Its been a while – But things are about to ramp up again at theleansubmariner (TLS) 1

About four months ago, the company I have been working for announced a downsizing of the facility I am working at. During that time, I have shifted my focus from lean and six sigma for continuous improvement to one of my older skill sets: Project Manager.

With a change in focus has come less time to blog but that is about to change over the next month. I have been collecting some story ideas from my WW2 research and will start with some fresh stories that are in line with the submarine side of the blog.

If you are a submariner, I would encourage you to join the USSVI and meet with the National Convention in Pittsburgh PA in September.

http://www.ussviconventionsteelcity2015.org/

Thanks for the continued visits… 235,000 is a pretty good number

Mister Mac

Gunfighters on the Java Sea – May 28 1945 2

Japara MapI have been chronicling the actions of the US Forces in the Pacific fleet for a number of months and in doing so have found some really great stories with a lot of detail about how the war was progressing in mid 1945. One of those stories started with a small footnote about a wolf pack operation in the Java Sea conducted by the submarines USS Blueback (SS-326) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) and USS Lamprey (SS-372) (Balao-class submarine – commissioned 1944) as they battled the Japanese submarine chaser Ch.1 in a surface gunnery action off Japara, N.E.I., 06°28’S, 110°37’E.

 

 

Sub chaser

 

What I like most about these stories is the human face they put on the war’s prosecution. The Blueback’s war patrol records and deck logs have been preserved and I was able to trace the action in the words and sometimes very interesting thoughts of her skipper M.K. Clementson Cdr. USN. one small example came in his final report where he spoke about crewmembers who were departing before the mission began. While reading the original report, I was a bit confused for a few moments about the upcoming re-assignment of Lt. James Mercer who had completed 13 war patrols.

Lt. James Mercer departing

By this time in the war, many of the submarine skippers were modifying their deck guns to suit the missions they would be conducting. During his refit in Perth AU prior to commencing the third war patrol, Clementson and his crew rearranged the location and firing support devices for much of his topside weaponry. The hope was that with an increased capacity to conduct surface operations, they would be able to have more flexibility in attacking the dwindling enemy surface fleet and merchant fleet. During the third war patrol, Blueback would get credit for sinking one patrol boat using surface tactics.

Night Action – Java Sea

This story occurs on May 28th in the Java Sea. While the world and most of the military was still focused on the continuing battle of Okinawa, patrols by the US Submarine force continued all across the pacific. The boats that had been rushed into service during the previous few years had finally started overcoming the torpedo problems of the early years. Success after success had started piling up and even though submarine losses also took their toll, new fleet boats were adding to the overall efforts in ways never before imagined. At 0355 on the morning of the 28th, Blueback had just completed a secret mission and was beginning her patrol. She sighted what she thought was a Jap destroyer at 0510 and sent a report to the Wolf Pack she was operating with.

From that moment on, she would join with the Lamprey in a running torpedo and gun battle in the Java Sea.

The Balao  submarine classs was made up of 120 boats and those were typically armed with the following weapons:

10 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
(six forward, four aft)
24 torpedoes
1 × 5-inch (127 mm) / 25 caliber deck gun (which replaced the 4-inch 102mm gun installed at the beginning of their service)
Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

5_inch_25_caliber_gun_USS_Bowfin 640px-Boffin_40mm_bofors_cfb_borden_1 c7c38083acef7a46e63e1cf387b73eae

During her overhaul prior to WP 3, the guns on the Blueback were modified as follows: the twin 20 MM was moved from the cigarette deck to the main deck forward and a second 40mm was installed on the cigarette deck. They also installed specially braced mountings for twin 50 caliber machine guns and twin 30 caliber machine guns on the bridge. In short, the Blueback was loaded for bear and was ready to take on any targets she would encounter on the surface.

