance from southwest coast of Oga Hanto and headed up to this hunting ground again. No contacts today, except fishing boats, sea trucks, etc.
At 2010 on Wednesday, June 13th, just as we were surfacing to charge our batteries and have a look around, we got word from the aft torpedo room that there was a loud noise that sounded like an explosion; and, there was excessive noise and vibrations coming from the starboard propeller shaft. We knew this had to be a problem caused by the starboard clearing wire that had been installed in Guam (from the hull forward of the stern plane to the stern plane). It was obvious that the 1 1/4 inch steel cable had come loose from where it was secured forward of the starboard stern plane, and was now wrapped around the starboard propeller shaft. A cable of this size could create havoc if it should wrap around the shaft and bind up. There was no way we were going to be able to continue searching for enemy shipping with this loud noise that could be heard by the enemy.
During the next hour, we tested the noise at various speeds. It was a loud thump in the starboard propeller at slow speeds. Also, there was an irregular clanking noise on the hull just forward of the propeller. It was obvious that the 1 1/4 inch cable with eyebolt was wrapped around the propeller shaft and striking the hull each time the shaft revolved. Operating under these conditions would be just plain suicide if we encountered any destroyers or sub chasers.
For some strange reason, at high speeds the shaft thump could not be heard on the surface although the vibration seemed to be quite heavy. Upon years of reflection, my answer to this is that at high speeds the steel cable was wrapped tighter around the shaft, and the end of the cable did not extend out far enough to hit the hull.
At about midnight we pulled clear of the coast and made plans for shallow water scuba diving . We stopped dead in the water in preparation for making repairs and to attempt to remove the cable from the propeller shaft. Laying to while having people on back deck repairing the cable in practically freezing water was not a prospect anyone was looking forward to. Captain Hydeman had accepted volunteers, Lt.Jg. W. Duckworth and Andrew Dell, Chief of Boat, for the job of going overboard in the rough, cold water to remove the cable. Both men had previous experience with underwater diving, but probably not in water as cold as this.
The divers had problems with their rubber mask. As they would go under water the mask would leak and fill up with water. We had an underwater cutting torch to cut the cable off from around the drive shaft but never had a chance to use it. The rolling swells did not help . For almost an hour, Duckworth and Dell were in the icy water and were unable to accomplish the task of removing the cable. After slightly over an hour of laying by while trying to remedy the problem, Captain Hydeman decided it was not worth subjecting the Sea Dog to possible surprise attack from enemy forces and called off the attempt to repair the cable problem
In a letter I received from Andrew Dell, on June 18, 1998, he said,. . . . .
"Yes the water was cold, especially when you only have a pair of short pants on and the water temperature is close to freezing. It didn't take long to just about freeze out.. Yes, it was hairy, but once in the water everything else was secondary to getting the job accomplished. In a warmer and calmer area it would have been a fairly simple job to accomplish. One big problem was the lack of a good underwater mask, as it kept leaking. The submarines of today are now equipped with scuba diving equipment for such emergencies."
There were many rumors going around as to what our fate would be. There were differences of thought being expressed. One was to pull into Vladivostok and spend the remainder of the war there. Essentially, the thoughts of most on the Sea Dog was that the war was over for us. Some thought a tin can would corner us and it would all be over. Others felt that we would pass on the command to one of the other boats, make a run for it through La Perouse Strait by following behind a Russian ship, past the mine fields to open waters and then on to Midway (affectionately known as "Gooneyville").
With all the speculation, none of it came to pass. After the failed attempt to remove the cable, we got under way. At 0140 Thursday, June 14, the noise was audible only at low speed and the vibration was tolerable for speeds up to 18 knots. Feeling much better about our good luck, we got underway and set a southwestward course for surface patrol across western approaches to Akita, Sakata and Niigata. ST still unreliable, working only for short ranges up to 5,000 yards. SJ now developing a defect, as the ranging unit apparently shows one-tenth actual range. Continued working on the ST and began working on the SJ.
Made trim dive at 0317, went deep and tested noise level and performance and noise levels at various speeds. After making test of noise level without the use of starboard propeller, the starboard propeller was started up and the noise came back with a vengeance.....louder than ever. After a few minutes of steady running, the thump became much lower in volume, but the noise was still the frequency of the shaft rotation speed.
Surfaced at 0405. Sighted smoke bearing 170T. Ahead at full speed we were in good position as we encountered two medium AK's. After a couple of irregular zigs and zags we were unable to continue the chase as the coast was fast approaching. The sea was very still and glassy and posed a problem trying to approach anything by using the periscope for positioning purposes. We had to give up and head elsewhere as the AK's cleared Tobi Shima and pulled into Sakato, about 15,000 yards ahead of us. We continued patrolling and the repair work on ST and SJ radar.
On Friday, June 15, at 0510, we sighted smoke at bearing 354T. Commenced closing and found it was a small AK, similar to Hozan Maru class, steaming south past the northern end of Oga Hanto. It was about 4,000 yards off the beach headed right for us. At the next observation it had changed course to 150T, so we swung left and made a 90 degree starboard track from stern tube. At 0552-42 fired one torpedo, from #10 tube for 1,000 yard run.
At 0553-21, "a hit", just forward of amidships. Tried to use the movie camera but it jammed. Got some still photographs as the AK sank about 4 minutes later. I'm sure that the men of the aft torpedo room were elated with the sinking of the AK. Not only did Japan loose one of her cargo ships, the aft torpedo room crew lost their "virginity" as this was the first ship sunk by them. (See Ivan's letter in back).
As we set course for patrol up the coast of Oga Hanto again, we watched a small craft from the beach come out and rescue survivors. While patrolling the rest of the day, we sighted a couple of planes flying around. Had to leave this good hunting area due to extremely glassy water conditions that caused the periscope to makes waves that could be seen for miles.
