Thursday, October 25, 2012

How the Darter Was Lost, Part II

The following embedded document is a short story adapted from the testimony of a Lieutenant Commander R. C. Benitez, taken from the United States Naval Institutes proceedings in January 1948, about the events leading up to and immediately following the loss of the submarine USS Darter (SS-227) on October 24, 1944.

SHORT STORY - Battle Stations Submerged

Transcript of Official War Patrol Log, How the Darter was Lost, part I

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Click Here and Skip to October 24 (date of ship loss) in Patrol Log.

Declassified – DOD DIR. 52009.
Of 27 Sep 58
By QLC DATE: 4/17/71

U.S.S. DARTER (SS-227)

SS227/A16-3                                               Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Cal.

Serial 020


From: Commanding Officer
To: Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet
Via:     (1) Commander, Submarine Div. ONE EIGHTY ONE.
     (2) Commander, Submarine Squadron EIGHTEEN.
     (3) Commander, Task Force SEVENTY ONE.
     (4) Commander, Seventh Fleet.

Subject: U. S. S. DARTER, Report of War Patrol Number Four.

Enclosure: Subject Report.
  1. Enclosure (A) covering the fourth war patrol of this vessel. Conducted in the Celebes(?) and South China Seas, during the period 1 September, 1944 to the date of her loss in action by grounding on 24 October, 1944, is forwarded herewith.

D. H. McClintock


SS 227 / 16-3
Serial 020

(A)                 PROLOGUE:

Arrived Brisbane from 3rd war patrol 8 August 1944.  Refitted by Submarine Repair Unit plus Sub Div. 182 relief crew.  Docked. Re-painted design # 32/955 (dark gray).
26 August fired (for test purposes) two electric torpedoes. One circular run. Made deep dive off Calonndra Head.  31 August ready for sea.

(B)                 NARRATIVE:

Officers and Chief Petty Officers on board:      Total Patrols

Comdr. David H. McClintock, USN            9
Lieut.-Comdr. Ernest L Schwab, Jr., USN         7
Lieut. Eugene P. Wilkinson, USNR            8
Lieut. Ira M. King, USNR               3
Lieut. W. W. Price, USN                  4
Lt. (jg) Edmund J. Skorupski, USNR            3
Lt. (jg) Donald N. Miller, USN               2
Ensign William T. Paseler, USN               9
Ensign William R. Webb, USNR               2

Blanton, Osie W., 272 00 26, CTM                                              4
Gietek, Alexander W., 212 37 80, CSS            7
      James, Thomas R., 263 21 53, CMOMM                    10
      McQuary, Eugene O., 366 19 49, CY                    6
      O’Brien, John, 223 22 10, CMOMM(PA)               4
      Schooley, Merle H., 410 19 43, CRM (AA)               7
      Stokes, William, 622 92 61, CEM(PA)                    2
      Strother, Winifred G., 359 91 20, CEM(AA)               5
      Turner, Shelby, 341 23 69, CGM(PA)                    4
      Voss, Lyle G., 299 38 20, CMOMM(AA)               4

FRIDAY, 1 SEPT. 1944.

1412 K     Underway from New Farm Wharf, Brisbane, Australia for Fourth War Patrol.  In company with USS DACE. Comdr. R. R. CRANE, USN on board as COE during training enroute.

1600 K     Joined H.M.A.S. WHYALLA and H.M.A.S. WARRNAMBOOL, target vessels for training.
1-5 Sep. 1944

Engaged in training exercises including day approaches, night radar approaches, evasive tactics and firing guns; enroute DARWIN.

1742 K     4 Sept 1944. Comdr. Crane transferred to USS DACE.  H.M.A.S. WARNAMBOOL released.

1545 K     5 Sept 1944.  Parted company with H.M.A.S. WHYALLA with Comdr. Crane aboard latter

          5-9 Sept. 1944.  Enroute DARWIN via TORRES STRAIT in company with USS DACE. Holding drills and exercises enroute.

          Sunday 10 Sept. 1944.

0604 K SJ Contact 7000 yards with Australian ML-807, our escort into DARWIN.

0630 K Sighted USS NARWHAL inbound.

0844 K Moored starboard side to USS COUCAL. Fueled, minor repairs made by COUCAL.

1608 I Underway. At 1647 No escort at net, although arranged for in A.M. Proceeding unescorted.

Noon Positions: DARWIN; miles 263, fuel 3920 gal.

Monday, 11 Sept. 1944.

1226 I Submerged 17 miles off TIMOR passage.

1924 I Surfaced in passage.

Noon position: Lat. 08-375, Long. 127-43E; Miles 298, Fuel 4786 gal.

Tuesday, 12 Sept. 1944.

 1501 I Submerged to await darkness before going through passage North of BO(illegible)ROE ISLAND.

1927 I Surfaced.

2000 I Picked up indications of another radar astern. Probably DACE.  Noon positions: Lat. 04-528, Long. 125-39E; miles 323, fuel 5049 gal.

Wednesday, 13 Sept 1944.

