USS Icefish

1st War Patrol Report

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c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.
13 November 1944

CONFIDENTIAL

From: The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. ICEFISH (SS367)
TO: The Commander in Chief, United States Fleet
Via: (1) The Commander Submarine Division 221
(2) The Commander Submarine Squadron 22
(3) The Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet

Subject: U.S.S. ICEFISH, Report of War Patrol Number ONE

Enclosure: (A) Subject Report
(B) Track chart (with original)

1. Enclosure (A), covering the first war patrol of this vessel conducted in South China Sea during the period 9 September 1944 to 13 November 1944, is forwarded herewith.

R.W. Peterson


(A) PROLOGUE

Commissioned at Manitowoc, Wis., June 10, 1944. June 14-26 conducted sea trials, fired dummy torpedoes and made training dives and deep dive test. June 28 departed Manitowoc enroute New Orleans, La. July 6 arrived New Orleans and undocked. July 9 departed New Orleans enroute Panama, C.Z. Arrived Coco Solo, C.Z. July 14. Degaussed on Atlantic side. Arrived Pacific side July 15. July 16 to August 2, under Commander Submarine Squadron Three, conducted test torpedo firings, made many practice approaches and fired 10 exercise torpedoes, night and day long and short range and bombardment gun practices, and made many training dives. Services in this area were all that could be asked for.

August 6, 1944 departed Panama enroute Pearl Harbor. Conducted drills and training enroute.

August 22, 1944 arrived Pearl and were assigned to Submarine Division Forty-Five for training. Underwent four day refit by Submarine Base during which installment of VHF and radar detector were accomplished, together with voyage repairs. During training period fired 7 exercise torpedoes, and three MK 18's for test. Engaged in three day convoy exercise, followed by night exercises with Drum and Sawfish as a coordinated attack group. Fired 5" gun and all small arms during this period.

Readiness for sea date September 9, 1944.

(B) NARRATIVE

September 9, 1944

1347 Departed Pearl in company with Sawfish, Drum and Rock, with one PC escort. Icefish, Sawfish and Drum organized as coordinated attack group: Task Group Designation 17.15. CTG in Sawfish. Icefish to station 1Q miles north of Sawfish; Drum 10 miles south of Sawfish, all enroute SAIPAN.


September 13

1751 Crossed 180th meridian.


September 20

0857 Lookout sighted low wing monoplane bearing 045 T, 10 miles. Dived.

0947 Surfaced in heavy rain squall.

1000 Lookout sighted large bomber headed for us, coming out of a heavy rain cloud, 6 miles. Dived. Plane was 4 miles and closing on the SD when we went under.

1136 Surfaced.

1430 Lookout sighted unidentified large aircraft, 8 miles, bearing 310 T. Dived.

1532 Surfaced.


October 4-5

Submerged patrol of area between 116-00 and 118-00 E. Rough seas and poor visibility prohibited continuous running at periscope depth, so we are making observations every 30 minutes, depending upon the JP sound gear to cover the periods when we are at 85 feet to save battery. The many night contacts with aircraft make battery charging a questionable affair and the saving of battery a consideration.


October 6

1420 Heard the first of many distant depth charges; "clicks" could be plainly hard on JP sound, bearing, roughly, northeast. We are close to the eastern edge of our area; evidently one of the boats in the next area has made an attack.


October 11

0557 Dived on station assigned by Comsubpac, for life guard duty about 100 miles west of FORMOSA; scheduled air strike by China-based B-29's at 1300.

1255 Surfaced. SD radar not in use, for patrol as assigned.

1442 Sighted NELL coming in low, 6 miles. Dived and reached 150 feet just as two depth charges went off overhead, jarring us up. A few seconds later, a third depth charge, not so close. Only damage was one broken pipe elbow in forward engine room and air conditioning blower knocked out of line in conning tower.


October 22

0855 Periscope officer reported a destroyer in sight. Went to battle stations. Sighted a task force of two NACHI class heavy cruisers, escorted by three destroyers, bearing 064 T, course 160 T, speed 16 to 18 knots. Our closest position was 8,000 yards.

1031 Surfaced in heavy seas, on southerly course to send out our contact report, but at 1033 had very strong contact on detector at 152 mcs., so dived.


October 23

2001 received message from Sawfish "Radar contact convoy position 18-59N 119-31E, enemy course 000 T, speed 7, convoy consists of 7 ships and 3 escorts".

2156 Transmitted message to Sawfish and Drum, giving our position and informing them that we were closing the convoy from the port flank.

2300 Received from Sawfish: "Attacking from port flank."

2325 Heard explosions and at 2330 received from Sawfish: "Attack completed, am trailing." We are almost in position for attack and are waiting for the Drum, who has been in position on the starboard flank.

