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Friendly Fire

Incidents


01  07-Dec-41, USS Thresher (SS-200), War Patrol No. 1, LCDR W. L. Anderson

Thresher was sailing back to Pearl Harbor from a pre-war patrol around Midway Island when she received word that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. She was fifty miles northwest of Pearl Harbor and her CO was trying to make it back to base as quickly as possible. Earlier that day a heavy sea had swept the bridge, catching one of the lookouts in the periscope shears and slamming him against the deck. He was in critical condition and in need of medical attention. Anderson rendezvoused with an old four-stack destroyer to be escorted back into Pearl Harbor, but the destroyer had to leave Thresher to join a U. S. task force steaming out to find Japanese. Anderson decided to submerge and take his chances making it back to Pearl on the surface later that night. Before she submerged she received a message from Comsubpac ordering her not to separate from her escort under any circumstances. Anderson then radioed the destroyer and told her to rendezvous with Thresher at the location where the submarine was about to submerge. Some time later Anderson sighted a four-stacker at the rendezvous point and brought Thresher to the surface. However, it was a different four-stacker and it thought Thresher was a Japanese submarine so it opened fire with its forward gun and headed to ram Thresher. Fortunately, Anderson was able to dive the boat in record time. The destroyer did not drop any depth charges. When the destroyer was gone, Anderson sent a message to Comsubpac informing him of the situation. Comsubpac attempted to set up a new rendezvous with several other escorts, but they were not available to do the job. The next morning, Comsubpac informed Anderson that the Pearl Harbor entrance net would be opened at a specified time so Thresher could proceed back to base, but every time Thresher approached the entrance, she was driven off by friendly forces. Comsubpac then ordered Thresher to a sanctuary where the boat was to remained submerged, but once there Thresher was attacked many times by friendly destroyers and Army Air Corps planes. During this period, the injured man died. Eventually an escort appeared. After the escort and Thresher exchanged recognition signals, the badly shaken submarine was brought home. See Blair, Clay, Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 101-102.


02  20-Dec-41, USS Pompano (SS-181), War Patrol No. 1, LCDR L. S. Parks

Pompano left Pearl Harbor on December 18, 1941, for her first war patrol. Her assignment was to conduct reconnaissance in the eastern Marshall Islands to assist a planned carrier task force strike in January 1942. On December 20th, only two days after her departure, she reported being attacked three times by aircraft. The first attack occurred at 0705 hours, and Parks wrote in his report that the attacker did not appear to be an Oahu-based plane. One explosion was heard fairly close, but no damage was taken. The second attack occurred at 1210 hours, but no detail on it is recorded in Pompano's patrol report. The third attack happened at 1410 hours. Pompano had to dive quickly to escape the three incoming planes in attack formation. While she passed 100 feet three explosions were heard nearby, but the submarine was not damaged. Parks wrote that the attackers were three dark-colored monoplanes and were probably carrier-based dive bombers. In his endorsement memo for this patrol, Comsubpac wrote "The attacks made on Pompano on December 20 have been studied with the view to ascertaining whether or not these were by [our] own planes. From the Type, it is improbable that they were planes from Oahu. The type of plane operating from Johnston Island, which at that time was 190 miles from Pompano, is not known. It is possible that they were involved in this attack. Task Force Eight was 300 miles from Pompano; it is therefore believed that planes from this task force were not involved." (See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Pompano (SS-181), Report of First War Patrol.) According to Clay Blair, "On December 20, two days out of Pearl Harbor, a navy antisubmarine patrol plane roared out of the blue and dropped a bomb [on Pompano] which fortunately exploded at a fair distance. The plane then radioed an 'enemy submarine contact' to the carrier Enterprise, which was in the vicinity. At two o'clock that same afternoon, three Enterprise dive bombers found Pompano and delivered three well-placed bombs. The second bomb struck with a bone-shattering explosion, splitting seams and causing Pompano's fuel tanks to leak. Parks shook the attackers - who finally realized he was friendly - and proceeded onward, trailing a telltale oil slick." See Blair, Clay, Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 114.


03  24-Feb-42, USS Thresher (SS-200), War Patrol No. 2, LCDR W. L. Anderson

On 24 February 24, 1942, while en route home to Pearl Harbor from her second war patrol in the Marshall and Mariana Islands, Thresher sighted a PBY plane due north of her position turning toward the submarine. Her CO ordered a dive to 100 feet because he did not think there was enough time to fire a recognition signal before the plane attacked. Five minutes later three explosions were heard, none close enough to shake the submarine. At the time Thresher's position was 532 miles, 266°T., from Barber's Point, Hawaii. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Thresher (SS-200), memorandum dated February 27, 1942, Attack on Thresher (SS-200) by U. S. Patrol Plane on February 24, 1942.


04  04-Mar-42, USS Sargo (SS-188), War Patrol No. 3, LCDR T. B. Jacobs

On March 4, 1942, while one day short of making landfall at Fremantle from her third war patrol, the port forward lookout sighted a two-engine mid-wing bomber bearing 345 degrees (R) at an estimated altitude of 1,500 feet. The plane was flying just below a heavy cloud bank and heading directly toward Sargo. Her CO ordered the boat to dive. As Sargo went under the surface one bomb exploded on her port quarter, not causing any damage. When at fifty feet a second bomb exploded over the conning tower taking out both periscopes and causing other serious damages. It was later discovered that the plane was an RAAF bomber. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Sargo (SS-188), Report of Third War Patrol; Blair, Clay, Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan; Lockwood, Charles A., Sink 'Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific, p. 36.


