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The Grayback's fifth war patrol is noteworthy. She stood out of Brisbane on December 7, 1942, with orders to patrol in the Vitiaz Strait and in the Bougainville-New Georgia area. On the night of December 14-15, a crewman was stricken with a ruptured appendix requiring immediate surgery. The captain ordered the Grayback to 100 feet while H. B. Roby, Pharmacist's Mate First Class, performed the appendectomy successfully. It was the second appendectomy performed aboard a submarine at sea by a Pharmacist's Mate. On Christmas morning, in a surface gun action she damaged four barges carrying Japanese troops. From December 31, 1942 to January 1, 1943, she conducted reconnaissance of Rendova Island and Blanche Channel. Following that, she patrolled off Wickham Island. On the night of January 4-5, 1943, she stood off Munda and served as a beacon for Army bombers during an air raid at that important enemy facility. After the bombing, she received a radio dispatch instructing her to proceed to the west coast of Rendova Island. There she would send two of her crewmen ashore to rendezvous with six Army aviators from a downed B-26 bomber and make them ready for transfer to the Grayback. At 0405 hours two Grayback crewmen were deployed in a rubber boat. The Grayback then submerged to await a prearranged signal from the crewmen that all was ready ashore and they were en route back to the submarine with the six aviators. At 1000 hours the signal was received and the Grayback kept watch for boats approaching from the beach. By 2153 hours, both crewmen and the six aviators were safely aboard the Grayback, where they received medical attention from Pharmacist's Mate Roby. On January 23, 1943, the Grayback moored next to the tender Fulton at New Farm Wharf, Brisbane, ending her fifth patrol.

Numerous sources, including JANAC, still credit the Grayback with sinking the Japanese submarine I-18 during her fifth patrol. The Grayback did fire two torpedoes at the I-18 on January 3, 1943, south of New Britain. However the I-18 was not hit by them. In its patrol report, the Grayback reported hearing torpedo explosions from what was thought to be the enemy submarine. The I-18 landed cargo at Guadalcanal two days later, on January 5, 1943, and did not report any damage. The I-18 was sunk on February 11, 1943, south of San Cristobal, by the destroyer USS Fletcher (DD-445) and aircraft from the light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50). 1

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Footnote:

1.  Alden, John D., Commander, USN (ret.) and Craig R. McDonald, United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East During World War II, Fourth Edition, see USS Grayback (SS-208), Attack Nos. 94, 95, 103, 387, 404, 414, 484, 485, 486, 487, 512, 666, 815, 816, 817, 824, 826, 827, 1197, 1208, 1226, 1238, 1239, 1416, 1417, 1418, 1419, 1424, 1425, 1426, 1427, 1443, 1656, 1657, 1685, 1686, 1687, 1695, 1696, and 1699; Submarine war patrol reports on CD; JANAC; and Miller, Vernon J., Japanese Submarine Losses to Allied Submarines in World War II, p. 23.