SEA DEVIL Rescues ESSEX pilots
( SS400 Sea Devil )
On 2 April, 1945 fog shrouded her area and visibility was poor, less than 1,000 yards. At 0710, she made radar contact with an enemy convoy-four merchantmen and three escorts. At 0915, in a daring daylight surface attack she commenced firing at the lead merchant ship. Forty seconds later, she fired at the next ship. She then swung around to bring her stern tubes to bear on a third merchant ship; found herself well inside the escort on the convoy's starboard quarter; continued swinging and fired three stern shots at the escort. Between 0819 and 0822, seven hits were heard and felt.
SEA DEVIL then left the formation and opened range to reload. The radar screen now showed only three small pips. The 3rd torpedo of the 1st salvo had apparently missed its target and run on to hit the third Maru.
After reloading, the submarine tracked the remaining units of the convoy. Shortly after 1000, she fired on and damaged one of the escorts. Forty minutes later, she fired on the remaining merchantman and observed it suddenly disappear from the radar screen. After 1100, she made her way through the wreckage to pick up survivors. Only four allowed themselves to be picked up; and, of these, one died of his wounds.
Of the seven ships, SEA DEVIL had sunk three, cargo ships TAIJO MARU, EDOGAWA MARU, and MISSHAN MARU, and had damaged the fourth Maru and at least one of the escorts. Sea Devil fired a total of 15 torpedoes.
The submarine remained in her Yellow Sea patrol area for another three days, then headed for Midway. On the 6th, however, she received orders to patrol south of Kyushu, and, on the 8th, she was ordered closer to Okinawa in search of four downed Marine Corps pilots.
The pilots, from aircraft carrier ESSEX (CV-9), had been covering the movements of battleship YAMATO and, on running low on fuel, had ditched in a location they thought to be near Okinawa.
Prior to midnight, on the 8th, SEA DEVIL located three of the pilots 200 miles northeast of Okinawa. The search for the fourth continued through the night. With dawn on the 9th, friendly planes joined in the search. But they, too, were unsuccessful; and, in the late afternoon the submarine continued southeastward. On 13 April, SEA DEVIL arrived at Saipan. On the 20th, she completed her patrol.
Signatures of the Japanese prisoners, and the signatures of the three rescued ESSEX pilots. (From Sea Devil's log.)