05  23-Mar-42, USS Gato (SS-212), Pre-First Patrol, LCDR W. G. Myers

On the morning of March 23, 1942, while conducting a trim dive in the swept channel off the entrance to San Francisco Bay, the USS Gato, under the escort of the USS Humphreys (DD-236), was bombed by the U. S. Naval Blimp TC-13. The Gato was proceeding at periscope depth and six knots, when at 0819 and 0821 hours four Mark 17, 325-pound depth bombs, were dropped by the TC-13 in two bomb-sticks, each holding two 325-pound bombs. The TC-13's commanding officer estimated the first salvo landed within 150 feet of the Gato's periscope. Immediately after the first salvo, the Gato went to 120 feet when the second salvo was dropped. The physical shock from both sticks was severe, but that of the second stick was markedly greater than that of the first. Damages taken by the Gato were extensive, but there were no injuries to personnel. Repairs were made at Mare Island and the Gato was ready for sea on March 27, 1942. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Gato (SS-212), Part 2, p. 243-248. My thanks to Bob Sharpe, STSCS (SS) USN (Ret), for telling me about this friendly fire-incident.


06  07-Jun-42, USS Grayling (SS-209), Midway Defense Force, LCDR E. Olsen

On June 3, 1942, Grayling was one of the twelve submarines assigned to the Midway Defense Force. They were stationed at strategic positions along a fanlike arc southwest to north of the island. On the afternoon of June 7, 1942, Grayling, while running surfaced, became the target of a formation of twelve B-17s based on Midway. The green pilots believed they had spotted a retreating Japanese cruiser. Even though Grayling had flashed the proper recognition signal with her searchlight, three of the B-17s dropped a string of twenty 1,000-pound bombs. Grayling managed to dive and not take any damage from this heavy assault. The pilots reported sinking one Japanese cruiser in this attack, which sank in fifteen seconds. See Blair, Clay, Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 245.


07  11-Jun-42, USS S-28 (SS-133), War Patrol No. 1, LCDR J. D. Crowley

On June 11, 1942, at 1428 hours, near 53°-57'-25'' N, 164°-30'-00'' W, S-28 "...Sighted plane bearing 325°T distance five (5) miles approaching this vessel. Lighted recognition flare and dived. One bomb or depth charge exploded astern. No damage incurred except broken face of 100 ft. diving station depth gauge and much loose paint chippings." The plane was later positively identified as a single float seaplane. It was on a antisubmarine patrol out of the U. S. Naval Air Station at Dutch Harbor. It dropped depth charges on S-28. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS S-28 (SS-133), Report of First War Patrol.


08  03-Aug-42, USS S-13 (SS-118), War Patrol No. 3, LCDR D. L. Whelchel

On June 11, 1942, while patrolling surfaced off Balboa, Panama, the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, S-13 sighted a four-motor Army bomber ten miles to the southeast on a westerly course. The plane headed toward S-13 and dropped several objects into the sea. One of the objects appeared to explode. The CO believed all the objects were bombs; most of them failed to detonate upon contact with the surface of the ocean. The aircraft then came close aboard, circled, and exchanged recognition signals. It then proceeded westward. The words "Alice Louise" were painted on the bomber. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS S-13 (SS-118), Report of Third War Patrol.


09  04-Aug-42, USS S-17 (SS-122), War Patrol No. 8, LCDR B. Harral

On August 4, 1942, while patrolling surfaced off Cristobal, Panama, A B-25 type bomber closed S-17 and dropped three bombs from 150 feet. The first two hit the water on the boat's port side off the engine room; the last one hit abeam the deck gun to starboard. They were followed by three shocks within a quarter of a second of one another. S-17's stern was lifted several feet out of the water. Luckily, damages incurred were mostly superficial and no one was seriously injured. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS S-17 (SS-122), Report of Eighth War Patrol.


10  16-Aug-42, USS S-11 (SS-116), War Patrol No. 5, LCDR W. B. Perkins

On August 16, 1942, while patrolling off Balboa, Panama, the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, S-11 was attacked with four depth charges by a friendly YP-class patrol boat. The designation YP originally meant a yard patrol craft. The Navy created its initial fleet of YPs from about sixty Coast Guard boats no longer needed after the end of prohibition. The depth charges exploded fairly close to S-11, but did not cause major damage. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS S-11 (SS-116), Report of Fifth War Patrol.


11 & 12  28-Aug-42, USS S-31 (SS-136), War Patrol No. 4, LCDR R. F. Stellars

On August 28, 1942, while patrolling in the Aleutian Islands, S-31 was attacked with three depth charges by a U. S. Navy PBY Catalina, as she submerged. No damage was taken. On September 13th, two Army P-38 Lightning aircraft strafed S-31 as she dived to evade them. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS S-31 (SS-136), Report of Fourth War Patrol.


13  28-Sep-42, USS Snapper (SS-185), War Patrol No. 4, LCDR H. E. Baker

On September 28, 1942, Snapper sighted a friendly amphibious patrol bomber in the Indian Ocean while en route back to Fremantle. She dived after firing a red smoke bomb for identification, but the bomber dropped a depth charge which gave the boat a good shaking. She later received word that the bombing was accidental. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Snapper (SS-185), Report of Fourth War Patrol.


14 & 15  08-Nov-42, USS Gunnel (SS-253), War Patrol No. 1, LCDR J. S. McCain, Jr.

