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The Seventh War Patrol In the Sea of Japan


The Seventh War Patrol in the Sea of Japan 27 May - 5 July 1945

   May & June 1945 was to become one of the most legendary United States Submarine Service combined operations of W.W.II. It was the brainchild of Vice Admiral Charles Lockwood Commander Submarines Pacific (COMSUBPAC)  and with the support of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz . They had put together a daring plan to covertly enter the Inland Sea of Japan with a large group of submarines. The entrances to this sea were most difficult, and practically impenetrable, as there was only very narrow straits to pass through. In addition the Japanese had erected submarine nets and had saturated the entrances with anti-submarine mines. Only one other Submarine had accomplished a successful penetration of this area. It was the USS WAHOO (SS-238)  with gutsy Commander Mush Morton as her Captain. He had managed to slip past the heavily patrolled and anti-submarine mined entrances by sailing under merchant vessels entering the Sea of Japan through the Tsushima Strait. Unfortunately WAHOO was lost by unknown causes with all hands while accomplishing its second penetration of the Emperors Private Pond, on or about 2 Dec 1943. Wahoo has been found in 2006 and the Navy will treat her as a War Grave .   

   The Admiral had concluded that in order to break the Japanese resistance, to continue the conflict, he would form this group of submarines to penetrate the Tsushima Straits and raise hell in their own private backyard sea. He needed a device that would guide the submarines past the minefields. The answer came from the University of California War Research Laboratory at San Diego. They came up with a listening device that would ring if an underwater anti submarine mines were close by the hull. This is the Frequency Modulated Sonar (FMS) System that the CREVALLE and her sister subs had recently been fitted with. It was accurately used to chart the various mines around the Tsushima Straits. . Would the new FMS detection device do the trick? It had its idiosyncrasies and sensitive as it was, the contrivance detected many submerged objects, which were not mines. Large fish, for example. Such false contacts registered an alarm, and it took an ace specialist to distinguish the real mine signals from the resemblance. As is the case with most specialists and technicians, the operators of the FMS gear developed a terminology of their own. Sounds manifested by the detecting device, as authentic mine-warning signals or ringing were termed "Hell's Bells."

    He designated this action "Operation Barney" and formed a wolf pack answering to the name of "Hydeman's Hellcats" named after the wolf pack Commander Earl T. Hydeman the skipper of the SEADOG. The "Hellcats" were subdivided into three task Groups:

"Hydeman's Hepcats"
USS SEADOG (SS-401) (Commander E.T. Hydeman)
USS CREVALLE (Commander E. H. Steinmetz)
USS SPADEFISH (SS-411) (Commander W. J. Germerhausen)

"Pierce's Polecats"
USS TUNNY (SS-282) (Commander G. E. Pierce)
USS SKATE (SS-305) (Commander R. B. Lynch)
USS BONEFISH (SS-223) (Commander L. L. Edge).

"Risser's Bobcats"
USS FLYINGFISH (SS-229) (Commander R. D. Risser)
USS BOWFIN (SS-287) (Commander A. K. Tyree)
USS TINOSA (SS-283) (Commander R. C. Latham)

    CREVALLE left Guam on 27 May 1945, in company with SEADOG and SPADEFISH on her final war patrol in the direction of the Sugaru Straits. The other six submarines headed northwestward, their bows pointing like compass needles for Tsushima Strait. En route, "Riser's Bobcats" performed lifeguard duties, and TINOSA rescued 10 men of the crew of a B-29 that had crashed about 18 miles northeast of Sofu Gan.

The Seventh Patrol Sailing List:

Commissioned Officers

 

Steinmetz, KH., Cdr. USN

Mazzone,W.F., Lt. USNR

Morin, G.F., Lt. USNR

Loveland, R.A., Lt.(jg) USN

Burr, J.T., Lt. USNR

Bowe, R.E., Lt.(jg) USN

Raider, A.J., Lt. USNR

Lord, KR., Lt. (jg) USNR

Lakin, Barclay Lt. Cdr. HMRN (Observer & Advisor)

Secl, J., Lt. (jg) USN

 

 

Chief Petty Officers  

Barnes, Frank, CMoMM(AA) (T), USN

Osborne, Cedric Henry, CPhM (AA)

Biehl, Henry Tudor, CRT (AA) USNR

O'Brien, Joseph F., CSM

Flaherty, Joseph E., CMoMM(T) USN

Williams, George E., CEM (AA) USN

   

Enlisted Crew Members

 

