Lieutenant Commander Roy S. Benson took command of USS TRIGGER on August 1942 upon the boat’s return its first war patrol. He had graduated with the class of ’29 and went to Submarine School in 1934. He was Executive
Officer of NAUTILUS from February ’41 to August 4th of ’42. He became the PCO Instructor in New London in July of ’43 and in June of ’44 be took command of RAZORBACK. Rear Admiral Benson retired in 1969.
This patrol was chosen to illustrate the state of the subma-rine war in the fall of 1942 as the U.S. Navy took the battle to the Japanese home waters.
USS TRIGGER — Report of Second War Patrol
NARRATIVE: September 23. 1942 0900 VW Departed Pearl Harbor.
October 5, 1942
0420K Lat 31-40N, Long 142-06E. Sighted smoke on starboard bow. It was grey dawn, overcast sky, two hours before sunrise. Closed and then noticed that vessel wa heading for us. He looked small so manned 20 MM. Manned 3″ gun as greater size became apparent.
0439K Opened fire, range about 1500 yards. The enemy returned fire with gun of about 3″ calibre and machine guns.
0445K Ceased gunfire and changed course to bring bow tubes to bear. Target, a freighter of about 4,000 tons, turned away and started zigging. Gun crews sent below. Commenced chase.
0450K Angle on the bow 180.
0453 K No it isn’t. AOB is zero and relative speed is very fast. Too close to torpedo. He is attempting to ram. Maneuvering to avoid.
0455K Target passed abeam to port about 50 feet on oppo-site and parallel course. Target swinging left rapidly and so did we to keep him from striking our stem.
0500 K Fired torpedo tubes #7 and #8. One torpedo wake went under the target. After Torpedo Room heard a rumble and a roar 1 minute after #8 was fired. Word got out that we made one bit.
0505K Sound reported high speed screws. Thought gun of larger calibre was heard. Assumed some support for the enemy had arrived, but could see none, visibility not good. Submerged. No screws beard except our surface target. He was damaged but was getting away.
0530K Surfaced and chased him on four engines. Enemy opened up again with gunfire.
0551 K Fired #4 torpedo tube. Saw wake go under the target. Reports from Forward Room of a hit. By now planes could have reached the area as result of radio report, target was smoking tremendously, SO radar had been out of commission repeatedly in the past few days, and the dawn was very light. There-fore, submerged with the enemy at a range of about 500 yards swinging toward us. He passed our stern at about 200 yards and dropped one depth charge.
0610K Fired one stern tube in desperation. Did not see torpedo wake.
0750K Target’s smoke did not seem to be drawing away fast enough so came to course 125 to close him again. Then there were several large puffs of smoke; then nothing.
llOOK Abandoned the search.
1418 K Surfaced. The target was a three island freighter of about 4000 tons. The appearance was not unlike that of the Q-ship at which USS GUDGEON fired five torpedoes on her second patrol without sinking her. The target had been definitely damaged at least, and possibly sunk.
October 8, 1942
0135K Lat 30-42N, Long 133-03E. Sighted two objects, one large and one small, on the horizon dead astern, hull down. Change ofbearing indicated they were heading south. Commenced tracking at full speed on all main engines attempting to take position ahead.
Tracking indicated course 160, speed 15. Chart indicated that they came from Bungo Suido and were
headed for the Mandates. Visibility such that an undetected night surface attack was not possible, yet not light enough for night periscope attack. Decided to make periscope attack at dawn.
0600 K Target not in sight. Slowed to allow target to close. Finally found him broad on port quarter, AOB 45 starboard. Came to normal approach course at full speed. Could now see two ships.
0622 K Too light to continue on the surface. Submerged.
0637 K Target zigged again. Unable to close, passed at four
miles; no escort. It was a huge tanker, fully loaded, estimated 10,000 tons.
0745 K Surfaced when target finally out of sight. Ahead full on all main engines to circle target and make another attempt. Conned the ship from the A-frames with his masts just in sight.
1050 K Lat 28-44N, Long 134-18E. Plane sighted astern cutting in and out of clouds. Continued the chase. Target now bearing normal to base course.
1054 K Plane previously sighted headed for us. It was a small, high speed plane. Submerged; Abandoned the chase. Set course toward Bungo Suido to return over the 200 miles covered in the chase.
October 16. 1942
No ships are being sighted off Ashizuri Saki. On surfacing,
headed for coast line south of Bungo Suido entrance.
October 17, 1942
0541 K Lat 32-21N, Long 132-04E. Sighted smoke inshore. Made simple, night surface, undetected attack. 0600 K Fired two bow tubes. Both hit. Target went down
by the bow and opened fire with a gun of about 3″ calibre. Turned away to spoil the accuracy of his gunfire but keeping him well in sight.
0615 K Not sinking. He has turned away and his screws are still turning over. Took position and fired one torpedo. Missed aft. Fired again. Torpedo went under middle of target; no explosion. Perhaps the range was too close to arm in time.
0620 K Target took a decided list to starboard, bow going down, stem coming up. Saw one, perhaps two lifeboats in the water.