Six American fleet-type submarines were assigned to the Atlantic theater of operations, to be based in Scotland. The submarines participated in the invasion of North Africa, but poor weather and confused recognition signals resulted in one of them, Gunnel, being attacked by friendly fire. On November 8, 1942, off Casablanca, at 0735 hours, Gunnel crash-dived as a USAAF P-40 dropped out of the clouds and began strafing the submarine. At 1202 hours, an American bomber was sighted heading for the sub from the direction of the sun. Gunnel crash-dived again. One minute later an explosion was heard and felt as they passed 150 feet. Fortunately, no damage was taken from either episode. Several of the lookouts who saw the second plane reported it was American. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Gunnel (SS-253), Report of First War Patrol and Operation Torch.


16  07-Feb-43, USS Swordfish (SS-193), War Patrol No. 7, LCDR J. H. Lewis

"While proceeding on surface in latitude 00-12 N.; longitude 152-00 E., on base course 090°(T), speed 11.5 knots, the attention of the Officer of the Deck and lookouts was called to the direction of the sun by machine gun fire. A large land-based bomber was sighted coming out of the sun in a glide bearing about 110°(T), distance 3,000 yards at an altitude of about 500 feet. No indication on radar. About 15 seconds later, just after closing the conning tower hatch, the impact of bullets striking the bridge and conning tower were felt and heard. One large explosion was heard. Paint chippings were knocked off the conning tower. Depth was increased to 170 feet when it was found that the forward engine room hatch leaked and the battery ventilation ducts, forward and aft, were flooded. Safety tank was partially blown and depth decreased to 90 feet. Battery ventilation drains were opened, found to be under pressure, and ducts could not be drained. This indicated pressure outside the hull. A crack was found in the forward engine room hatch skirt and was peened over. Decided to remain submerged today and inspect for topside damage this evening. The Officer of the Deck and the two forward lookouts have positively identified the plane as of the same type as the U. S. Army Boeing B-17." The topside inspection later that evening disclosed about twenty .50 caliber hits in the bridge, fairwater, and superstructure, a possible leak in the No. 1 fuel oil tank, and additional hits in the engine room hatch skirt, a battery ventilation duct, a low pressure blow line, a vent, and the conning tower. Swordfish had to end her patrol early and head to Pearl Harbor for repairs. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Swordfish (SS-193), Report of Seventh War Patrol.


17  ??-Mar-43, USS Scorpion (SS-278), Maiden Voyage, LCDR W. N. Wylie

Scorpion departed Portsmouth January 15, 1943, and after shakedown training in the area of New London, Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island, transited the Panama Canal on March 11th, bound for Pearl Harbor. She arrived at Pearl on March 24, 1943, and put to sea on April 5th to conduct her first war patrol. Paul R. Schratz was one of the officers assigned to Scorpion. In his book Submarine Commander, he describes a friendly fire incident that happened at about the midpoint of her passage to Pearl Harbor. "One unusual event marred our voyage west. Nearing midpoint in the passage, we encountered a lone merchantman heading in the opposite direction. As soon as we came within range, he opened fire with a fairly sizable deck gun and came up on the emergency radio frequency to report an enemy submarine. We tried to identify ourselves by searchlight but couldn't raise his attention. Even though his shots weren't very close, it was one more warning that once a submarine leaves the pier, it has no friends and many enemies." The exact date of the incident is not given in Schratz's book or in Scorpion's war patrol report folder. See Schratz, Paul R., Submarine Commander: A Story of World War II and Korea, p. 63, and Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Scorpion (SS-278).


18  02-May-43, USS Harder (SS-257), Maiden Voyage, CDR S. D. Dealey

On April 26, 1943, the USS Harder (SS-257) began her maiden voyage from New London, Connecticut, to Pearl Harbor with the only captain she would ever know at the helm, Commander Sam Dealey. What should have been a routine passage to the Panama Canal and thence to the Pacific Ocean, would prove to be fraught with danger. When not yet a full day out of port, the Harder found herself beneath the midst of a very large friendly convoy en route to Great Britain. The American destroyers escorting the convoy deemed Harder’s periscope a present danger and one turned and headed for her with his sonar pinging steadily and his depth charges at the ready. The Harder ran silent and deep for over two hours. An attack from the destroyer never came, possibly because he could not get a good contact and did not want to waste his depth charges. On May 2, 1943, while running surfaced to Panama through the waters of the Caribbean within a designated “safety lane” a lookout spotted an incoming U. S. Navy PBY bomber about 5,000 yards distant. The Harder flashed that day’s recognition signal from her Aldis lamps. The PBY bomber responded with machine gun fire along Harder’s starboard side. Dealey pulled the plug, ordering a crash dive and hard turn to port. As the boat submerged, the PBY dropped a bomb that gave the boat a good shaking. It dropped another that was not as close. See Sturma, Michael, Death at a Distance: The Loss of the Legendary USS Harder, p. 26.