On June 16, 17 and 18 we patrolled up and down the coast without sighting any ships or targets to fire at. During this time period, one of the engineering officers approached me and inquired about my experience with metal works. I told him that I had been a welder for Chicago Bridge and Iron Works, working on a project to build a Navy dry-dock in Morgan City, Louisiana. He also asked me if I had any experience with acetylene welding and brazing,.....I did a lot of this type of work for the Sternberg Dredging Co. at their construction shipyard in Morgan City. We went into the motor room. There was an elbow in the sea water inlet line going to the cooler for the starboard drive motor that was leaking quite badly. It appeared to be fractured. He ask if I could weld or braze it. I explained that I did not have any brazing flux, but I would try.
After 20 minutes or so, we decided that my efforts to repair the leak was not working. The outside sea valve was reopened. The water was not leaking any worse. In the event of the boat being in a situation where we were depth charged, this could have caused a real hazard because the concussion could have caused the fractures to bust wide open. Knowing what I know now, I would never have attempted the brazing job. This could never have been done, even under the best of conditions, without brazing flux.
As far as I know, we did not have a serious problem from that water leak. Since then, I have wondered if maybe when the 1 1/4 inch cable got caught in the propeller shaft, the sudden strain and pressures changes could have caused the fracture in a weak spot. I have never mentioned this before to anyone; and, I would like to know if other crew members have another explanation regarding the cause of the water leak.
There was another encounter that I remember. One morning while on the starboard periscope watch stand the crewman on the port side reported seeing a destroyer through the billowing fog on our port bow, roughly 30 degrees port. Nothing was picked up on radar but a short time later he saw it again. We did not identify any targets but I'm certain he saw what he said was there (I do not recall the name of the crew member who sighted the destroyer.).
On Tuesday, June 19, at 0559, the fourteenth morning after entering the Sea of Japan, we were patrolling along the coast between Benki Misaki and Koma Misaki on Hokkaido Island at a periscope depth of 59 feet. As the sun rose above the mountains to our east there was a haze hovering above the water and beaches. The officer on the periscope watch was keeping a close watch for anything that moved. One moment there was nothing and the next there were three AK's steaming through the haze. Immediately, battle stations was called. Within moments all personnel were secured at battle stations and ready to engage the Japanese. At first sighting the distance was roughly 4,000 yards. All forward torpedo tubes were readied for firing.
There was only a little time to prepare for a torpedo firing. Nine minutes after the initial sighting the orders rang out, "Fire one!". Eight seconds later, "Fire two". Immediately, the Captain began preparing to fire at the second AK. Because of large angles to the second AK, large gyro angles had to be used and had to be hand cranked in. About the time the third torpedo was ready to fire at the second AK, the first torpedo slammed into the first AK with a tremendous explosion. The second AK had her rudder full over as we fired our second salvo at them. One torpedo explosion was heard from the second salvo. In the meantime, the third freighter took off for shallower water and out of our range. The first freighter was north of us and sinking fast. As Captain Hydeman was searching the surface with the periscope to check on the second hit, he saw a single engine plane approaching from over the sinking freighter.
We now had a problem. Being in a cove, we had the land on our starboard that prevented us from going that way and we knew we were approaching shallow water in the process of tracking the three AK's. The freighter that was sinking was to our port. How do we get out of this? We could not turn in the direction of the first AK, at about 400 yards, as water was shallowing up in that direction. We had no other choice but turn right as there was enough room to clear the point of land in that direction. Things began to happen very fast.
Thomas J. Mckenzie, Y3/c, in July of 1996, and Bob Swain on April 13, 1998, both told me that they remembered,. . . . .
"Just before we hit bottom, I heard Captain Hydeman yell, 'All ahead full and take her deep!! Take sounding.' Well there was no water below us to take us deep. Bill Murzic, radioman, took the sounding, in the control room and reported, 'Water depth 20 feet
In the control room you could hear ping, boop--ping, boop, in a time span of essentially 0 seconds. As sound travels at roughly 5,000 feet per second in sea water, this would be a time span of .008 seconds, which indicated a depth of about 20 feet. Word came down, "Put someone on there that knows how to use it!!." Bam! At that moment, we hit bottom.
On July 2, 1998, Captain Lynch, in commenting to me on the events of that moment, said,.....
"As navigator, I was conscious of our position inside of the 50 fathom curve and had been keeping track of the water depth. When the CO spotted the aircraft and ordered the diving officer to take her deep, I warned him we were in shallow water, but it was too late to prevent grounding. After grounding we took stock and realized we had little room for maneuvering. When we had taken the necessary damage control measures and not getting any indication that the aircraft knew our location, we figured the best course was to back off from our position rather than go forward and risk a collision with the sinking ship while turning away from the coast."
We were headed 60 degrees, turning to starboard when orders were given to rig in the QB head while taking a sounding for water depth which was expected to be at least 170 feet or more. Before the QB sound head could be rigged in, the Sea Dog came to a jarring and sudden stop! The depth gauges read 116 feet with boat heading 65 degrees true and still headed for the beach.
Bob Swain described this incident as follows, . . . . .
"As I remember, just before we hit bottom, I was standing in the passage way talking to Bill Murzic, RM1/c, who was just inside of the radio room, as we hit bottom. I was propelled forward and was stopped by George Gressman, MoMM1/c auxiliary man, who was standing by the high pressure air control panel in the control room. This could have very possibly have kept me from being hurt quite badly."
We did not merely hit bottom, we were soundly stuck in the "royal mud" of the Japanese Empire at a diving angle of crash dive. When the newspapers in Hawaii got word of this incident, they credited the Sea Dog with being the first U.S. war ship making a landing and invasion of the soil of the Japanese empire in World War II.
Word came from the forward torpedo room, "Leak in forward torpedo room!!". Immediately the damage control crew went forward to investigate. The watertight door between the forward torpedo room and the officers quarters was closed by Charles M. Saunders Jr., TM3/c, and as I was talking to him on Friday, August 7, 1998, he said, . . .
"I tightened the latch tight."
Eddie Griffith, RM3/c, who was in the forward torpedo room operating the JP sound gear said, . . . . .
"It was really frightening when we had a leak in the forward torpedo room and the water tight door was closed. After the door was closed we were not sure if we would be able to stop the water leak."
