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A Close Call For Sargo


The submarine USS Sargo's fifth war patrol, under the captaincy of Lieutenant Commander Richard V. Gregory, lasted for 59 days, from August 3, 1942 to October 25, 1942, and was conducted in the western part of the South China Sea. On September 25, 1942, at 1303 hours, off Indochina, Sargo made a daylight underwater periscope attack against the 4,472-ton Japanese civilian-controlled cargo vessel Teibo Maru. Two of the six Mark 14-1 torpedoes fired hit the ship, one on its port side number three hold and the other under its bridge. One of its crew members was killed; the remainder of the crew abandoned the ship in its lifeboat. Sargo surfaced and sank the drifting wreck with fire from her three-inch gun from 450 yards. She also sprayed the upper decks with her machine guns to discourage any attempt at return fire and made 35 hits on the lifeboat with her three-inch gun, likely killing the remaining crew members. The Teibo Maru was captured by the Japanese from Denmark. It was formerly named by the Danish Nordbo. Under Japanese control, it had departed Bako on September 19, 1942, bound for Cape Saint Jacques. On September 24, 1942, it separated from a slow convoy and eventually crossed paths with the Sargo. The fourth torpedo Sargo fired in this attack was seen to circle to the right. Captain Gregory turned Sargo left at high speed and went deep to avoid it. At five and a half minutes after its firing the torpedo exploded at what seemed to be fairly close astern.

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