19  29-Jul-43, USS Tuna (SS-203), War Patrol No. 8, LCDR A. H. Holtz

On July 29, 1943, at 1935 hours, north of Woodlark Island in the Solomon Sea, Tuna was running on the surface when an RAAF Catalina spotted her in an area where Japanese supply submarines were expected. The Catalina dropped an illuminating flare about three miles off Tuna's port beam. As Tuna began to dive the Catalina dropped four depth charges. While Tuna passed from 70 to 110 feet the explosions from the depth charges shook her badly. The conning tower door began leaking significantly and all main and auxiliary power was lost. The power was restored as Tuna passed from 200 to 250 feet. By blowing her tanks and backing emergency, her descent was stopped at 365 feet. On the way up her hydraulic system failed and the vents were not opened in time to prevent broaching. As she surfaced the pilot began another run but broke it off when he spotted a flashing light. Tuna's gun crew was just about to open fire on the plane with their 20MM when it was identified as a friendly. When Tuna flashed the correct letter and showed the correct color, the pilot abandoned the attack. The damages sustained by Tuna necessitated her return to Brisbane for a period of 17 days for repairs. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Tuna (SS-203), Report of Eighth War Patrol.


20  30-Jul-43, USS Grouper (SS-214), War Patrol No. 6, LCDR M. P. Hottel

While en route to Brisbane, Grouper was attacked by an Army B-25 off Guadalcanal. The submarine first spotted the incoming plane astern at low altitude, about 3½ miles distant. Grouper fired the appropriate emergency recognition flare and commenced submerging. The B-25 dropped two depth charges nearby her from which she took minor damage. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Grouper (SS-214), Report of Sixth War Patrol.


21  31-Aug-43, USS Stingray (SS-186), War Patrol No. 9, LCDR O. J. Earle

On the night of August 31, 1943, Stingray was bombed by a B-24 equipped with special radar. Stingray's CO said the plane dropped four bombs, two on the boat's port side and two on its starboard side. The bombs inflicted numerous minor damages on Stingray. The crew was able to make repairs at sea. Comtaskfor 72 later confirmed that the attack was made by a friendly plane. The plane reported bombing an unidentified vessel with three 500-pound bombs, which all missed by 50 feet. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Stingray (SS-186), Report of Ninth War Patrol, and Submarine war patrol reports on CD, Commander Seventh Fleet Memorandum, dated 19 April 1944, Subject: Bombing of Friendly Submarines, with enclosures, PDF copy filed in patrol report folder for USS Tuna (SS-203), Part 2, PDF pages 230-234.


22  08-Sep-43, USS Bluefish (SS-222), Before First Patrol, CDR G. E. Porter

On September 2, 1943, Bluefish left Brisbane and headed for Darwin pursuant to her transfer to Comtaskfor 72. As she was sailing north of Melville Island around dawn on September 8, 1943, she was strafed by an RAAF Catalina. No bombs were dropped. The plane was from Cairns. It had loaded mines at Darwin and was returning to Cairns with them. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, Commander Seventh Fleet Memorandum, dated 19 April 1944, Subject: Bombing of Friendly Submarines, with enclosures, PDF copy filed in patrol report folder for USS Tuna (SS-203), Part 2, PDF pages 230-234.


23  12-Oct-43, USS Dorado (SS-248), Maiden Voyage, CDR E. C. Schneider

Following her commissioning on August 28, 1943, the USS Dorado, captained by Lieutenant Commander Earle C. Schneider, sailed from New London on October 6, 1943, for duty in the Pacific via the Panama Canal. Her operation order directed her to maintain radio silence lest she be located by enemy submarines. Her prescribed course estimated she would complete her transit of the Mona Passage around 2:00 a.m. on October 12, 1943, and then head in a southwesterly direction to the U.S. Navy base at Coco Solo, Panama; her scheduled date of arrival there was October 14, 1943. She never made it to Panama nor was she heard from at any time after leaving New London. In November 1943, a U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry found that it was highly probable that Dorado was lost as a result of a attack by a U. S. Navy PBM-3 flying boat on October 12, 1943, and that she either sank immediately or she was critically damaged, unable to communicate, and sank sometime later. It also found that not less than two of the depth charges dropped by the PBM-3 flying boat functioned as designed; crew aboard several nearby convoy vessels heard the report of and felt concussions from depth charges about the same time the PBM-3 flying boat had dropped its payload on the submarine.


24  19-Oct-43, USS Nautilus (SS-168), War Patrol No. 7, CDR W. D. Irvin

The USS Ringgold (DD-500) "...joined a fast carrier task force built around Yorktown (CV-10), Essex (CV-9), and Independence (CVL-22). The force worked over Marcus Island 1 September 1943 and then moved on to conduct a raid in the Gilberts. The carrier planes conducted seven strikes 18-19 September on Tarawa and Makin. A Japanese diarist recorded that Tarawa 'is a sea of flames;' nine parked planes and five vessels were destroyed. Most importantly, Lexington's (CV-16) planes returned with a set of low oblique photos of the lagoon side of Betio, and these proved to be most useful in planning the assault on Tarawa. On 5-6 October, the largest fast carrier force organized to that time, comprising Essex, Yorktown, Lexington, Cowpens (CVL-25), Independence, and Belleau Wood (CVL-24), Rear Adm. Alfred E. Montgomery in command, struck at Wake Island. The target was also shelled by battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. The next target was Tarawa, taken by the Southern Attack Force commanded by Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill in Maryland (BB-46). His ships transported the tough 2d Marine Division, all of whose components had fought on Guadalcanal. Destroyers Ringgold and Dashiell (DD-659) were scheduled for an early entrance into the lagoon 20 November. Just before sundown on the 19th, Ringgold thrust ahead of the main body of the attack force to secure a radar fix on a turning point just north of Mavana. Charts of the area, however, were inaccurate. On several, Betio was oriented incorrectly. Fortunately, the submarine Nautilus (SS-168) had reconnoitered the area and had reported the error, and thus a new approach chart was improvised on board Maryland. Accurate radar fixes were thus possible. Unfortunately, Nautilus' excellent reconnaissance work was ill-rewarded. At 2200, as Ringgold and Santa Fe (CL-60) pushed ahead of the attack force, they picked up a radar contact. Word had been passed to watch for the submarine, but it was believed that she had moved westward that afternoon to rescue a downed flier, and that she would submerge once she encountered friendly forces. But Nautilus, being near a reef, did not submerge. Admiral Hill, anxious to avoid any encounters with possible Japanese patrols, gave the order to take the contact under fire. Ringgold's first salvo struck the base of the sub's conning tower. Although it ruptured her main induction valve, it did not explode. Nautilus submerged in 'dire circumstances,' but her damage control people worked both well and fast, so that she was able to make it to Abemama and complete her mission." From Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.


