USS Flier: On Patrol

Posted by Rebekah
May 21 2010

Today is the day.

According to her records, at 11:05 am, the Flier left her berth at the Submarine Base in Pearl Harbor.  By 11:57 she had cleared the channel entrance buoys and went to standard speed (which, according to their own records, was 15 knots).  She was escorted by a vessel named PC-602, which left them seven hours after they cleared Pearl Harbor, about 105 nautical miles away (approx 120 linear/land miles).

She headed almost directly south, (187 degrees True, which means if you look at a compass and 0 degrees is due north and 180 degrees is due south, she went just slightly west of south.)  She was heading to Johnston Atoll, the other spit in the ocean island the Navy kept to refuel Pearl-based submarines.  Perhaps they felt sending Flier back to Midway was just asking for bad karma.

Crowley must have maintained a tight sub.   These deck logs show he was constantly running practice dives and drills and exercises to keep his men as well practiced as he could.

That evening, after sunset, she made radar contact with a merchant ship, and went to battle stations.  They soon made a second contact, which they thought might be a merchant ship with an escort of some kind.  After tailing these vessels for an hour an a half, they saw they were small ships, and quite frankly, that close to Hawaii, they were more than likely to be friendly, so Flier broke off her stalking attack and left the area just before midnight, with the crew having the benefit of some real training.

I often wonder how often that must have happened during WWII.  Flier saw four merchant vessels on her trip from Groton to Panama Canal, and frequently would see a ship or two a day, though often these were fishing vessels, or small ferrys, or ships too far away to attack, or going the wrong way.

If I were a surface sailor during WWII on the Pacific, I don’t think I would feel comfortable if  I knew just how often my vessel was spotted by a submarine, both enemy and allied.  If these records are fairly average in terms of number of times a ship or plane was sighted, then any given convoy had probably  been stalked a number of times before they were actually attacked.

I will, eventually, (hopefully by this weekend) have a map up showing where Flier is in real time, but since we updated our computer with a new OS and Office Suite, we’re discovering which programs are showing bugs now that they’ve been re-installed–or the ones that were never reinstalled at all.  Hopefully, with some time this weekend (we were going to do lawn work, but the front lawn is now practically underwater, so there goes that idea) we’ll get all this straightened out, and I can get back to posting photographs and diagrams as well.

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