The packing around the sound head shaft was leaking a considerable amount of water into the boat (We did not know at the time that the sound head had sheared off.). After assessing the problem, the packing gland was tightened. They had to be careful to insure that the bolts were not tightened too much and possibly break.
George Gressman, MoMM1/c, auxiliary man, told me, during a phone conversation in May 1998, that he remembers,. . . . .
"While the boat was stuck in the mud, the mud was exerting pressure on the shaft, that made it impossible to tighten the packing glands properly. After we backed off the bottom, pressure was relieved and the sound head shaft was allowed to go back into proper position and the inflow of water stopped."
To our relief, the water intake was taken care of. Time was passing, maybe 20 to 25 minutes by now. We were very lucky that there were no planes in the area to drop any bombs or depth charges on us. There were no other boats that showed up. This at least gave us time to assess our precarious situation and determine how to get off the bottom and out of the cove before other Japanese vessels showed up.
Our predicament was very serious: Approximately 400 yards north of us was a torpedoed, sinking cargo vessel, south of us was a point of land on Hokkaido Island. The water was shallowing up to the east and south toward the point of land. There was one AK headed full speed for the mainland to the east where the water was shallower. The second AK fired at was somewhere near us and we were not sure how badly it was damaged by our torpedo (Records after the war confirmed the sinking of the second ship.). We were soundly stuck in the mud with our stern close to the surface. At any moment the planes could be back with depth charges or bombs. Contact could be made with enemy patrol vessels along the coast that would be here in short order to finish us off.
Our motormen in the motor control room received orders to put the motors in reverse to back off the bottom. We were unable to back off because when we hit bottom, our stern was forced up close to the surface by our diving trajectory and we were solidly grounded forward. We didn't have to worry about coming to the surface, because our stern was already there!
About two years ago, in latter part of July 1996, Thomas J. McKenzie, Y3/c, and I were discussing the mission into the Sea of Japan and we were talking about the time we were stuck on bottom. McKenzie said, . . . . .
"When we hit bottom and could not back off at the moment, really caught us by surprise. There were many things that had to be thought of, planned and arrangements made if we were unable to pull free. These were some very confusing and anxious moments."
It was now roughly 30 minutes since we encountered the Nippon land at the bottom of the bay inlet. The packing glands were tightened on the shaft of the sounding QB device and the leaks were stopped. During this time, with our bow stuck in the mud, there was considerable amount of hush-hush conversations between the Captain and officers about our precarious predicament. If my information is correct, there were hurried plans for abandoning the boat, in the event we were unable to pull free of the mud bottom. All the crew that wished to go would exit by the after torpedo room deck hatch, which was close to the surface of the water. Once on deck they would use inflatable life rafts to go to the beach or be picked up by the Japanese. The remainder would stay on board, with the assigned demolition crew, to destroy the Sea Dog. . . . . to insure that it would not fall into the hands of the enemy.
After a considerable amount of time had passed, someone said, "Blow the bow ballast.", to get the Sea Dog off the bottom. The order was finally given to blow the bow ballast. Raymond Steppe, MoMM2/c, auxiliary man, who was manning the high pressure air control board, began slowly blowing the bow ballast, and the Sea Dog began to slowly rise forward.
On July 30th, I was talking to Sidney "Mike" Fontnote, MoMM1/c, about the happenings in the control room as Raymond began blowing the bow ballast, "Mike" said, . . . . .
"There were a lot of things happening in the control room at that time but I was so busy with my trim pumps I was not aware of what the others were doing. Shortly after Raymond began blowing bow ballast I was called to the engine room and the Executive Officer, Jimmie Lynch, took over handling my trim pumps while we were adjusting the trim load on the boat for backing out of the inlet to deeper water."
As the bow began to slowly rise, and the stern began to descend, Theodore Lupe Jr., S1c, the bow planes man, took over the stern planes and Earl Wane Parker, MoMM1/c, the stern plane operator, took over the bow planes. Once we were level enough, we began backing out of the inlet from the shallow water with our very capable diving officer, Lt. Edward M. Hindert,. . . . . who made all four war patrols on the Sea Dog, according to the official Sea Dog roster.. . . . . directing the maneuver in reverse to clear the shallow water area. We made the exit from the shallow inlet in reverse without incident.
Until this event, we had never heard of a submarine running in reverse while submerged. Obviously, we had some good operators and leadership because it worked and we are here today to attest to that.
Once we backed away far enough to give us clearance to make a port turn, we reversed direction and headed out to sea. Just as we cleared the area and had a few minutes break, several patrol craft showed up and were pinging, looking for submarines. A DE (destroyer escort) showed up late in the morning and spent most of the day patrolling the area. We silently moved off to relax and reflect on the events of the past few hours.
NOTE: While preparing this remembrance of the Sea Dog in the Sea of Japan, there is something that occurred that is quite confusing to me. I have a copy of the "confidential" ship log of the happenings in this time period. On Tuesday, June 19, there was only one recorded time, at 0559, in the official log of our operations, during the morning until 1200, which gave our position as Lat. 43-45N,Long. 140-06E. The recorded time of 0559, is the time that we were patrolling and sighted the three AKs. I can not find any time recordings of the proceedings between these times. It seems to me this should be a critical area to have the times recorded. All the other operations had the recorded times, of any changing of occurrence that took place. Can anyone explain this? (Refer to copy of Sea Dogs log at end of this work.)
Captain Lynch's comment regarding the missing times for this day is, . . . . .
"I know of no explanation for the missing times. Apparently the preoccupation with the crises might have contributed, but in those situations we would fill in the gaps after the crises was over."
We can all be thankful that the planes did not return to drop bombs or depth charges on us and there were no patrol boats to depth charge us or fire on us with their guns while the Sea Dog's stern was so close to the surface.. . . . . exposed for all the world to see. We spent the next few days, until Sunday, June 24, patrolling and looking for more targets. . . . . which had now become extremely scarce.