25 & 26  08-Nov-43, USS Albacore (SS-218), War Patrol No. 7, LCDR O. E. Hagberg

On November 8 and 10, 1943, Albacore was bombed by Fifth Air Force planes. The first attack occurred while she was chasing a convoy. As she dived to escape from the attack she was strafed and four bombs exploded close alongside. The second attack occurred in the northeast area of St. George's Channel. Another Fifth Air Force plane dropped a salvo of bombs which straddled Albacore close alongside and caused severe damage, but the boat managed to operate. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Albacore (SS-218), Report of Seventh War Patrol.


27  ??-Dec-43, USS Flier (SS-250), Maiden Voyage, CDR J. D. Crowley

The Flier sailed from New London on her maiden voyage to Pearl Harbor in early December 1943. While en route in the Caribbean Sea, a "friendly" merchant ship fired thirteen shells at her. Thankfully a rain squall afforded Flier cover and she escaped undamaged. She reached Pearl Harbor safely on December 20, 1943. See Sturma, Michael, The USS Flier: Death and Survival on a World War II Submarine, p. 19-20. The exact date of this attack is not listed in her patrol report folders or the book cited.


28 & 29  17-Feb-44, USS Searaven (SS-196), War Patrol No. 10, LCDR M. H. Dry

Searaven's tenth war patrol was mainly a reconnaissance and lifeguard patrol. A photographic reconnaissance of Eniwetok Atoll was made and numerous pictures were taken. Her lifeguard duties in the vicinity of Eniwetok Atoll, Truk, and Saipan were well conducted and resulted in the rescue of three aviators near Truk. On February 13, 1944, while on her lifeguard station off Engebi Atoll, in the Eniwetok Atoll group, Searaven was depth-charged by four friendly aircraft as she dived past eighty feet. On February 17, 1944, while on her lifeguard station off Truk Atoll, she was depth-charged by a friendly destroyer. No casualties or damages were taken as a result of either attack. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Searaven (SS-196), Report of Tenth War Patrol.


30  30-Mar-44, USS Tunny (SS-282), War Patrol No. 5, LCDR J. A. Scott

"At 1212 (Item), 30 March 1944 while circling on life guard station 7°-40' N, 134°-00' E, thirty miles bearing 285° T from Toagel Mulungui passage, Palau the Tunny was attacked by two U. S. Navy torpedo bombers. The Tunny was at the time circling slowly to starboard at 15 knots on two main engines with 10 degrees right rudder, flying size #7 colors. The attacking planes were stragglers from a group of TBF's retiring to their carrier from an attack on shore installations on Palau, then passing close aboard, heading west. The attack was made from ahead in a steep glide. The first plane sheered out and around for a strafing run from the beam. The second plane continued on in and dropped his bomb from an altitude of approximately 300 feet. The bomb crossed the bow over the deck gun, passed the bridge at arms length, entered the water ten yards to starboard of the forward engine room. When the bomb struck the water the impact lifted the entire ship with a snap giving the impression below decks that a submerged object had been struck. The Commanding Officer seated at lunch in the wardroom when this occurred starting on the double for the bridge reached the control room bulkhead before the explosion occurred. The diving alarm was sounded from the bridge about two seconds later, we then dove to 150 feet and licked our wounds. The force of the explosion did not seem as violent in the control room as the shock of the impact. Aft, however, in the maneuvering room and after torpedo room the effect of the explosion was extreme, throwing personnel and loose gear in all directions." Quoted from memo dated 15 April 1944, by LCDR J. A. Scott, Subject: Report of bombing by Friendly Planes. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Tunny (SS-282), Part 2, p. 115 in PDF file. "Tunny completed repairs during the night, and the next morning manned her lifeguard station as before, only a little more wary of 'friendly' aircraft." Quoted from Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, (1981) Vol. 7,  p. 337-342.


31  11-Apr-44, USS Cero (SS-225), War Patrol No. 4, LCDR E. F. Dissette

On April 11, 1944, at 1134 hours, Cero's deck watch sighted a plane about three miles distant coming out of low clouds and closing the submarine. The CO ordered the boat to dive. A recognition flare was not fired because the plane could not be positively identified as a friendly. When at a depth of 60 feet, machine gun fire was heard. At 175 feet, from one to three bombs exploded close by and caused minor damage. Later this plane was determined to be a regularly scheduled search plane (a USSAF PB4Y) flying out of Nadzab, New Guinea. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Cero (SS-225), Report of First War Patrol, and Commander Seventh Fleet Memorandum, dated 19 April 1944, Subject: Bombing of Friendly Submarines, with enclosures, PDF copy filed in patrol report folder for USS Tuna (SS-203), Part 2, PDF pages 230-234.


