220429 JUN 1942 –

  • Clouds: Clear, Precipitation: None, Fog: Light
  • Winds: 10kts @ 150

I was awoken at 0420 by LTJG Skywalker informing me of a radar contact north of our position.  By the time I arrived in the Control Room, RM2 Bryne had determined that it was on a true course roughly east and making approximately 8 and 1/2 knots.

I ordered us to flank speed and to come about to a heading of 090 as I plotted the target’s course and position.  After a fashion I determined that while it would be tight, that we could make an intercept before we had gotten too close to Blanche Bay and any Japanese forces that may well be there guarding Rabaul.  I order us to battle-stations and onto an intercept course.

The men were excited by the possibility that we had found a lone unprotected merchant.

At 0500 the watch declared a ship had been spotted and I took to the bridge.  We quickly identified it as an Akita Maru and I held my breath as my carefully laid plan of attack required us to proceed on the surface for a few more minutes.

0510 I order us to periscope depth.  As we slip below the surface, we are closing on the point where I will order us off our 110° course and a firing angle.  By the last readings on the radar, the Akita is still holding course and speed, and so must be unaware of our presence.

0530 I order our turn to 045, and to flood all tubes.

We fired all four fish at 0540 for what was going to be an up the kilt shot.  My computations have proven to be a bit off, but I am confident of a hit.

A minute later we heard the first impact, followed by another.  Then the wretched luck of a dud. Then nothing, number 4 had gone wide.

We were not going to be denied.  I ordered the gun crews to the ladders and battle surfaced the boat.

Within moments the gunnery crew were about their task, and 6 shells and 6 hits later the Akita’s fuel bunkers let go. The ship quickly slipped below the surface at  0543.

The Akita never returned anything more the light gun fire, none of which came anywhere near our boat.  No life boats were spotted and the ship is presumed to have gone down with all hands.