0623 K Target sank bow first. Another explosion. Sound-men becoming familiar with noise of sinking ship. Target had been a three island freighter of about 5,000 tons. This approach had been made by Lieu-tenant E. L. Beach, Jr., USN, with the Commanding Officer unnecessarily coaching, Lieutenant S. S. Mann, Jr., USN, on the TDC.
1335 K Lat 32-38N, Long 131-48E. Sighted freighter on southerly course. Commenced approach, AOB 90 port. Just holding our own on normal approach course at full speed, 140 port track for zero angles.
1446 K Frred 3 torpedoes. All ran hot. No explosions. No maneuvering by the target. Track was 110 port, range 1800 yards. Longitudinal spread. Could not have gotten into better position. At firing we were in 30 fathoms of water, coast steep to. Surfacing so close to coast out of the question. Resumed patrol up the coast.
1933 K Surfaced on course 045 to cross the entrance of Bunge Suido with hope of sighting target coming out in the afterglow.
2010 K Lat 32-33N, Long 131-55E. Our hopes of sighting a target were fulfilled to overflowing, for at this time sighted a destroyer bearing 330 relative, distance about three miles, AOB zero with a tremendous bow wave. Submerged to periscope depth. Destroyer commenced tiring. He passed over our stem uncom-fortably close and dropped a string of depth charges so close that there were no clicks. He started several more runs but turned away on about one-half of them as we outmaneuvered him. Strings of depth charges were being dropped quite regularly but none very far away, none wasted. It was exceedingly difficult to see through the periscope. He turned toward us again. We turned toward him. Zero AOBs meeting. When did not dare hold tire longer, considering the possibility of a complete miss, tired three torpedoes down his throat, range about 2500 yards. When the first torpedo had run about a minute there was a terrific explosion which CO saw in the exact direction of the oncoming destroyer. When the smoke cleared, the destroyer was still there but no longer bows on. The first torpedo must have exploded prematurely and the others detonated when they passed through the turbulence. Fmally when he was at a range of about 1500 yards, AOB 90 port, fired one stem shot at his bow with intent to fire another at his stern. Could not see him due to poor visibility. Sound reported screws on some other bearing. Could not see a ship anywhere. After a few minutes of screws on various bearings and nothing seen, screws speeding up and getting closer, went to deep submergence thereby losing the initia-tive but probably saving the ship. Commenced evasion tactics. Our courses were limited to between 090 and 180 for we were boxed in on the 100 fathom curve. Our battery was nearly exhausted for we had over an hour at full speed this afternoon. We were continually getting heavy for we have had leaks into forward trim tank for days and in auxiliaries and after trim occasionally. Water is flowing in by the stem tubes. Numerous other leaks at 250 feet are embar-rassing us. Started bucket brigade to shift water from full bilges to reasonably dry ones. Evasion tactics are being successful. Had to speed up now and then and had to pump. The destroyer started a number of runs but, when we evaded, he turned away and then came in again. Finally he had us boresighted. Each one was closer. He must have run out of depth charges. About two more and he would have been on us. He had dropped a total of 26, not one at sufficient range to give the initial click.
2300 K Destroyer not being heard now. Negative tank flood and quick closing vent will not close, vent stops are therefore closed. We have to pump regularly to hold depth even at two-thirds. Pressure in the boat is 2112 inches. The battery is exhausted.
October 18. 1942
0020 K Surfaced, expecting the destroyer to be waiting in he distance. Sound reported pinging. Bright light on starboard beam.
0022 K Submerged to 200 feet. Nothing heard.
0100 K Surfaced and cleared the area at high speed. The destroyer Commanding Officer may well claim our destruction for obviously be never beard us after his last run and he stayed around for some time. Head-ed for the 160 course line from Bunge Suido in order to intercept ships on that track. At dawn, commenced submerged patrol. Leaving negative tank flooded completely, flood valve will not shut.
October 20. 1942
1815 K Lat 32-00N, Long 132-3SE. Sighted smoke bearing west. Started submerged approach until it was obvious that we could not close. Course was southerly.
1915 K Surfaced and started the chase at full speed. Tracked the target to be zigzagging at 15 knots with base course 160.
2310 K Attained position ahead. Moon too bright for surfaced attack. Sighted target; 10,000-ton loaded tanker. Eight torpedoes remain on board, four in each end. All are ready. AOB impossible to esti-mate, but closing on a constant bearing. Large zig to the left. Came to 90 starboard track with stem tubes. Pinged a range, 1400 yards. A large zig to the right, still starboard track. Pinged a range, 900 yards.
2350 K Fired a wide spread of four torpedoes, two to hit. Came left to bring bow tubes to bear. Two hits. Target beading for us to ram. Went to 100 feet. Target went over our stem and dropped one depth charge at a range of about 500 yards. About one minute later there was a violent explosion, absolutely not a depth charge. It must have been his aviation gasoline, magazines or boilers. Started for periscope depth. Sound reported high speed screws near the target. Search during approach bad not revealed an escort but visibility had not been sufficient to be certain. Not having a negative tank did not dare to come to periscope depth until we knew more about the high speed screws. Turned our quarter toward them. High speed screws dying out. Sound reported tanker’s screws had stopped. Started for periscope depth. Sound reported crackling sounds like those.