32  13-Apr-44, USS Bashaw (SS-241), War Patrol No. 2, LCDR R. E. Nichols

On April 13, 1944, at 1159 hours, Bashaw was attacked by a regularly scheduled PB4Y search plane flying out of Green Island. The plane reported a submarine had been challenged and did not reply with the appropriate signal. It was then attacked with two bombs with negative results as it crash-dived. The Bashaw confirmed these facts. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Bashaw (SS-225), Report of First War Patrol, and Commander Seventh Fleet Memorandum, dated 19 April 1944, Subject: Bombing of Friendly Submarines, with enclosures, PDF copy filed in patrol report folder for USS Tuna (SS-203), Part 2, PDF pages 230-234.


33  29-Apr-44, USS Seahorse (SS-304), War Patrol No. 4, LCDR S. D. Cutter

On April 29, 1944, Seahorse was proceeding within a submarine safety lane at full speed for her assigned lifeguard station off Satawan Island southeast of Truk. At 0820 hours, a friendly B-24 bomber coming out of the sun dropped two bombs on her from an altitude of 200 feet as she crash dived to evade the attack. A crewman pulled a flare after the two bombs exploded nearby. "The zoomie recognized Seahorse after bombs were away, for his report stated he had 'Bombed a submarine, apparently friendly.'" See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Seahorse (SS-304), Part I, Report of First War Patrol, PDF page 221; Lockwood, Charles A., Sink 'Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific, p. 163-164.


34  27-May-44, USS Raton (SS-270), War Patrol No. 4, LCDR J. W. Davis

On May 27, 1944, the submarine USS Lapon (SS-260) mistakenly identified Raton as the Japanese submarine she was looking for. Off Dangerous Ground in the South China Sea, Lapon fired two torpedoes at Raton. In his patrol report, Raton's CO wrote "Ship shaken up considerably by either two underwater explosions or by striking submerged object. People in forward torpedo room thought we had struck something or had been struck by something. Commanding Officer was in Control Room at the time, en route to bridge, and it appeared to him to be two heavy muffled explosions nearby on port side. Went hard right rudder and steadied on course 035° T (at time of explosions, we were on course 305° T, going ahead full on 3 main engines - 17 knots). After making turn, the J.O.O.D. reported thin oil streak in water. Visibility was very good, flat sea, gentle breeze from the North, scattered clouds." Aboard Lapon, the CO's certainty that the target he had just fired two torpedoes at was an I-68 class Japanese submarine had waned, and he decided not to fire two additional torpedoes at the target, fearing it might be an American submarine. When Raton made it back to Fremantle, dry-dock inspection of her hull showed dents where the torpedoes hit. Later, when the two COs compared their patrols back at Fremantle, they discovered that Lapon was the source of the dents. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Raton (SS-225), Report of Fourth War Patrol and USS Lapon (SS-260), Report of Fourth War Patrol. Also see Blair, Clay, Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 632.


35  ??-Oct-44, USS Crevalle (SS-291), Between War Patrols 5 & 6, CDR F. D. Walker, Jr.

Crevalle's fifth war patrol was terminated by an operational casualty while en route to her assigned area. She returned to Fremantle on September 24, 1944. On October 22, 1944, she departed Fremantle bound for Pearl Harbor. "While passing through Bass Strait, south of Melbourne, Australia, an American Liberty ship with an Armed Guard aboard, not knowing recognition signals, opened fire on the Crevalle with a five-inch gun. But the shells fell short and the Crevalle proceeded on her way, avoiding the friendly(?) ship." She arrived at Pearl on November 6th and departed on Nov 11th. On Nov 18th she arrived at Mare Island, California, for a thorough overhaul. Quote from Ruhe, William J., War in the Boats: My World War II Submarine Battles, p. 290. Also see Submarine war patrol reports on CD, Crevalle (SS-291), Reports of Fifth & Sixth War Patrols. The exact date of the friendly fire incident is not cited in Ruhe's book or the patrol reports, however, considering the location, it probably occurred several days after Crevalle left Fremantle.


36  03-Oct-44, USS Seawolf (SS-197), War Patrol No. 15, CDR A. M. Bontier

On October 3, 1944, at 0756 hours, the Seawolf exchanged recognition signals by radar with the USS Narwhal (SS-167). Both boats were in a safety lane in which American surface forces were prohibited from attacking any submarine unless it was positively identified as an enemy. At 0807 hours, 35 miles east of Morotai Island, the commanding officer of the Japanese submarine RO-41 fired his last four torpedoes at two American escort carriers, the USS St. Lo (CVE-63) and the USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70). The torpedoes missed both escort carriers. However, the destroyer escort USS Shelton (DE-407), while turning to evade one of the oncoming torpedoes, was hit on the starboard screw by a second torpedo, which caused severe damage and flooding. The destroyer escort USS Rowell (DE-403) came alongside and removed the crew, after counterattacking the RO-41 unsuccessfully with depth charges. The Shelton was taken under tow, but eventually capsized and sank. Three hours later, one of the St. Lo's aircraft sighted a submarine in the safety lane and dropped two bombs and dye marked its position as the boat submerged. The Rowell got to the scene and detected the submarine on sonar. The sonar operator reported his equipment was receiving signals consisting of long dots and dashes from the submarine. The Rowell's commander dismissed these as an attempt to jam his sonar and pressed on with firing Mark 10 "hedgehog" projector mortars. Following a second barrage of twenty-four projectiles, the Rowell reported, "Three explosions heard. Two large boils [bubbles] observed off port beam. Debris observed in the boils." Four submarines were in the safety lane at the time of these events. Urgent calls from the surface forces to the submarines to report their positions brought responses from three of them, but there was only silence from the Seawolf. At that point it became obvious that the submarine the Rowell had sunk was the Seawolf and not the RO-41.


