[Ed. Note: Coordinated and mutually supporting operations were instituted by U.S. submarines in mid World War II. On this patrol PARCHE accounted for 38,000 tons of Japanese shipping and her Commanding Officer, CDR Lawson P. Ramage, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Honolulu Star Bulletin of June 7th reported that VADM Ramage’s Medal of Honor was stolen from the USS BOWFIN Submarine Museum. The medal had been loaned to the museum by Admiral Ramage’s daughter and was being displayed under a heavy plastic cover. The paper reported that police were investi-gating but that no leads were yet developed.]
USS PARCHE- Report of Second War Patrol
Period 17 June 1944 to 16 August 1944
Assigned to Coordinated Attack Group 17.15 consisting of PARCHE, HAMMERHEAD, and STEELHEAD with Commander L .S. Parks, USN, ComTaskGroup 17. 15 in PARCHE.
17 June 1944
9030 Y Departed Midway in company with HAMMERHEAD and STEELHEAD. Held communication drills. Trim drive.
19-23 June 1944
Enroute area. Held daily drills, training and dives. Rendezvous with STEELHEAD and HAMMERHEAD on June 21st and passed over Group Commander’s orders and instructions by line.
24 June 1944
0543 K Sighted small unidentified vessel bearing 322 T distance 10 miles.
0545 K Changed course to close, on four main engines.
0605 K Identified target to be patrol vessel on course 090 T , speed 10 knots with radio antenna. Battle stations.
0618 K Manned 4″/50 cal. gun.
0620 K Commenced firing deck gun, range 3600 yards. Third shot hit deck house and brought down antenna and after mast.
Target maneuvered radically at top speed until a short under his tail jammed his rudder full left. Then we both went round and round . Two attempts to man their machine gun resulted in the successive gunners being blown sky high. Finally a well places hot in his stem stopped him. Target was then closed and set afire with 20 mm incendiaries. Firing throughout was excellent in spite of moderate sea conditions. At least 50 percent hits were scored out of 60 rounds of 4″ /50 cal. tired. The steel bull took ten good holes and the topside was a complete wreck. Still the target showed no signs of giving up until she had been burning briskly for ten minutes.
0717 K Target sank stem first while six survivors scrambled out of the forward hold very much alive to our complete amazement. Investigated debris and found nothing of interest. One survivor attempted deception by putting a wooden cask over his head and spotting through the bunghole. This ruse was almost successful.
26 June 1944
0802 I Due north of Bonins with 100 percent overcast clouds and slick sea. Dived to avoid surprise attack by low flying planes such as were patrolling this area yesterday.
27 June 1944
0800 I Slowed to one engine speed. 11 .5 knots in accordance with Group Commander’s order to all boats to conserve fuel. Visibility zero due to low fog which persisted all morning.
30 June 1944
1315 I Entered area. Patrolling to southward enroute assigned station .
2 July 1944
1947 I Surfaced and proceeded west to transit Balintang Channel .
2040 I SJ radar contact: Friendly submarine bearing 005 T distance 14,500 yards probably HAMMERHEAD.
3 July 1944
1600 I Made unscheduled rendezvous with HAMMERHEAD . Sighted periscope about 2000 yards ahead. Exchanged calls and information by sound.
2002 I Surfaced, proceeding west at 5 knots.
2050 I Received contact report from SEAHORSE, relayed by STEELHEAD. Enemy position was at least 200 miles to west-ward and well beyond our reach.
4 July 1944
0024 I SJ radar contact: Picked a good solid pip out from among several rain squalls.This proved to be 3 good pips at 21 ,000 yards bearing 1098 T. Went ahead 15 knots and commenced tracking.
0030 I Sent contact report to STEELHEAD and HAMMER-HEAD.
0056 I Smaller ship, at 9000 yards and plotting at better than 30 knots, swung right giving us a 45 degree angle on the bow. Our Fourth of July was then officially recognized with the Nips providing the fireworks.
0057 I The large DD or light cruiser opened up first followed almost immediately by one of the heavy cruisers at ranges 10,000 and 16,000 respectively. One splash on the starboard quarter and three more on the port quarter, all within a 100 yards plus the crack of the detonations, precipitated quite a scramble on the bridge.
0100 I Second salvo landed as the conning tower hatch went under. No spot.
0102 I Went deep and changed course to 180 T.
0105 I Four depth charges-not close.
0224 I Surfaced . All clear. Group Commander directed all boats to stop search as target group was tracking at 24 knots on course 215 T when last observed.
