08 February 2012

Turn 8: Accidents happen

1—7 February 1942

[On board USS Saury (SS-189), 4 February 1942, Marshall Islands Operating Area.]

“That was a hit. That had to be a hit!” The skipper turned from the periscope in disgust as he slammed a fist into his open palm. The massive merchantman he’d been watching so intently plodded serenely away—stubbornly (or obliviously) failing to sink, or even to acknowledge that she’d been under fire.


“I don't know, but I just watched that spread all the way into the side of the fattest maru in the Pacific. There is no way that was a miss! When we get back to Pearl I am marching straight up to ComSubPac and telling him what he can do with these torpedoes.”

The XO was silent for a moment, as the captain tersely gave maneuvering orders that he hoped would allow for another approach, another attack with their obviously flawed weapons. Then: “Are you sure we didn’t set the...”

His thought was cut off by the distant but distinct sound of a torpedo explosion. The two men stared at each other.

“What in hell was that?”

A real victim of the real Saury
This game can break your heart.

Sorry, Saury. You did indeed hit that target. And that wasn't bluster on your captain’s part—it was the fattest maru in the Pacific, or at least the fattest in the game: 20,000 tons to be exact. Let me say that again: 20,000. Two zero zero zero ZERO. In the first seven weeks of the war, the entire service managed to sink a total of 57,000 tons of enemy shipping. You just put torpedoes into a 20,000 ton prize.

They did not explode. It was that kind of week.

Suary’s story was not quite over. One of her fish did explode, interrupting the hushed conversation between her skipper and XO—but not against the side of the huge target she’d been stalking. The first or second torpedo in the spread was a clean miss, passing barely in front of the intended target. It continued on for a few thousand more yards; as it was about to run out of fuel, by pure uncaring luck, it slammed into the side of a completely different ship in the target convoy—a ship Saury never even saw. Later observation showed it to be a small merchant; the sub would claim a 1,000 ton kill on the attack. It was little consolation for the failure against the real target. {This was the first “Target Lumbers Into Way” combat event of the game, which gives you a free hit against an unrevealed target—representing the rare (but historically valid) situation described in Saury’s vignette. TLIW is pure candy, but to have that “freebie” turn out to be a 1k maru after the duds with the 20k was pretty much an insult/injury situation. Again, it was that kind of week.}

There were no catastrophes—or even damaged subs—but the turn overall was a pretty big disappointment. Only one boat managed to kill anything on purpose, despite the fact that 16 conducted combat ops. USS Seawolf became the second boat with multiple kills, bringing down a 3,000 ton merchant.

Four thousand was a pretty paltry sum, given how optimistic I was at the end of last week. But hope springs eternal somehow—or, if not eternal, at least until the end of February. I have another 18 boats ready to search for targets this week; more of them are state-of-the-art than hunted last week. So. Maybe we will make some hay. I am feeling a little desperate.


  1. I'm really enjoying following this. Keep it up!

  2. Maybe ramming till you get better fish....

  3. This is riveting reading, please keep it up! I'm rooting for this COMSUBPAC

  4. The real Saury had bad luck with her torpedoes too so don't take it too hard