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Old 10-12-2019, 09:54 PM   #1
KaleunMarco
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Default Submerged in the Sea of Japan

the following is an article from the current issue (October) of the US Naval Proceedings. it deals with a number of topics that have circulated through our SH4 Subsim forum. i hope you enjoy it.

LEST WE FORGET - Submerged in the Sea of Japan
By A. Denis Clift
October 2019 Proceedings Vol. 145

Memories of Julian T. Burke Jr
Following commissioning from the Naval Academy in 1940, Julian T. Burke Jr. rose to the rank of rear admiral in a career that included great diversity of commands: two submarines, the presidential yacht USS Williamsburg (AGC-369) during parts of the Truman and Eisenhower years, a submarine division, an attack transport, an amphibious squadron, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, and Service Force Atlantic Fleet.
His most death-defying moments came in June 1945 when, as executive officer of the USS Flying Fish (SS-229), he and his skipper, Commander R. D. Risser, were conning the submarine submerged into the Sea of Japan through Japanese minefields. For that service, he was awarded the Bronze Star with combat V and the Silver Star.
Samuel Eliot Morison set the stage for the action:
One of the most successful and carefully planned submarine operations of the war was Operation BARNEY, the invasion of the Sea of Japan, the only remaining body of water in the Pacific where Japanese shipping still moved freely. . . . One guarantee of success was the fact that scientists had perfected a sonar device that enabled submarines to detect mines in the water.1

Admiral Burke picks up the thread in these edited excerpts from his Naval Institute oral history:

The FM sonar was a mine detection sonar, and we had it installed at the San Diego destroyer base. We went through dummy minefields, and we did this with Vice Admiral Charles Lockwood aboard. On the last day, when we surfaced we had a mine sitting on the forecastle. We had entangled it, the cable, in the bow planes.

There were nine submarines in three wolfpacks to get in. Ours was Risser’s Bob Cats. We were sent up not too far from Vladivostok, but still on the Korean side. When we went in, I think my maximum degree of terror was operating. We knew we were going to be submerged for a long time, 12 to 16 hours. We had two conning-crew teams, and the captain and I divided it, two-hour stints because of the pressure.

We went through four lines of mines during the day. I had the conn at least twice. I remember the pure terror of being able to see a mine for the first time at about 700 yards. We picked up one, and all of a sudden, this sonar gear was swinging back and forth just so slowly. When it hit a mine, it would make a ping. Also, you had a visual picture on a scope, and it would make a ping. Then we picked up another, and the first line of mines I went through we had about ten mines on the screen. It was going ping, ping, ping, ping, ping.

Every one of those pings was hitting me in the gut. I spent much of that day praying I wasn’t going to buckle, because I knew how important it was for me to keep my courage and be an example to the officers and crew. I made a point of getting through the ship a lot during the day to pat the crew on the back and try to let them know how we were doing. I was just scared to death, and finally we got through. These were contact mines. I don’t know how close we had come, but in the postmortem of BARNEY held back at the sub base, we learned that at least one of the submarines had scraped a mine cable.
We got in there. We had fog and cold weather and didn’t see much shipping. As I recall we sank two ships. The first was at night. We got him on radar. We tried to pick up survivors as prisoners; they swam away. Finally, one came aboard. He looked like Charles Boyer; the crew called him Charlie. On the specified date, we came back out, on the surface, maximum speed, headed for the straits. We got through. Lockwood was down on the dock when we came back into Pearl.
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Old 10-13-2019, 11:02 PM   #2
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Great story. I can see it in play out in my minds eye.
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