08 January 2012

Turn 4: The torpedoes are now trying to kill us directly

1—7 January 1942

On the night of 5 January, USS Gudgeon (SS-211), underway on her second war patrol, found herself in the vicinity of the Marshall Islands stalking a particularly juicy target:  the ancient (and huge) repair ship Asahi. No escorts were immediately apparent, allowing the skipper to methodically set up a favorable approach. The boat fired a full spread at the lumbering AR, doing everything possible to maximize her chance for success. But something went obviously wrong almost immediately. Instead of “hot, straight, and normal,” one of the fish had other ideas. Rather than streaking out toward the target, its course curved lazily to port—the start of a circular path that put the firing ship itself in danger.

The skipper ordered an emergency dive, hoping to avoid the errant weapon. Seconds crawled by as the unwitting target, the terrified submarine, and the implacable torpedoes traced their paths through the dark waters of the Pacific.

A pair of explosions wrecked the midnight silence—the sound of two torpedoes mortally wounding the Japanese auxiliary. It capsized and sank in minutes.

Through some combination of luck and skillful maneuvering, its attacker escaped the same fate—with a 15,000 ton kill to her credit. This gave her a new record, and came fairly close to equalling the services’s entire previous total.

{The dreaded Circular Running Torpedoes combat event. Talk about adding insult to injury... (1) they don’t work very well in the best of circumstances; and (2) occasionally, they try to kill you. So, we’ve got that going for us. Anyway, that was the first one of the war; I know there are plenty more where that came from.}

Thresher's gun crew, and their beards
The next night, and not far from the site of Gudgeon’s victory, USS Thresher (SS-200) encountered a group of three small cargo ships—again, with no obvious escorts. Apparently having decided she’d had just about enough of the whole torpedo debacle, Thresher elected to stay on the surface and attend to matters with her 3-inch deck gun. She ended up sinking a 3,000 ton maru for her efforts. {For some reason, I love the Surface Gunnery combat event—even though this is the first time I remember ever sinking anything with it.}

Gudgeon and Thresher turned Turn 4 into an unexpected success. Only seven boats saw combat, but those two practically doubled our score to date. Unfortunately, though, the IJN’s counterattack dice have remained spectacularly hot, with two(!) more boats damaged. As with last week, I’m not concerned about being over aggressive—I’m concerned about the uncanny number of 9’s I’m rolling for the bad guys.

Overall, I like where I am with regard to tonnage sunk at this point, but I’m really concerned with the number of laid up boats.

Score for Turn 4:  2 ships sunk for 18,000 tons, 2 subs damaged.


  1. G'day,

    Great Story!

    I'm very impressed by your blog.

    Rather less impressed at the hassle involved in posting a comment.


  2. Thanks for the nice words.

    I have changed some settings in Blogger regarding commenting. Hopefully, it will be simpler in the future.

  3. G'day,

    Testing out the new system...

    You should post a message on the 'Silent War' Consim forum about your blog as this would be of great interest to them.


    From what I can gather a lot of them don't read BGG and probably aren't aware of your Odyssey through the Pacific.


  4. You know, that's a great idea, and it hadn't occurred to me. I will confess, though, that I never quite "got" CSW, and frankly, I do not even know how to do that.

    When I get a chance, I'll try to figure it out. In the meantime, if you're a poster there, you have my blessing (and gratitude!) if you'd like to go ahead and put up a link.

  5. I managed to spot your comment on BGG, even though these days I go there very rarely, mainly because I started a new campaign at about the same time as you.

    Surface Gunnery also always cheers me up. Anything to avoid that damned -2 drm, even if it's not much better overall!

  6. Following. Good luck! I think you've captured just the right amount of detail without going overboard. Getting the sub's perspective on encounters is a great way to keep things interesting for the blog and slogging through those long turns. It's a long war :)