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Albacore Swats

A Gadfly


In December 1942, the submarine USS Albacore’s second war patrol found her patrolling off New Guinea’s northern coast keen to intercept Japanese supply runs to Lae. On the night of December 18, eight miles off Madang, her captain, Richard C. Lake, sighted what he thought was a large transport escorted by a destroyer. From a range of 2,000 yards he fired two torpedoes at the transport. Both torpedoes hit the target in its starboard quarter. It sank stern first at 2320 hours, at 05°-12′ S, 145°-56′ E. After Albacore made it to Brisbane it was learned from intercepted enemy radio communications that the ship was the 3,230-ton light cruiser Tenryu. It had been Rear Admiral Matsuyama Mitsuharu’s flagship. He shifted his flag to the destroyer Isonami, while the destroyer Sukukaze rescued Tenryu’s surviving crew. Twenty-three sailors were killed and twenty-one were wounded in the attack. The Japanese had used Tenryu effectively in the major naval engagements of the Guadalcanal campaign. She had also been a principal player in the invasion of Wake Island and the Battle of the Coral Sea. Overall, she had been a persistently irritating and harassing force. The U. S. Navy was pleased to learn of her demise.

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