0012 I SJ radar conatct 036 deg. T, 7000 yards. Commenced tracking and maneuvering for position with target against a lighter background.  Target course 340 deg. T, speed 6. Skip Contact #1.

0140 I At range 4500 yards target made out to be a small patrol boat. Ceased tracking.

0150 I SJ Radar contact 154 degrees T, 9500 yards.  This target had radar.  Challenged by radar.  No answer.  Commenced four engines and around.  (Contact later proved to be USS DACE)

0605 I Dove ahead of DACE at dawn.

0647 I No target yet. Surfaced.

1110 I Sighted 3 fighter planes unidentified headed for us. Submerged. Air contact #1.

1229 I Surfaced.

2200 I Passing through BANCK passage.  Noon position: Lat. 00-20S, Long. 126-09E; Miles 367, fuel 5811 gallons.

Thursday, 14 Sept.1944.

0800 I On station on reconnaissance line.  North of CELEBES island.  Patrolling at 2 generator speed during daylight.  One generator at night.

1043 I Sighted fishing stakes supported by glass balls.  Fired 20mm & 40mm for drill.  Fishing stakes were topepd by white flags with Japanese writing on some.

1115 I SD radar contact 14 miles.  Lost at 20.  Not sighted. Aircraft contact # 2.

1345 I Fired .30cal & .50cal at stump for drill.

2312 I Submerged to wash oil out of #4 M.B.T (Main Ballast Tank?) which had gone dry.

2332 I Surfaced.   Noon Posit.: Lat. 02-55N, Long. 122-34E; Miles 336, fuel 3436 gal.
Friday, 15 Sept. 1944.

From now until return to BIAK we were patrolling on a reconnaissance line to detect approach of forces which might interfere with the MOROTAI-PALAU Operations.

1120 I Plane on radar 15 miles. Lost at 22 miles.  Not sighted. Air contact #3.   Noon Posit.: Lat. 02-16N, Long. 122-19E; Miles 314, fuel 2777 gal.

Saturday, 16 Sept. 1944.

1034 I Plane on radar. 19 miles. Air contact # 4.

1041 I Sighted plane. Submerged.

1218 I Surfaced.  Noon Posit. Lat. 02-53N, Long. 122-34E; miles 297; fuel 2650 gallons

Sunday, 17 Sept. 1944.

0910 I Plane on radar. 17 miles. Air Contact #5.
0917 I Plane at 7 miles not yet sighted. Submerged.
1028 I Surfaced.

1033 I Plane on radar. 12 miles. Lost at 17 miles. Air contact #6.

1054 I Plane on radar. 24 miles. Air contact #7.

1148 I Float plane sighted and picked up on radar at 6 miles. Air contact #8. Apparently this one had shadowed us all morning. Submerged.

1432 I Surfaced.

1613 I Plane on radar, 10 miles. Air contact #9.
1614 I Range closed to 6 miles. Submerged.
1648 I Surfaced.

Noon Position: Lat. 03-11N, Long. 122-36S; miles 273; fuel 2013 gallons.

Monday, 18 Sept. 1944.

1542 I Plane on radar, 19 miles. Not sighted. Air contact #10.
Noon Posit. Lat. 02-34N, Long. 122-45E; miles 315, fuel 2792 gal.

Tuesday, 19 Sept. 1944.

0715 I Plane on radar, 10 miles. Air contact # 11. Submerged.
0837 I Surfaced.

1009 I Plane on radar. Air contact # 12. Submerged.
1207 I Surfaced.

1451 I Fired 40mm at stump for drill.

1617 I Plane on radar, 8 miles. Air contact # 13. Submerged.

1621 I Took two bombs or depth charges while at 200ft. No damage.

1856 I Surfaced. 

Noon posit: Lat. 02-57N, Long. 122-57E; miles 236; fuel 1980 gal.
Wednesday, 20 Sept. 1944.

0835 I Plane on radar, 10 miles. Air contact # 14. Submerged.
1039 I Surfaced.

1157 I Plane on radar. Submerged. Air contact # 15.
1417 I Surfaced.

1418 I Indication of plane radar. Submerged.
1627 I Surfaced.

1714 I Sighted four horn floating mine. Exploded same at range 250 yards with .30 cal. MG fire.  Showered small fragments on both sides of ship.

1722 I Sighted plane. Air Contact # 16. Submerged.
1901 I Surfaced.

Noon Posit: Lat. 02-26N, Long. 122-21E; miles 206; fuel 1680 gal.

Thursday, 21 Sept. 1944.

1110 I Radar contact 19 miles. Air contact #17.
1112 I Sighted westbound friendly B-24. Plane did not approach us.

1230 I Plane on radar, 26 miles. Air contact #18.

1244 I ID’d B-24 (probably 1112 Contact going home) Approached. Fired recognition signal. Plane turned away.

1513 I Plane on radar 14 miles. Air contact #19.

1514 I Float plane sighted, apparently shadowing us.
1525 I Lost sight of plane.

2112 I Plane on SJ radar 4500 yards, air contact #20. Submerged. Last range 2700 yards. It was too dark for plane to locate us by any means except radar.