2335 Received from Drum: "Attacking from starboard flank." We are in position 12,000 yards, 30 degrees on the port bow of the large ship leading the port column. Convoy seemed to be disposed in two rough columns, with escorts interspersed between and on the flanks. Five or six large ships, and as many escorts were seen in the main formation on the ppi, with one large ship trailing about 6,000 yards.


October 24

Continued closing convoy from ahead, our position now about 6,000 yards, 30 degrees on port bow of big target. Sound bearings on pinging and screws were good, until range was generated 3,300 yards when TDC began generating off, indicating a small zig to eastward. Changed set-up on the TDC, and at range 3,000 yards estimated track angle for large ship 30 port, at 0052, fired 4 MK 18's at large target; shifted to inside escort and at 0053 fired 2 MK 18's at him, estimated range 3,000 yards, 60 port track. Heard no explosions until 4 minutes, 15 seconds after firing last torpedo, when one loud torpedo hit was heard. This was aimed at the escort, but the heavy screws stopped and the escort pinged all the harder. Sound could still hear some of our previous torpedoes running. They may have hit something, but the depth charges commenced falling about this time, and it was impossible to distinguish. The evidence indicated to me that after Drum's attack the convoy had zigged right, and when we fired the range was actually about 4,000 yards and the angle on the bow about 90 port. This would have caused the first four to miss entirely and, quite by accident, gave us a hit on the large ship instead of the escort, whose bearing had been aft of our main target.

0100 Six depth charges from closest escort, not too close. For the next two hours had escorts milling and pinging all around, dropping depth charges. Was forced to evade in convoy's direction.

0110 Heard loud, rumbling and hissing explosion, not a torpedo or depth charge, close aboard.

0120 Several minor explosions like popping rivets, close aboard, followed immediately by terrifically loud breaking up noises, and groanings, heard so loudly throughout the ship that many men thought the Icefish was breaking up. Sound had these noises loud all around the dial, so went ahead at 6 knots to get out from under this definitely sinking ship. Since these noises were not proceeded by the sound of running torpedoes, and since our position at the time was in the near vicinity of our target when hit, it is believed that this ship was our target and there is no doubt in my mind that she sunk.

0154 Breaking up noises subsided.

0223 Commenced reload and planed up to 100 feet.

0352 Reload completed.


October 26

0112 received contact report from Drum, giving course 190 T, speed 7 knots for a 9 ship convoy.

0343 Contact on radar detector, 152 mcs., closing. Dived.

0549 Had SJ radar contact on four ships, beating 030 T, 13,100 yards. Had told Drum via radio that we would be in position for a dawn attack. The situation looked very good.

Dived at 0056, in position ahead of convoy's starboard group of ships. 0610 sighted their smoke, but there is still not enough light, and their range is too great to make out any ships.

0653 Heard Drum's torpedoes, northeast of us.

0654 Heard two torpedo explosions and saw freighter on the convoy's eastern flank listed about 45 degrees and settling. Depth charging started immediately. One escort, a small freighter, was using depth charge throwers.

0718 fired first of 4 MK18's, 10 seconds interval, 60 starboard track, range 2,200 yards, spread a total of 6 degrees, set at 4 feet, and lowered periscope; starboard escort, not pinging, was now very close on our starboard beam, coming in fast.

0720 Raised the periscope long enough to see the first hit, between bridge and stack, send a column of water, flame and smoke skyward, lowered it immediately and ordered deep submergence. Saw the first hit at 2 minutes and 10 sends, and heard the second hit 10 seconds later.

Had to use high speed and flood in considerable water getting down, (resulting in much noise) due to heavy density layer. Got to 420 feet just as a barrage of 4 depth charges of blockbuster intensity went off on top of us. The cordite fumes from these filled the conning tower and both periscope packing glands leaked so heavily the bilges could not accommodate the water; it poured down the wells and down into the control room. These were the closest any of us had ever experienced, and it was thought they couldn't be any closer. At 0730, however, with the dropper still not pinging, but with a pinger now coaching him on, we took a string of 12 in rapid succession, that snaked the ship; the concussion was as great as that of a five inch gun going off alongside the pointer.

These were deafening, and with the first of the string, compartments began reporting heavy salt water, fuel oil and hydraulic leaks. All lights were broken in most of the compartments; forward torpedo room reported heavy fuel oil and hydraulic leaks; and the officers' head was spraying all over the room due to opening of both sanitary drain valves, sea valves and outboard vent. Every sea valve, sea stop and inboard vent in the ship opened up, and the result was a mixture of oil, water and sanitary tank debris.

After battery reported a heavy fuel oil leak. The executive office was dispatched to the scene to find a stream of fuel the size of his forearm coming in through a fuel tank inboard vent, with 2 inches of solid fuel oil covering the deck in the crew's mess and sleeping quarters. Shifted load to forward battery and started a bucket brigade. This same picture obtained in the forward torpedo room and both engine rooms, spraying those compartments thoroughly before men could get through to proper valves.

