[Editor’s Note: This first war patrol for TRIANTE provides a wide variety of insights into late American wartime submarine operations. For his daring, determination, and high degree of success, Lieutenant Commander George L. Street III won the Medal of Honor for this patrol and his Executive Officer Lieutenant Edward Beach took home the Navy Cross. The crew was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
Determination was important at this point in the war because of the vastly reduced number of available enemy targets in the East China and Yellow Seas thanks to consistent American submarine success in the region and the increasing number of boats available for deployment. On this patrol, TRIANTE frequently encountered other boats and conducted cooperative operations with TINOSA and SPADEFISH. Street’s rendition of the Quelpart Island attack also provides good reading on daring solo operations and insight into imaginative attack techniques.]
USS TIRANTE – Report of First War Patrol
Period 3 March 1945 to 25 April 1945
Ship placed in commission at Navy Yard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire on November 6, 1944. Lieutenant Commander G.L. Street m, USN assumed command. Ship completed on November 23, 1944, and commenced training in fog, storms, and freezing weather off Portsmouth. TIRANTE’s builders did a wonderful job.
Arrived New London, Connecticut on December 21, 1944. Departed January 8, 1945 for Balboa, arriving there in January 16. Departed January 26, arrived Pearl February 10, 1945.
March 3 1945
Departed Pearl Harbor in accordance with ComTask Force 17 Operation Order #65-45, enroute to west coast of Kyushu via Saipan to form coordinated attack group with TINOSA and SPADEFISH, with Commanding Officer TINOSA as group commander.
March 3-15, 1945
Enroute Saipan, conducting training enroute. Averaging three dives, one battle problem daily. Studying many patrol reports, and Bushido to get back in trim after a long layoff.
March 15, 1945
Arrived Saipan. Commenced investigation to remove shaft squeal. Underway on 16th to test preliminary work. Drydocked on March 17.
March 18, 1945
1000L Ensign W.N. Dietzen, USN reported for duty.
1306L Underway. Tested shafts, found no squeal. FULTON did a swell job. Proceeded on patrol under escort.
1420L Discovered stowaway, Delecta, J.J., 807 20 15, S1C, USNR, attached to USS FULTON.
1630L Put bow alongside escort (YMS 343) and transferred stowaway.
March 18-24, 1945
Enroute Area Nine, conducting routine training. Slowed SOA from 15 to 11 knots on account of heavy weather.
March 24, 1945
0855L Dived, commenced approach to Tokara Straits.
1608L Surfaced, intending to transmit weather as per instructions from ComSubPac and then transit strait.
March 25, 1945 1200 Posit 31-08 N 130-35 E. (All times item)
0504 Dived five miles off Kaimon Dake for first day’s submerged patrol. Closed to 3000 yards off the beach.
First Attack Sunk 3080 Ton AK Kiyotada Class, Lat 31-08 N Long 130-30 E.
1320 Sighted ship. Commenced approach.
1325 Ship identified as torpedo target. Conducted normal submerged approach, used ST in early stages to obtain speed and masthead height. Completed attack using attack periscope and ping range just before firing to check setup.
1330 Identified target as Kiyotada class AK.
1341 Fired 3 Mk 18 torpedoes aft, ping range 1000 yards, gyro angle 180″, track 90S, depth set two feet, spread to get one hit, using spread setter designed by Commander H.J. Cassedy, USN.
1343 One hit, at MOT. Torpedo run 1=10′. Target disintegrated.
Took picture. Target sank bows first in about one minute.
1344 Two torpedoes hit beach and exploded.
1349- Received two depth charges and two aircraft bombs, all
2123 Surfaced. All clear. Desire to remain undetected and dive up north off Oniki Saki in morning to allow this area to cool off a bit.
March 26, 1945 1200 Posit 32-08 N 129-55 E.