Wolf Pack – American Style

German submarines are well known for Wolf Pack tactics that resulted in horrific losses. Not as well known are the Wolf Packs that the US Forces operated in during the Pacific campaign. Starting with the coordinated attacks of the USS Cero, many combined operations were mounted. At first, there was a reluctance among the individual skippers to advocate for this type of operation. But some, including Captain Swede Momsen saw the need for new tactics in this war . USS Cero cleared New London 17 August 1943 for Pacific waters, and on 26 September sailed from Pearl Harbor, bound for the East China and Yellow Seas on her first war patrol. This patrol was also the first American wolfpack, comprising Cero, Shad (SS-235), and Grayback (SS-208), commanded from Cero by Captain Swede” Momsen.

Torpedo Attack

At 0843, the Blueback submerged and began a day long track and search pattern looking for the contact the had sighted at 0520 and at 1910 sighted a submarine that was identified as the USS Lamprey. At 1954, she surfaced and  communicated with Lamprey using blinker lights. At that time Blueback was informed about the three targets in the Japara anchorage. Plans were then exchanged for the hunt. At 2010, there was a radar contact which the skipper verified was not a submarine. The contact was at approximately 12,000 yards and zig zagging.

From the action report:

“Can just barely get in a night tracking surface approach before the just rising full moon gets too high. Tracking 10 knots, base course 090 true. Am convinced this is our OOD. Will have enough moon before shooting to make certain it is not a submarine.”

One of the greatest fears of submarine commanders concerning the Wolf Pack approach was in not shooting a fellow American submariner in the heat of the battle. Our technology in weapons firing and ship identification was pretty basic during that war so this was a real concern.

At 2033, confident of his target, Blueback headed in at flank speed.

At 2102, Blueback slowed to 2/3 speed. He received a message from the HMS THOROUGH giving his position and stating that a patrol craft has been patrolling in the area all day. Target was not THOROUGH. Target definitely not submarine. (Note: HMS Thorough was a British T class submarine that served in the Far East for much of her wartime career, where she sank twenty seven Japanese sailing vessels, seven coasters, a small Japanese vessel, a Japanese barge, a small Japanese gunboat, a Japanese trawler, and the Malaysian sailing vessel Palange)

At 2107, with confidence that the vessel was not a submarine, Blueback fired five MK 18-2 torpedoes forward. Torpedo run was 3000 yards.  At 2109, the skipper turned the boat and fired 2 MK-14-3A torpedoes aft, torpedo run 2200 yards. All missed and as a good close broadside view of the target was obtained, it was discovered that this was not a destroyer but a patrol boat.  Blueback headed away at 19 knots. The patrol boat headed away from a torpedo that broached just ahead of him.

Blueback’s skipper made a note in the log:

“Made mental note to always use binocular formula hereafter in an attempt to avoid such costly errors in the future. Even with grim visions of my income tax soaring to the stratosphere. Won’t be able to look a taxpayer in the eye.”

At this point he slows the ship and manned the 5″ and two 40mm gins and informed Lamprey who was 9-10,000 yards to the northwest.

Open Fire

At 2135, Blueback opened fire and immediately got some hits. These hits resulted in a small fire being started on the patrol ship’s forward action station. He commenced returning fire , too accurately according to reports with 25mm explosive shells.

at 2140, Blueback laid a smoke screen and opened range. The moon was brilliant by that time and very low. Blueback was heading into the moon and was weaving to each side trying to distribute the smoke in any direction but true west. The target’s gunfire was on them every time they emerges from either side of the narrow screen.

At 2143, Lamprey opened fire with her 5′ gun but in the words of the Blueback CO “The silly target didn’t know enough to shoot at him.” Then Blueback opened range to 6500 yards and headed to join the Lamprey. The target was making radical maneuvers and returning fire on both Lamprey and Blueback by this time with four guns. The Lamprey skipper reported that “his aim was not very good”. Lamprey expended 40 rounds of 5″ ammunition and recorded two sure hits.

At 2200, Blueback fired a few more rounds of 5″ at his gun flashes but when he ceased firing, there was no more point of aim. Blueback decided to call it a draw (except that Blueback was not hit thanks to the smoke screen.) Lamprey made the same decision at 2209 and the engagement was completed. Blueback’s skipper records in his log that better night sights and star shells would have helped considerable to eliminate “this boil on the heel”.