Adams, William LeVerna, S1c, USNR 

Newell, Richard Paul, S2C USNR

Barker, Monroe W. RM1c, USN

Pablo, Marcelo Andriano, SC1c USNR

Bessette, Roland, P.P., TM2c, USNR 

Plachowicz, Frank A., GM2c USNR

Bolin, Willis Guy, TM 3c USNR

Polk, Lloyd Eugene, EM3c USNR

Brown, Robert Joseph, S1c, USNR

Rennecke, Wyman John, EM1c USNR

Brooks, Marvin M., GM1c USN

Reynolds, Rodney Ralph, SM 3c USN

Brophy, John Paul, F1c

Roraback, Gilbert Little, TM2c USNR

Coyer, James W., S1c USNR

Schaeffer, John William III, MoMM1c USN

Fletcher, Chester J., S1c USNR

Schwarz, Robert Franklin, EM3c USNR

Folse, John S., RM3c USNR

Scisco, Clayton Sterlin, MoMM3c USN

Freeman, Edgar A., TM2c USNR

Sherick, Albert Marlin, EM3c USN

Fritchen, William L., GM2c(T) USNR

Silvia, Richard G., TM2c USNR

Gaines, Robert E, MoMM2c(T) USNR

Sinclair, Joe Milton, Jr., EM3c USNR

Gogul, Frank Stephen, MoMM1c USN

Singer, Jack William, EM3c USN

Goodman, Francis,  S1c USNR

Slyter, Gilbert Gordon, EM 3c USN

Graham, Ivan Hugh, MoMM3c USNR

Smith, John V., S1c (FC) USNR

Helix, Max Rudolph, MoMM1c USNR

Stagman, Paul Louis, EM2c USN

Hildebrand, Charles Frederick, EM2c USNR

Starnes, Kenneth Jackson, MoMM 3c USN

Howard, Stephen  Aubry, FC(S)3c USNR

Stemler, Milton David, RT3C USNR

Howie, Robert Charles, MoMM2C USN

Stokes, Frank H., SC2C USNR

Jaycox, John A., StM2c USNR

Stutzman, Gerald Wilber, RM1c USNR

Jenigen, Albert, F 1c USNR

Thomas, Everett A., QM1c USNR

Jones, Jermone 1., S1c USNR

Thompson, Robert, Jr., F2c USN

Katchis, Jim "A," QM3c QM3c(T)

Thompson, William H., Bkr3c (T) USN

Keane, Edward F., S1c USN

Tomlin, George Lawrence, EM2c USNR

Kneisly, George Eliott, SM1c USNR

Truman, Horace Lynn, MM1c USN

Langfieldt, Maurice Edward, TM3c USNR

Wagenbrenner, Fred, EM2c USN

Larsen, James Louis, MoMM2c USNR

Weber, Russell Frederick, F1C USNR

Lenatz, John Joseph, TM2c USN

Westerlund, Alfred, MoMM3C USNR

Lubinsky, Walter, EM3c USNR

Wheelus, Roy Calvin, QM2C USN

Mallin, Ralph, F1c USNR

Wiesniewski, Francis Walter, MoMM2C USN

McGowan, Thomas Francis, Jr., TM1c  USNR

Wilmot, George Edward, MoMM2C USN

McHugh, John Joseph, F1c USNR

Woodhouse, Robert R., Y 3c USNR

McNorgan, Joseph Whitmore, EM3c (T) USNR

Zessman, Sam., TM3c, USNR

Minaker, Russell Samuel, RT1c USNR

 

Minor, Bert K, StM2c USNR

 

Mushett, Robert William, Y1c USN

 

 

    Among the CREVALLE'S most appreciated member of the crew on this high adventure was a slim, tall, athletic-looking Englishman with a pleasant British accent. Lieutenant Commander Barclay Lakin, of His Majesties Royal Navy , who was a self-invited guest, his application for duty with operation Barney had been granted and approved by Admiral Lockwood. He was a real submariner having participated in many Mediterranean patrols against the axis powers and proved to be a tremendous asset insisting on standing a regular watch rather than be excess baggage. This alleviated the wardroom of additional watches. The officers and crew warmly received his extremely valuable advice, suggesting new battle tactics.

    The principal length of the Sea of Japan stretches some nine hundred miles from the Tsushima Strait in the southwest to La Perouse Strait in the northeast. At its widest, between the island of Honshu in Japan to Valadivostok in Siberia, Russia, it measures about 250 miles. In shape and size, this waterway bears a close resemblance to the western-end of the Mediterranean Sea from Gibraltar to the toe in the boot of Italy . Whereas the Mediterranean is generally shallow with an abundance of islands, the Sea of Japan has a minimum depth of about nine hundred feet and only a few islands.