2238 I Surfaced.

Noon Posit.: Lat. 01-45N, Long. 122-48E; miles 286; fuel 2625 gal.
Friday, 22 Sept. 1944.

0912 I Plane on radar 10 miles. Air contact #21. Submerged. Stayed down to routine torpedoes.
1308 I Surfaced.

2105 I Plane on SJ radar 13,000 yards. Submerged at range 7000 yards. Last range 3800 yards. This contact was within 8 minutes of the time, and within 10 miles of position of last night’s contact. Air contact #22.

2253 I Surfaced.

Noon Posit: Lat. 01-54N, Long. 123-01E; miles 247; fuel 2125 gal.

Saturday, 23 Sept. 1944.

0625 I Submerged. Working on engine starting air line.  Relief valve had carried away causing severe head injuries to JAMES, Thomas Ray, 283 21 53, CMOMM USN.

1308 I Surfaced. Noon Position: Lat. 01-39N, Long. 122-04E; miles 239; fuel 2095 gal.

Sunday, 24 Sept. 1944.

0645 I Sighted Jap float plane. Air contact #23.  Submerged.
0812 I Surfaced. Proceeding to BIAK in accordance with orders.

1150 I Sighted B-24. Air Contact #24.

1321 I Plane on radar, 24 miles. Not sighted. Air contact #25.


Sunday, 1 Oct. 1944.

1830 I SJ radar contact on 4 small ships, course Southeast. Closed to visual contact. Targets made out to be small ships (not submarines). Decided they could not be enemy. Avoided.
Noon Posit.: Lat. 01-23S, Long. 136-28E; fuel 2450 gal.

Monday, 2 Oct. 1944.

0606 I Sighted submarine (USS SEAWOLF). Sighted numerous US planes 2 and 3 Oct. Noon Position: Latitude 01-29N, Longitude 134-25E; miles 316; fuel 3204 gal.

Tues, Oct. 1944.

1042 I Sighted USS NARWHAL

1502 I Sighted numerous US Planes – fighters, torpedo bombers. These planes circled us to do approaches for next three hours which necessitated firing many recognition flares. One defective flare exploded, large fragments of flare and holder narrowly missed the J.O.O.D.

1518 I Sighted 3 DE’s. Found hunter-killer group was “working over” the submarine safety lane. After firing five flares and exchanging calls for what seemed like an hour, heard one DE say over voice radio: “Believe this submarine is American”!

Noon Posit.: Lat. 02-35N, Long. 130-16E; miles 296; fuel 4579.

Wednesday, 4 Oct. ‘44.

1200 I Transmitting 20 pass at 4 generator speed.
Noon posit.: Lat. 02-32N, Long. 125-17E; miles 355; fuel 5575 gal.

Thursday, 5 Oct. ’44.

0200 I Sighted large floating mine, dead ahead. Narrowly missed hitting it.

0840 I Submerged for approach on SIBUTU passage

1660 I Set clocks to: 1500 H.

1836 H Surfaced proceeding through SIBUTU Passage.
Noon Position: Lat. 04-26N – Long. 120-14E; miles 248; fuel 3976 gal.
Friday, 6 Oct. ’44.

0130 H Passing between PEARL BANK and DOC CAM Island.

0535 H Submerged.

0600 H Surfaced, proceeding North through SULU SEA.

1244 H Sighted Jap medium bomber, range 4 miles. Air contact #26. Submerged.

1510 H Surfaced.

2225 H Submerged to flush # 4 M. B. T.

2304 H Surfaced.

Noon Posit.: Lat. 05-12N, Long. 120-46E; miles 313, fuel 4401 gal.

Sat, 7 Oct. ’44.

1031 H Submerged South of MINDURO ISLAND. Weather had cleared, making discovery very likely while running close to MINDURO.

1839 H Surfaced. Proceeding through MINDURO at East pass. Thence West around North end of PALAWAN ISLAND.

Noon Posit.: Lat. 11-41N, Long. 121-17E; miles 231; fuel 2956 gal.

Sun., 8 Oct. ’44.

0554 H Submerged at north end of PALAWAN PASSAGE, to work on Hydraulic plant.

1120 H Hydraulic plant back in commission; surfaced. Proceeding South in PALAWAN PASSAGE.

Noon Posit.: Lat. 12-04N, Long. 118-56E; miles 271; fuel 3159 gal.

Mon, 9 Oct. ’44.

0400 H Entered assigned area (DOG-6)

0552 H Submerged for patrol in PALAWAN PASSAGE, SE of BOMBAY SHOAL.

Patrolling submerged because 1) this point of passage is narrow enough to permit sighting from midpoint of any convoy attempting passage, 2) Nearness of PUERTO PRINCESA airfield.

1844 H Surfaced.

Noon Posit.: Lat. 08-58N, Long. 117-30E; miles 178; fuel 1961 gal.

Tues, 10 Oct. ’44.

