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Remembering USS Pompano

On October 15, 1943, Comsubpac reported the USS Pompano (SS-181) as presumed lost in enemy waters. Our World War II submarine veterans commemorate her loss on August 20th, the date she sailed from Midway Island on her final patrol. That has always struck me as peculiar since according to most accounts the Pompano and her crew were stalking enemy merchant vessels off Honshu as late as September 25, 1943. In fact, the USS Pompano was scored by JANAC with sinking the enemy cargo ship Taiko Maru that day. However, the JANAC score is disputed by the Alden-McDonald score which documents that the JANAC position coordinates given for that sinking are in the Sea of Japan, well outside of the Pompano’s assigned patrol area off the northeast coast of Honshu. The Alden-McDonald score also proves that the Taiko Maru was sunk by the USS Wahoo on the same date and at the same coordinates in the Sea of Japan, which was Mush Morton’s assigned patrol area at that time. Both scores confirm that the Pompano did sink the cargo vessel Akama Maru on September 3, 1943, at 41-00N, 141-34E. So it appears safe to say the Pompano was hunting enemy shipping as late as September 3rd. When she failed to respond to numerous radio messages and did not show up at Midway Island when expected, Comsubpac posted her as presumed lost. Japanese records reviewed after the war did not disclose any enemy antisubmarine activity in her area. Vice Admiral Lockwood was of the opinion that she had likely fell victim to a newly sewn and unknown minefield. One important thing I learned from the tale of the Pompano is that I cannot take what the JANAC score says as the gospel truth – I need to check and verify the data against other sources. In my mind it is important to get it right out of respect to the submariners on Eternal Patrol. And it is just as important to celebrate their lives as we remember their loss.

USS Pompano

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