0232 I Made radar contact with both STEELHEAD and HAMMERHEAD.
0255 I Sent contact report to ComSubPac.
7 July 1944
0206 I Group Commander assigned new patrol stations for all submarines.Sent message to all boats.
14 July 1944
0003 I Made radar contact with HAMMERHEAD at 12,000 yards bearing 335 rel.
0010 I Made radar contact with STEELHEAD at 13,000 yards bearing 057 rel.
0100 I Delayed rendezvous due to poor visibility and choppy sea.
0355 I STEELHEAD carne alongside and received instructions and revised patrol schedule by line.
0430 I HAMMERHEAD came alongside and received her instructions.
0445 I Proceeding to new stations. wind and sea increasing from southwest. Barometer falling steadily.
18 July 1994
1955 I Surfaced in heavy stormy weather again with all the general appearances of an approaching typhoon.
2320 I Received contact report from O’Regan pack concerning a large convoy of transports, naval auxiliaries, and one or more carriers on course 215 T speed 15 knots.
2330 I Set course 260 T at full speed to intercept. Group Commander sent message to HAMMERHEAD and STEELHEAD to do likewise.
19 July 1944
0600 I Group Commander sent message to all boats changing scouting course to 035 T speed 12 knots.
1303 I Broached in heavy seas while attempting to keep regular hourly radio guard-at this time sighted aircraft carrier (no island) bearing 024 T distance 16,000 yards on course 150 T. Five or six planes were circling overhead but no other ships in sight.
1305 I Battle stations. Commenced approach at full speed. 1311 I Angle on bow 70S range 12,000 yards. Planes have all disappeared-so at last we have the perfect dream come true-the unescorted carrier, no planes, no DDs . Estimated speed 18-20 knots.
1318 I Angle on bow still 70S range about 8000 yards having zigged toward us 30 degrees to course 180 T.
1326 I Angle on bow 115 S range 5500 yards having zigged back to 150 T which was directly into wind. Observed a plane on deck now which he flew off. But the cat was out of the bag-the end of a perfect dream.
1410 I Carrier out of sight, single plane now apparently its only protection.
30 July 1944
0420 I Received report from HAMMERHEAD that she had radar contact with a convoy of 7 ships and 3 escorts on course 175 T speed 8 knots in position about 20 miles south of us. Set course 180 T at full speed to intercept.
0438 I HAMMERHEAD reported she was attacking from port flank and verified enemy course and speed.
0040 I Group Commander requested verification of enemy position for our plot indicated that the convoy should have passed right over us three hours before.
0441 I Group Commander directed STEELHEAD to close for attack.
0450 I Received position report from HAMMERHEAD putting convoy about 30 miles to the north of us. Changed course to 000T.
0455 I Inasmuch as this was a radical change from previous position the Group Commander asked HAMMERHEAD to verify and repeat this last position report.
0457 I HAMMERHEAD came back with another position more to the northeast. Changed course to 035 T accordingly.
0536 I No contact yet nor any radar interference so Group Commander asked for another position report.
0543 I HAMMERHEAD replied that she has completed her attack and that convoy was scattering, giving a new position about 30 miles to the northwest of us.
0545 I This information did not seem logical for STEELHEAD was searching to the westward and had not reported contact but we changed course to 290 T as a last resort. As the sun came up it finally dawned on us that we were the victims of another snipe hunt.
0621 I So with no smoke or masts in sight, no radar interference and the planes due momentarily-Dived.
0702 I STEELHEAD reported she had been forced down by a plane and requested further instructions. Nothing more was ever head from HAMMERHEAD.
0801 I Group Commander directed STEELHEAD to conduct regular submerged patrol.
0811 I Sighted masts of patrol boat bearing 327 Ton southerly course. Rain squalls prevented positive identification.
0858 I Lost sight of patrol boat bearing 215 T. Set course 215 T to trail.
0901 I Heard first of seven depth charges, apparently dropped by this patrol boat.
0929 I Aircraft contact: Sighted 2 four-engined (MAVIS) patrol boats bearing 222 T. From this time on and throughout the day at least 2 or 3 planes were in sight continuously, including NELLS, SALLYS, PETES, and MAVIS’.
1025 I Sighted smoke bearing 197 T .
1100 I Smoke moving to right, changed course to 270 T.
1136 I Five columns of smoke bearing 215 T changed course to
215 T. At least three planes circling over convoy.
1150 I Smoke drawing to the left, changed course to 090 T. 1250 I Lost sight of smoke bearing 165 T convoy apparently headed southeast toward Babuyan Islands.
