Friday, September 4, 2020

Silent Victory USS Tambor War Patrol 1

President Roosevelt

President Roosevelt, "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Admiral Harold Stark

Admiral Stark, "Execute unrestricted air and submarine warfare against Japan."

It is December 8th, 1941 and the Empire of Japan has attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Admiral Stark has ordered all US submarines in the Pacific to attack Japanese shipping as a way to blockade the island of Japan.

Lieutenant Commander Smith, the Captain of the USS Tambor SS-198 has been ordered to begin a war patrol around the Island of Japan. The USS Tambor, the first of the Tambor class submarine of the US Navy, was built by Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, and was commissioned on June 3rd, 1940. Tambor Class Submarines are 1475 tons surfaces, 2370 submerged, is 307 feet long. It has a top speed of 20.4 knots surfaced, 8.75 knots submerged, can safely go to a depth of 250 feet with a surfaced range of 11,000 nautical miles and 48 hours submerged at 2 knots. Tambor submarines have a complement of six officers and 54 enlisted crew, has six forward torpedo tubes, and four.

In my Silent Victory game, I'll be using the real submarine names but fictional captains, with a few exceptions that I'll mention when the time comes. Some of the subs were sunk in real life, at times with the loss of the whole crew, but they will only be destroyed in my game through gameplay and not based upon real life. 

The USS Tambor's home port is Pearl Harbor and that is where their first patrol starts.

Pearl Harbor Naval Base
The Tambor leaves the safety of Pearl Harbor and begins it's the transition to its designated patrol towards the Empire of Japan. 

Before the boat can get into the ocean propper a Japanese scout plane is sighted. Captain Smith orders a crash dive!

Japanese Patrol Plane
The Tambor successfully dives under the waves before the plane can inflict any damage.

Finally, the Tambor begins its patrol of the Empire of Japan. Immediately the boat finds itself inside of a deadly minefield. Through pure luck, the Tambor is able to weave itself out of the minefield without taking damage.


Halfway through the patrol, the USS Tambor runs into a convoy with an escort.

Captain Smith maneuvers his boat to get an optimum shot on the convoy. He lines up three ships to fire at, a 900-ton freighter, a 2700-ton freighter, and a 3600-ton freighter. It is a day out so the captain submerges his boat and closes to close range. The captain determines to fire two fore torpedoes at the 2700-ton freighter and four torpedoes at the 3600-ton freighter, two fore and two aft (with a -1 to hit). 

As the submarine creeps into close range, it is able to avoid detection from the escort. The captain orders torpedoes fired and then turns away from the convoy to avoid detection.

Fire Torpedoes!
Five of the torpedoes hit, the only miss being one of the aft torpedoes fired at the 3600-ton freighter. Unfortunately, as was the case for many sub-commanders in the early parts of the war, all five torpedoes are duds and do not explode upon impact with the freighters.

The attack, while completely unsuccessful, alerts the escorts who depth charge the Tambor and damages the even forward torpedo tubes. The captain is successful in avoiding any more damage from the escort and is able to reengage the convoy. (At this point I should have rolled for new ships of the convoy but I didn't realize that and attack the same three ships again.) It is now night and the captain brings his boat to the surface at medium range to attack the convoy.

The captain fires four torpedoes, two fore from the odd tubes and two aft torpedoes, one at the 900-ton freighter, two at the 3600-ton freighter, and one at the 2700-ton freighter. Three of the torpedoes hit, one of the torpedoes fired at the 3600-ton freighter misses, and none of the torpedoes are duds!! The two bigger freighters sustain enough damage from he torpedoes fired to sink while the 900-ton freighter is hit but still afloat. 

The Tambor is able to avoid the escorts and follows the damaged freighter. The captain is able to shake the escort, who stays with the convoy, and is able to use the deck gun to fire on the freighter. He orders the deck gun manned and fires two rounds of ammo from the 3-inch gun at the transport which hits and sinks the freighter. The Tambor has successfully sunk its first three freighters for a total of 7200 tons of supplies.

Once out of combat the captain orders the chief engineer to work on the fore even torpedo tubes but the damage is too severe to fix at sea so the boat can only fire two fore torpedoes at a time.

A few days later the Tambor comes across two ships with an escort at night. The captain orders the sub to the surface and closes to medium range. The captain orders two fore torpedoes and two aft torpedoes fired at a 10,100-ton transport.  Three of the torpedoes hit but Captain Smith's luck continues and all three torpedoes that hit are duds! The Tambor is able to escape detection by the escort but is unable to follow the ships and has to continue on with its patrol.

Near the end of the patrol, the Tambor stumbles upon a single ship with an escort during the day. The captain orders Battlestations and submerges while moving up to close range without being detected by the escort. The captain fires four torpedoes (two fore and two aft, which are the last two torpedoes in the stern of the boat. 

Three of the torpedoes miss while one hits. Again the lone torpedo is a dud. The Tambor avoids the escort but fails to locate the freighter and has to move on with its patrol.

The rest of the patrol is quiet and the USS Tambor arrives back at Pearl Harbor at the end of January 1942. 

The USS Tambor destroyed three freighters on this war patrol for a total of 7200 Tons.

Daito Maru 900-Ton Freighter
Nipponkai Maru 2700-Ton Freighter
Nanyo Maru 3600-Ton Freighter

The USS Tambor is awarded its first battle star and as well as the Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia. Lieutenant Commander Smith is also awarded the Bronze Star for sinking three ships.

Lieutenant Commander Smith has been ordered to patrol Midway for his second war patrol for March 1942 after a month at Pearl Harbor for a refit and resupply. Come back next time for War Patrol 2.

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