Received contact reports on convoy which was at north end of PALAWAN PASSAGE at 2300 last night. Received voice transmission from DACE that she was entering area and suggesting rendezvous.

0450 H Rendezvous with DACE. DACE ordered to patrol submerged today covering east half of passage; DARTER covering west half, waiting for reported convoy at north end area.

0618 H Submerged.

1831 H Surfaced. Proceeding North up Western side of passage; DACE up eastern half, to intercept convoy.

2400 H Reversed course. Noon Posit.: Lat. 09-17N, Long. 117-07E; miles 170; fuel 1405 gal.

Weds, 11 Oct. ’44.

0231 H Spoke to DACE. Decided convoy must have anchored inside the barrier. DACE will patrol passage at Northern limit area today and DARTER West of BALABAC ISLAND.

1130 H Submerged NW of BALABAC ISLAND.
1836 H Surfaced.

Noon Posit.: Lat. 08-40N, Long. 116-51E; miles 219; fuel 2083 gal.
Thurs, 12 Oct. ’44.

0140 H Spoke to DACE. DARTER will patrol Northern limit of area in narrow part of PALAWAN PASSAGE today. DACE to patrol West of BALABAC STRAIT.

0554 H Submerged.

0619 H Sound reported echo ranging bearing 030 degrees T.  Dead ahead.

0627 H Sighted 7 columns smoke, same bearing.

0705 H Smoke bearings began to draw right. Targets which had been coming down center of PALAWAN PASSAGE are now apparently heading for north BALABAC STRAIT. Changed to normal approach course, making 6 knots.

0759 H Raised SD antenna and sent contact report to DACE. No receipt.

0803 H Minimum angle on the bow on any ship up to this time was 45 deg. Starboard. Continued closing at high speed. Manned battle stations. Targets seem to be:

3 AO’s – Toiyo Maru, Liyo Maru,and one resembling
Issyo Maru.

1 AP – Large square cabin structure – 7,500 tons

3 AK’s – Two large, one medium

2 DD’s – New type, large, one stack DD. Similar to Torutsuki without #2 turret. 1 other probable DD heard pinging on far side of convoy.

0920 H Starboard DD went by at 4300 yards.  Decided he could avoid torpedoes at that range, whereas tankers could not.

0924 H Fired (from bow tubes) 4 low power Mark 14s at two overlapping tankers, trailing ships of the convoy. (Other two torpedoes in tubes were 23’s) 6000 yard torpedo run.

0926 H All torpedoes running normally. Closest DD steaming as before. Went deep to escape air cover. Position of attack Lat. 8-40N, Long. 116-42E.

0930 H Heard 3 torpedo hits. Timed for two in forward near tanker and one in the other.

0934 H Heard one end of run torpedo explosion.

0935 H Seven close aerial bombs. These lacked the click which is distinctive of depth charges.

0937 H Evading two escorts which conducted 45 minute echo ranging search. Although they passed close aboard several times, a heavy density layer prevented them from making contact.

1055 H At periscope depth. One tanker in sight, trailing remainder of convoy. This ship was slowed and it or its smoke was in sight until 1315, inside the shallow water approaches to north BALABAC STRAIT. We could gain nothing by surfacing since targets were now in the shallow waters west of north BALABAC STRAIT so remained submerged. Estimated targets would hole up in a bay on east side of BALABAC (The C.O. anchored in this bay on a DD in 1938.)

1330 H Sent contact report to DACE on 2880 Kilocycles.

1848 H Surfaced. Sent contact reports to DACE and CTF-71. Proceeding to rendezvous with DACE, west of BALABAC STRAIT.

2200 H Rendezvous, DACE had not seen our convoy. Previous estimate of situation must be correct. DACE will continue patrolling close in to BALABAC STRAIT tomorrow. DARTER will patrol 20 miles southwest, in case a convoy heads for SINGAPORE.

Noon Posit.: Lat. 08-34N, Long. 117-51E; miles 187; fuel 1979 gal.

(From this point to 20 Oct. report is from memory only, due to loss of logs and quartermaster’s notebook.)

Friday, 13 Oct. ’44.

Patrolling submerged.

1700 H Received on vertical antenna DACE contact report on our convoy seen at 1100 heading south inside BORNEO BARRIER REEF.

1800 H Sighted DACE on surface. Surfaced to decide on plan of attack; DACE to head south coming in ahead of convoy. DARTER to come in astern. (We were uncertain as to where convoy would be found)

2000 H Proceeding south inside BARRIER REEF in about 20 fathoms of water.

2300 H Radar contact ahead several minutes after DACE made contact (26,000 yards)

Saturday, 14 Oct. ’44.

Maneuvering for attack position from starboard beam of last ship. DACE ahead on convoy stbd. Bow. Could not attack from port due to proximity of beach. Waiting for DACE attack. Doctrine called for her to attack first, since she made first contact.

