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Voge’s Victim Off Lombok


The third war patrol of the USS Sailfish (SS-192) was conducted from February 19, 1942 to March 19, 1942, in the area north of the Malay Barrier, near Lombok Strait. Under the captaincy of Richard G. Voge, Sailfish got underway from Tjilatjap, Java and ended her patrol at Fremantle.

On her twelfth day out, March 2, 1942, at 1937 hours, in the Bali Sea north of Lombok Strait, lookouts spotted a large vessel making a southeasterly course about 20,000 yards distant. Voge ordered periscope depth and made steerageway to close the range. As the vessel drew nearer, Voge identified it as an aircraft carrier – possibly the Kaga – from its characteristic flat-topped silhouette. He also spotted three destroyers, one in the vanguard and one about broad on each bow. The formation was moving very slowly at about eight knots. Earlier that day, Voge had fired two torpedoes at an enemy destroyer and missed. The destroyer did not retaliate, but Voge reckoned his present prey were aware of this attack and were proceeding slowly to enhance their listening tactics for the American submarine. Because of this, Voge decided to make an attack from outside the destroyer screen. At 2059 hours, from an estimated range of 4,000 yards, Voge fired four torpedoes using low power at the carrier. He stayed at periscope depth to watch the outcome. At four minutes and nine seconds after firing the first shot a very sharp explosion was heard and flames were seen shooting up the side of the carrier to a height of about 150 feet. A similar explosion was heard about a minute later. According to Voge, the explosion intervals indicated that the first and last torpedoes hit the target. The destroyers mounted an aggressive counterattack with depth charges for one and a half hours, but Sailfish successfully evaded their efforts. At Fremantle, Voge was credited for damaging one 10,000-ton enemy vessel.

Japanese records reviewed after the war disclosed that the ship Sailfish attacked was the flat-topped Japanese Army 6,440-ton transport and aircraft ferry Kamagowa Maru. It had left Surabaya, Java for Bali on March 1 carrying an aviation unit and ammunition. Sailfish’s two torpedoes hit her port side under her bridge, causing large explosions, resulting in her sinking at 8° 6′ 0.000″ S, 115° 57′ 0.000″ E. Five crew members, 273 troops, and 48 passengers were killed. The postwar JANAC assessment properly credits Sailfish for this sinking.

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