Monday, March 28, 2011

In Memoriam - USS Trigger (SS-237) - Lost 28 March 1945

USS Trigger (SS-237) left Guam for her twelfth war patrol under the command of Cmdr. D. R. Connole on 11 March 1945, with orders to provide rescue for carrier based aircraft and to carry out a normal offensive patrol.

On 18 March, she reported having sunk one freighter and damaged another, both part of a convoy she had already reported. The other ships in the convoy, four escorts and two merchantmen, proceeded eastward into a Japanese restricted area in the East China Sea. Allied forces knew that the region was mined, and generally kept clear of it. The convoy entered the restricted area. Trigger was instructed to monitor its movements in hopes of discovering a safe passage through the mined area. Unfortunately, Trigger was unable to track the convoy; its escorts kept her submerged for several hours after her initial attack, and when she surfaced she was unable to reestablish contact with the convoy.

26 March brought new orders to join the Wolf Pack "Earl's Eliminators" with Seadog (SS-401) and Threadfin (SS-410). The same day, Trigger radioed a weather report that did not contain an acknowledgment of her new orders.

She was never heard from again.

An examination of Japanese reports after the war revealed that Trigger torpedoed and sank the Japanese repair ship Odate on 27 March. The next day, a Japanese airplane spotted an American submarine. After bombing it, several Japanese warships were summoned to the area. A two-hour depth charge attack ultimately produced a large oil slick. The sounds of the attack were heard by other American submarines in the area.

All 89 officers and crew aboard USS Trigger were killed.

"I'm the Galloping Ghost of the Japanese Coast" was written by Constantine Guiness MOMM1/C, to honor Trigger:

I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast
You don't hear of me and my crew.

But just ask any man off the coast of Japan

If he knows of the Trigger Maru.

I look sleek and slender alongside my tender

With others like me at my side,
But we'll tell you a story of battle and glory,
As enemy waters we ride.

I've been stuck on a rock, felt the depth charge's shock,

Been north to a place called Attu,

And I've sunk me two freighters atop the equator

Hot work, but the sea was cold blue.

I've cruised close inshore and carried the war

To the Empire Island Honshu,

While they wire Yokahama I could see Fujiyama,

So I stayed, to admire the view.

When we rigged to run silently, deeply I dived,

And within me the heat was terrific.

My men pouring sweat, silent and yet

Cursed me and the whole damned Pacific.

Then destroyers came sounding and depth charges pounding

My submarine crew took the test.

Far in that far off land there are no friends on hand,

To answer a call of distress.

I was blasted and shaken (some damage I've taken),

my hull bleeds and pipe lines do, too

I've come in from out there for machinery repair,

And a rest for me and my crew.

I got by on cool nerve and in silence I served,

Though I took some hard knocks in return,

One propeller shaft sprung and my battery's done,
But the enemy ships I saw burn.

I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast,
You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan,
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.


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