0505 Dived six miles off 0 Shima, just south of Oniki Saki. Not such a good place, as events proved. Were bothered all day by small craft. Although we closed to 2000 yards from a group of rocks offshore, two small tankers, a small AK, and a small hospital ship passed inshore of the rocks in the late afternoon disclosing the use of a heretofore unreported inland passage along the coast.
March 27, 1945 1200 Posit 32-15 N 129-57 E.
0450 Dived. Patrolled all day about 3000 yards off Oniki Saki. Bothered somewhat by fishermen working in pairs towing drag nets between them. A few bad moments as one persistent pair forced us to 150 feet to duck under their net. Glassy sea. Big ships stayed home.
2106 Dived for a plane. Lockouts getting better fast, Moon as bright as day.
2149 Surfaced. Commenced countermeasure of completely flooding down to 24 feet 1-1/4* down angle. Advantages (1) Diving time 30 seconds (average). (2) Smaller radar target and silhouette.
March 28. 1945 1200 Posit 32-15 N 129-56 E.
Intend to open from coast, transmit weather enroute to Fukae Shima, and them return to Oniki Saki.
0425 Dived off Oniki Saki. Sighted various patrol and small craft during morning. Patrolled 2000-4000 yards off Oniki Saki.
Second Attack Sunk 2700 Ton AK, 32·15 N 129-55 E.
1205 Sighted smoke, which developed into a small AK, MFM, composite superstructure, cruiser stern, plumb bow, heavily laden. About 2700 tons. Executed standard submerged approach from land side using ST in early stages for target speed and masthead height determination and completed approach using attack periscope with ping range to check setup just before firing. Target speed solution slowed from 14 knots to 8 knots during the approach. The ST definitely gets the credit for this one.
1304- Fired three MK 18 torpedoes forward, ping range 900, gyro
30 angle 014, track 60 P, depth set six feet. Spread at MOT, bow and stem.
1305- One terrific hit at MOT by Mk 28-2 torpedo donated by
13 employees of the Westinghouse Mk 18 factory, Sharon, Pennsylvania. Torpedo run 43″. Target sank instantly. Diving time 30 seconds. Took three pictures. Other two torpedoes were robbed as they ran out to sea hot straight and normal and sank.
No end of run explosions, in water 50 fathoms deep.
1324- Evading. Received eight depth charges. Target was
1453 apparently not escorted, but the area was patrolled by Japanese Special Submarine Chaser # 1 and he happened to be near by-also his partner, whom he promptly called in.
1826 Sighted killer group of three SC boats patrolling area, pinging sonically every 1-1/2 seconds.
2045 Dived for a plane, whose exhaust was sighed by lookout. Suspect this was the same star we dived for last night (sighted by same lookout.)
2123 Surfaced. Transmitted weather one day late, also giving results to date. Then changed course and headed south at high speed to let this area cool off.
March 29, 1945 1200 Posit 31-05 N 129-40 E.
Received message giving lifeguard station for air strike on Kyushu and Jap fleet if it comes out. Luckily we are near the designated position.
0100 Increased speed to full on four engines. Have time to make a sweep of coast of Kyushu from Mono Misaki to Kaimon Dake before sunrise.
0100- Ran down coast 13 miles off shore at 19 knots making careful radar search, hoping at least to be able to make a contact report on Jap fleet units, if any were there. Covered estimated speed of advance 18 to 12 knots. No luck.
0547 On lifeguard station. Made trim dive.
0615 Surfaced. Flooded down decks awash. Hoisted colors. Day uneventful. Saw eight planes during day, IFF response on many more. Stayed up and watched a Zeke go by at four miles. Dived once, when two land based bomber-type planes came in zero angle on the bow, no IFF. Entertained ship’s company by letting them hear and read our carrier plane pilots VHF remarks as they blasted Kyushu.
1845 Secured lifeguard. Dived twice for planes before 2400.
March 30, 1945 1200 Posit 31-07 N 130-36 E.