At midnight on Sunday, June 24, all the boats rendezvoused at an area west of La Perouse Strait. All boats were there, except the Bonefish. Commander Pierce had not heard from the Bonefish since they requested moving to a new area a few days earlier. When the Bonefish did not rendezvous with the other boats, there wasn't much concern, at that time, about her failure to make the scheduled meeting. There were many things that could have happened to delay her. In the past, many submarines had been delayed and eventually showed up. There was no reason to consider the Bonefish lost at that time.
We couldn't wait any longer. The boats lined up in 2 rows of 4, at 2,000 feet apart, heading east. All deck guns, 2- 5 inch guns, 40MMs, 20MMs-and many 30 caliber machine guns were fully manned in the event we would encounter any resistance in leaving the Sea of Japan on this cold, dark, creepy night with wisps of fog and mist shadows slowly floating by.
There was no bonifide, firm plan for how we would exit the Sea of Japan. It was going to depend on the existing conditions at the time. Captain Hydeman would make the final decision as to where we would exit and how we would do it. In the event some of our men would be captured and forced to tell of our plans, the exit route was not discussed until we were ready to exit,. The exit we took was the #1 exit route of all the exit routes discussed by the upper command before we left Guam. Thank goodness it was the right choice.
If we encountered some form of trap in La Perouse Strait with a fleet of enemy anti-submarine vessels or planes guarding it, we would have to make a quick decision as to whether to fight it out or run out submerged. We had a very good idea that the Strait had anchored mines that were set at depth of about 50 feet. We could have headed back into the Sea of Japan and back to Tsushima Strait and fight the current back through the minefields. Fate must have been on our side because this was not the case.
At the assigned time, all boats headed east, out through La Perouse Strait at full speed. The demolition bombs were in place on each boat, and all deck guns were fully manned. In the event of problems and we were going to be captured, the demolition bombs would be detonated. Almost on schedule, the radar on the Sea Dog went out and we had to drop back. The Crevalle, whose radar was working fine, guided us the rest of the way out. It was a foregone conclusion that the pass was mined at a lower depth and we knew we could not dive without hitting a mine.
You have never seen such a straight line of boats, traveling in formation, in your life. As I stood watch on the periscope starboard side watch stand, I could see the formation the boats were traveling by the phosphorescence illumination as they passed in the water. If the boat in front of you made it then we should make it also, "if" you passed exactly where he did.
NOTE: Phosphorescence illumination is where luminance is created without heat. It can be generated when a boat or ship passes through sea water and disturbs the surface water. At times there are many microorganisms on or near the surface that when disturbed or moved around that will create this luminance through chemical reactions. This lighted trail, within the wake, behind the boat or ship can be seen for miles . The luminance will disappear within a few minutes. During World War II many planes, when returning to their carrier at night, identified their location to the carrier by locating the phosphorescence illumination of the carrier wake.
To our amazement, about half way through the strait, we encountered a large ship to our starboard coming into the channel with all running lights on. As we passed along side the ship they turned on their spot light and moved it up and down on the eight submarines going east at full speed. If there were any enemy gun boats in the area we were sunk or would have had a very hard time of it. The weather was cold. This was a hair raising and chilling experience.
The ship was a Russian cargo vessel headed in through La Perouse Strait. Reliable sources have indicated that the Russian ship may have been there to help defray any possibility of Japanese gun boats detecting us and firing upon the submarines leaving the Sea of Japan.
Some of the crew from a couple of the other boats told me, at the National World War II Sub Vets convention in Milwaukee, they were ready to use their 30 caliber machine guns to shoot out the spot light when it was suddenly turned off. We continued east and had no other problems. Years later, I heard from a few members of the crew on the Bowfin, that they had pulled out of line and circled the Russian ship with the thought of sinking it with a torpedo. Maybe it was best that they did not.
We did not know about it at the time but a couple of submarines around Tsushima Strait, on June 24, had shelled some buildings on the beach, supposedly with rocket launchers, to create a diversion and take the Japanese thoughts away from focusing on La Perouse Strait (Not scuttlebutt.). They knew we had to leave eventually and there were only a couple ways to go. After this encounter, returning to Midway, we had no contact with any other vessels.
Monday morning, June 25, 1945, we cleared the Sea of Japan around 0235. Shortly after daybreak, Captain Hydeman ordered the Hellcat formation slowed and the Sea Dog moved forward to resume our position at the head of the column. Once in position, he informed the other boats that our radar was in working order and he would take charge.
We still do not know why it was so easy to traverse the La Perouse Strait after inflicting all that damage in the Sea of Japan. It could be that they did not have the ships or men and fuel to have boats standing by, just in case we would decide to leave Sea of Japan through La Perouse Strait. Who knows??
Captain Lynch told me about some very anxious hours while waiting to rendezvous with the other eight boats before leaving the Sea of Japan. He said, . . . . .Bonefish's area, with loud explosions which had the sound of depth charges. This had been verified by one of the submarines that had operated one of the areas adjacent to the Bonefish's area of patrol."
"These were anxious hours as we waited for all the other eight submarines to rendezvous as planned. There had been some indications of enemy action, in the
"One of my keen memories of the patrol was the meeting in the ward room, to decide how we would execute the exit through La Perouse. During our time in Sea of Japan we had received intelligence report that an enemy mine layer had been sent north to La Perouse to lay anti submarine mines. We had attempted to intercept it, unsuccessfully. After our nerve wracking experiences, doing our submerged entry into the Sea of Japan, the Captain and I decided a surface exit was the preferred course of action."
"When we sighted the Russian ship traversing La Perouse, we were very reassured that the mines in La Perouse were set deep, for submarines, and were not a threat to us on the surface. Our decision had been a good one."
For a moment Captain Lynch had that far away look in his eyes as though he was way back in time, thinking, and he was. He said,. . . . . .
"I'll always remember the feeling I had standing on the bridge as we cranked up flank speed and headed out through La Perouse Straight. We were ready to fight our way out if necessary. Thank God, it wasn't and it was with great relief and thanksgiving that we cleared the straits and entered the Pacific Ocean"
About 1000 that morning the Crevalle pulled clear of the formation because her starboard cable guard had come loose and was caught in the starboard shaft. When Commander Steinmetz told the Sea Dog of her plight, Captain Hydeman sent the remainder of the boats on their way and the Sea Dog stayed with the Crevalle the entire time it took to clear the cable from the propeller shaft. Lt. Walter Mazzone, went over the side to try and remove the cable. Due to the cold water and strong current he was unable to do any good and had to give up. By moving the boat forward and backing down, the cable finally came off of the shaft and they were able to proceed with no further problems.
