Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Memoriam - USS Darter (SS-227) - Grounded October 24, 1944

USS Darter (SS-227) grounded on Bombay Shoal at high speed while attempting a surface attack on the Japanese heavy cruiser Takao.

Darter had already made a significant contribution to the Battle for Leyte Gulf, sinking Admiral Kurita's flagship, the heavy cruiser Atago and damaging Takao. The damage to the latter was so severe that she turned back and did not participate in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In fact, Takao would never sail again as a warship. The loss of the two cruisers and the two destroyers tasked to escort Takao diminished the Japanese defenses and made the remaining ships more vulnerable, probably resulting in additional Japanese losses during the battle.

USS Dace, with whom she had been coordinating her attacks, responded immediately to the Darter's request for assistance, retrieving every member of her stranded crew. Darter and Dace's crews destroyed confidential equipment and papers before an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the boat herself. USS Nautilus (SS-168) arrived on October 31 and scored a number of hits with her deck guns on her grounded sister before her C.O. decided nothing of value could have survived the barrage intact.

Darter's fourth and final war patrol, served alongside Dace, won the two submarines the Navy Unit Commendation for their efforts during the Battle of Surigao Strait.

Darter's entire crew was ordered to take over the USS Menhaden (SS-377), in order to preserve their high esprit d'corps.


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