    Over the centuries, Japan has looked upon this well-protected land-framed sea as its exclusive ocean that provided a lifeline from the Asiatic mainline. It supplies the essential raw materials, which Japan is unable to provide for the huge population on its main islands. These lifelines carry rice, other important foods, coal, ore, and vital industrial wares to promulgate the war effort.

    A Sideline issue compared to the present endeavor, of slipping across the northern waters of the East China Sea and stealing through the narrow passage between Korea and Tsushima Island. It was off this very same Tsushima Island centered in the Strait midway between the Korean cost and Kyushu that the Russian Czar's Baltic fleet on May 14-15 1905 was trapped and destroyed by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Perhaps one of Japan's finest hours as a naval power. The "Hellcats" would not encounter a Japanese fleet, but anti-submarine mines were substantiality in evidence. 
  
      With "Hell's Bells" ringing here and there, and not without a few false warnings to keep their nerves at attention, the "Hellcats" crept through Tsushima Strait and entered the Sea of Japan on schedule. Shipping was allowed to pass unmolested as the shooting was timed to begin at sunset on June 9th 1945, to allow all boats to be in their assigned areas. A few of the Boats were on station before this zero hour, and some of the skippers were so tantalized by the sight of Japanese ships traveling unescorted with their running lights ablaze that they were tempted to jump the gun. CREVALLE'S Captain Steinmetz wrote in his logbook: "Sighted still another ship through my scope, a fine big one. Of all our contacts, this was the toughest to throw back in the water. I was strongly tempted to swing left, shoot, and then use as an excuse: 'Sorry, Admiral Lockwood I was just cleaning my torpedo tube and it went off. " Itchy trigger fingers were restrained, however, until all "Hellcats" reached their assigned places.

    Overconfident even during this catastrophic period, the Imperial Japanese Navy was caught completely off guard by the invaders at their back door. Astounded by the sudden thunder of torpedo fire off the West Coast of Honshu, they could not believe American submarines had entered the Sea of Japan by normal means. Radio Tokyo , always imaginative, announced that the submarines had been "smuggled in" by some sinister mechanism.

    The smugglers, of course, were nine crack skippers and nine crews of top-caliber submariners under the high-powered leadership of Commander Earl Hydeman. If the Japanese were looking for that mysterious smuggler they could have found it in the FMS gadget. It was born and bred in the far off University of California War Research laboratory at San Diego California , and made in the USA. Having staked their lives on this apparatus, the "Hellcat" skippers with their crews breathed a vote of thanks to American science and invention as their boats left the Tsushima minefields far astern, proceeding quickly to their assigned patrol areas throughout the Sea of Japan.

    The "Hepcats" covered the waters off the northwest of the Japanese main island of Honshu, cutting into the inside shipping lanes of the Tsugaru Strait leading to the cities of Hakodate and Ominato. Shortly after sunset on June 9th 1945, SEADOG attacked a freighter a few miles north of Sado Shima Island and downed the vessel with one shot. This was the first Japanese blood that was drawn by the Hellcats. Before midnight her torpedoes had sunk a second freighter in the same area.

      Shortly after SEADOG'S successful attack on the night of 9 June 1945, CREVALLE fired two torpedoes for two hits, which rapidly sank an engine-aft freighter. The next morning a single torpedo was fired at an ocean going tug, but due to an unforgiving broaching (running on the surface) of the fish the enemy craft succeeded in avoiding its own destruction. Three hours later three tubes were fired at another engine-aft freighter and two solid hits sank the ship so rapidly that it was impossible to take pictures.

    The next morning 10 June 1945, a surface approach was made on another freighter. CREVALLE fired two fish but they both missed due to another broaching torpedo and the targets immediate evasion tactics after spotting the broaching fish. However, a fast surfaced end-around run by CREVALLE was made to get out in front of the target. A submerged attack sank this ship with two torpedoes fired for a score of 100% accuracy.

    The next few days were spent avoiding the now fully alerted Japanese Navy's anti-submarine vessels while attempting to find out where the Son's of Nippon had hidden their merchant ships. Then at dawn on the 13th of June 1945, CREVALLE was somewhat rewarded as a surface gun attack resulted in the sinking of two smaller cargo-carrying luggers.