Commander Pierce on the Tunney requested that he be allowed to wait for Commander Larry Edge and the Bonefish to show. Commander Hydeman gave Commander Pierce 2 days to wait for them in the Sea of Okhotsk, at the eastern end of La Perouse Strait.
On Saturday, June 30, 1945, we arrived, at record speed, at Midway. The channel, dug through the coral surf that surrounded Midway, appeared to be shallow and narrow as we were approaching the island. One mistake and we would be up on a coral reef.
After we docked, a diving crew inspected the bottom of the Sea Dog for possible bottom damage. Found the QB head missing and the QB head shaft bent. The starboard stern plane guard cable that had given us so much trouble was completely missing. After refueling, most of the crew spent a couple hours walking around Midway and watching the 'gooney' birds taking off and landing. The next morning we headed out to sea and the island paradise of Hawaii..
On Thursday, July 5, 1945, the Sea Dog arrived at Pearl Harbor for refit. Our mission was not complete until we tied up to the dock and secured our engines. As we were approaching the dock, we overshot the dock and rammed into the end of the boat slip. This was quite embarrassing as most of the Navy brass in the Pacific theater was there. The only damage to the Sea Dog was a dent in the bow, and a chunk of concrete was missing from the dock.
The mission into the Sea of Japan, from the standpoint of eliminating the vessels that were carrying supplies to and from China and Korea, was very productive. It also played havoc on the morale of the Japanese people. We feel that we accomplished the two main objectives for invading the Sea of Japan: (1) to cut off supplies and (2) to demoralize the Japanese people.
While in the Sea of Japan, the 9 submarines taking part in Operation Barney sunk 31 ships and 16 small craft for a total of 108,230 tons.
The U.S.S. Sea Dog sunk:
5 AKs--(Transports) ................................. 19,000 tons
1 AO (Tanker) ...................................... 10,500 tons
Total of 6 ships ......................................... 29,000 tons
Information and figures for submarine action against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Vessels sunk..................................... 4,000
Tonnage sunk................................... 10,000,000
Vessels sunk by submarines................. 1,314
Tonnage sunk by submarines............... 5,300,000
Percent of Navy personnel in Sub service 1.6 %
Percent of ships sunk by subs.............. 55%
Personnel lost in submarines Officers..... 375
Number U.S. submarines lost................. 52
number persons made war patrols-........ 16,000
Percent of war patrol personnel lost...... 22 %
Number of torpedoes fired .................. 14,748
U.S.S Sea Dog (SS 401)Specifications
SHIPYARD: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
DATE COMMISSIONED: June 3, 1944, by Rear Admiral Thomas Withers, USN, Commandant, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
SPONSORED BY: Mrs. Vernon L. Lowrance, wife of Lt. Commander Vernon L. Lowrance, Commanding Officer of USS Sea Dog (SS401).
TYPE OF VESSEL: Submarine, Gato Class.
CREW COMPLIMENT: 10 - Officers with 75 enlisted personnel. (into Sea of Japan)
LENGTH OF WAR PATROLS: Approximately, 3 months.
DISPLACEMENT: 2,050 Tons. *
LENGTH: 310 feet 10 1/2 inches. **
CIRCUMFERENCE: 56.55 feet.
DIAMETER: 18 feet, from top to bottom. ***
ARMAMENT: 10 Torpedo tubes (6 forward & 4 aft) w/26 torpedoes.
2 - 5 inch guns.
2 twin 40mm pom-pom guns.
Numerous 20mm machine guns & 30 caliber machine guns.
PROPULSION: 4- 1,600 HP Fairbanks Morse 10-cylinder opposed piston diesel engines, driving generators creating direct current for charging the batteries and powering the electric motors to drive the two propellers.
1 - auxiliary engine--In an emergency could propel the boat at about 4 knots.
DIVING DEPTH: Officially classed as a 600 foot depth submarine.****
PERISCOPE DEPTH: 59 feet.
SPEED: Surface 21 Knots. Submerged 12 Knots.
* Compare to displacement of USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) 18,750 tons.
** Compare to length of USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) 560 feet long.
*** Compare to diameter of USS Louisiana SSNB 743 at 42 feet.
**** On our third war patrol we were forced, by depth charges, to 648 feet... with no adverse side effect to the boat or crew.
CONFIDENTIAL U-S-S- SEA DOG (SS 401) Report of war patrol number 4:
0725 Sighted plane-probably Zeke -standing- down the -coast distance 4 miles.
1050 nother plane sighting, 3 miles These indicated there might be more ,so
headed out to sea and commenced-surface patrol in afternoon. Regretted
leaving is good hunting spot so early in the day. but calm sea conditions were
1200 Position Lat. 40n-03N., Long 139-21E
16 June Patrolling on surface with the CREVALLE and SPADEFISH, across traffic
lanes from Honshu to Korea, in lanes as described above.,
0205 Strong APR contact., 151mc. Sighted red light., probably plane, running
light at same, time, Dived.
1200 Position Lat 39-01N, Long 138-24E--.
17 June Patrolling on surface. Converted # 4 FBT during night -and made dives to
flush it out, Also had a very interesting SJ conversation, with SKATE at a
range of 150 miles, She reports 1 SS and 4 merchantmen sunk, all fish gone.
1055 SD contact, 6 miles Dived
1200 Position Lat. 39-22, Long 138-42E.
2145 Effected rendezvous with Spadefish and Crevalle 'Exchanged information on
areas, now to be rotated, and, issued data on slight modification in exit plans.
SPADEFISH reported having sunk a total of six ships with torpedoes and four
trawlers and sampans by gunfire. Crevalle had no further sinking to report.
