Thanks to some clerical reshuffling, we’ve been moved from Brisbane back to Pearl, where we are to run as a milk maid, taking valuable passengers to where the Navy sees fit.
After pulling into harbor, we took on a complement of the new Mk. 18 torpedoes. They’re slower than the Mk 14’s but at least they won’t leave a trail of bubbles in their wake. Although I see it as a kind of demotion, the men are glad to back on American soil and were able to spend some time off base.
The brass handed down our first transport assignment. The identity of the passenger is under lock and key but considering our destination is the Marshalls, which is still in Japanese hands, I could only imagine it’s a special operative.
The men reluctant to leave friendly shores, we set out from Pearl towards the Marshalls, encountering nothing enroute and arriving without a hitch. We closed with one of the islands at night, surfaced and our mystery man departed on an inflatable dinghy, disappearing against the dark backdrop of the jungled mountains. Now that our milk run had ended, we were free to hunt.
Prowling the seas surrounding the Marshalls, any prey eluded us. There was nothing for days on end. No ships. No aircraft. Just the foam and waves.
But on the final night before setting a course home, we spot an escorted warship. The seaplane carrier, Mizuho, clocking in at 9000 tons. The ships are fast – we won’t have an opportunity to engage in the morning. We’ll only get one shot at this. I’ve kept us alive this far.
We closed at medium range on the surface and once the Mizuho was properly sighted, I ordered all 6 front tubes and a risky second salvo from the 4 rear tubes. With 10 torpedoes, I was sure we would bag our target.
With the spread fired and closing, we listened intently as the Beluga began slipping beneath the waves. 5 torpedoes struck and detonated. The Mizuho erupted in a geyser of flame and detritus, illuminating the black water orange and crimson.
Sounding a terrible klaxon alarm, the veteran Japanese destroyers descended upon us. Our hopes of escaping undetected vanished as one escort passed over dropping charges as she went. Silence as we waited. Then the deafening roar. The last thing I thought of was the faces of my wife and daughters as the obsidian sea crashed in and took us all.