On February 10, 1945, at 0002 hours, USS BATFISH (SS 310) made an attack on
an Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) submarine. On February 11th, 1945, at 2202 hours,
BATFISH attacked a second IJN submarine and followed up this attack on
February 13, 1945 at 0448 hours with a third attack in 76 hours on a third IJN
submarine. The 2nd and 3rd submarines have been identified as RO-112 and RO-113.
However, the first of the three submarines has been identified as
- a failed attack on a submarine sunk later
- a premature explosion of a torpedo
- or no credit has been given
The official patrol report indicates
that this submarine was visually identified as an "I" class
submarine. The destruction of the
submarine was visually confirmed, but different sources provide different
answers as to which submarine was actually sunk on February 10, 1945.
By the end of January 1945 the Japanese Air Force was about
washed up in the Philippines and it was decided to pull back and operate from
Formosan bases (Holmes, 1966). In February 1945, General MacArthur's forces dislodged the Imperial Army north of
Manila and important Japanese officials wanted to escape (Kimmett, 1996).
Code breakers picked up information that the Japanese
intended to ferry ammunition from Formosa to Luzon and then evacuate some
pilots from Luzon to Formosa by submarine. They would also transport plane crews from Batulinao, in northern Luzon,
to Takao, in Formosa, in connection with pullback. In addition, top-ranked personnel from Aparri on the north coast
of Luzon would be evacuated (Roscoe, 1949). As the Japanese were busy evacuating their personnel from Aparri,
patrolling in Baboyan Channel, BATFISH, under command of John K. Fyfe,
had been alerted to the possibility of Japanese submarines in the area.
On the evening of February 9, 1945, radar contact was made
at 11,000 yards. Soon, the APR picked
up foreign radar emissions coming from the Japanese submarine. After a failed first attack due to an
incorrect speed estimate, a second attack was made. The resulting explosion and the cessation of radar emissions
indicated the IJN submarine had been destroyed. An excerpt from the patrol log follows:
|| SJ contact bearing 240 True, 11,000 yards. Commenced tracking. Target
tracked on course 310°, speed 12 knots so went to battle
stations and commenced approach, broadcasting dope to other wolves in
pack. Saturation signals on APR at 158 mgcs which increased in intensity as ranged
|| Commenced firing tubes 1, 2, 3 and 4 on 130° starboard track gyros practically
zero, range 1850 yards, torpedoes set for six feet using a 2° divergent spread. All missed.
||(10s - 40s) four end of run explosions. Pulled
out to 5,000 yards off target's track and commenced new end around while
making reload. The night was very dark, no moon, partially overcast and
target was not seen on first run but was believed to be a Japanese
submarine. Decided to close to visual range for next attack and verify
type of contact but tentatively set torpedo depths at 4 feet, 2 feet, 2
feet, and 0 feet.
|| With range to target 1020 yards a Japanese submarine was clearly visible from bridge.
We were in beautiful position - 90 track zero gyros so at
|| Commenced firing tubes forward. #1 was a hot run in the tube, #2 hit, and
number three passed over spot where submarine sank. The hit was accompanied by a brilliant red explosion that lit up
the whole sky and the target sank almost immediately. Radar indications on the APR ceased abruptly. This radar signal was apparently
non-directional type, and probably anti-aircraft since we closed to 900 yards
without his giving any indication that he was aware of our presence. Target disappeared from visual sight and on
radar screen almost immediately, screws stopped and loud breaking up noises
were heard on sound gear.
|| Heard one end of run explosion
|| Commenced reload forward, sent results of attack to pack commander and rigged searchlight preparatory to
returning to scene and search for survivors.
|| Very strong oil smell, heavy slicks on water. A cut shows we are two miles
east of the point of attack. Turned on searchlight and after a short experiment decided we were advertising ourselves
needlessly and accomplishing little except ruining the night vision of the
bridge personnel and probably drawing airplanes.
There were 2 attacks on this submarine (TORPEDO ATTACK NO. 2
and TORPEDO ATTACK NO. 3 from the patrol report). TORPEDO ATTACK NO.4 sank the RO-112 and TORPEDO ATTACK NO. 5 sank
the RO-113. Therefore, it can be said
that 3 different Japanese submarines were definitely destroyed by the BATFISH
between February 9 and February 13, 1945.
Four submarines (RO-46, RO-112, RO-113, and RO-115) were
detailed to the evacuation mission (Blair, 1975 and Holmes, 1966). However, Kimmett (1996) indicates that the four
submarines were RO-45, RO-55, RO-112 and RO-113. In addition, some sources, mainly JANAC, indicate the first
submarine as I-41. Here is a breakdown by each submarine:
- I-41: Roscoe (1949) suggests that the first submarine was I-41. Miller (1999) and Watts and Gordon (1971)
both indicate that I-41 was probably sunk November 18, 1944 at 0630 hours at
12-44 N, 130-42E, east of Samar by USS Lawrence C. Taylor (DE 415) and aircraft
from USS Anzio (CVE-57).
