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Dolphin’s Intelligence Coup


In late December 1941, Rear Admiral Withers dispatched four Pearl Harbor submarines to conduct reconnaissance of the Marshall, Caroline, and Mariana Islands. Their assignment was to determine Japanese force dispositions in those areas. One of them, the USS Dolphin (SS-169), captained by Gordon B. Rainer, returned on January 27, 1942 and reported seeing substantial enemy activity at Kwajalein and Wotje Atolls in the Marshalls. This intelligence was a godsend for Admiral Halsey, who was keen to use his carrier task force to inflict payback on the Japanese. On February 1, 1942, Halsey in USS Enterprise (CV-6), raided Kwajalein and Wotje. His carrier aircraft scored hits at both locations. The light cruiser Katori, the minelayer Tokiwa, the submarine I-23, and several other important ships took damages, including an 11,000-ton transport and a 10,000-ton tanker. Enterprise received only minor damage in a Japanese counterattack. Withers commended Rainer for providing information which was of great value in this raid. The success of the raid provided a very great boost to American morale.

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