Lessons learned from the action that night:

1. Get and keep the TARGET up moon,

2. Concentrate forces on initial attack.

At 2207, Blueback set course for new area, 3 engines… At 2339, Lamprey departed for her new patrol area in the Karimata Strait.

The CH-1 would survive the rest of the war but had one more brush with the American submarine fleet.  On the 16th of July 1945: West of Surabaya, Java, she was escorting gunboat NANKAI (ex-Dutch minelayer REGULUS) when they were attacked by LCDR William H. Hazzard’s  USS BLENNY (SS-324). Hazzard fires a total of 12 torpedoes in a night surface radar attack and claims four hits that sink NANKAI at 05-26S, 110-33E. At about 0700, Hazzard finds and shells CH-1 with his 5-inch deck gun. BLENNY gets two hits that set CH-1 on fire at 05-16S, 110-17E.

http://www.combinedfleet.com/CH-1_t.htm

Despite two attacks, CH-1 survives the war and is finally scuttled by the Royal Navy in Singapore in 1946.

Both Blueback and Lamprey also survive the war. Guns would be removed from the decks of post war submarines for a host of reasons. Submarines evolved through technology to be more effective under the water during all modes of warfare and a deck gun was no longer needed or practical. One of the many enemies a submarine fought was the airplane and post war development of antisubmarine air forces increased the danger of being on the surface for any period of time. But having those guns on board WW2 boats was a critical factor during the early months and years where the unreliable torpedo corrupted the ultimate mission of a submarine. The other factor of not wasting a torpedo on smaller craft played a key role as well

Seventy years has passed since that night action on the Java Sea. The bravery of those men on both sides under some very difficult conditions is a testament to the strength found in men who are committed to a cause.

Mister Mac

By the way, come to Pittsburgh this September 7-13 and celebrate the heroes of the US Navy submarine forces.

USSVU National Convention web site:     http://www.ussviconventionsteelcity2015.org/

1 USSVI-Pittsburgh Convention-Large

 

 

 

 

Listen… that is the sound of freedom you hear 1

I have many heroes and men that I admire. The swaggering sailor in the middle is my favorite. He was also the epitome of how we should recognize Memorial Day.

San Francisco

I will be thinking about him a lot over the next two days as we visit the quiet and secluded graveyards along the Monongahela in the hills and valleys of Elizabeth Boro, Elizabeth Township, and Forward Township. We will be alone in most of those visits. But we are not doing it for the living. We fire our volleys for the ones who are at rest. Men who gave their all in the many ways through this countries history.

While you are at your soccer games or sleeping in on a day of rest, listen for the sounds of those rifles being fired. The three volleys comes from an old battlefield custom. The two warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield, and the firing of three volleys meant that the dead had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle. When we salute our fallen heroes, we once again resume our battle for freedom. We do it every day when we fight for the rights and promises of a free nation. We honor them by spiritually taking up the fight even as the sound of the last volley fades into the wooded hills and valleys they will never see again.

Listen for those sounds. Those are the sounds of freedom. If the day ever comes that they are silenced, it will mean the very freedom they represent.

IMG_5501 IMG_5504 IMG_5507

Mister Mac

Silent Service: Submarine Warfare in WW2 2

Chub 2 Chub 3 Chub

As Memorial Day 2015 approaches, I am once again reminded that submarine sailors paid a heavy price during the second World War in a way that is vastly more expensive that nearly any other type of war fighting based on a per capita measurement.

This video certainly captures many of the issues they faced.

225,000 Visits… Nicely done! 2

The leansubmariner just went over 225,000 visits today. That’s pretty cool. I can’t tel you how much I appreciate your visits and those that come back for a second and maybe even a third look.

Live has been pretty interesting lately. The place where I have been working is in the process of mothballing due to changes in the sales in our market. At first, it was pretty disheartening since I was comfortable and I was looking forward to a day sometime in the future when I could write full time. That may come sooner than I had expected but I am still measuring the impact of the shrinking workforce.

