16 March 2012

Turn 13: Triskaidekaphobia

9—16 March 1942

[For Turn 13, I’d intended to run several boats through their patrols on the auspicious date of 13 March. In the event, I was monumentally sick that day, and couldn’t really sit upright for most of it. How’s that for good luck?]

Since things have been going reasonably well lately, I’m entirely content to stick with my tried and true strategies (or maybe “habits” would be a better word). That is to say: priority one is always to have four top-of-the-line boats patrolling the Marshall Islands every week, with the Aleutians being the first “overflow” destination for boats patrolling out of Pearl Harbor. In the west, the Coral Sea and the southern South China Sea are the main hunting grounds. Older (less capable) boats tend to be sent to the Solomons and the Gilberts, where I willingly trade a higher chance for “no contact” search results for weaker counterattacks.

Sculpin, heading toward the Bay Bridge
Sticking with that general plan paid off with another pretty good week. Twenty boats were on patrol (quite a high number), and they collectively managed to sink five targets. That’s an excellent total—the second highest of the war—but they were, unfortunately, almost all small fry. The lot of them accounted for 19,000 tons. Now, I am not for one second complaining about a 19k turn at this point in the war. On the other hand, there was a lot of oh, what might have been going on this week—ineffective hits and very near misses on juicy targets; that kind of thing. In short, this was a good week that always felt like it was trying to be spectacular—but just couldn’t pull it off.

The star of the week, undoubtedly, was USS Sculpin (SS-191).

Sculpin was already sitting atop the tonnage leader board (tied with two others at 15,000) when she encountered a convoy in the vicinity of the Aleutians on the night of the 15th. She just missed a 20,000 ton cargo ship—part of the what might have been mentioned above—but then torpedoed and sank an 8,000 ton oiler.

The story of the real Sculpin was by turns astonishing and heartbreaking. In 1939, she played an integral role in the recovery (and survivor rescue) of her sister ship, USS Squalus (SS-192). Squalus was lost during a test dive, but was raised and ultimately recommissioned as USS Sailfish. Four and a half years later, the fates of those two boats would intersect in tragedy once more, under circumstances I can’t discuss here and now. For readers who’d like to know more, at least one book has been written on their story (“A Tale of Two Subs” by Jonathan J. McCullough), and it will feature prominently in any other discussion of either of their careers (Wikipedia, for example).

No easy way to segue back to a discussion of the game, I suppose. I will just close this week’s entry by saying that I’m thankful for the life I have, and for sacrifices I was never asked to make.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait for more of this. Why does it have to take a week?! :(