Enroute to submerged patrol spot of Bono Misaki.
0305 Radar contact 4300 yards, which developed into a small vessel on course about 0200T.
First Gun Attack Sunk 100 Ton Lugger, Lat 31-11 N Long 130-04 E.
0352 Decided this fellow was a gun target-so we went to Battle Stations Surface. Ended around to get target silhouetted against bright moon, then closed him keeping bows on, intending to open fire with the forward 40mm and 20mm while closing, then swing broadside to polish him off.
0410 Sighted target and identified him as standard Jap lugger.
0428 Commenced firing at 2000 yards. Target fired a burst of .30 cal. tracer which whizzed overhead. Forward 40mm silenced him. Swung left at 1800 yards range to unmask battery. FirstS” shot hit the target, going completely through him, and that gun hitting consistently, demolished the target. The 40mm did not do as well because of poor pointing, until range decreased to 100 yards. The after 40mm partially blinded the 5″ crew, and in return the blast from the 5 ” trained well forward almost lifted the after 40mm crew out of the seats, but undaunted both crews methodically went to work and cut the lugger to ribbons.
April 2, 1945 1200 Posit 31-18 N 130-05 E.
Submerged patrol off Bono Misaki. Sighted various small craft.
1027 Surfaced in a fog-4000 yards off Bono Misaki light and air search radar station for a look around and a breath of fresh air. Combed the deck for several rattles JP had heard and found several. While several men were over the side sawing off a loose side plate, the fog commenced to thin.
1055 Dived with the lighthouse coming into view.
Third Attack Missed Standard Jap I.Sr, Lat 31-15 N Long 130-05 E.
1558 Sighted ship coming out of haze. Battle Stations. First ST range 3200 yards, speed 16 knots by plot, angle on bow zero.
1600 The target was identified as a standard type, empty, Jap LST, riding extraordinarily high out of the water with lookouts all over him. Bow out of water for one-tenth of his length. JP sound, which bad picked up fishermen all day before they came into sight, bad great difficulty in picking up this target even when close. The cause was soon apparent when his screw appeared to be up in a well.
1602 Intended to fire bow tubes with sharp track, but the setup was not good, range too short, dope still not definite. We bad time for only three setups by time torpedo run was 500 yards. Changed mind and let target go by at 200 yards abeam, setup for a deliberate stem shot at large track.
1604 Fired three Mk 18-2 torpedoes aft, range 1000 yards, track port -160, gyro angles 210. Torpedo runs from 1300 to 1700 yards, depth set two feet.
1605 Target saw the usual plumes of spray thrown up by torpedoes whale spouting at this shallow depth setting, and made radical maneuvers to avoid; spinning on his tail like a trained seal. No bits.
April 6, 1945 1200 Posit 34-10 N 127-53 E.
Decided to investigate northern part of Area Nine for a change, now that we have been assigned it by SP ADEFISH.
Dived off Shori To. Saw numerous fishing schooners dragging nets astern. Kept busy staying clear all during the day. Decided to try to capture one and take personnel back to base, since they ought to have information about the suspected anchorage at Reisue Kaiwan.
1918 Surfaced-going after one of the larger schooners.
1930 Having trouble coming alongside, and be isn’t cooperating.
Fired a 40mm shell through his mainsail. The shell exploded, making a big hole in the sail, .30 cal. machine gun cut his mainsail halyard so be lowered his sails in short order.
1940 Boat alongside. We look huge by comparison.
Lieutenant Endicott Peabody II (All American, Harvard 1942) and GM1C H.W. Spence jumped aboard, both armed to the teeth in terrifying fashion. The dignity of the boarding party was considerably shaken when LT Peabody landed in a pile of fish and skidded across the deck in a tremendous prat fall, but their efficiency was unimpaired. With many hoarse shouts and bursts of tommy gun fire, three thoroughly scared and whimpering fishermen were taken aboard. One Korean successfully hid by jumping over the side. Found out later he thought we were Japs, thus putting his days as draft dodger to an end.