I have been very busy this spring so far posting on my World War 2 in the Pacific page on Facebook. Every day, there are entries from historic records and sprinkled in between are letters from my Dad to his parents during the same time period. If you get a chance, check it out. I intend to continue posting stories there until the anniversary of the end of the Second World war in the Pacific.

https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946

800px-USS_Bunker_Hill_hit_by_two_Kamikazes 1945_05_12_bb40_kamikaze_a

Thanks again for the visits. I will be back with more submarine stories in the very near future.

Mister Mac

Now Read This – “Empire Rising” by Rick Campbell 1

empire rising

 

Years ago, I read my first Tom Clancy book, “Hunt for Red October”. I have always enjoyed reading and novels that held stories that could be plausible given the right circumstances have always intrigued me.

Being a former submariner, I have had to suspend my disbelief in many cases in order to enjoy the story. While I have not been on a boat for over twenty years, there are still some things that are possible and some things that would require a great leap of technological ability to pass the believability test.

What I loved about Tom Clancy was his ability to tell a story in such a way that I didn’t get too hung up on the technical details that might have made the story nothing more than an inert fantasy. Tom just had a way of making you want to believe that it could happen just the way the words in the book said they did.

Rick Campbell has captured that same ability. From the minute you begin the book to the minute you end, he creates pictures which include you as a close in observer. Whether it is on the deck of a submarine or in some remote corner of the Great Hall, you find yourself able to be swept up by the action and quickly gain an emotional investment in the characters. This book moves quickly and draws you in to every scene.

I will be honest in admitting that in the past I have often had difficulty reading a novel that blends technology, world events, and the action components without being skeptical. Empire Rising has broken through that skepticism. What impresses me is that his writing successfully blends the genres enough to allow me to believe it is real. I think this book in particular will appeal to many people who are actively following the growth of China (Spratly Islands, the unmistakable upward growth trend of the Chinese Navy plus the natural element of danger emanating from the two China’s).

I highly recommend that you buy this book. I highly recommend that you turn off the TV, Computer, radio and send the wife to the mall and the kids to camp. Barricade yourself into your man cave and enjoy the read. It’s the kind of adventure where suspending your disbelief is not as difficult as it might have been.

Oh yeah… remember to breathe every once in a while when you do read it.

You’ll thank me for that reminder later.

http://www.rickcampbellauthor.com/Submarine-Novels-Military-Thrillers-Espionage-Books.html

Mister Mac

 

 

America as a leader – Truman’s April 16 1945 Address to the Nation Reply

On April 16, 1945, Harry S. Truman, newly appointed President of the United States gave an address to a Joint session of Congress and to the American people via a radio address at 1PM.

The speech was designed to let the people of this country and the world know that the legacy of leadership that evolved during the years of the second World War were not to be interrupted with the recent passing of President Roosevelt.

I would predict with no hesitation that this speech would never be given by the existing leader of the American people. In its simplicity, the speech reminds America and the world that this country is not only an exceptional country but one that has a destiny to lead others around the world that seek freedom. Rather than shunning our responsibility, he embraces it. Rather than attacking his country for the mistakes it had made in the past, he emphasizes what good we can bring to leading the world in the future.

I have never read the speech before today. I am glad it came onto my radar screen as I was writing my daily story for    https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946

It will give me a lot to think about as I ponder what direction this country must go in to restore some of that leadership role once 2017 arrives.

Here is a small part of the speech that I feel best captures what we were about in Harry’s eyes:

Today, America has become one of the most powerful forces for good on earth. We must keep it so. We have achieved a world leadership which does not depend solely upon our military and naval might.

We have learned to fight with other nations in common defense of our freedom. We must now learn to live with other nations for our mutual good. We must learn to trade more with other nations so that there may be-for our mutual advantage-increased product ion, increased employment and better standards of living throughout the world.

May we Americans all live up to our glorious heritage.

In that way, America may well lead the world to peace and prosperity.

