Friday, September 23, 2022

Silent Victory USS Porpoise War Patrol #4 AAR September 1942


Hello sailors and welcome to the 4th War Patrol of the USS Porpoise (SS-172) captained by Lt. Commander Joseph A Callaghan. Before the Porpoise sets sail please click here for their 3rd War Patrol if you missed it.

USS Porpoise SS-172

After their last War Patrol, the Porpoise has been in dock for the previous month being refit for their next patrol. The newly promoted Expert Pharmacist's Mate is onboard and ready to go.

Expert Pharmacist's Mate
With everyone ready to go the Porpoise leaves the sub pens and sets course to the Marianas to patrol for enemy Japanese ships. 

After transiting to their patrol area the Porpoise runs into two Japanese ships with an escort during the evening of their first night on patrol. With the sun down Captain Callaghan keeps the sub on the surface and closes to medium range while calculating a firing solution on the two ships. Callaghan decides to fire all four forward tubes at the larger Japanese freighter and then quickly spins the Porpoise around to fire two rear torpedoes at the second Japanese ship.

The Captain fires all six torpedoes before going to ground before the escort comes after them. All four forward torpedoes hit the first ship but three are duds and do not explode, the one that does work causes 1 damage to the transport which damages it but doesn't destroy it. The two torpedoes fired at the second ship have a harder target to hit and only one of the two hits but that one is also a dud so no damage to the second Japanese ship.

The escort gives chase but the crew of the Porpoise is getting good at evading escorts and does so again. Once the Japanese ships calm down the captain of the Porpoise tracks the two ships and gets back into firing range for a second attack. Callaghan brings the Porpoise to medium range to their targets and surfaces again with the sun still down. This time he decides to fire three forward torpedoes at the damaged ship and the last forward torpedo at the undamaged ship. The captain fires all forward torpedoes and then quickly dives away from the action while the crew awaits the torpedoes.

The three torpedoes fired at the damaged ship all hit and with one being a dud the other two caused two damage sinking their first ship of the patrol. The single torpedo fired at the second Japanese ship also hits and does 4 damage which also sinks that ship. After a very successful round of combat, the Porpoise is 2-0. 

Japanese Escort

The escort was ready this time for an attack and detect the Porpoise and rain down depth charges!

Japanese Escort Firing Depth Charges

Two depth charges find the Porpoise and cause damage to the hydroplane and the batteries, two very important items on a submarine. The Porpoise finally escapes the Japanese Escort and the crew attempts repairs but there is too much damage to be fixed at sea. With no crew injuries, torpedoes left unfired, and the boat working well enough Captain Callaghan decides to continue on with their mission.

During the middle of the night a week later the bridge crew detect another two Japanese ships with an escort. The hydrophone is inoperative so it was lucky the moon was out enough to give away the Japanese ships. They've been relatively lucky on this patrol so Captain Callaghan decides to fire all of his remaining torpedoes, 3 forward torpedoes at the first Japanese ship and 1 forward and two aft torpedoes at the second ship. The captain calculates his attack and fires his four forward torpedoes and then turns the Porpoise around to fire the last two rear torpedoes. 

The three forward torpedoes fired at the first Japanese ship all hit with only one dud, the two that explode caused four damage and destroys the first Japanese ship. The last forward torpedo hits the second ship and explodes causing three damage and sinks the second Japanese ship. One of the rear torpedoes is a complete miss but the last rear torpedo has a failure and begins a circular run and comes back at the Porpoise.

I've mentioned in previous posts the United States Navies' Mark 14 torpedo was an absolutely terrible weapon of war. At the beginning of the war, the Mark 14 had a dud rate of 66% which is awful and as you saw during this mission the Porpoise fired 16 torpedoes and 5 of them were duds. Fortunately, they get a little better as the war progresses. Another problem was when they would malfunction and start spinning in a circle. This could be very dangerous as your own torpedo comes back at you and could easily sink you. The US Navy is almost positive the USS Tang was lost during World War Two due to a circular torpedo malfunction.

Fortunately, the Porpoise is able to evade the torpedo and after that, they evade the Japanese escort. Captain Callaghan sets course for home since they are all out of torpedoes. A few days later the Porpoise comes across a lone Japanese passenger ship at night. Without an escort, the captain closes to close range on the surface and has the deck gun fire at the ship easily destroying it. 

After making light work of that ship the Porpoise continues on its way home. At the end of their patrol area, the Porpoise runs into a Japanese Warship. The captain quickly dives the sub and evades it as they have no weapons to do any damage. They evade the warship and make it back to their sub-pens in Australia to end the Porpoises' 4th War Patrol at the end of October 1942.

The Porpoise's 4th War Patrol ends with another success. They came back with zero torpedoes and sunk five Japanese ships for a total of 14,300 tons.

Hokushu Maru     4,200 ton Freighter
Mikage Maru       2,700 ton Passenger Ship
Nagaragwa Maru 1,000 ton Passenger Ship
Noshiro Maru       2,300 ton Freighter
Osaka Maru          3,700 ton Passenger Ship

The USS Porpoise is awarded its fourth Battle Star for this patrol. Lt. Commander Callaghan is awarded the Navy Cross for sinking five ships during this patrol. After four successful patrols, Lt. Commander Callaghan has been awarded a Bronze Star and a Navy Cross which is the Navy's highest award behind the Medal of Honor. With the Pharmacist's Mate being promoted to Expert the Porpoise is doing very well. The damage sustained during the patrol was substantial at sea but in dock, they will have no problem fixing the damage and will not be delayed for their fifth War Patrol some stay tuned!

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