USS REDFIN (SS-272)
departed MILNE BAY for the training area on Saturday December 25, 1943 at
proceeded to Darwin, AUSTRALIA from the training area on December 29th,
arriving at Darwin on January 03, 1944 at 1111 hours and received 25,000
gallons of fuel oil.
0800 hours on January 5th REDFIN departed Darwin for her 1st
War Patrol, in the SOUTH CHINA SEA off the coast of INDO-CHINA.
January 8th after exchanging signals with USS BLUEFISH (SS-222)
at 2230 hours, the lookouts sighted a ship contact off the port beam.
After REDFIN got in a position ahead of the target she dove and commenced
a submerged radar and periscope approach. Three torpedoes were fired and
the Crew heard three explosions. Thinking
they had made three hits, the Crew let out with cheers of excitement, but
all three torpedoes had exploded prematurely. Later, on the surface, they
found many pieces of the torpedoes on the deck.
The Mark VI magnetic exploder had been a long-standing disagreement between the CO’s of submarines and the Top Brass of the US Navy, especially Admiral Ralph W. CHRISTIE. The Mark VI exploder mechanism was a brilliant idea. Prior to the Mark VI, the torpedoes were designed to explode on contact, which was a simple and reliable mechanism. The Mark VI exploder mechanism was designed to run about 5’ to 10’ beneath the targets hull. As the steel hull of a ship passed through salt water it created an electromagnetic field (EMF). When a torpedo, equipped with a Mark VI, entered the targets EMF an antenna in the warhead would detect the field and send an electrical signal to the warhead to explode. The warheads explosive power would go upward into the air-filled ship’s hull, breaking the ship’s keel. The British and Germans had their own version of the magnetic exploder early in WW II. Both found the magnetic exploder was unreliable and went back to the more reliable contact exploder by 1941. The US Navy didn’t accept the idea that the magnetic exploder was unreliable until late 1943. When PEARL HARBOR sent orders to all Submarine Squadrons to modify the exploders to work on contact, Admiral CHRISTIE ignored the orders for the submarines operating out of AUSTRALIA.
January 10th REDFIN received orders from Admiral Ralph W.
CHRISTIE to deactivate the warheads on the magnetic torpedoes.
Sunday, January 16th REDFIN picked up a convoy of four ships on
radar, while on the surface at 1705 hours.
REDFIN was going to keep a parallel course with the convoy until
after dark and then make a surface attack. At 1720 hours an enemy escort
was sighted dead astern about 16,000 yards.
The enemy escort lit off his last two boilers and the chase was on.
REDFIN went to battle stations and changed course but the enemy escort
followed. REDFIN was making
17 knots but the escort was making 28 knots. REDFIN fired a salvo of 4
torpedoes, down the throat. As
the torpedoes were in the water the escort started firing their guns but
the splashes were falling about 50 yards short. The escort turned slowly
to starboard just as the torpedoes started to hit. REDFIN could see the
hits from the bridge and they were felt throughout the boat.
A tremendous explosion on the escort lit up the sky bright red, as
it disappeared from the radar screen.
It was later found to be the Destroyer AMATSUKAZE.
The Japanese reported that AMATSUKAZE
had been torpedoed by REDFIN 250 miles north of the SPARTLY ISLANDS, at
14°40’N – 113°50’E. The bow was severed by a torpedo hit in the
forward magazine, 80 crewmen were killed including Comdesdiv 16 (Captain
Furukawa Bunji) and Lieutenant Commander Suga. It was presumed sunk by the
convoy, left adrift for six days until discovered by a patrol plane. It
was towed by ASAGAO
to Cape St. Jacques. The AMATSUKAZE
made it to SAIGON for emergency repairs, and then went to SINGAPORE for
further work. She sailed
again in March 1945.
spent the rest of the Patrol patrolling off the coast of INDO-CHINA until
February 5, 1944 when she changed course and headed to MINDORO STRAIT
then SIBUTU PASSAGE, MAKASSAR STRAIT and on to LOMBOK STRAIT.
After clearing LOMBOK STRAIT at 0400 hours on February 12th
she set course for FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA.
REDFIN arrived in FREMANTLE at 0830 hours on February 17, 1944 and moored at pier #5 alongside USS HADDO (SS-255). At 0900 hours Squadron 16 Relief Crew relieved the Officers and Crew of REDFIN for a 2-week rest period.