0035 H In position 8,000yds on beam of of starboard trailing ship. One dog dog between us and ship.

0110 H Off GAYA BAY saw DACE make a beautiful attack, getting 4 hits on an unknown number of ships. Great clouds of steam and smoke arose from one ship. From now on an accurate radar check showed that one ship sank as result of this attack and one ship was stopped. Original radar picture was 10 ships, 7 large and 3 dog dogs. After attack, 5 large pips with one dog dog kept going south. One large pip disappeared. (All ships were too well boxed in by land on two sides and 2 subs on the other to have gotten away without our sighting them on radar.)

One target stopped with dog dog. One dog dog chased where he thought DACE was but came in our direction. DARTER now forced to to head north losing several miles. Got back in position and started in for attack on the large tanker (just north of MIWAMIS BAY. Convoy now zigged about 50 deg. Left into MIWAMIS BAY. (This put rocks between us and convoy and cost us our chance to attack.)  Reversed course to head for cripple.  Found stopped cripple off GAYA BAY escorted by two dog dogs who were patrolling slowly and echo ranging. Started in slowly on surface.

Sat. 14 Oct. ’44 contd.

Detected at 10,000 yards and chased by dog dogs. After evading some, waited 20 minutes and started in again. At 9,000 yards detected again (probably by sound), dog dogs closed into 5,500 yards before we threw them off. With dawn one hour away and a four hour run to deep water ahead, abandoned attack; making full power for deep water.

0900 H     Submerged for day west of BARRIER REEF (off GAYA BAY)

2400 H     Rendezvoused with DACE. Did not see fit to return to convoy since it had but a few miles to go to reach BRUNEI BAY at lower edge area. Also had orders to cover strait.  Plan is: DARTER to patrol PALAWAN PASSAGE east of ROYAL CAPTAIN SHOAL, DACE to patrol BALABAC STRAIT. Exchange stations night of 17-18.

15, 16, 17 Oct. 1944.

Patrolling east of ROYAL CAPTAIN SHOAL in PALAWAN PASSAGE. Nothing sighted. Exchanged stations night of 17th.

Wednesday, 18 Oct. 1944.

Patrolling west approaches to BALABAC STRAIT. Night of 18th received reports of BLUE GILLS Southbound convoy. Headed north up PALAWAN PASSAGE to intercept.

Thurs., 19 Oct. 1944.

1000 H     Sighted periscope 3000 yards on port bow.  Turned away at flank speed.

1005 H DACE surfaced. Closing to plan attack on convoy; visibility poor.

1009 H Sighted masts to northeast about 10 miles distant.

1010 H Sent plain language report of masts to DACE on 2880 Kcs.

1011 H Submerged. Battle stations.

1018 H Found ourselves between tracks of two oncoming FUBUKI Dog Dogs. Turned east to attack left flank DD on starboard track, since DACE was submerged 3000 yards to west. DD’s zigging radically.

1040 H Target zigged away presenting 80 port angle on the bow. Come hard right for stern shots.

1042 H Fired four stern tubes; 130 port track, range 3000 yards. 500 feet spread. Depth set 6 feet.

1043 H Target ran up flag hoist and turned away. Smoke of torpedoes looked to show a straddle, but all torpedoes missed.  Position of attack: Lat. 9-09N, Long. 117-03E. Went deep since could not turn 180 degrees in time to give him a down the throat shot when he came at us. Several depth charges dropped, not close.

1830 H Surfaced. DARTER covering west side passage, DACE east side in vicinity of ROYAL CAPTAIN SHOAL; looking for BLUEGILL convoy; also suspected destroyer sweep might indicate heavy units coming this way.

Friday, 20 Oct. ’44.

Patrolling west side of PALAWAN PASSAGE, searching for BLUEGILL convoy.

0400 H Contacted the two DD’s northbound, speed 17. We were just forward of their beam, range 18,000 yards. Could not close. Sent contact report to DACE.

Saturday, 21 Oct ’44.

0000 H Picked up news broadcast on Phillippines invasion.  Immediately headed for BALABAC STRAIT to watch for heavy units since SINGAPORE-BALABAC-MINDANAO SEA is shortest route for any part of Jap fleet which might head for LEYTE.

0815 H Submerged in western approach to BALABAC STRAIT.

1824 H Surfaced. Patrolling tonight covering southwest approaches to BALABAC STRAIT.

2350 H Radar contact 26,000 yards, 261 degrees T(3 targets) 0100 target position 07-31N; Long. 115-22E.

2352 H At battle stations; making full power. Sent contact report to DACE and CTF-71 on 3 probable heavy cruisers. Targets tracked at speed 23 knots, base course 020 degrees T, headed through the Dangerous Ground. We were only 29 degrees forward of targets from beam on contact, and never had a chance to gain position. Held on at full power (18.8 knots) through Dangerous Ground until after daylight with view (1) possible zig toward us (2) to send out contact reports to coach DACE onto track (3) to attempt to sight targets at dawn for identification.  Sent total of two contact reports to CTF-71 and 11 to DACE. DACE was in position for possible interception.

Sunday, 22 Oct. ’44.