At this moment, I have in my heart a prayer. As I have assumed my heavy duties, I humbly pray Almighty God, in the words of King Solomon:

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”

I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people.

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/ww2/stofunio.htm

I hope and pray we will regain a leadership role and truly lead as we once did.

Mister Mac

DSC00926.jpg

Happy 115th Birthday to the United States Navy Submarine Force 2

Of the things I have done in my life, being privileged to be a Submariner is the one thing that stands out the most.

003

Looking back in the mirror of over forty years, what made being a submariner so special was a combination of men, machines, methods and materials (as well as the environment we lived in).

488101_417741151652089_799546593_n

The men were bold and adventurous. In order to surrender your personal freedom and commit part of your life to operating in a steel tube (often for months at a time), you had to have a great sense of boldness. These are the men that forty years later I still call brothers. The shared sacrifice we made cemented that bond. They were the embodiment of trust and loyalty. They still are.

1488127_10202241042524155_1032441081_n

The machines were part of this experience too. The ones we rode on are all special to us since they took us into the unknown and brought us safely home in most cases. Whether they were named after fish, men, cities or states, they were our boats. Some rode to glory in a haze of diesel exhaust and some silently lurked beneath the surface on an invisible field of power. What made them common was the pressure that pushed against their hulls when they were sent into danger.

tmb_ship_cero14

The methods evolved with the technology. The little pigboats that felt almost tethered to the shore were replaced by sleek combat vessels. Despite the horrific loss of 52 of them during World War 2, they emerged with more enemy tonnage sunk per capita than any other combat vessels. Post war, they ran picket duty against the new threat and became platforms for exotic missiles with a powerful projection. These warriors were at the front line of the Cold and Gulf Wars and although their stories will never be fully known, influenced the shape of the world for decades.

1932405_10152755447552403_8195662080263927086_n

Since Holland’s little boat first broke the surface, the materials have adapted for each new mission. Stronger, quieter, more adaptable to depths unfathomable in the old days, these boats are powerful voices in a world of threats.

thresher  384051_2666288348226_1586561932_2423497_534551727_n

The environment continues to challenge our boats. Sea mountains, hurricanes, typhoons and classified threats to submarine operations will always be the wild cards that increase the risk. Any person who has ridden a submarine into the unknown without being able to see what is ahead knows what it feels like to commit your life to something greater than themselves. But our boats and our people continue to fight them and overcome the odds in the very face of the unknown.

 

Someday we will all stand and have to take account for our lives. On that day, I hope to still be wearing my dolphins. That is a sure way for St. Peter to know that I once did my time in hell and I am ready to come home.

Dolphins 2

 

To my Submariner comrades, I wish you all a Happy Birthday

Mister Mac

Mesothelioma – A Sad Legacy for Too Many 3

587 outbound
One of the things I have been very involved with in the past few years is identifying resources for Veterans and their caregivers. In a perfect world, the same government that sends our men and women into harm’s way would move heaven and earth to preserve the rights of veterans and protect those exposed to so many potentially life changing things.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where politicians run at the first sight of conflict and do anything they can to stay in power at the cost of those very veterans who served this country. That is one of the reasons I support the VFW, American Legion, MOAA, Navy League and USSVI. Public awareness is critical to gathering the support we need.
Recently I got a note from Nick Berez, an Awareness Advocate at the Mesothelioma Group.
Bob,
I’m part of the awareness advocate team at the Mesothelioma Group. We are a charitable organization supporting the VFW and American Legion. With over 30% of all mesothelioma patients being Veterans, a main part of our mission is to spread mesothelioma awareness to Veterans and their family members. The reason this cancer targets so many veterans is because of the extensive amount of asbestos used in past military equipment. Our goal at the Mesothelioma Group is to increase awareness, improving survival rates and life expectancy.
I’m pleased to see you have a remarkable Veteran’s Resource Links page at http://theleansubmariner.com/veterans-resource-links/. However I noticed you don’t have any information relating specifically to mesothelioma or the dangers of asbestos. I believe our Navy Veterans and Asbestos page at www.mesotheliomagroup.com/veterans/navy would be a valuable addition to your links. Our support community provides step-by-step guidance, Veteran support, and up-to-date resources, all for free.”
I will be adding this link to our resource page. But I wanted to encourage all of my readers to be aware of the issues regarding this disease. I do so because I was involved in decommissioning a few vessels where asbestos was present (sometimes in large quantities). The Navy put me on an asbestos monitoring program but at one point the program just disappeared. I hope that the need for these programs never comes into my life. But frankly, I am glad that there are groups that care enough to be there for those that do.

