Silent Hunter header

On February 15, 1943, the submarine USS Tullibee (SS-284) was commissioned at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California. Commander Charles F. Brindupke (“Brindy”) was made the Tullibee’s first captain. He would also be the only captain she would ever have. Brindy captained the Tullibee through her shakedown and test runs off San Francisco and San Diego. On May 8, 1943, following alterations at Mare Island, the Tullibee sailed for Pearl Harbor, arriving there on May 15, 1943. During training exercises off Pearl serious defects developed and the Tullibee had to spend the period from June 3 to July 11, 1943 undergoing repairs at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Following the repairs, the Tullibee underwent a three-day training period. On July 19, 1943, Brindy reported her ready for sea. At 1300 hours on that day, Brindy conned the Tullibee out of Pearl Harbor and pointed her bow toward Johnston Island. On July 21, 1943, she arrived at Johnston Island where she fueled to capacity, repaired her bridge gyro repeater, and made her SD radar operative. At 1400 hours that day, she departed Johnston Island and at 1700 hours bid her escort farewell. Brindy then pointed the Tullibee’s bow toward her assigned patrol area off the western Caroline Islands, where she would hunt for enemy shipping in the vital shipping lanes running between Truk Lagoon and the Mariana Islands.

The Tullibee made four torpedo attacks against enemy shipping during her first patrol. The first one occurred at around 1400 hours on August 10, 1943. The target was a medium sized cargo ship in convoy with two other similar vessels and one patrol craft, which Brindy identified as a small minelayer. (It was probably a new type of escort vessel or kaibokan.) While submerged the approach and attack were made using the periscope and TDC with the constant bearing method. From a range of 800 yards Tullibee fired three Mark 14-3A torpedoes at one of the cargo vessels. All three torpedoes ran underneath the target – Brindy had overestimated the target’s draft. The escort spotted the wakes and charged to their origination point. Tullibee went deep and managed to withstand a string of ten depth charges. She crept away silently. She surfaced around 2000 hours and began to chase the convoy. On August 14, 1943, at 1233 hours, she caught up with it and targeted one of the merchants. The attack was made using the same approach and attack method as before. From a range of 2,500 yards, Brindy gave the order to fire three Mark 14-3A torpedoes. Once again all three missed the target, this time because the merchant spotted the incoming torpedoes and turned away in time to evade them. The escort held Tullibee down with nine depth charges while the merchants escaped.

Tullibee made her last two torpedo attacks on August 22, 1943. Brindy had spotted five passenger-cargo ships in convoy under the escort of two destroyers. These two attacks were made using the same approach and attack method as before. At 1800 hours, from a range of 2,500 yards, Brindy gave the order to fire three Mark 14-3A torpedoes at what he described as a 5,000-ton coal burning passenger-cargo vessel. He then gave the order to fire three more Mark 14-3A torpedoes at what he described to be either a cargoman or a repair ship at a range of 3,000 yards. Brindy then ordered the boat to go deep and run silent. One hit was heard on the first vessel and two hits were heard on the second. The Tullibee took a beating from twenty-eight depth charges dropped by the escorts, but managed to escape with only minor damage. When she resurfaced five hours later, the crew sighted hundreds of oil drums, planks, and debris resembling hatch covers at the location of the attacks.

On September 1, 1944, Brindy informed Comsubpac they were leaving their patrol area and heading back to the barn. The Tullibee arrived at Midway on September 7, 1943 for refit in preparation for her next patrol. In his patrol report Brindy wrote that he believed they had damaged a 5,000-ton passenger-cargo ship and had sunk a 7,000-ton cargoman or repair ship. Comsubpac endorsed these totals. They are listed in the pertinent SORG reports. The postwar JANAC assessment credited the Tullibee for sinking 4,164-ton passenger-cargo vessel Kaisho Maru during her first war patrol. The more recent analysis by John D. Alden and Craig R. McDonald also credits her for this sinking; however, no credit was awarded for damaging the other vessel. The Alden-McDonald analysis for the sinking states the Kaisho Maru left Truk on August 21, 1943 bound for Yokosuka. At around 1959 hours the next day she was hit by a torpedo on her port side and was hit again at about 1700 hours. At 1706 hours she listed to port and sank stern first. Three people were killed.

USS Tullibee Main Page

Pips & Blips Articles Index