- RO-45: Watts and Gordon (1971) indicate that
RO-45 was sunk by USN MacDonough, Potter and aircraft from Monterey 65 miles
SSW of Truk on 4/30/44.
- RO-46: Holmes (1966) indicates that RO-46
did make one trip, successfully disembarked her passengers at Takao on February
12 and departed for the homeland. RO-46
was sunk by USS Sea Owl (SS 405) on 4/18/45 (Watts and Gordon, 1971).
- RO-55: Lowder (1987) and Kimmett (1996) both suggest that the first submarine
was RO-55. Miller (1999) and Watts, Boyd and Yoshida (1995) and
Gordon (1971) all indicate that RO-55 was probably sunk February 7, 1945 at
2330 hours at 15-27N, 119-25E, off Iba, Luzon, by USS Thomason (DE 203).
- RO-115: Watts and Gordon (1971) indicate
that RO-115 was sunk by USN Bell (DD 587), O'Bannon (DD 450), Jenkins (DD 447)
and Moore (DD 442), 125 miles SW Manila on 1/31/45. Boyd and Yoshida state
that "RO-115 was en route from its patrol area of Manila to Takao,
Formosa, when on the night of 9 February 1945 it was intercepted and sunk by
the American submarine Batfish (SS-310)."
- Miller (1999), quoting Zenji Orita in "I-Boat Captain", states that no Japanese
submarines, other than RO-112 and RO-113, both of which were definitely sunk by
BATFISH, were lost at this time.
The Case for RO-115
Blair (1975), Boyd and Yoshida (1995) and Miller (1999) all suggest the submarine
was the RO-115. Alden lists the submarine
lost as I-41 as that is what JANAC indicates, but suggests the RO-115 might
have been the actual submarine sunk. Alden (1989) states "IJN says I-41 given up 2 Dec 44.
RO-115, given up on 21 Feb, possibly sunk here but most authorities credit surface ships on 31 Jan".
The "here" that is being referred to is the attack by BATFISH.
- Miller (1999) states that RO-115 is often erroneously identified as either I-41 (LCDR
Fumitake Kondo) or RO-55 (LCDR Koichiro Suwa).
- Holmes (1966) states that on February 2, 1945, RO-115 was given orders to leave her
patrol area off Manila and proceed to Takao to take part in transportation
operations. She never made it as she was destroyed in route. These orders
were received after the claimed sinking by destroyers on January 31, 1945.
also disappeared in early February, somewhere west of Luzon. She was scheduled to arrive on patrol in the
Mindoro-Manila area on February 5. On
February 2 she reported engaging enemy aircraft. This was her last report. She was probably the victim of destroyer escort Thomason's successful
hedgehog attack on February 7 (Holmes, 1966).
- RO-112 left Takao for Batulinao on February 8 and RO-113 followed in her wake two days
later. Neither of them arrived (Holmes, 1966).
It seems that the first of the three submarines sunk by the BATFISH
was RO-115. This conclusion is reached because:
RO-115 did receive orders after being reported sunk on January
31, 1945. Either RO-115 escaped the attack, or it was a completely different
Japanese submarine attacked by the destroyers.
it is credited to surface ships several months earlier.
made a successful evacuee run but was subsequently sunk in April of 1945.
was sunk almost a year earlier to the BATFISH attack.
is also credited to surface ships at about the same time as this attack, but
the report of attacking enemy aircraft and no further transmissions indicates
she was lost prior to the BATFISH attack
D., 1989, U.S. Submarine Attacks During World War 2., p. 177.
Clay, Jr., 1975, Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan, pg.
Boyd, Carl and Yoshida, Akihiko, 1995, The Japanese Submarine Force
and World War 2, p, 167.
K, 1945, Patrol Report, Patrol 6, USS Batfish (SS 310)
J., 1966, Undersea Victory: The Influence of Submarine Operations on the War in
the Pacific, pg. 428-429
Larry and Margaret Regis, 1996, U.S. Submarines in World War 2: An Illustrated
History, pg. 128-129.
Lowder, Hughston E., 1987, The Silent Service: U.S.
Submarines in World War 2, pg. 22.
Miller, Vernon J., 1999, Japanese Submarine Losses to Allied
Submarines in World War 2, pg. 26
Roscoe, Theodore, (1949), United States Submarine Operations
in World War 2, pg. 450.
Watts, A. J. and B. G. Gordon, 1971, The Imperial Japanese