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The first war patrol of the USS S-44 (SS-155), under the captaincy of Lieutenant Commander John R. Moore, was conducted during the period April 24 to May 23, 1942. On her way out from Brisbane, the river pilot grounded the submarine on a mud bank two miles southwest of the pile lighthouse. The engines were stopped and depth soundings taken; the water depth was 18.5 feet. The motors were started and the submarine slid off the mud bank safely. No harm was done; the submarine's screws did not touch the mud bank.

On May 3, 1942, S-44 reached her assigned patrol zone in Area Roger, which included the waters off Cape Saint George, New Ireland and Saint George's Channel.

On May 8, 1942, near Cape Saint George, New Ireland, S-44 made a daylight underwater periscope attack when it fired two Mark 10 torpedoes with a ten-second spread at a merchant ship. In his report, Moore wrote he could only see a dim outline of the ship in the heavy rain. No estimate of its course or speed was made. S-44 attacked from the vessel's starboard side. The torpedoes ran ahead of the vessel due to its slow speed. Also, its range and track angle were probably too great for a good shot. Moore opined he should not have fired these, but he and the crew all had a bit of buck fever at the time.

On May 12, 1942, at about 1600 hours, about fifteen miles southeast of Cape Saint George, New Ireland, Lieutenant Commander Moore coordinated a daylight underwater periscope attack on the 5,644-ton converted repair ship Shoei Maru. At the time, Moore estimated the vessel to be a 5,000-ton merchant ship or a naval supply ship, about 400 feet long. From 800 yards, he fired three Mark 10 torpedoes from S-44's forward tubes, spacing them to hit the target broadside from its bow to its main mast. Moore then ordered left full rudder and fired one more Mark 10 at the Shoei Maru's bow. Moore could see all four torpedoes were running hot and straight as an escort vessel turned toward S-44. Moore took the submarine to 90 feet, and changed course to the right, at eight knots. Two of the four torpedoes hit the Shoei Maru on her port side at 04°-51' S, 152°-54' E. The ship capsized and sank. Eight crew members were killed. The escort dropped sixteen depth charges in six minutes; none were very close.

In accordance with dispatch orders from ComSubRon5, Moore started S-44's return trip at 1810 hours on May 14. The submarine moored at Brisbane on May 23.

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