1752 I Sighted mast bearing 293 T moving south rapidly.
1835 I Lost sight of mast bearing 235 T.
1840 I One distant explosion.
2014 I Surfaced.
2016 I Received contact report from STEELHEAD on convoy about 35 miles to the southwest on course 210 T speed 8 knots. Set course 205 T at full speed.
2100 I Told STEELHEAD we were closing for attack.
2256 I STEELHEAD asked if we were attacking.
2305 I Informed STEELHEAD that we had not yet made contact.
31 July 1944
0030 I Not yet having made contact nor having picked up radar interference, asked STEELHEAD to report enemy position, course, and speed.
0035 I STEELHEAD came back with a position about 30 miles southeast of us indicating convoy had made a radical change of course. Set course 167 T to intercept.
0115 I Picked up radar interference dead ahead.
0240 I SJ radar contact: Convoy bearing 150 T, distance 34,000 yards. Moon just setting.
0246 I Battle stations: commenced closing convoy’s track.
0301 I Picked up escort or STEELHEAD on radar bearing 348 rel., distance 9000 yards.
0307 I Six targets in convoy group tracking on course 195 T, speed 8, range 21,000 yards.
0311 I Convoy changed course to 230 T.
0313 I Escort ahead crossing over to starboard bow, range 6000 yards.
03161 Radar reports 10 targets, range 18,000 yards.
0320 I Picked up second escort bearing 323 rei., range 12,000 yards. 13 targets now.
0324 I Convoy changed course to 215 T.
0330 I Pulling ahead of second escort abeam to port.
0333 I Convoy changed course to 195 T.
0337 I Picked up third escort bearing 300 rel., range 6000 yards.
0340 I Convoy fired a couple of flares.
0342 I Several ships in convoy barely visible now bearing 090 T, range 10,000 yards. Sky overcast, scattered rain squalls. Escort situation as follows: First escort bearing 039 rel., range 2300 yards; second escort 240 rel., range 5500 yards; third escort 290 rel., range 4500 yards, closing rapidly. Present position was becoming untenable so decided to reverse the field and close in astern of second escort now on port quarter.
0343 I Commenced swinging right from 130 T through 270 T and 000 T to 090 T.
0350 I This reverse spinner apparently confused the opposition for we now found ourselves inside the escorts with the convoy dead ahead, range 6000 yards. Plot then showed that the convoy had come right to course 270 T, putting us on the opposite (port) flank.
0354 I Commenced approach on nearest target, a medium AK. Made ready all tubes.
0357 I Found we had greatly overestimated the range and before we could get a set-up the SJ operator reported having lost the target at 450 yards. Swung full right and slid down the side of this fellow at a distance of about 200 yards. As soon as we were clear astern, continued swing to right to make another pass at him. 0359 I Commenced firing bow tubes at AK but he was already alerted and had started swinging to the left. Saw first two torpedoes were going to miss astern so checked fire. AK had now effectively blocked off an escort that had followed us in.
0400 I Spotted two ships on starboard bow which appearoo at first to be flat-tops but were soon identified as large tankers. Started swinging right to close at full speed (18.5 knots).
0402 I Plot was stilt tracking AK which was in nice position for stern shot. TDC had good set up so fired the tube #7 at range 2000 yards. Heard one explosion about 2 minutes later, no other confirmation of damage except we could not locate this fellow after the show was over.
0407 I Closed leading tanker and fired four bow tubes on 110 port track at range 1500 yards. First torpedo disintegrated bow while other three piled into his bridge, quarter, and stern respectively. Tanker sank almost immediately leaving only small oil fire on surface.
0408 I Came hard right again to bring stern tubes to bear on second tanker.
0410 I Fired three stem tubes at this tanker on 100 port track range 1200 yards. First one missed ahead while the second and third hit forward slowing him down but not stopping him. The escorts now started to become a problem with their indiscriminate machine fun fire and flares. However along came another target, a medium AK or AP, with a sizeable superstructure just asking for trouble.
0412 I Commenced approach. Forward room reported two reloads ready.
0416 I Fired two bow tubes at AP at 80 starboard track at 800 yards. Both hit squarely amidships. Ship broke in two and sank within a couple of minutes.
0417 I Came right to avoid nearest escort and headed back toward our second tanker. As we closed we could see lights on his stern indicating he was manning his guns.