2250 Rendezvous completed; opened to southwestward to transmit above modification in exit plans to remainder of Japan Sea Pack, then set course for new area (Japan Sea north of Lat. 42-47N)
18 June 0357 made ten minute trim. dive-,
1200 Position Lat. 41-31N, Long, 135-54E,
1205 Commenced making- full power in order to reach area north and northeast of Benkci Misaki for patrol this afternoon and tonight
1840 Reached above area, patrol-coast east and west between Benkci and Kamol Misaki until dawn.
19 June 248 Dived and closed coast about four miles south of Kamoi Misaki.
ATTACK *7. Sunk: One medium- AK-, 4,000 t-tons, (UN)
19 June 0559 While about 4,000 yards off the beach.. three AK's loomed up through the haze at a range of about 4,000 yards, angles on the bow.15deg., , standing up the coast from southward. Turned toward in order to bring the more numerous bow tubes to bear,, and commenced firing about nine minutes after the first sighting. Fired two at the leading ship. Fired three at the second ship as she was turning away; the short torpedo run caused the first ship to be hit before the fish were away at the second. Needless to say, the third AK was showing her stern by this time,- Turned back to the first target, now north of us, and saw her sinking, stern under, her crew getting into a lifeboat a lifeboat from the high deck amidships just abaft the bridge, which was then just at water level. Sighted a single engine plane approaching from about three miles away, beyond the sinking target. Being then headed toward the beach at 60T, a quick range on the sinking ship (about 4,000) yards, showed there would probably be insufficient room to turn toward her,, in consideration-of the-northerly current existing. Started a turn right, ordered Q-B rigged in, called for a sounding, and ordered 150 feet (based on last sounding, of 45 fathoms obtained early in the approach., with allowances for having, closed the- beach in the turn toward. the targets). Before QB could, be rigged in, or a sounding obtained grounded lightly forward in 116 feet of water on heading 65T. Backed her off, and continued backing for about ten minutes, swinging her stern southward, as the diving officer handled the situation very nicely (the efficacy of exchanging the bow and. stern planes men in this case was fairly well demonstrated). When well clear heading north, there was ample room for turning left to clear the beach. Surprisingly there was no attack by the plane; nevertheless, went deep for awhile and opened out to gather our wits- and survey the damage which fortunately consisted only of a smashed QB head and bent shaft. In retrospect, it is realized that the whole attack was misdirected by a greedy desire to empty all of the bow tubes on three beautiful, unescorted AK's, and that this merely resulted in a hurry attack and firing at too short a range for effective multiple fire. By the time we were ready for action, there were several patrol craft pinging up and down the coast, and a DE showed up in the late morning for a thorough search of the area, which lasted all day. No other shipping was sighted.
1200 Position Lat. 43-08N., Long.-140-06E
20 June 0255 Dived closed cast off Ofuya Misaki. No contacts during the day except sampans and, two small ships similar to tugs. Two -planes sighted during the day, patrolling the beach.
1200 Position Lat 43-45N, Long.,,,, 141-14E.
2030 Surfaced. answered Spadefish's dispatch of yesterday. She is all out of fish and would like to work in the northern -part of her area tomorrow, and head for Motsuta Saki. Received plea from Tunny for use of the northern rea of Otaru She still has 15 fifteen fish.
Note I received from Captain James P. Lynch, U.S.N. Retired (EO/Lieutenant Commander, Sea Dog) concerning the Sea Dog during our trip into the Sea of Japan:
Enjoyed reading your story of our great adventure in the Sea of Japan. It sure brought back memories.
I hope you can make out my scribbling on your draft. Not having the advantage of the log of the patrol report to refresh my memory, I'm afraid my 80 year old brain isn't much help to you. But I have made some comments which I hope will be helpful.
Good luck on your worthy project and I'd appreciate a copy of the final version
On June 29, 1998 I received these comments from Captain James Paul Lynch, USN, Retired:
During my 28 years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, I had the opportunity to serve on destroyers, submarines, and air craft carrier. I held command of 3 submarines, an aviation supply ship, an aviation patrol squadron and aircraft carrier. Of all the sailors I encountered in my career, none were more dedicated or proficient in their duties than submarine sailors. They could always be depended upon in an emergency. Somehow or other, they could make miraculous repairs at sea, on patrol. In battle, they never flinched and were a source of inspiration and courage to me. I'll always be most proud of my wartime service in Snook and Sea Dog and particularly of our fourth patrol in the Sea of Japan. To me it was the highlight of my wartime service and I will always be grateful to my shipmates of the Sea Dog that made it possible and got us home safely.
July 9, 1998
Received your July 4th missle and I am real appreciative of the effort you are putting forth in organizing the remaining Sea Dog veterans. You are absolutely right that we should all support you as much as possible. You asked for my views of the. last Sea Dog patrol ( my first ) and, really Willie there isn't too much that stands out in my memories ( and I have a GOOD memory. We sank 6 ships in the Sea of Japan and to me, that is what we were there to do to help win the war. The fact that the MIGHTY MINE DODGERS made submarine history never entered my mind at the time. It was only when I read about it 15 years later that I learned the patrol was of such consequence to the total war in the Pacific. I thought we would sink 6 ships every time we went out on patrol !. . . . Guess that I should have had a couple of "dry runs" to get me acclimated to submarine duty.
As for us hitting bottom and shearing off the sound head - of course, I remember that - who on board will not remember?. . . . My battle station was up between the after torpedo room tubes monitoring the gyro read out on the torpedo settings. That station made me the last, or farthest aft, person on the boat. When we backed out of the harbor after pulling loose from the bottom, that made me the first or in front of the boat. As I remember, we backed down for quite a little bit of time - but, again, I thought it was just part of a normal war patrol and didn't attached a lot of significance to it. Only later, did I find that it was REALLY rare that a submarine went backward while submerged.
Going through those mine fields on the way into the Sea of Japan was hair raising. The scariest part was the expressions on the faces of all the crew. They were scared too . . . . and none of us were aware that " Hell's Bells " wasn't working. Sea Dog never picked up one single mine going into the Sea of Japan. AND no one can ever convince m that we were not just lucky. I am positive that Cap't Hydeman knew it wasn't working when he left Guam - the Brass had turned him down for a request for two more days of tests.
