In Memoriam - USS Tullibee (SS-284) - Lost 26 March 1944
On 05 March, 1944, USS Tullibee (SS-284) departed Pearl Harbor for her fourth war patrol. She arrived at Midway island on the 14th. After topping off her fuel tanks and restocking her pantry, she turned west. Her assigned patrol area was near the Palau Islands, 500 miles east of the Philippines. Tullibee was scheduled to support air strikes against these islands on 30 and 31 March.
After reporting her arrival on station on 25 March, Tullibee was never heard from again.
When the war ended and American POWs were rescued from Japanese prison camps, Tullibee's story was finaly learned from the sole survivor, Gunner's Mate Second Class C.W. Kuykendall:
On 26 March 1944, USS Tullibee (SS-284) made radar contact with a convoy of ships including a large troop and cargo ship, a pair of medium sized freighters, two escort vessels and a large destroyer. Tullibee attempted a surface attack, but had difficulty obtaining a firing solution because of bad weather.Tullibee's loss was one of two American submarines that were sunk by malfunctioning torpedoes.
Tullibee finally closed with the convoy and fired torpedoes from two bow tubes. Not long after, a massive explosion shook the boat.
This explosion was almost certainly the result of a "circular run" of Tullibee's own torpedo. The malfunctioning torpedo was not seen by the bridge crew due to the poor weather conditions.
Petty Officer Kuykendall was thrown from the bridge during the explosion. The force of impact with the rough seas knocked him senseless. When he came to, he was able to hear the shouts of his fellow sailors for several minutes. Machine gun fired peppered the water around him, but the escorts eventually picked him up for questioning. After receiving a beating for refusing to disclose any information beyond what was required by international law, he was sent to the copper mines in Ashio. He remained there until he was rescued in September of 1945.