1958 Cast off schooner. Set course through the passages of the Korean Archipelago at full speed, navigating by PPI. Passed through fishing fleet of about 50 schooners. Hoped to route out some of the shipping our planes have reported hugging the coast here. Navigator now a qualified SJ operator.
April 7. 1945 1200 Post Lat 34-33 N 125-20 E.
0443 Entered Maikotsu Suido.
0546 Dived. Experienced currents up to five knots, luckily mostly northerly, which was to our advantage. Conducted submerged patrol in Daikolrusan Gunto 2000 yards from the beach. Heard distant pinging. Closed it hoping for a convoy.
1652 Sighted two ships, later identified as a Chidori and a patrol frigate on an antisubmarine sweep. Avoided detection. Minimum range 7500 yards. Took several pictures of them with simultaneous ST ranges for intelligence purposes. Their usual loud pinging on 14.8 Kcs. was the first thing we picked up.
Fourth Attack Sunk 2800 Ton Freighter, Lat 34-35 N Long 125-20 E.
1755 Sighted ship proceeding up the island chain. Commenced approach. Because of increased confidence in the ST periscope, made ready only two tubes. Executed standard submerged approach.
1852 Fired two Mk 18-2 torpedoes; depth set four feet, range
600, gyro angle 352, track 120.
1853 Two terrific hits. Target sank instantly. Tried to get pictures, but target had sunk. Got one of the last three feet of his bow as it went under.
The target was brand new, 2800 tons, painted olive drab in color.
He had a deck cargo of oil drums and a circular gun platform on bow.
1858 Surfaced 3800 yards from the beach, broad daylight.
April 8, 1945 1200 Posit 35-06 N 123-57 E.
0632 Surfaced after trim dive, intending to patrol on the surface in plotted traffic routes 60 miles west of Daikokusan To. Ran decks awash at slow speed, but wake could be seen several miles astern in glassy sea.
0732 Sighted plane, two engine bomber, directly in the sun, headed for us. Dived.
0735 Two bombs. One close explosion, one dud.
0825 Periscope depth for a look. Plane saw us with two feet of scope exposed, came in and strafed, dropping possibly another dud. Back to 200 feet, day’s patrol ruined by getting spotted.
1025 Six distant bombs. He must have called in the wolves.
1535 Sighted plane, a two engine bomber, on horizon. Dived to periscope depth to keep an eye on him.
1545 Plane passed over the periscope. This lad is good! Went deep-all of 150 feet (200 feet depth of water).
1957 Surfaced. Cleared area. We now feel that staying on the surface and getting spotted by planes is a poor way to carry out our mission of inflicting the maximum possible damage on the enemy.
April 9, 1945 1200 Posit 36-50 N 123-57 E.
Fifth Attack Sunk 500 Ton Transport (Attack 5A), Missed 5000 Ton Freighter (Attack 5B), Lat 36-50 N Long 123-55 E.
0920 Heard distant pinging bearing 27
Uneventful submerged patrol on Shanghai-Saisho To route. Sighted three horn-type floating mines during the day. Had all bridge watch standers take a good look at them through the scope. Took pictures of one in HP very close aboard. 1930 Surfaced, headed for Shanghai at high speed to scout Shanghai-Quelpart line.
April 13, 1945 1200 Posit 32-40 N 125-14 E.
0612 Returning from Shanghai sweep at high speed. Sighted dawn plane and dived for the day. Upon surfacing heard the melancholy news of the death of our Commander-in-Chief. Intend to make investigation of a reported anchorage on the north shore of Quelpart during darkness. Our six Mk 14-3A torpedoes left forward will be ideal for this work.
Sixth Attack Sunk Ammunition Ship 8000-10,000 Tons (est) Attack 6A, Sunk Frigate Mikura Class 1500 Tons, Attack 6B, Sunk Frigate Mikura Class 1500 Tons, Attack 6 C, Lat 33-25 N Long US-50 E.
