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Salmon’s Surfaced

Shootout


During her eleventh war patrol, which covered the period September 4 to November 3, 1944, the USS Salmon (SS-182) teamed with USS Trigger (SS-237) and USS Sterlet (SS-392) as a coordinated attack group in the Ryukyu Islands, south of Kyushu. Carrier air strikes had already eliminated most seagoing vessels in that area, so enemy targets were few and far between. Only one target worthy of torpedo fire was found, and it was attacked by each submarine separately. On October 30, 1944, at 1620 hours, two of Trigger’s Mark 18-1 torpedoes hit the 10,020-ton oiler tanker Takane Maru, wrecking its engine room, and leaving him unable to navigate. Trigger was chased off by two of the tanker’s escorts, but shortly notified her pack mates by radio of the crippled vessel. Around 2100 hours that evening, Salmon found the the crippled tanker under guard by three escort vessels, the kaibokans CD-22, CD-29, and CD-33. The submarine fired four Mark 18-1 torpedoes at the tanker, scoring two hits on his bow. The three escorts counterattacked, delivering an accurate pattern of depth charges. Salmon was seriously damaged and went down out of control to 500 feet. Her diving officer was able to stop the decent with a 20° up angle. Salmon rose slowly to 150 feet, but damages to her pressure hull, one engine, and electronic equipment, plus numerous leaks, were so serious she could not be held stable. Her captain decided to take his chances on the surface. He surfaced Salmon under cover of a heavy squall giving her crew time to correct her list, stop some leaks, put two of her diesel engines on line, and get every gun she could muster ready for her last-ditch defense. The CD-29 spotted Salmon and opened fire with his 120MM bow gun, but shortly the submarine disappeared in the darkness. Next the CD-22 charged Salmon with the intent to ram her. Salmon’s captain turned the boat toward the kaibokan. The two vessels passed each other just 50 yards apart. CD-22 opened fire on Salmon with his 25MM AA gun. Salmon mounted spirited fire from her machine-guns, and her 20MM AA and deck guns, killing five and wounding twenty-four of CD-22′s sailors. CD-22 was also hit in the bow by a dud shell that caused a temporary leak. Fearing the possible presence of other American submarines, the kaibokans pulled away while Salmon took advantage of a rain squall and slipped away. Other than the damage caused by depth charges, Salmon suffered only a few small caliber hits from the escort vessels. Three of her crew men were wounded by shrapnel and one received a serious laceration in his right hand when a speaker was blown from the bulkhead by depth charges. Later that night, Sterlet found the Takane Maru dead in the water and down by his stern. She fired four Mark 23 torpedoes at the tanker. Two of them hit his port side amidships at 30°-13′ N, 132°-49′ E. The tanker caught fire and sank, killing all passengers and sixty-six crew members. Salmon eventually caught up with her pack mates, and escorted by them and USS Silversides (SS-236), made it to Saipan and the safety of Tanapag Harbor on November 3, 1944. JANAC credited Salmon, Trigger, and Sterlet jointly for sinking the Takane Maru.

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