 0450 H Targets in a zigzag to 335 degrees T to pass west of ALICIA ANN SHOAL. This was not recognized as a change in base course in time to allow DACE to get in position.

0500 H Sent report to DACE that enemy course is now 335 degrees T.

0507 H Radar lost targets

Sunday, 22 Oct. ’44, Cont’d.

625 H Sighted tops of the probable BB West of ALICIA ANN SHOAL.  Radar range 38,000 yds had coached periscope on.

0659 H Abandoned chase since we were 19 miles behind a 22 knot target.  (Their ships were probably the 2 Aobas cruisers and one DD later contacted by USS BREAM.  For 4 ½ hours the exact zigzag plan of the force was as follows: From hour to half hour then repeat: 050 degrees, 350 degrees, 020 degrees, 350 degrees and so on, zig-zagging every five minutes. Base course 20 degrees T.

0700 H Headed south through Dangerous Ground along target’s track, in hopes more were coming.

0902 H Submerged for patrol in Dangerous Ground.

1818 H Surfaced. Proceeding to BALABAC STRAIT.

2000 H Heading for rendezvous with DACE.

Monday, 23 Oct. ’44.

0000 H Speaking to DACE; planning remainder of coordinated patrol.

0016 H Radar contact 131 degrees T, operator says “probably rain.” 

0017 H By megaphone to DACE: “We have radar contact. Let’s go”

0020 H Bearing changed to left. Operator says it is ships. Both subs closing at full power. Come to normal approach course, 040 degrees T.  Targets headed up to PALAWAN PASSAGE.

Between now and dawn sent out 3 contact reports to CTF-71, giving final estimate that ships were a task force of 11 heavy ships.  This based on their high speed and long radar ranges obtained (34,000 yards maximum); also many sweeping radars were detected.  Tracking party said that gaining attack position was hopeless due to high target speed (initial estimate 22 knots)  Blew negative, safety, ran #10 blow every 30 minutes.  Managed to average about 19 knots.  Estimates of enemy speed began to drop until finally it was 15 knots. We had them now! Enemy course 39 degrees. DARTER was to attack left flank column first, at dawn, with DACE about 5 miles up the track in position to attack starboard column.  Did not attack in darkness, as it was considered vital to see and identify the force which was probably on its way to interfere with the Leyte landing.  It was felt that there could be no radical dawn zig due to size of force and narrowness of PALAWAN PASSAGE. Targets did not zig during night.

0425 H 20,000 yards dead ahead of port column of heavy ships. Slowed to 15 knots. Biggest pip in port column was last ship. Picked it as target.

0452 H Manned battle stations.

0500 H Targets spread by up to 16 knots.

0509 H Reversed course, headed towards port column, and submerged. (DACE had just passed us to dive to Northeast)  DARTER planned to attack from West in half light at dawn at 0540.

0517 H Now light enough to see shapes through ‘scope. We were dead ahead of port flank column of heavy ships.  Could not yet identify ships. Visibility better to east where battleships and cruisers could be seen several thousand yards away.  Two destroyers noted to east. Both drawing left. There was no echo ranging.

0525 H Making ready 11 tubes, depth 10 feet.

0527 H C/c right to parallel column to be able to fire all ten tubes. Still looked like “down the throat” shots.  First four ships in column identified as heavy cruisers. Fifth one is probably a battleship.

0528 H Range 2880 yards to first cruiser in column. Angle on the bow still small.

Monday, 23 Oct. ’44 Cont’d.

0530 H Targets zigged in a “ships left” to course 350 deg. T. Got new setup.

0532 H Commenced firing bow tubes at leading cruiser. Using periscope spread to cover 150 degrees of length.  Average range 980, gyros 35-70 right, track 92-130 starboard.  After firing two into him and one spread ahead, target was rearing by so close that we couldn’t miss so spread the remainder inside his length. Swing hard left to bring stern tubes to bear while getting setup on second cruiser.

0533 H Torpedoes started hitting first cruiser.  Five hits. Commenced firing stern tubes at second cruiser; average range 1525, gyros 50 to 60 degrees (130 deg. Left to 120 deg. Left)  Track 90-100 degrees starboard. Spread torpedoes over center 3 quarters of his length since hits in first one showed the dope was good. Whipped periscope back to the first target to see the sight of a lifetime: cruiser was so close that all of her could not be seen at once with periscope in high power. She was a mass of billowing black smoke from number one turret to the stern. No superstructure could be seen. Bright orange flames shot out from the side along the main deck from the bow to the after turret.  Cruiser was already going down by the bow, which was dipping under.  #1 turret was at water level.  She was definitely finished. Five hits had her sinking and in flames. It is estimated that there were few if any survivors.

0534 H Started deep. Evaded on base course 220 deg. T.

0534 H+ Four hits in second cruiser. Felt certain that four hits would sink this one too.  The fourth hit was 25 seconds later than it should have been. This fourth one may have hit the third cruiser, since they were now in line of bearing formation.  Attack position: Lat. 09-23N; Long. 117-11E.