    On 14 June 1945, while making an approach on a coast-hugging convoy, two MATSU destroyers interfered with the boat. Captain Steinmetz ordered three torpedoes fired down the throat at the leading destroyer, but no hits were detected by sonar as CREVALLE went deep to avoid being rammed by the tin cans. The destroyers instituted an ineffective depth charging, and the boat managed to avoid most of the encounter. The enemy tin cans persisted in their hunting for CREVALLE and were not shaken off until six hours later. Unfortunately the escorts had done their job and by this time the convoy had passed safely out of range. The boat was forced to look elsewhere for their pursuit of proper game.

    Several other submerged daylight attacks were unsuccessful because of erratically running electric torpedoes. The fish were seen to broach in several cases, thus alerting the target ships. In the next to last attack, CREVALLE picked up a target ship and its two escorts only after they had made a turn away from the sub. This necessitated a long-range shot. The boat had only five torpedoes in the after torpedo room remaining and she fired three fish at the target. The torpedoes missed the vessel and exploded against the coast, thus alerting the enemy escorts. An effective but not very damaging depth charging followed. After rising to periscope depth after the cessation of the attack, a destroyer and a low flying plane could be observed, at some distance, diligently searching the ocean for the submarine.

  Seven more hours passed until nightfall until CREVALLE could safely surface. After putting in a fast battery charge, and making an end-run a position was gained ahead of the still pining destroyer. A night submerged radar attack was commenced and a sudden zigzag by the tin can at the firing point necessitated that a down the throat shot be made. Unleashing her last two torpedoes from the stern tubes at about 600 yards range, one fish was heard to hit the tin can and some small explosions could be detected on sonar. The boat surfaced and to the crews great relief they found the Imperial Japanese Destroyer leaning over on its side and damaged enough to take her out of action. CREVALLE, not having any more stings in her empty torpedo tubes and not wanting to confront the other destroyer unarmed, made a prudent withdrawal before confirming the kill.

Dr. James Edward Hayes died peacefully on May 12, 2009 at the age of 83 and it is at this juncture that we tell his story.

      While on this patrol with the Crevalle in the China Sea, the outer torpedo doors jammed open. It was determined that a lack of grease was the cause; however, the grease fittings were located outside the boat on the hull. Only a diver could grease the fitting to get the door closed. As a Torpedoman, Jim Hayes was also a qualified diver. The Crevalle surfaced at night to make the repair.

     When it came time to grease the fittings, only two men were on deck, Jim and Captain Everett Steinmetz. Normally, an officer would address an enlisted man, like Jim, by his last name. On this occasion, Capt. Steinmetz underscored the urgency of the situation by asking, “Jim, can you do this?”

     Finding a grease fitting underwater, in the dark of night, on the hull of a submarine rolling on the deep swells of the open ocean, would be no easy matter, but Jim said yes, he could do it. “”If we have to submerge,” said Capt. Steinmetz, “we’ll come back for you in the morning.” Both men understood that was a lie. Later, Capt. Steinmetz recommended Jim for an appointment to the U.S. al Academy in Annapolis, which Jim declined.

 Jim Hayes on the boat..

    Three more cargo ships and a passenger-cargo carrier fell to the wolf pack Commander Earl Hydeman's submarine SEADOG before her foray in the "Emperor's private ocean" was concluded. SPADEFISH, under Commander "Bill" Germerhausen, worked the waters northward from Wakasa to Hokkaido Island. Three passenger-cargo ships were shoveled under on June 10 by this old hand at submarine warfare. She downed still another on the 14th and fired her last shots to bury a medium-sized freighter on the 17th.

    SEADOG'S radar went out and it was CREVALLE that was assigned to convey the group out of the Sea of Japan, in a high-speed surface exit through the minefields of La Perouse Strait between Hokkaido Island and the Russian Sakhalin Peninsular . This was accomplished at night and by observing several Russian Merchant vessels, passing through the minefields unscathed. It was therefore a well-calculated gamble, as the commanders now determined that the mines were of the anti-submarine type and would hit them only if they were submerged. The CREVALLE henseforth was known as  the "Leader of the pack" for her work in getting the boats out of harms way. See Exiting the Sea of Japan by Captain Lathum.

    As in all daring maneuvers there is a price to pay and the BONEFISH made that sacrifice as Japanese (ASW) forces off Toyama Wan, Honshu Island sank it on 19 Jun 1945, with the loss of all hands. "Rest Your Oars Sailors".

