Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine


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The crewman lost was the largest loss of life on any U. Argonaut was one of fifty-two submarines the U. Nearly one in four of all submarine crew members who served in the war were lost in action. Had it not been for the unreliability of American torpedoes in the first part of the war, they would have done it far sooner. Though the Wahoo would end up as one of the most celebrated and successful U. The officers and men of the submarine service were all volunteers and knew how dangerous their job was, but wanted desperately to inflict damage on the enemy, and Kennedy, even by his own admission later, was too cautious.

Submarine warfare was not for the cautious. Left: O'Kane in dress uniform in a photo probably taken during the war. Until then they sailed on their own, usually looking for merchant vessels while trying to avoid the enemy warships escorting them. Like those 18 th century pirates, success often depended on the boldness of the captain.


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Morale on the Wahoo following the first two patrols was very low. He had no takers. Most sub commanders would man the periscope during attacks and have their XO run the coordination of the attack using all the information from the periscope and sound detection and plotting parties. At some point during that action a few of the crew may have been regretting their recent decision to remain on the sub. Note how close the New Guinea shoreline is behind it.

Below-right: Periscope view of the sinking merchant ship Nittsu Maru, sunk by the Wahoo in the Yellow Sea during their highest scoring patrol. On that patrol the hyper-aggressive Morton, frustrated with malfunctioning torpedoes, even surfaced and sank two Japanese freighters with his deck gun. She disappeared on her 5 th patrol under Morton in the Sea of Japan in October After several weeks of no contact with her, it was clear the Wahoo was lost. The wreck of the Wahoo was found there in He and the Tang pictured below had two submarine crews to avenge now, and he would not let them down.

The Largest Submarine in World War II

He sank five enemy merchant vessels on that first patrol, the same number Morton and the Wahool sank on his first patrol. He got his first after enduring a harrowing depth charge attack when a destroyer spotted them. It was a high-risk, high-reward mode of attack, which perfectly fit the aggressive mindset of both of them.

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It was the largest number of airmen ever rescued during one patrol by any U. He also commanded the 3 rd highest scoring patrol, and was the XO on the Wahoo on the 2nd highest scoring patrol of the war, further enhancing his reputation as the most successful American submarine officer of the war. Tang sank another five Japanese and made it home safely on her 4th patrol. He had already sunk several ships when he made a typically daring surface attack on a large convoy on the night of October 24th.

Running on the surface they were detected by the escorts, who fired salvos at him as he began his attack. His first salvo of torpedoes hit three vessels. The attack on this convoy would last into the early morning hours of the 25 th , with the Tang taking fire from several different direction.

Eventually he had two torpedoes left. He was going to fire them at a freighter he had already crippled and then run for Pearl Harbor and home, but it was not to be. The first torpedo ran true, but the second ran on a circular course, bringing it right back at the middle of the Tang. Right full rudder! The explosion rocked the ship and she sank quickly by the stern.

Click on it for a larger view. Welch, pictured below-right, did not survive. Larry Savadkin, made it out of the upper conning tower, going from one air pocket to another until he reached the upper hatch. Unlike the crews on other ships, submariners wore no life vests because the narrow hatches in the conning tower made them impractical. Only Kane and three others, including Savaadkin, survived to the morning. This was the only known occasion in which it was successfully used in a U.

There they were mingled with the survivors of the ships they had sunk, who angrily beat them. The Japanese considered aviators and submariners "special prisoners of Japan," and imprisoned in the foulest camps with their existence unreported to the International Red Cross. Thus the families of these nine survivors, listed as missing and presumed dead, had no idea their loved one had lived until after the war ended. And very few members of submarine crews, simply due to the fact they so often operated underwater, survived a sinking, so their families would always assume the worst.

He weighed under pounds at liberation and was suffering from malnutrition, dysentery, and jaundice. He was given a chance of survival but he beat the odds and survived once again, as he had done throughout the war. They were held in the same Japanese POW camp. The field jacket hides his emaciated body. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for that epic, final patrol. He was also awarded three Navy Crosses and three Silver Stars over the course of the war.

Truman after the war. He retired with the rank of Rear Admiral in Living in the close confines of a submarine as one of the officers in charge, he would have become intimately familiar with his crew, and only he and a handful of his final shipmates on the Tang survived the war.


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He probably lost as many close war time comrades as any man who served in the U. His seniority marked George as our engineering officer, a billet he had already assumed. Roger, 5 years my junior, was similarly lean, but with dark hair and a more serious smile. After attending submarine school, he had served in the Pompano, which had a torpedo data computer TDC. Rau, from New London, had also served in Pompano, where he had been chief of the boat, the key enlisted submarine billet, and had two supporters in Roger and George for the same assignment in Wahoo.

Short, stocky, and muscular with receding hair gave Chief Rau an authoritative, fatherly appearance. If there had been any question, the Watch Quarter and Station Bill he was already preparing would have settled it, for the bill already showed the assignments of many crewmen.

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Navy Says Wreck Found Off Japan is Legendary Sub USS Wahoo

The men had come from other submarines, submarine school, or other schools pertinent to their rate. A few had come directly from surface ships, or from cities and farms via boot camp. Training devices, similar to shipboard installations, provided the actual experience men would need to stand supervised watches in their submarine underway. Everyone was busy, so I followed suit with my own school, heading for the after torpedo room.

There were four tubes, carried loaded, their inner doors secured by heavy bronze bayonet locking rings. Just forward were skids to hold four reloads, and sandwiched with these were twelve pullout bunks. This must have been planned and was appreciated. The heart of maneuvering was the encaged control cubicle with operating levers extending aft and rheostats controlling the fields. Here, electricians would direct the electrical output of all diesel generators to the four main motors, two to each propeller shaft through reduction gears, or to the two great batteries when charging.

All of this was completely flexible. It was here that all maneuvering bells would be answered, with the electricians calling for more engines as required when surfaced. Though I would have preferred continuing through the boat, my call on the captain of the Navy Yard took precedence. While there, I learned that Comdr. Duncan C. Back at the office, the reporting of Lt. Jackson had solved the problem of a communication and commissary officer.


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A University of Wisconsin and sub school graduate, commissioned in the V7 officer program, he could take these jobs, which included underwater sound, in stride. A target bearing transmitter TBT to send binocular bearings to the conning tower might have brought an attack on the destroyers at Midway. Lean and dark haired, his southern voice disguised an eagerness of a Yankee, for he soon had a bronze azimuth circle and boat stuffing box from scrap.

A Monel shaft with slotted fitting above to receive binocular hinge pins and a pointer below completed the mechanical installation. The optical shop installed a vertical reticle in two pairs of binoculars, and Wahoo was now ready for a night surface attack. Each was rated at 1, horsepower, but could generate volts and amperes the equivalent of 2, At the time, we only glanced down to the lower flats at the and kw diesel auxiliaries. On leaving the forward room, we looked over two Kleinschmidt stills, which would supply all of the freshwater needs regardless of the duration of a patrol.

Our TBT and my initial familiarization with the boat had been completed just in time, for Lt.

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Marvin G. Kennedy reported as prospective commanding officer PCO. He came from staff duty preceded by executive officer of Narwhal SS N1, one of our three large submarines, and enjoyed an excellent reputation in torpedo fire control and tactics.

Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine
Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine
Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine
Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine
Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine
Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine
Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine Wahoo: The Patrols of Americas Most Famous World War II Submarine

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