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The Destroyer Killer’s

Last Stand


On August 24, 1944, Commander Samuel D. Dealey, captain of the submarine USS Harder (SS-257), faced off again with a Japanese warship bent on sending him, his crew, and the Harder to early graves. The kaibokan known as the CD-22 was an escort vessel charged with bringing the merchant tanker Niyo Maru back to Manila from a safe harbor at Dasol Bay in the Philippine province of Pangasinan. The CD-22 had been teamed with the Japanese patrol boat PB-102 to protect the precious tanker from the American submarines lurking just outside the bay. The Harder’s consort was the USS Hake (SS-256), captained by Lieutenant Commander Frank E. Haylor. The plan was for Haylor to get the first crack at sinking the maru as it exited the bay with its protectors. As the sun began to rise the Japanese exodus began. Haylor closed the procession, but the kaibokan CD-22 spotted his periscope and turned to charge the Hake. As Haylor pulled the plug and turned away, he spotted the Harder’s periscope nearby. So did the CD-22, who put the Harder in his cross hairs. Sam Dealey likely recognized the CD-22 was one of the new antisubmarine vessels the Japanese were using. Dealey knew how deadly they could be. He had done battle with them in the Sulu Sea. What he did not know was that this kaibokan held the keys to the Harder’s destiny in his type 94 DC throwers with each charge set to detonate deeper than the last.

This was supposed to have been Sam Dealey’s last patrol. Before it he had met with Commander Fred “Fearless Freddie” Warder, who had just been appointed to take command of the submarine school at New London. Warder had asked Dealey to be one of his instructors. Sam was delighted and looked forward to returning to the States to spend more time with his family. But it was not meant to be. In the words of the distinguished author Edwin P. Hoyt, the Harder’s J-factor ran-out.

USS Harder

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