In Control, the 225# air supply to the hydraulic vent and replenishing tank was knocked open, and the valve wheel knocked off. This opened the volume tank safety valve, blew down the vent and replenishing tank through the vent and replenishing lines, opened all 45# relief valves in the hydraulic system, draining all oil from them, and our steering and bow and stern planes were out of commission until we could get oil back into the telemotors; then we had only hand control, since the main plant was air bound. Moving these controls sounded like the running of reciprocating engines because of the air in the systems, and each use of rudder brought a new string of depth charges, but not as close now. JP and QB sound were both out of commission, and JK was operating only intermittently.

All circulating water systems were at full sea pressure, and #2 main generator forward cooler was ruptured. This leak was stopped, like every other leak in the ship, in record-breaking time, and prevented serious damage.

Various meters, gauges and fixtures, including the Pit Log were knocked off their mountings and the bathythermograph card was wiped clean of lampblack by the pressure wave. Maneuvering, after the first string of four, reported the starboard shaft gland leaking a heavy stream, but after the second string reported the leak had been sealed without benefit of wrenches. The second string was estimated to be within 50 feet and non was distant.

All of the above events took place, except for repairs, in less than two minutes. Numerous electrical fires and grounds were quickly isolated. At 0751 JK sound heard a loud crack, followed by heavy breaking up noises on the starboard quarter, on the bearing of the AP when hit, which stopped at 0850. These were characteristic of the noises heard from a sinking ship and it is believed, therefore, that the AP sank about this time. Two escorts dropped depth charges in the vicinity until 1025. Had been trying to pump bilges and work the air out of the hydraulic system, but every such move brought another barrage, and more rapid pinging, so had to wait.

At 1109, at periscope depth, sighted a freighter Q-ship of about 500 tons, probably the same as had worked on Drum, 4,000 yards on starboard beam, lying to. Put the rudder over to get him astern and he immediately dropped two depth charges, and turned in our direction. Gradually worked away to westward, opening the range, while he continued, at intervals, to drop strings of one to four.

1513 Three large patrol planes circled him. Both periscopes were damaged, though usable, and could not identify these. Lost sight of Q-ship at 1460. Meanwhile repair work had progressed rapidly. Found a hydraulic line to bow buoyancy vent ruptured with oil draining almost as fast as we put it into the system. Many leaks and much air. Added engine oil, salad oil and the last of our reserve hydraulic oil, and finally had the whole system in good enough condition to surface and dive by dark.

Retired to westward, away from vicinity of CAPE BOJEADOR, scene of attack to survey damage and effect repairs. All bow tube inner door locking rings had been forced open 1/3 of their arc. All gyro spindles were bent and could not be moved in any direction. Torpedo in tube #4 had high pressure hydrogen sulphide fumes and had undergone either a hydrogen explosion, a hot run or both. (All tubes had been examined before surfacing, and this condition was known to exist early in the day.) With an estimated three or more days work to effect repairs to the tubes and torpedoes, and with a good likelihood of another hydrogen explosion in the boat if withdrawn, worked most of the night to withdraw the gyro spindle and fired this torpedo as a dud. All torpedoes when finally withdrawn, were found to have the forward guide studs sheared off for about an inch, so these were reversed.

Topside damage consisted, chiefly, of a broken casting, 5" gun, and a missing pointer's seat; gyro repeater knocked out of its gimbals, loose greasing manifolds in superstructure; #3B and #4B fuel ballast tank vent risers dished in 4 inches for 4 to 5 feet, with a crack in #4 riser. The comparatively minor damage sustained was no measure of the shock of these depth charges; all hands were all the more convinced that these Manitowoc submarines are tough. That more serious damage did not result was due, in large part, to the efficient and alert manner in which ship's officers and crew took action. They performed like veterans, every one, and I have a tremendous amount of confidence and pride in them.


[Note: From October 26 through November 12, the U.S.S. Icefish continued its patrol after making repairs to the damages caused by the depth charges.]

November 13

1030 Made rendezvous with surface escort. Arrived Majuro for refit.


HEALTH, FOOD AND HOSPITALITY

Health of the crew was, in general, excellent. Our fresh water system still has copper or some other impurity which causes nausea and stomach discomfort. The commanding offer was one chronic patient as a result of this. An investigation will be made during refit to determine the cause.

Food, as received, was good, but its preparation was only fair. Baking was far below what was desired.

Habitability was good, except during periods of silent running. Installation of the air-conditioning booster in the control room should solve any problems of discomfort for the forward compartments.


MILES STEAMED -- FUEL USED

Pearl to Saipan . . . 3708 mi. . . . 47,478 gals.
Saipan to area . . . 1326 mi. . . . 22,458 gals.
In area . . . 4349 mi. . . . 50,570 gals.
Area to Majuro . . . 3597 mi. . . . 39,166 gals.


DURATION

Days enroute to area . . . 19 (including 1 day at Saipan)
Days in area . . . 34
Days enroute to Majuro . . . 13
Days submerged . . . 34


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