From my position in that after torpedo room, I had on ear phones ( my job was to yell into my mike what gyro setting was on the torpedo when fired ). Up in the after battery room, Doc Jones was to record the numbers on a patrol report form. When we sank a ship from firing #10 tube, Doc got so excited that he didn't write the numbers down. Later he came to me and asked if I remembered the settings - which I didn't. I am sure he told the Torpedo Officer I didn't "sing out " the settings when the torpedo was fired. In any case, we got the job done but the Navy never did get the official direction that we fired that torpedo.
I will, see you at Albuquerque, NM and am looking forward to seeing the rest of the crew. I am sure you know that Ed Griffith will be traveling together and will share a room at the Convention. My wife will not be attending. We just returned from Indiana where we had funeral services and buried her fatter. He was age 93 and in poor health so it was not unexpected. Now she. is busy getting his affairs in order and disposing of personal effects. This will take her a month or so to get over the trauma.
Your shipmate, Ivan
JOHN FRANCIS HINCHEY
11 September, 1998
Thank you for the copy of your manuscript covering the adventures of the Sea Dog on it's fourth patrol in the Sea of Japan. This is the first opportunity I have had to review the document and make comments concerning my recollections and memories of this remarkable operation. Since a number of my recollections are at variance with those presented in your report, I request that your provide a copy of this letter to each of the recipients of the document as you did with the comments of other shipmates that sent comments to you.
For the record, I served as Radar/Sonar/Electronics Officer aboard Sea Dog for all four of her war patrols. I also stood a top watch as OOD from the second patrol on. I mention this only to emphasize that my recollections are based only upon events that I bore responsibility for or participated in.
First, I am extremely upset with Ivan Nicodemus' statement in his letter that "I am positive that Cap't Heideman knew it wasn't working when he left Guam - the Brass had turned him down for a request for two more days of tests." I don't understand how someone with no knowledge and less understanding of how the FM Sonar worked, the methods or testing and proving it's performance and the level of training of the personnel maintaining and operating it can make a statement that smears the memory of Capt.Hydeman, Admiral Lockwood, Barney Sieglaff, Jim Lynch, Al Fickett, Al Sawyer and myself. Earl Hydeman was an honorable and principled man who would never commit such an act, nor would any of the people named above be partners to such an act. For your information, Fickett and Sawyer were RT's who came aboard with the FM Sonar, took part in it's installation, the training period and joined the crew for the fourth patrol. Both attended the FM school in San Diego when the equipment was installed in the boats they served on and made minefield plotting patrols off the Japanese coast, Sawyer on TINOSA and Fickett on SEAHORSE, the boat that we received the equipment from.
The transit of Tsushime.Strait was a rather stressful time, to put it mildly. The passage was made by three boats each day for three days, June 4, 5 and 6. Very early on the morning of June 6, we submerged and prepared for passage. After acquiring a satisfactory trim, we ran our tests of the FM Sonar performance. The operating test consisted of tracking the echo from false target shells. False target shells were devices that acted like a bia AlkaSelzer tablet. They were released through the signal rocket tubes located in both torpedo rooms. Once released they dissolved in the water creating a big cloud of fine bubbles
that looked like a target to any active sonar trying to ping on it. All
tests indicated that the equipment was working well with a maximum range on the false targets of about 250 feet, not a huge range but about the best that could be expected from equipment of this design and adequate considering that we were moving at low speed. Upon completion of tests we continued on our course through the mine field.
My recollection of the plan for passage is that no two boats would follow the same track through the mine field, the purpose being that we would gain the added benefit of as extensive a map as possible of the mine field for use in future submarine operations and possible invasion operations. SEA DOG's assigned track was the furthest east and closest to Tsushima Island. Progress was slow and uneventful. The Captain and EO spelled one another at the con, their eyes and ears glued to the sonar. the operators, Fickett, Sawyer and Hoyt also spelled one another with me hovering in the background. Like most personnel, I longed for and prayed for a contact since that would have removed any doubt at all of the capability of th equipment. I tried hitting the sack at one time but that didn't work at all. Finally, after nineteen and one half hours without a single mine contact, we declared the transit complete. Prior to surfacing we then repeated the testing procedure with the false target shells that we performed before entering the minefield. The results were a repeat of the earlier tests with a range of 250 feet. This left me with the conclusion that the FM sonar performed well throughout the passage and that we had made the transit through a clear channel established by the Japanese for their shipping. The only alternative conclusion would be that the sonar worked well in the tests prior to transit, failed to work while we were in the minefield and then, somehow, mysteriously repaired itself prior to testing at the end of the run. I do not find this conclusion acceptable but you are free to believe whatever you choose. During the passage through the minefield I never heard any sound that sounded anything like a cable scraping the side of the boat. Some crew members claim to have heard cable scrapes, others didn't - take your pick.
My memories of the June 19 attack that resulted in running aground while submerged varies considerably from that reported. First. on Page 13 it mentions Bill Murzic taking a sounding in the control room and reporting a depth of 20 feet. The fathometer was, indeed, in the control room but it measured depth in fathoms, not feet. Confusing.
My recollection of running aground has no big shock about it. As I remember the coast at that point was very steep with the 100 fathom curve fairly close to shore. We ran the bow into the side of a submerged hillside, wiping off the QB head in the process. On Page 15 it states that the bow was in the mud at 116 feet and our stern was at the surface. Not so. I made a simple layout to scale and found that with the bow at 116 feet and the stern, 311 feet away from it, the boat would have to be at a 25 to 30 degree down angle for the stern to be at the surface. At no time in it's wartime history did SEA DOG ever assume a 25 degree down angle. The maximum involved in this instance would have been about 6 degrees.
