Captain Crowley decided to do an “End-Around Maneuver”. This maneuver was rather common on sumbarines, due to the handicaps of convoys and the speed of a surfaced sub .
WWII Submarines, unlike today, were much faster on surface than submerged, around 20 knots, depending on the boat. A convoy can only travel as fast as its slowest member, limiting them to slow speeds. A submarine would track the course of a convoy, race ahead of them out of sight, then settle in their way and attack them when they passed by.
Flier’s convoy came, unwittingly giving Flier an idea set up. One column of freighters passing in front of her bow, another passing her stern. Crowley and Liddell planed to fire two spreads of three torpedoes at two freighters passing the bow, then swing the periscope around and fire two spreads of two torpedoes astern before heading deep. The first six shots went off beautifully, but when Crowley turned the Periscope around, a freighter was only a few hundred feet away, too close to fire a shot. As they aimed for another two ships, three explosions went off from the first spreads, and the escorts flew to protect their convoy and find the attacker.
Flier went deep without finishing her shots, rocked by depth charges. Al remembered being ordered to his cabin, where, in the stifling heat and humidity, he stripped to his skivvies to try to remain comfortable.
It was a three hour siege.
When it was over, there were only six ships in the convoy, and Captain decided to try and finish off a couple of more. But the escorts were on high alert. Flier approached from the side, and the escorts charged. She circled around behind, and they found her. After a day and a half of feinting, ducking, and maneuvering, they gave up, and headed back to the site of the sinking for any materials they could deliver to HQ.
After a day and a half, the sea was still thickly coated with scorched oil. They found six lifeboats, marked in the kanji for the ship’s names. They found a package of documents inside one of the lifeboats, wrapped and bundled neatly in one of the boats, which they retrieved.
A wooden pilot house still floated on the waves. Inside there was a gyroscope. It had been made in New York City.
Flier claimed two kills on her new record, which, given the scarcity of good targets in 1944, was an incredible boost to the men’s morale. The artifacts and eyewitness accounts of the sinking were enough for the Navy to agree that Flier likely took down those ships.
The records after the war named one of those ships: Hakusan Maru.