April 14, 1945 1200 Posit 32-35 N 125-50 E.
0000 Approaching Quelpart Island northwestern side.
0029 Radar contact. Patrol boat. Went to tracking stations and worked around him. Sighted him at 4500 yards-long and low. No evidence of radar until we were nearly around, when be turned on his (Jap 10 Cm). The patrol was evidently suspicious, probably because we came too close, but soon went back to sleep. Continued working up the anchorage.
0223 Radar contact. Another patrol craft, bigger than the other.
Avoided by going close inshore. This vessel was patrolling back and forth in front of the anchorage, had 10 Cm radar, and was pining on 14,8 Kcs. He also became suspicious, apparently, and headed for our point of nearest approach to him. However our tactic of heading inshore confused him (as we no doubt merged with his land pips) and he continued routine patrolling. During the whole of the ensuring action, except while actually firing torpedoes, this patrol boat was kept on the TDC and both plots. He was always a mental hazard, and potentially a real one. The only chart that was of any use was the Jap Zoomie chart labelled Japan Aviation Chart, Southern-Most Portion of Chosen (Korea) No. V3-36. No soundings inside the 10 fathom curve in the harbor and approaches were shown. Hoped the place wasn’t mined and that none of the five shore-based radars reported on Quelpart were guarding the harbor.
0240 Battle Stations. Approached anchorage from the south along the 10 fathom curve within 1200 yards of the shore line. Took single ping fathometer sounding every three to five minutes. The smell of cattle from the beach was strong. Bridge could not see well enough to distinguish ships from shore line in the harbor, though a couple of darker spots in the early morning mist looked promising, as did indeed, the presence of two patrolling escort vessels where none bad previously been seen several nights before during the night patrol in this area.
0310 Completed investigation this side of the anchorage form
1200 yards away. There may be ships there, but cannot see well enough to shoot. Started around the small island off the anchor age, staying as close as possible. The patrol vessel by this time was paralleling us 7000 yards off shore, still not overly suspicious, but annoying. Executive Officer on bridge could see him now and then.
0330 Having completed circuit of the small island, started in from northern side, cutting in across the 10 fathom curve. At about
0340 Bridge made out the shapes of ships in the anchorage. Sound picked up a second pinger, this time in the harbor. Still too far, (4500 yards and not sure of what we saw). Patrol heading this way. Sounding 11 fathoms. Current setting us on beach. Decided to get in closer and have this over with. A/A 2/3. (Radar Officer confirmed sharp pips of ships in anchorage).
0350 Bridge definitely could see ships. For the first time put targets on IDC, with zero speed and TBT bearings. With assistance of TBT and PPI, SJ commenced ranging on largest ship-very difficult to distinguish from the mass of shore pips, and gave range of 2500 yards. Sounding nine fathoms. Still getting set on. Land loomed close aboard on both sides. Patrol still not overly alerted, passing about 6000 yards away, pinging loudly, outboard of us. Land background our Saving Grace. Seemed taking single ping fathometer readings; if those ships can get in here, so can we. Both 40mm guns are all loaded and ready with gun crews. Since it is too shallow to dive, we will have to shoot our way out if boxed in.
0355 Exec on TBT picked out three targets, and got on largest. Backed down and lay·to. Bow toed slightly out to combat the set.
0355· Fired one torpedo as a sighting-in shot to dope out current
30 using TBT bearings, range by SJ 2300 yards, gyro angle
344.30, track 90. Captain went to the bridge to get in on the fun up there. Missed to the right. Torpedo hit beach and exploded, proving there was no torpedo net.
0359 Fired one torpedo aimed at left edge of the largest target, to correct for current effect. Wake headed straight for the target.
0359- Fired another torpedo aimed same as the previous one–
22 straight as a die. Exec’s keen shooting eye looked right on tonight.