37  03-Oct-44, USS Stingray (SS-186), War Patrol No. 14, LCDR S. C. Loomis, Jr.

On October 3, 1944, while Stingray was running surfaced off Morotai Island, a TBF Avenger torpedo bomber was sighted and began to close the submarine for an attack. Stingray's CO ordered her to dive when it became apparent the plane was not responding to the recognition signals the submarine was sending. As the submarine dived, a very loud thud was heard. About a minute later, a loud explosion was heard; the concussion from it knocked off some paint and broke the searchlight lens. It was later learned that the TBF had crashed while delivering the attack, killing the pilot, and that the single explosion heard about a minute later was probably from two depth charges exploding as they sank. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Stingray (SS-186), Report of Fourteenth War Patrol, PDF pages 348-352.


38  04-Oct-44, USS Mingo (SS-261), War Patrol No. 5, LCDR J. R. Madison

On October 4, 1944, while performing lifeguard duty in the Makassar Strait, Mingo "Sighted high flying Liberator bomber flying parallel and opposite course on starboard bow about 12 miles away. Plane contact #67. Tried to communicate with plane while it circled us, transmitting challenge. Used three different size searchlights; V.H.F. on channels A thru D, inclusive; semaphore; radio on 4475 KC's and 8455 KC's; and even spread largest Ensign on board on after 20MM deck. No success. Plane headed away, but at 1151(H) returned and dropped 100 lb. bomb, which landed 100 yards broad on starboard beam. Plane then established communication with us on V.H.F., using channel B. Plane's number was 4440877. Informed plane of success in picking up sixteen zoomies. Our last message to him: 'Please go home and take your bombs with you.'" No damages or injuries were taken. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Mingo (SS-261), Report of Fifth War Patrol, PDF pages 136-182.


39  09-Oct-44, USS Flying Fish (SS-229), War Patrol No. 11, CDR R. D. Risser

Flying Fish's eleventh war patrol was conducted in the Davao Gulf, Celebes Sea, Molucca Passage, and Convoy College areas, during the period August 1, 1944 to October 22, 1944. On October 9, 1944, the destroyer USS Cogswell (DD-651), while on picket station ahead of a task force formation, made contact with Flying Fish, first by radar and then by sighting. Flying Fish was en route to Midway Island at the time. Cogswell proceeded immediately to Flying Fish's location to investigate the sighting; Flying Fish immediately submerged. Although information was available to Cogswell indicating the possibility of friendly submarines in the area, the action of Flying Fish in diving ahead of the approaching task force and failing to properly answer sonar challenges created a presumption by Cogswell that the submarine was not friendly, and Cogswell attacked it, limiting depth charge settings to 150 feet. The Flying Fish was later surfaced, stated she was undamaged and that she was at 250 feet when Cogswell passed over her, and dropped the depth charges. Flying Fish answered the sonar challenges promptly and correctly immediately after the depth charges were dropped. Captain Risser wrote, "This unfortunate incident was entirely my fault and no blame whatsoever can be attached to the destroyer." See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, Flying Fish (SS-229), Part 2, Report of Eleventh War Patrol, PDF pages 40-112 and 232-246.


40  28-Nov-44, USS Spearfish (SS-190), War Patrol No. 12, CDR C. C. Cole

At 1715 hours, on November 28, 1944, Spearfish, while proceeding on a special mission to Iwo Jima, was attacked by an Army B-24 Liberator. The plane was sighted about four miles distant dead ahead. CO Cole ordered the bridge cleared. A loud explosion was heard and felt just before the hatch closed. The O.O.D. saw a large explosion plume about 700 yards away. Before the attack, the following conversation coming from the B-24 was heard on Spearfish's radio:

"Look, a ship down there about four miles."
"No, I think it's a submarine at two miles."
"Well, let's bomb the bastard anyway. Here we go, and use your rockets."

Spearfish was sailing in a special zone which was subject to bombing restrictions. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Spearfish (SS-190), Report of Twelfth War Patrol.


41  06-Jan-45, USS Spadefish (SS-411), War Patrol No. 3, CDR G. W. Underwood

On January 6, 1945, Spadefish departed Majuro in company with USS Pompon (SS-267), USS Atule (SS-403), and USS Jallo (SS-368), as Coordinated Attack Group 17.23, with Spadefish's CO in charge. Later that day, at 1615 hours, Spadefish's lookouts sighted two monoplane aircraft headed in straight for Spadefish from 000° T, range six miles. The O.O.D. had decided from the planes' behavior that their intention was clearly not friendly, so the bridge flares were not fired. The planes dropped two depth bombs, which caused minor damage. At 1654 hours, Spadefish surfaced and reported the incident. Atule witnessed the attack and her captain wrote in his report, "Saw Spadefish dive and receive two aerial bombs from two low flying TBD's. Pompon, next in column, also dived. Attempted to exchange recognition signals before mistake became more grave, and finally identified ourselves when the range closed to a half a mile. Spadefish surfaced and informed us that only his spirit had been damaged." Jallo's captain wrote in his report, "During the late afternoon we received a message from Spadefish telling pack that she had been bombed by two friendly fighter planes. Did not see incident as Spadefish was about 20 miles ahead." There are no comments in Pompon's patrol report about this incident. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Spadefish (SS-411), Report of Third War Patrol, USS Pompon (SS-267), Report of Seventh War Patrol, USS Atule (SS-403), Report of Second War Patrol, and USS Jallo (SS-368), Report of Second War Patrol.