0539 H Depth charge attack began. Four Dog Dogs were echo ranging and milling about overhead.  The hits, and the screws of many heavy ships probably confound the sound situation for the enemy, since the attack was not accurate.

0540 H Commenced hearing breaking up noises on sound gear on a broad bearing (roughly 340 T) where our targets should be stopped. Noises could be heard through hull in all compartments. These increased in intensity until they seemed to be right overhead and shook the ship violently. (Bearings of bucking and crunching noises only could be obtained. Heavy rumbling and explosions were too violent to get sound bearings on.)

0550 H Heard four distant torpedo explosions in rapid succession. Probably DACE firing. The Japs must think our submarines are everywhere at once. From 0600 to 0604 there were tremendous explosions. Probably magazines. It is estimated that from 0600 on, our target’s breaking up noises combined with those of DACE’s target.

0605 H Depth charges began again. Probably meant for DACE this time A total of about 36 overall were heard from this time on more distant breaking up noises and distant rattling explosions (not depth charges) could be heard until about 0625)

0630 H Last of depth charges. Four destroyers could be heard echo ranging. Estimated composition of the task force as follows: left flank column: four ATAGO class CA’s plus one possible BB. Right flank column: 2 CA’s, one BB.  Asterna nd right flank, 2 CA’s or CL’s and one CV or BB. In addition estimate six DD(only four seen). Total 11 heavy ships, 6 DD.

0820 H At periscope depth: One Atago class cruiser sighted bearing 019 deg. T, range 12,000 yards, at our attack position, listing slightly to starboard and dead in the water. No steam up. Three destroyers were near him and three planes circled the vicinity. No smoke coming from cruiser. (This cruiser was of the CA 9 and 10 stage class with catapult forward of mainmast)
The following in conenction with the damage inflicted on this attack is submitted:

  1. Leading cruiser was seen to be afire and sinking with 5 hits.

2.4 more hits were obtained, at least 3 in second cruiser; the 4th hit was 25 seconds late. Timed about right for #3 cruiser.

3.Before returning to periscope depth we were convinced we had sunk two.

4.DACE saw two cruisers burning before she attacked her column.

5.Our cripple was NOT afire at 0820. It is believed that large oil fires could not be put out in 2 1/2 hours.

  6.Three hits should sink our second cruiser.

  7.Conclusion: There is a possibility that two were sunk and one damaged. As stated this is only a possibility, yet the idea is submitted; because, unless Jap cruisers can take more punishment than ours, it is the logical explanation of the above.

0900 H Secured from battle stations, feeding crew, and making reload preparatory to attacking again.

0930 H One destroyer shoved off to North. It is believed he had been picking up survivors.

1100 H Started in towards cruiser.

1200 H Battle stations, rigged for depth charge.

1300 H Range to cruiser 8000 yards. Coming in on 90 port track. Two destroyers patrolling on beam at range 4000 yards from target, the maximum range at which we could fire.  Four planes circling overhead. Decided we would never get to fire from beam with DDs where they were, so commenced working around to bow for small track.

1430 H Range 7000 yards to cruiser. Coming in on port bow of target for small track when destroyers both headed towards us. When range about 3500 yards on closest DD, and still coming in went deep and evaded. Could not attack destroyers since our six torpedoes were for the cruiser. Decided to wait until tonight when combined attacks of DARTER & DACE would outlast the destroyer. (It should be remarked here that we were twice today well within the low power (Mk 14) torpedo range of the stopped, 657 foot target; but these are no longer manufactured in quantities sufficient to give more than a partial load to any boat.)


1500 H Cruiser seen hoisting out a boat. He must have some steam now.

Sunset Too close to cruiser to surface for star sights.

1915 H Surfaced. Cruiser in sight on radar. Proceeding to rendezvous with DACE. Sent contact report on stopped CA and estimated composition of remainder of force.

2100 H Cancelled rendezvous with DACE not yet sighted. And reduced visibility rendering immediate attack appear favorable. DACE ordered to take attack position 10 miles bearing 150 deg. T from cruiser. DARTER 10 miles bearing 050 deg. T from cruiser. (Thought DDs would attempt tow cruiser in our direction towards PALAWAN BARRIER REEF)

2200 H Cruiser underway, course about 220 deg. T. Speed varied from 4 to 5 knots; course was erratic as though target was steering with screws. One DD patrolling on each beam.

2245 H Started in for surface attack in very poor visibility. Planned to attack from Stbd. Quarter, coming in last mile slowly on battery. Told DACE we would attack in 90 minutes and to sink him if we were forced down.

2306 H Radar detector picked up two radars sweeping. Decided against surface attack. Told DACE to attack when ready, DARTER ending around to starboard for attack at radar depth. Ending around at range 15000 yards on target.

2310 H We now began running through heavy fuel oil slick from the morning attacks. Slick seen and heavy fumes noted for next 45 minutes.

2400 H About one hour to run to gain attack position ahead. Range to cruiser about 18000 yards. Making 17 knots. (Had no sights for 30 hours.)

