U.S.S PICUDA (SS 382)
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California
CONFIDENTIAL May 27, 1944
From: The Commanding Officer
To: Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet
Subject: U.S.S. PICUDA (SS 382), Report of War Patrol #3.
Enclosures: pictures and charts, covering third war patrol.
Bernard H. Schwartz
New 5” gun installed. MacDonald promoted to PO 3rd Class. Put him in charge of the gun crew. Abele promoted to Sr. PO. He and Ensign Townsend have been taking apart and generally fussing over the Mark 6 Exploders. Our magnetic pistol test at the beginning of patrol 2 was very successful - we hope to build on that success this patrol.
Torpedo loadout: 4 Mark 14, 4 Mark 18 – stern; 8 Mark 14, 8 Mark 18 – bow.
(Unless otherwise indicated, all times below are GMT.)
05 APR – 17 APR
Departed 5 April to recon 3 island bases: Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai.
In transit to Yap.
Flash message received: Intercept IJN forces en route to Saipan from Home Islands. ETA to port of Saipan: early hours of 20 April. At 12 knots, we’re a little over a day away from the Saipan area.
By 1800, 40 nm West of Saipan. The orders offered no details on the course the convoy would follow though it should be expected to come from the NW. Practically speaking, close the island, the convoy could appear anywhere in the quadrant from North to West.
With a day and a half to go until the expected arrival of Japanese forces, decided to investigate the nearby port of Garapan.
Approached Garapan from the NW at 0200. Radar showed several ships riding at anchor. Two ships were patrolling.
Initially proceeded South down the coast then turned to approach from due West. Meanwhile, one of the patrollers was heading North, along the coast – perhaps heading to the port on the other side of the island.
At 10000 yards, went to periscope depth. Closed to 3000 yards submerged. A quick survey revealed a Buzyun Maru, a Ryuun Maru, an Akita Maru, and an Auxiliary Gunboat all anchored. The remaining patroller was nowhere to be seen. As we prepared to retire from the area and report our findings, the OOD, who had just gone to the observation scope, informed us with remarkable composure that a gunboat was 300 yards dead astern and approaching. Somehow it had come from directly behind and not been picked up by our sound equipment.
The boat was too close for a torpedo shot. Of the two options remaining the worse was to go deeper. The gunboat would roll depth charges and we would be helpless. Therefore, we battle surfaced and went to flank speed, turning to bring the deck gun to bear. The 40 mm Bofors opened up immediately and took out the machine gunner in the bow. As the turn brought the deck gun to bear, it roared to life. The first shell took the gunboat amidships. The second took out the wheelhouse. The Bofors meanwhile stitched the boat at the waterline. The gunboat was finished.
There was a spout of water 100 yards to port. An Auxiliary Gunboat at anchor had gotten into the action. Now we crash dived.
Although the orders had not specified it, operational security was assumed to dictate that we not reveal our presence in the area. Under the circumstances, there was no longer any need for stealth. We leveled off at 200 and circled to make a complete sound check of the area. Nothing stirred within the range of our sensors. There were no sounds of ships getting up steam or weighing anchor. All was quiet. We couldn’t leave it at that – we aimed to liven things up a bit.
We withdrew another 1000 yards and went to periscope depth. The Ryuun Maru was the largest target available so we selected it and fired a Mark 14 from the stern tube. It struck amidships.
One torpedo proved insufficient so we hit it with a second Mark 14. The Maru still refused to sink so we withdrew to 6000 yards and surfaced to finish it with the 5”. Even with radar to assist, the gunners missed the first few shots but when they finally got a couple of hits we could see that the Maru was done for. And none too soon because the Auxiliary Gunboat was getting the range as well. We went to flank speed, turned away, and then crash dived.
At 10000 yards from the nearest ship we surfaced and made our way to the East side of the island and the Port of Saipan.
On our journey to the East side of the island, “gremlins” got into the SJ radar – we put our crack engineers on the problem.
We rediscovered that second patrol boat at sunset, just North of the port.
The crash dive took 49 seconds – better than our best drill thus far. An approaching enemy sub killer tends to concentrate the mind.
We found a thermal at 180 and kept going, down to 400 feet. Some minutes later, our enemy roiled the Pacific with depth charges at least 1000 yards astern.
After 10 minutes, we secured from silent running and the repair work on our radar resumed. The repair team asserted that it would be functional in no more than an hour.
At 0930 we rose to radar depth. The unit came to life and at the end of the first complete sweep we saw a total of seven objects – one of these was undoubtedly our pursuer. A few more sweeps showed that the 6 blips in the harbor were stationary. The escort moved forward at slow speed and then stopped – it was listening for us.
We went to 28’ – decks awash – and made a slow approach at 5 knots. The target, a Sokuten Minelayer, remained stationary as we closed to 2700 yards. At that point, we loosed a Mark 14 set to high speed.
The minelayer exploded and sank almost immediately.
With the only patroller eliminated, none of the other ships posed a threat. From 1100 to 1245, we systematically destroyed all 5 ships in the harbor, starting with two Sokuten Minelayers. This was followed by an Akita Maru, a Heito Maru, and a Taihosan Maru. A total of 10 torpedoes were expended in the attack. Along with the 2 from the previous attack, half our torpedoes were gone.
The remaining object was not a ship – it was a float plane we dispatched with the 40 mm.
20 FEB – 24 FEB
Conducted reconnaissance of the three islands, starting with Yap. We continued on to Ulithi and Woleai. (Intelligence gathered on this mission is in a separate report filed with ComSubPac and marked SECRET.) After informing ComSubPac about the successful conclusion of our mission, we were ordered to conduct offensive operations along the Japan-Rabaul shipping lane.
25 APR – 18 MAY
A long, fruitless patrol. Ventured to the Bismarck Sea, dodged a couple of aircraft patrols. Then proceeded North, pursuing a zig-zag path to Saipan, thence to area around Truk. Made close approach to Truk and radar found a number of ships at anchor.
Made a second run to Bismarck Sea and again meandered around.
Made a second run to Truk – no contacts.
With fuel below 35% reported to ComSubPac. Was ordered back to new base at Majuro.
19 MAY – 25 MAY
Return to base. Dock 25 May.
(C) Fuel Consumed
Normal for area(s).
(E) Torpedoes Expended
12 – 8 ships sunk, estimated tonnage 18568.
See Patrol 2.
See Patrol 4
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.
-- Thomas Paine