After our last patrol, the Beluga was outfitted with an additional 4 torpedo tubes, 2 forward and 2 aft. She’ll pack a wallop now, 10 torpedoes in total at our disposal.
It’s been a year a half at war. A year since the tide turned at Midway. We continued but the enemy fights tenaciously. Every ship we sink helps tip the balance of the scales.
We received our next and sixth assignment. Back to the Solomons. Third time is the charm. We are beginning to grow weary. Mail arrives late. The new places are becoming old haunts. Some of the men are drinking more. It been over a year since my first XO died and his replacement never really took to the crew. We’ll see how we fare.
We set out from Brisbane and encounter nothing in transit. Calm, empty waters.
Cruising through the Solomons, we spotted a destroyer, the Akitsuki, all be herself. A lone warship looking to disrupt operations. We closed in for a shot.
4 torpedoes at mid-range, she’s fast but we’d get her. By God’s good grace, 3 struck the destroyer. Only 1 was a dud. The Akitsuki shook and erupted in water and flame. She kept her course as she took on catastrophic amounts of water, sliding beneath the waves. Good start to the patrol. Good omen.
We continued and the next day detected another lone ship, a kindred spirit so to speak. A silent hunter. The I-373 was 1700 tons and we got the drop on her. Fragile but fast, we launched 3 torpedoes at midrange. We hear one connect, metal on metal, but it failed to detonate.
The I-373 turned our way and bared down, her turn to prey on us. She returned fire, 2 torpedoes launching from her prow. They sped through the water, missing us.
We reloaded, recalibrated, and fired three more against the enemy sub. They sliced through the water. One connected and detonated. We know every soul aboard was dead. No chance for survival. We surfaced and continued.
Only 6 forward torpedoes were left. That single enemy sub took 6 for the kill. Not exactly efficient but better than it prowling the Solomons unchecked. Same with the destroyer we bagged. The next several days were calm, uneventful. Then our next sighting.
Broad daylight. Two ships under escort: Tekkai Maru (1900 tons) and Kokuyo Maru (4700 tons).
We closed to midrange. Two ships. Six torpedoes. The calculus was easy. Three apiece. A full spread.
Of the entire fusillade, only two struck the Kokuyo Maru. She flamed and floundered. The escorts did their sweeps but never found us. Deciding that was enough, we disengaged and slipped away.
Several nights later, we encountered a single ship, the Kashimasan Maru (2800 tons). We fired all four torpedoes via the after tubes at midrange while surfaced. Four hit, two were duds. The ship was obliterated and rapidly sank. Too easy. Even the destroyer assigned to protect it couldn’t find us and after some time we resurfaced and moved on. We had only four aft torpedoes left but there were many more miles to go until ‘home’.
The next several weeks were uneventful. Another near perfect patrol. We were lucky. And then some. We reached Brisbane without incident and refitted.
Our chief engineer has been with us since the beginning and now he’s considered an expert. He’s repaired all manner of systems and it seems he’s damn well suited to the job. I know he’ll be able to keep us afloat and functioning for the foreseeable future.
Despite receiving out 6th battle star, we were in for a mild reprimand. The Beluga it appears, by some clerical error, should have never been assigned to Brisbane and due to our size, we should have been aiding OSS operations and transporting vital personnel. Hence forth we will return to Pearl and begin transporting for special missions. A glorified shuttle craft it would seem. Anything to win the war.
3 ship sunk
Total tonnage: 8400
Career tonnage: 61500