*USS Darter Runs Aground*
Tuesday, 24 Oct. 1944.

0005 H (OOD and Captain on bridge. Navigator plotting in conning tower.) Ship grounded on Bombay Shoal with tremendous crash. Took 20 degree up angle. Stern submerged. Thought we had been torpedoed. Rode up over reef and came to rest with about a 3 degree up angle and 3 degree port list. Informed DACE we were aground. Immediately took soundings: 9 feet from bow to conning tower, 18 feet at stern.  (No damage to ship except probably bent plates and nicked screws) Commenced lightening ship; high tide is at 0140.

0015 H Jap destroyer now began closing. He must have heard us hit. Commenced burning secret and confidential matter and destroying confidential gear. All hands not engaged in destroying gear employed in lightening ship.

0030 H Radar range to DD now 12,100 yards. Steadied here for a few minutes; started to man guns, but radar soon reported range opening. Blew over all fuel oil except enough to keep us going for a few days; variable water; fresh water; lube oil; anchor; jettisoned ammunition and commissary stores.

0100 H Lost radar contact on DD.

0140 H Radar contact on DACE 11,000 yards challenged by radar.

0146 H High tide commenced attempts to get off reef. Engines would not run because all salt water intakes plugged with coral. Backed with everything we had on battery. All hands assembled aft (to redistribute weight) First on stern where we were in 18 feet of water. Then further forward, sallying ship, in conjunction with backing (reverse speed)

0149 H Stopped. Ship had not moved. Heading remained the same.

0210 H Tried backing, twisting and sallying again for next twenty minutes.

0230 H Tide receding now. We are high and dry. Ceased effort to get off. Concentrated on destroying confidential gear. Three fires were kept burning below decks to detsroy classified matter: one in forward engine room, one in radio shack, one in officer’s shower. These made much smoke. Smoke was kept down to some extent by running #10 blow continuously. More fires would have made destruction work below impossible. As it was, personnel had to go topside for air every few minutes.  All registered publications except ONI-49 destroyed by burning. Report of confidential matter not burned submitted by despatch and will be submitted by separate letter. (See recommendations under paragraph (v) remarks.

1.    SJ radar including magnetron tubes
2.    SD radar; ABK; BN; ARC
3.    Sound gear in forward room; including JP.
4.    Sound gear in conning tower.
5.    TDC and both gyro angle indicator regulators.
6.    Bathythermograph
7.    Gyro
8.    Ship’s radio transmitters and receivers
9.    All generators were burned out (main generators)

0245 H DACE approached to within 50 yards of stern and sent over a line.

0304 H Commenced sending over crew in ours and DACE rubber boats.

0420 H Completed rigging demolition charges. Decided to abandon ship now to permit firing charges and torpedoing by DACE prior sunrise.  Also some compartments below could no longer  be entered due to dense smoke from fires. Final connecting of demolition outfit witnessed by Gunnery Officer and Commanding Officer. Timer witnessed set for 35 minutes.

0435 H Commanding Officer last to abandon ship.

0455 H From DACE heard light explosion at correct time. Some of the 50 charges may have gone off but certainly the warhead did not. No damage observed to hull. Smoke still pouring out of hatches but this may be from remains of publications fires. (One booster had been rigged in a warhead) DACE now attempted to hit DARTER with four torpedoes. All seemed to hit reefs. Tide is much lower. DACE now put about 3 common and 18 high capacity four inch hits in DARTER along water line. It is estimated that the high capacity ammunition penetrated outer hull only. One hit blew up #1 or #2 N.F.O. tank and may have started fires in forward battery. It was now daylight and DACE was forced down by a plane during firing. A DD soon appeared and may have boarded, although fires were still burning. Night of 24-25th DACE returned to scene with intentions of reboarding with DACE demolition outfit. When at range 2000 yards from DARTER close echo ranging was heard on sound gear (also by both CO’s on bridge) so DACE cleared vicinity. This was estimated to be submerged submarine close aboard since 1) it was bright moonlight and favorable for a periscope attack, 2) no radar contact on any other ship.

Proceeding to Freemantle in USS DACE.

At this point the Commanding Officer states that the Commanding Officer of the DACE; Commander B. D. Claggett, USN, unhesitatingly risked his ship close aboard a reef and in close proximity to the enemy, to rescue the DARTER crew, the remnants of which would have been unquestionably captured on arrival of the Jap DD, after our remaining ammunition was expended. The superb seamanship and skillful direction by the DACE Commanding Officer enabled the rescue to be carried out smartly, quickly and without the loss of a single man. He is being recommended for an award by separate letter.

Monday, 6 November 1944.

D. H. McClintock

   After Action report transcribed in handwriting by Hugh N. Siegel, retired Radio Technician First Class, U.S.S. DARTER SS-227, date unknown

Handwriting typewritten by Hugh’s grandson Jeffrey D. Batt, son of Hugh’s daughter Karen M. Batt (Siegel) on Saturday, February 18, 2012.  Typeface set in Courier New, 12 pt.