0401- A tremendous beautiful explosion. A great mushroom of 05 white blinding flame shot 20-00 feet into the air. Not a sound was heard for a moment, but then a thunderous roar flattened our ears against our heads. The jackpot, and no mistake! In this shattering convulsion we had no idea how many hits we had made, but sincerely believe it was two. In the glare of the fire, TIRANTE stood out, in her light camouflage, like a snowman in a coal pit. But, more important, silhouetted against the flame were two escort vessels, both instantly obvious as fine new frigates of the Milcura class. The Captain instinctively ordered “Right full rudder, all ahead flank”, and as quickly belayed it. Steadied up to pick off the two frigates.
0402 Fired one torpedo at the left hand frigate, using TBT bearings and radar ranges.
0402- Fired another torpedo at the same target.
16 0403 Fired last torpedo at the right hand frigate.
0404 Not let’s really get of here!
0404- One beautiful hit in the left hand frigate. The ship literally 20 exploded, her bow and stern rising out of water and the center disappearing in a sheet of fire. Must have hit her magazines. Very satisfying to watch, though not the equal of the previous explosion, of course. Possibly two hits in him.
0404- A hit on the other PF also-right amidships! No flame this 40 time, other than the explosion, but a great cloud of smoke immediately enveloped her and she disappeared. We jubilantly credit ourselves with three ships sunk with at least four, probably five, hits for six fish. Not the slightest doubt about any of the there ships. Now only one torpedo left aboard. Immediately reloaded it and reset TDC cams for our Mk 18.
The patrolling escort had now increased speed and turned toward the anchorage. Once more we pulled our trick of slipping undetected along the shore. As we left the gutted anchorage behind, a third PF could be seen standing out at slow speed. He did not, however, come out after us, but stayed, watching the fire. So we just ran down the coast of Quelpart headed for the open sea. Transmitted results of attack to submarines in area so they could avoid the certain A/S measures to come.
The large ship which exploded was, in the Commanding Officer’s mind, unquestionably a heavily laden ammunition ship, or possibly a tanker loaded with aviation gas. Not much can be said about her type and size, but in the sudden glare of the explosion she appeared to be a large engines-aft vessel, of from 8000 to 10,000 tons. In the light of her own fire she was huge.
As we rounded Quelpart’s southwestern tip, the glare from the anchorage could still be seen above the dark hills, and a heavy smoke cloud hung like a shroud over the entire western end of the island.
0513 Radar and sight contact with the other patrol, which we had
avoided initially. This time be was alert and we got definite SJ interference from bim-10 Cm radar. Too light to evade surfaced, so dived and evaded submerged. He came over to the spot where we bad dived and dropped a pattern. Many distant depth charges or bombs were beard and planes were sighted all day. This area will be bot tonight.
2043 Surfaced, following three aircraft bombs not too far away. Jap airborne radar fading.
April 15, 1945 1200 Posit 31-07 N 128-30 E
0228 Received orders to return to Midway for refit.
0655 Sighted Danjo Gunto, distance 20 miles.
0710 Sighted two periscopes on port bow about 2500 yards away. Avoided at full speed. Why did the Jap use two periscopes-no answer for that one. Maybe be was laying a minefield and had no torpedoes. Periscopes were raised and lowered several times.
April 16, 1945
0123 Passed through Naosei Shoto chain.
1027 IFF response all over the screen. Sighted 2 PBMs beaded for us. Fired one mortar recognition signal followed by another. PBMs still coming in. Suddenly beard one plane say, “Look at that ship down there! Wonder if it’s friendly?” Promptly opened up on VHF and set him straight. Situation eased.
April 19, 1945
0225L Sighted lights on horizon. Investigated the contact, which developed into a correctly lighted hospital ship, on course
330’T at eight knots, evidently beaded from Chichi Jima Retto to Honshu. Avoided.
April 25, 1945 (plus 12 zone time)
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