On Page 16. "Blow the bow ballast." There was no bow ballast tank. I do remember that we put a bubble in the bow buoyancy tank.to free us from
the mud. There was nothing new or innovative about the backing down submerged maneuver, it was standard procedure for experienced diving crews, including the planesmen switching positions. I first ran into this procedure at the diving trainer in Sub School. I read the copy of the patrol report for Attack #7 and do not find anything missing - it's all there. We ran aground submerged, backed-off and left. It just wasn't any big deal.
I still have nightmares about the problems we had with the SJ on that patrol but don't recall problems with the ST that you report. The ST was installed in the refit prior to the third patrol and we had terrible problems due to a poorly designed wave guide coupling between the periscope and the transmitter but that was corrected in Guam.
One final comment. On the specifications sheet for the SEA DOG, the 648 feet deep dive during depth charging was made on our first patrol.
Dear John and Kyle,
It was so nice to see you both at the convention and the Sea Dog Dinner. Let me say, I am impressed that you make Violins. I have a nephew that does the same as a hobby and I was just amazed at the amount of very delicate work that goes into completing such a project. I do remember some of the boys talking about some of the fellows on the Sea Dog playing Violins and Guitars while on patrol. I just never was there when it was happening. Such a loss on my part.
I do appreciate the time you took to comment on the paper that I put together. This was not quickly put together as there were so many things I had to look into and research. I do know that all the things may not have been exactly correct but there were so many things that was kept from most of the crew and I had to look hard and deep. This does certainly not say I had it all correct. I did research the problems in the radar units fairly well and I am sending you some information that will collaborate some of the statements I made. I acquired information from several sources.
I do hope you do not mind me putting the information you sent me in the paper as an addition to it. It will take me a couple weeks or more to get it all ready to send a copy to all the persons with a copy of SAGA OF THE SEA DOG. There is some information that I will send with this letter.
I have been made South Central Region, Director for the U.S. World War II Submarine Veterans and we the Sub Vets Here in Louisiana are planning a SCR Convention, to be in April of 1999. We should have everything ready in about a month and I will send information out to all of our Sea Dog people because I am planning A Sea Dog Reunion at the time of our Convention.
We are at this time sweating out Hurricane Georges as they are saying there is a very good possibility as the Hurricane leave Key West it will head straight for Louisiana. We had enough of that in 1992 with hurricane Frederick. If it does not come here it will probably go to Pensacola where a couple hurricanes 2 years ago wiped out the homes and beaches there on Pensacola beach and caused my son to loose the restaurant he had operated for 17 years. My daughter and son have just recently opened another restaurant there and the storm could wipe them out.
I thank you for the information and will be in touch soon.
Wishing the best to you and Kyle, I remain
Willie Z. "Dub" Noble
Oct. 21, 1998
I've been meaning to send you the enclosed photos for some time, and now I can combine it with the sad duty of informing you that my father, Walter Heiden, died Oct. 15, and was buried yesterday. Since spring (at least), he had complained of a back ache. After various examinations and tests, it turned out to be kidney and liver cancer, also spreading to the spine. It became increasingly difficult for him to care for my Mom (who has been suffering from Alzheimer '5, as you may have known, or at least suspected), and in late June my wife (Betty) started spending about 1/3-1/2 her time there, cooking and cleaning and laundering, and seeing to it my Mom didn't wander off or get into trouble. My Mom went into a nursing home July 9 or so (first more of a group home~ with less attention; but then moved after about 3 weeks), and Betty kept up her care, adding dispensing of loads of pills on the recommendation of a nutritionist (I think Dad was getting desperate). On July 6, when Dad told us the diagnosis, he acknowledged that he had opposed our marriage, but said that was because he didn't really know Betty then. My sister the therapist would take over a couple dinners a week, but Betty noticed he ate better when he had company. Dad was ambulatory until practically the end. He had a rough night Oct. 7 (forgot to take his pain pills), and in the morning Betty called Cindy to take him to the hospital. He needed some blood (2 pints, I think), and was also dehydrated (for which he got an intravenous salt solution, then and later). Then Dad went to stay with Cindy (including a daytrip on Saturday 10th to his house, when 2 grandsons continued working on the lawn sprinkler system (Cindy told me at the time they were going to finish it, but I just remembered finding an unfinished spot without a replaced head, on Sunday), to the hospital, to the nursing home where Morn was (but another wing) back to the hospital, and then to the nursing home, where he died in the presence of a nurse 7:30-8:00 p.m. Cindy and Dad's sister & husband had left about 5:00 p.m., and other friends and relatives were there earlier in the day (and the minister came, with communion on a sponge, due to difficulty swallowing by then). I was going to visit him about 5:00 p.m. after work, but decided against it on the way out the door, because I was suffering from the flu (yes, I went to work anyway). (The flu was worse the next day, so Cindy had to handle the funeral arrangements herself.) So the last time I saw Dad was Monday the l2th,at the hospital (this was his 2nd-last trip to the hospital). Betty and I were going to visit anyway (and take Mom), and Dad also asked his other children (Cindy and my brother, Dan) to come. They came later, about 9:15 p.m., and Dad was remarkably lucid and talkative, for an hour or so (more so than she had seen him in awhile, said Betty).
The funeral was very nice. Lots of friends; old and new, came. About 21 sub vets in attendance (at least, this was the capacity of the 3 rows at right front of church that they filled; maybe others without blue vest were sitting elsewhere).
Near the end, Dad was painting a detailed silhouette of a sub on his garage door (my sister is moving there later so the painting should last awhile). I think he finished it Sep. 19, but there was some touch-up work that I can't remember was before or after. My uncle and I took several pictures of it in-process and with Dad, but they're not processed yet. Plan to send prints to the magazine, and you may want one or two also. (unfortunately, during the funeral service my wife had parked the car near the garage, because it's easier to get Mom in/out of the Cadillac. Some vets were talking of going to see it after the service - but may have been discouraged when I told them about the car, though it wasn't really in the way that much. But anyway, if the subvet magazine's going to publish photos, I'd rather they include Dad, than the edge of a car.)
I hope you and your wife (Virgie, if I recall) are OK.
encl.: (all from Seadog/Kingfish reunion, August 30). Richard and Betty Heiden
(Please forward some to the other subjects in photos; would you like more prints?)
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