42  24-Mar-45, USS Seahorse (SS-304), War Patrol No. 7, CDR H. H. Greer

On March 24, 1945, while on en route to her assigned patrol areas north of Formosa, west of Kyushu, and in the southern areas of Tsushima Strait, Seahorse was strafed and depth-charged by a friendly B-24. This occurred about 600 miles northeast of Luzon. Fortunately, only minor damage was taken and Seahorse was able to complete its mission. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Seahorse (SS-304), Report of First Seventh Patrol.


43 & 44  08-Apr-45, USS Bullhead (SS-332), War Patrol No. 1, CDR W. T. Griffith

On April 8, 1945, while on lifeguard duty, Bullhead submerged to escape from a B-24 making a run on the boat out of the overcast skies. As the submarine went under, the B-24 dropped three or four bombs astern of Bullhead, causing minor damage in the rear of the boat. The first explosions occurred coincident with the diving alarm. No strafing occurred. The CO described the plane as a "four engine twin tailed bomber." On April 19th, Bullhead was attacked again, probably by the same type of plane; as the boat neared 100 feet, the plane dropped two bombs closeby. No damage was taken. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Bullhead (SS-332), Report of First War Patrol.


45  19-Apr-45, USS Pogy (SS-266), War Patrol No. 9, LCDR J. M. Bowers

"On 19 April 1945, while engaged in lifeguard duties, the submarine was bombed and strafed by a plane which was identified at a range of ½ mile by the commanding officer and the entire bridge watch as a Liberator. Prior to the bombing the Pogy, believing the plane to be friendly, had tried to contact it on VHF but with no success. The resultant damage was extensive and, while it was eventually repaired after a fashion, the need for some iron clad identification procedure between planes on strikes and assisting submarines was again emphasized." See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Pogy (SS-266), Report of Ninth War Patrol.


46  26-Jun-45, USS Sea Robin (SS-407), War Patrol No. 3, LCDR P. C. Stimson

On June 26, 1945, Sea Robin was at her assigned lifeguard station off Iwo Jima. At 1130 hours, she "...received full load of bombs thru heavy overcast. Missed by 1000 yds. Either it was poor bombing or careless jettisoning. Could not raise B-29's, now or earlier in the morning. Finally raised PLUTO 29. Informed him we weren't particularly happy about having eight bombs drop thru the overcast missing us by about 1000 yards. Also told him to tell all his friends to take it easy on the art of jettisoning. He said he'd inform Iwo Jima." See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Sea Robin (SS-407), Report of Third War Patrol, PDF page 131.


47  18-Jul-45, USS Gabilan (SS-252), War Patrol No. 6, CDR W. B. Parham

"During one of the Third Fleet's raids along the Japanese coast on the night of July 18, 1945, Gabilan, Commander W. B. 'Bill' Parham of Birmingham, Alabama, had a narrow escape from being shot up as Nautilus was near Tarawa. She was lifeguarding about 40 miles around to northeastward from Tokyo Bay entrance when Admiral Halsey decided to send a cruiser task force close in to search for enemy shipping. We immediately radioed Gabilan to clear the area and reminded Third Fleet of her location but, according to Admiral Dick Edwards, 'There's always some so-and-so who doesn't get the word.' Two destroyers of the task force picked the lifeguard submarine up on their radar screens that night and opened fire. Commander Bill Parham says his ship was straddled about 10 times before he could get her down, in a rough head sea, and that it seemed an eternity before the welcome water closed over the hull. Gabilan was carrying 15 rescued aviators. Slap-happy incidents of that sort certainly rankled our souls." Quote from Lockwood, Charles A., Sink 'Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific, p. 320.


48  24-Jul-45, USS Toro (SS-422), War Patrol No. 2, CDR J. D. Grant

On the night of July 24, 1945, "...a lifeguard submarine had a narrow escape from the guns of our rampaging Third Fleet 'allies,' Toro, Commander J. D. Grant of San Diego, California, was on station close to the coast of Shikoku but had been drawn off her assigned spot in a fruitless search for zoomies reported down. At 1800 her air cover departed, leaving her very naked in the path of a friendly task force scheduled to pass through the area. At 1900 Commander Grant opened up with his radio and reported his predicament. Subpac immediately went on the air but in spite of all we could do to inform those concerned, that night the destroyer Colohan picked Toro up at 18,000 yards and headed over to investigate. Colohan tried by voice radio and IFF to establish the identity of her contact but the submarine for some reason, did not have her IFF turned on. Toro did try to communicate with a flashing light but in the existing low-visibility condition her light was not seen. Finally at 7,400 yards the Colohan opened fire and straddled Toro with the first salvo. Grant, of course, dived on seeing gun flashes and was not hit. The destroyer evidently thought she had sunk a surface vessel for no depth charges were dropped. Toro's recognition signal sent by sonar was not replied to because, running at 28 knots, Colohan could not use her echo-ranging gear. The submarine was lucky to get out of that mess without damage." Quote from Lockwood, Charles A., Sink 'Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific, p. 321. See Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Toro (SS-422), Report of Second War Patrol, PDF page 35-36.