    However the Hellcats accomplished a terrific record in their 12 days of mayhem, with the downing of 27 Japanese merchantmen, one I class submarine and the heavy damaging of one Japanese destroyer.  This cost Japan's shipping a total of some 57,000 tons. For good measure the "Hellcats" shot up a number of small craft.  A few more Marus were damaged by torpedoes and the submarines deck guns. The tonnage sunk would not have seriously hampered the Japanese in an earlier period of the war, but in June of 1945 this was a devastating blow to the Islands of Japan.

     The list of ships sunk impressively summarizes the handiwork of "Hydeman's Hellcats."

"THE HELLCAT'S" SCORE  

Date

Submarine

Ship Sunk

Type

Tonnage

June 9

Sea Dog

Sagawa Maru

Cargo

1,186

June 9

Sea Dog

Shoyo Maru

Cargo

2,211

June 11

Sea Dog

Kofuhu Maru

Cargo

753

June 12

Sea Dog

Sltinsen Maru

Cargo

880

June 15

Sea Dog

Koan Maru

Passenger-Cargo

884

June 19

Sea Dog

Kohai Maru

Cargo

1,272

 

 

 

 

 

June 9

Crevalle

Hokuto Maru

Cargo

2,215

June 10

Crevalle

Daiki Maru

Cargo

2,217

June 11

Crevalle

Hakusan Maru

Cargo

2,211

 

 

 

 

 

June 10

Spadefish

Daigen Maru

Passenger -Cargo

4,273

June 10

Spadefish

Uythai Maru

Passenger-Cargo

1,293

June 10

Spadefish

Jintsu Maru

Passenger-Cargo

994

June 14

Spadefish

Seizan Maru

Passenger-Cargo

2,018

June 17

Spadefish

Eijo Maru

Cargo

2,274

 

 

 

 

 

June 10

Skate

1-122

Submarine

1,142

June 12

Skate

Yozan Maru

Cargo

1,227

June 12

Skate

Kenjo Maru

Cargo

3,142

June 12

Skate

Zuika Maru

Cargo

887

 

 

 

 

 

June 13

Bonefish

Oshikayama Maru

Cargo

6,892

June 19

Bonefish

Konzan Maru

Passenger-Cargo

5,488

 

 

 

 

 

June 10

Flyingfish

Taga Maru

Cargo

2,220

June 11

Flyingfish

Aleisei Maru

Passenger-Cargo

1,893

 

 

 

 

 

June 11

Bowfin

Shinyo Maru

Passenger-Cargo

1,898

June 13

Bowfin

lkiura Maru

Cargo

887

 

 

 

 

 

June 9

Tinosa

Tvakatama Maru

Cargo

2,211

June 12

Tinosa

Keito Maru

Cargo

880

June 20

Tinosa

Kaisei Maru

Cargo

884

June 20

Tinosa

Taito Maru

Cargo

2,726

    The long trip back to Pearl Harbor was made at high speed and on 5 July 1945, CREVALLE terminated but not known to her crew at the time their final war patrol. CREVALLE received a wonderful ovation as she steamed into Pearl with a broom strapped to her periscope sheers. The Naval Base came out en mass to greet CREVALLE and the rest of the Hellcats, as this was one of the most successful operations conducted during this long and repulsive war. For the 39-day joint war patrol the Force Commander credited CREVALLE with 8,500 tons of enemy shipping sunk. Commander Steinmetz was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross.

 

Crevalle Arriving In Pearl after the Seventh Patrol

USS Crevalle Arriving in Pearl after the seventh patrol

    After a refit period by Submarine Division 43 relief crews and completing a brief training period, CREVALLE departed Pearl Harbor on 11 August 1945, for Guam. Before reaching her assigned patrol zone she received word of the cessation of hostilities and the unconditional surrender of Japan. Orders were then received to join the submarine tender USS ORION (AS 18) at Saipan.  On 1 September 1945, CREVALLE left Saipan steaming for the Navy Yard in New York City, on the East Coast of the United States. The boat stopped at Peal Harbor for voyage repairs and replenishment on 10 September 1945. On 13 September 1945 she cleared Diamond Head and made turns for the Panama Canal, after a successful journey she arrived in New York City, on 5 October 1945.  While it was in port, the woman who christened the boat in 1943 was a guest on the boat. During the time she was on board, the crew members from the forward torpedo room introduced her to torpedo juice, the alcohol that was used to fuel the steam torpedoes.

    After a repair period, Crevalle reported at New London, her assigned home port, 27 March 1946. She cruised to the Canal Zone and the Virgin Islands before being placed out of commission in reserve at New London 20 July 1946.