Changes to Flier’s Crew

Posted by Rebekah
Mar 22 2010

My apologies for not posting yesterday.  We had computer problems, so I wasn’t able to post anything.

Back to the Flier, while she is sill in drydock being fixed, there were changes happening in the crew.

For the past four weeks, a large number of the Flier’s crew were sent, likely in shifts, to their hometowns for some R&R, and most were going to stay with the USS Flier when she re-launched.  Since they had served together for so short a time, the Navy didn’t want to break up the crew just yet.

But in the Officer’s ranks, changes were brewing.  The grounding at Midway exposed problems between Captain Crowley and his Executive Officer, Benjamin Adams.

Often, a submarine’s Executive Officer, in addition to being second-in-command, would, after a period of time and recommendation of his CO, be promoted to command his own submarine.  It was very important for these prospective officers that their submarines perform well with a minimum of disciplinary problems (because the XO was often in charge of crew discipline as well).  Sometimes, like when the Scorpion grounded at Midway, the Exec would share in any discipline that HQ handed out to the captain.  In the case of the  Scorpion, both her captain and her Exec were removed from command and returned to the States.

Having narrowly escaped being removed from the command, perhaps Adams was feeling less than confident in his assigned boat or CO.  Perhaps he started to believe in the new rumors of Flier’s jinx.  Perhaps their personalities would have eventually clashed, and this event just caused it to appear quickly. According to Clay Blair Jr.’s “Silent Victory” and Michael Sturma’s “USS Flier: Death and Survival on a WWII Submarine”, Adams was viewed by some to be a funny ladies man who wasn’t really willing to work.  They finally had an “irreconcilable dispute” in which Adams threatened to leave the Submarine Force for the Surface Fleet if necessary to leave the Flier and Crowley.

Whatever the reasons or the cause, in the end, Adams found a CO who was willing to take him on, and the Navy, more interested in having harmony on submarine crews than forcing people to work together who were unsuited, allowed Adams to transfer to the Albacore, a submarine undergoing routine overhaul in Mare Island at the same time.  Albacore’s recent XO, William Ralph DeLoach,  had been detached from Albacore and was likely to be given a new construction in the States.  (as an aside, though DeLoach served in the Navy until 1969, I cannot discover what submarine he was transferred to, though by 1953 he was apparently the commander of Submarine Squadron 10.)

The USS Albacore after her refit at Mare Island, May 1944

Adams and Albacore’s CO, Jim Blanchard, got on well together and Adams served on the Albacore for at least two patrols (the 9th and 10th).  During this time, the Albacore sank the Japanese Aircraft Carrier Taiho, a huge blow to the Japanese fleet.  Both Adams and Blanchard would have detached from Albacore before her fateful 11th patrol.  Adams would later command USS Rasher for her sixth patrol.

The Japanese Carrier Taiho, the first Japanese carrier to feature an armored deck and hurricane bow. The Albacore fired six torpedos at her, only one hitting her in the bow. While this did not sink her, it did cause the forward aricraft elevator to fill with a mix of seawater and diesel. Albacore left the area, thinking they had barely scratched the Taiho. Seven hours later, diesel fumes had filled the entire ship despite every effort to dissapate it, and she exploded. No one, not even the Japanese knew what happened until a POW revealed her fate to the Americans. By that time, the Albacore had already been lost.

With the Executive Officer’s position now open on the Flier, the search was on for a new Exec, and one was found inside the family.  James Liddell, Flier’s Engineering Officer during the Midway patrol, was now promoted to the Executive Officer’s position.  Liddell and Crowley ended up being well suited as Command Officers, and they would end up paired together not once, but twice, something that was nearly unheard of.

With the promotion, there was one officer’s position open on the Flier, and that would be filled on April 15.

One Response

  1. I know it was just an aside, but I believe commander DeLoach was reassigned as the commissioning Executive Officer of USS Chub and made one war patrol before being transferred.

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