Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Silent Victory USS Narwhal War Patrol #5 AAR December 1942


Hello and welcome to the fifth War Patrol of the Narwhal class USS Narwhal (SS-167). If you missed the Narwhal's last patrol you can click here to find out what you missed.

After the Narwhal's last patrol to lay mines near the Island of Japan the boat was resupplied and quickly sent back out to the Empire Of Japan for another patrol. 

USS Narwhal

In December 1942 the Narwhal leaves Pearl Harbor for its fifth patrol. The transit from its base to Japan was uneventful. Once they arrive at the island, the official patrol begins and quickly the hydrophone operator picks up some noises. The Narwhal sets a course and discovers two transports with an escort.

With the sun still up the escort would easily spot them so the Captain submerges the boat and close to medium range for the attack. There are two ships to fire at, a smaller freighter and a medium size transport. Out of the six possible torpedoes tubes available to fire, the Captain has split them evenly between the two ships. 

Torpedoes away! Somebody on the Narwhal must have been drinking some torpedo juice because all three torpedoes fired at the larger passenger ship missed but luckily the three fired at the smaller ship are all on course. All three torpedoes hit but one of the crappy Mark 14 torpedoes was a dud and does no damage. The other two explode and cause enough damage to sink the ship!

The escort goes on high alert and beings its search for the Narwhal but the ship is running quiet and stays undetected. The Captain isn't very happy about the complete miss with the bigger ship and continues following it while the crew reloads torpedoes.

With all forward torpedo tubes reloaded the Narwhal begins to close for another attack. The sun is still up so the boat comes in submerged and gets into medium range for the second attack. The Captain has four torpedoes fired at the passenger ship and two at the escort. The Narwhal fires and dives for cover as the crew anxiously waits to see if the second attack is successful. Underwater explosions are heard and they know there's been a successful strike. One of the torpedoes fired at the escort hit while the second torpedo misses. The one that does hit does critical damage and sinks the escort. 

The passenger ship has two of the four torpedoes fired at it hit. One is a dud but the other causes enough damage to also sink it giving the Narwhal three confirmed kills so far this patrol!

With nothing left to attack the Narwhal continues on with its patrol off of Japan. At the midpoint, the spotters on the bridge notice an air patrol so the sub-crash-dives and is able to escape notice from the airplane.

The Narwhal continues on with its patrol and near the end, they pick up another two ships with an escort. With virtually the same conditions of midday, submerged, and at mid-range, the Captain has the submarine prepare to fire from the aft torpedo tubes, the forward torpedoes are nearly all spent. The aft section only has four torpedo tubes so the Captain decides to fire one at the smaller freighter and three at the larger one with nothing for the escort. The Narwhal gets to optimum range and fires all four torpedoes. The torpedo fired at the smaller freighter missed but the three fired at the larger freighter all hit! But luck isn't on the Narwhal's side as all three torpedoes are duds meaning this attack was a complete miss.

The escort detects the sub and begins chasing it. The Captain of the Narwhal performs evasive maneuvers but it doesn't work and the escort begins firing depth charges. They hit the Narwhal and cause damage to the hull. No mechanical damage was done to the sub but two crewmembers, including the Pharmacists Mate, are severely injured. 

Japanese Escort Firing Depth Charges

The Narwhal tracks the freighters again and sets up the same firing solution as in the last attack except to split the torpedoes two for each ship. They fire torpedoes and all four torpedoes hit, none of them are duds, and they cause enough damage to sink both freighters giving the Narwhal a total of 5 ships sunk this patrol. The escort comes around again but the Narwhal is able to sneak away this time. 

The War Patrol comes to an end and the Narwhal begins its transit back to Pearl Harbor. On the way, the crew breaks out some food to celebrate their victories but something they eat makes most of the crew violently ill, luckily it's at the end of the patrol so it doesn't affect the operating of the submarine.

Pearl Harbor

The Navy brass was very happy with the results of this war patrol. The crewmembers injured, including the expert Pharmacists Mate, were awarded Purple Hearts. Both were able to recuperate while the refit was conducted and will make the next War Patrol.  The crew earned their fifth Battle Star as well as their fifth Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia. 

The USS Narwhal's fifth War Patrol ends with success. They sunk five enemy ships for a total of 13,300 tons sunk. 

Tenpei Maru 6,100 ton Passenger Ship
Canton Maru 2,800 ton Freighter
Akiura Maru 900 ton Freighter
Tairiku Maru 2,300 ton Freighter
1,200 ton Escort

The LT. Commander John H. Brown Jr was awarded his first Navy Cross for sinking five ships in a patrol and was promoted to Commander. The Narwhal will need a month of refit and will be ready for its sixth War Patrol in March 1943 so stay tuned.

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