Mister Mac

An inglorious end… sinking of the Yamato 5

Yamato_during_Trial_Service

 

Seventy years ago today (April 7 1945) marked the end of the Japanese battleship Yamato and her escorts.

By this time in the war, ceaseless American bombing and submarine attacks had decimated the Japanese fleet and support activities. As the battle for Okinawa raged, the Yamato set sail with just enough fuel to make it to her destination – the supporting American battle fleet in and around the island of Okinawa. This was designed from the start to be a one way trip and try and inflict maximum damage on the hated Americans.

Yamato was the lead ship of the Yamato class of Imperial Japanese Navy World War II battleships. She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load and armed with nine 46 cm 45 Caliber Type 94 main guns. Neither ship survived the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_battleship_Yamato

Starting on April 1st, the actual invasion was moving brutally through the island in an attempt to establish a presence in Japan’s backyard. This base would be the launching point for much of the planned invasion of Japan that would follow. Kamikaze attacks were exacting a heavy toll on American ships and the plan was for Yamato to take as many American ships to the bottom with her as possible. The ultimate Kamikaze attack that would be coupled with the submarine attacks already being attempted.

Unfortunately for the Japanese, things did not go as planned.

526_large_image USS Missouri

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 324, APRIL 7, 1945

On April 6 and 7 (East Longitude Dates) the enemy attempted strong counterattacks against our forces operating in the vicinity of Okinawa.

During the late afternoon and evening of April 6, a large force of enemy aircraft attacked our ships and shore installations in the vicinity of Okinawa. One hundred sixteen of these enemy aircraft were destroyed‑55 by our fighters and the remainder by our antiaircraft fire. The attacking enemy aircraft pressed their attacks in with desperation and succeeded in sinking three of our destroyers and damaging several destroyers and smaller craft. No larger fleet units were hit.

Early on April 7, Navy Search Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing One sighted an enemy surface force which had left the Inland Sea and passing south of Kyushu had headed into the East China Sea. The force included the large battleship Yamato, the most powerful ship left in the Japanese Navy, an Agano class light cruiser, one other small light cruiser or large destroyer, and a number of destroyers. A fast carrier task force commanded by Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher steamed toward the enemy at high speed and dur­ing the middle of the day brought the Japanese Force under air attack.

Our carrier aircraft which had destroyed 245 enemy aircraft on April 6, met no opposition over the Japanese ships but did meet heavy antiaircraft fire. At a point about 50 miles southwest of Kyushu they sank the Yamato, the light Agano class cruiser, the small cruiser and three destroyers. Three other destroyers were left burning. About three destroyers escaped from this attack. 

The Yamato was hit by at least eight torpedoes and eight heavy bombs. All the enemy ships were heavily strafed with rockets and machine guns.

Our carriers lost seven aircraft in this action. During minor contacts on April 7, they and their aircraft shot down 30 enemy aircraft. The task groups participating were commanded by Rear Admirals F. C. Sherman, U. S. Navy, A. W. Radford, U. S. Navy, G. F. Bogan, U. S. Navy, and J. J. Clark, U. S. Navy.

Yamato_hit_by_bomb ch4p9 Battleship_Yamato_sinking

With her sinking, the age of the battleship as ruler of the seas came to an end. Battleships would continue to operate intermittently for the next half century but the specter of a rampaging behemoth of the seas ended with the deaths of both Yamato and Bismarck.

Mister Mac