Flier’s First Bite pt. 1

Posted by Rebekah
Jun 06 2010

Sorry for the long delay, sometimes I just need about two more hours in the day, either that, or it’d be nice if my body could survive on less sleep, but I’m sure a lot of people understand that!

So to catch up with our boats, Robalo is in Fremantle and is enjoying their R&R for two weeks, and so she’s not in the map below.

Redfin has passed through Lombok the night of June 2, 1944, and then passed through Makassar Strait, and is getting ready to drop off her Special Mission.  To this end, if I’m not mistaken, Redfin is forbidden to approach or engage any targets they may find until that mission is over, lest they get themselves sunk and take the Signal Men/Coastwatchers with them.  The most she can do if she sees someone, is radio the position, speed and direction to HQ which will then see if they can find another submarine that will cross their general path and take them out.

Map of USS Redfin and USS Flier on 1 June 1944-6 June 1944. Robalo is in Fremantle, and is not shown.

Flier meanwhile, has had her first taste of battle and victory.

On 2 June, USS Silversides, on her way back home to Pearl, spotted a convoy heading northwest.  They were headed east, but Captain Coye knew (since submarine captains were informed of each other’s movements, not some super-stealth submarine psychic powers) that the Flier was a few miles north of them and headed west, he told Flier to be on the lookout for this convoy.

Flier changed her course to intercept, but after a few hours, spotted a different convoy headed southwest.  The sea was glassy calm, and the periscope would make a highly noticable wake, so Flier decided to stalk her prey from a distance and attack at night.

They tracked their prey, keeping just out of sight.  One of the advantages a submarine had was being so low to the water, they were difficult to see, but surface ships, with their high superstructures and smokestacks belching trails of smoke could actually be seen while technically over the horizon.

In the afternoon, their convoy dropped a number of depth charges, though they did not show any signs of having spotted Flier, so they continued their stalking.

Suddenly, there was a second ship approaching over the horizon, heading south.  Flier had a choice:  Convoy 1 or convoy 2?  They chose the new convoy for several reasons:  1.) they were heading right for them and would soon be in a favorable range and position 2.) their first convoy might be under attack already.

Complex map of the two submarine track and three convoy tracks over four days in June 1944. This map reflects only subs and convoys recorded in the War Patrol Reports of USS Silversides and USS Flier. There may actually been more than these in the area at that time.

Very soon, they could see that the convoy was made up of eight ships, and had a number of Able King Freighters available.  But they were heavily escorted and operating at top speed.  They didn’t seem to care about the other convoy, now clearly under attack and firing deck guns into the night.  Convoy 2 fired their deck guns once in the general direction of Convoy 1 but otherwise, charged headlong.  Whatever they were carrying was valuable, and they were heading right into Flier’s web.

Trackback URL for this entry