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The Hard Luck Carrier


December 12, 1942 found USS Drum on her fourth war patrol. Her primary objective was to plant twenty-four Mark 10-1 mines in the Bungo Suido. Two of her forward torpedo tubes were loaded with mines. While en route to the minefield plant, at about 1100 hours, her captain, Bernard F. McMahon, sighted an escorted southbound carrier with a deck load of planes, at the geographic position 32°-04′ N, 142°-30′ E, which is about 150 miles east of Hachijo Jima. It was the 13,360-ton Japanese light carrier Ryuho. It had left Yokosuka on December 11, 1942 escorted by the destroyer Tokitsukaze to join the fleet at Truk with twenty light bombers and their pilots aboard. McMahon fired four torpedoes at the carrier and scored one hit on Ryuho’s starboard forward side. Before the escort drove Drum deep, McMahon saw the carrier listing, down by the bow, and leaking gasoline. The Ryuho had to return to Yokosuka for repairs where she remained in a dry dock until March 19, 1943. This was the second time Ryuho had been sidelined by American forces. She had been bombed during the Doolittle raid and capsized in Tokyo Bay; she did not get underway until her unlucky December 11, 1942 departure.

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