0419 I Crossed his track about 200 yards astern opening out for a stern shot. At about 500 yards this tanker opened up with everything he had . The 4″ or 5″ whistled overhead and landed well up ahead. Apparently his trim down by the bow did not permit depressing his gun sufficiently to get on us but the 20mm, 40mm, and small stuff was too hot to handle. Sent all lookouts and spare hands below. The quartermaster stuck to the after TBT until we had the set-up then-
0421 I At 800 yards range fired three stern tubes at this menace. All hit-the gunfire from that quarter was effectively silenced and with five torpedoes in her the big tanker gave up and went down leaving only small oil fire as did the first one.
0423 I Two escorts on the port quarter were now concentrating their machine gun fire on us and we were about to come right to put them astern and head for the prize of the evening, a hugh AP, when we spotted a small fast job similar to the KAIHO MARU, coming in sharp on the starboard bow, apparently intent on ramming us. Called the engine house to pour in all the oil they had-the other fellow had the right-of-way but we were in a hurry. 0425 I When half way across his bow, put the rudder full right swinging our stern clear. The Japs were screaming like a bunch of wild pigs as we cleared all around by less than 50 feet. Mutual cheers and jeers were exchanged by all hands.
0426 I We now found ourselves boxed in on both sides by several small craft and the big transport dead ahead with a zero angle. This left no alternative but to fire down the throat.
0429 I Commenced firing bow tubes. First fish started off to the right so checked fire and spotted on, then fired two more. These were right in the groove and both hit-stopping him. Closed in on his starboard bow and then swung hard left to bring our last stern tube to bear.
0433 I Fired one stem shot on 90 starboard track at 800 yards. It was a bullseye hitting squarely amidships.
0435 I Took time out to appraise the situation and get another check on the escorts which were still busy firing at us and at each other. Radar gave a count of eight pips.
0439 I The big AP was stopped and down by the bow but showed no further signs of going down so decided to go back and deliver the coupdegrace.
0422 I The big AP suddenly disappeared from sight and radar in one big blurb as the stem came up and went straight down, head first.
0445 I Radar reported only seven targets remaining, all small stuff (no side lobes), at ranges from 2000 to 12,000 yards.
0447 I Set course 330 T to put a little distance between us and this hornet’s nest as dawn was commencing to break. This decision was further prompted by the fact that the gyro setting gear on all tubes forward had been jammed when the torpedo men commenced matching gyro setters just as the last spindle in tube #5 was being engaged, thereby bending it and preventing it from be disengaged.
0450 I One of the escorts challenged us with AA AA by searchlight; this appeared to be rather unusual until one of the quartermasters explained, “Those Japs probably have a lot of forms to fill out too.” Several flares were observed and a few explosions heard as we retired.
0554 I Dived on course 315 T.
0652 I Heard one tremendous explosion.
0720 I Several distant explosions.
1325 I Several distant explosions.
2006 I Surfaced and set course for Balintang Channel.
2040 I SJ radar contact: Bearing 348 T distance 11 ,000 yards closing rapidly.
2041 I Lookout sighted 4-engine flying boat (MAVIS) flying low at 7300 yards. Dived.
2101 I Surfaced and proceeded as before.
2125 I STEELHEAD reported her position and six torpedoes remaining.
2230 I STEELHEAD reported results of her attacks.
2300 I Received information on HAMMERHEAD’s attack in ComSubPac’s nightly news bulletin.
1 August 1944
2200 I Group Commander sent departure report to ComSubPac reporting results of patrol.
16 August 1944
1030 VW Arrived Pearl.
Christened in Pascagoula, Mississippi
RAMAGE is named in honor of Vice Admiral Lawson P . Red Ramage, (1909-1990) whose courage during World War II as a submarine commander earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor and two Navy Crosses. In addition to commanding USS TROUT, the first submarine to successful-ly torpedo a Japanese aircraft carrier, Vice Admiral Ramage became the first submariner to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor and survive. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor while in command of USS PARCHE as a result of his daring predawn surface attack on a Japanese convoy off Taiwan on 31 July 1944. Caught in a deadly crossfire from Japanese escorts on all sides and exposed by the light of bursting flares and burning Japanese merchant ships, then Commander Ramage calmly ordered his men below and remained on the bridge alone to fight it out with the enemy. When the battle was completed, USS PARCHE had crippled or sunk five Japanese ships in an action that is still referred to as the most successful surface engagement in the history of submarine warfare.
RAMAGE will be commissioned in 1995 and will be homeported in Norfolk, Virginia as part of the United States Atlantic Fleet.