Shortly after the United States entered World War II, submarine commanders began reporting problems with the MK XIV torpedo, the standard torpedo carried by American submarines. (Razorback
has three MK XIV torpedoes on display.) Some torpedoes exploded seconds after firing; others ran erratic, or even dangerously circular courses; still others ran too deep and passed harmlessly under their targets. Then, even when a torpedo actually struck its target, the warhead would fail to explode.
Nevertheless, a dud torpedo could still sink a ship.
On the morning of 06 September, 1943, USS Halibut
(SS-232) (pictured above) fired two torpedoes at the large freighter Shogen Maru
(6,000 tons). The Commanding Officer, LCDR Pete Galantin, observed a small splash under the ship's stack and two weak explosions were heard on sonar. (Warhead detonations would usually be heard by everyone on the submarine.)
Two more torpedoes were fired, but the Japanese ship turned, causing the "fish" to miss.
Less than 10 minutes later, LCDR Galantin was surprised to see the freighter slowing down and sinking. Next, sonar reported the ship breaking up, the ship was seen to have capsized and LCDR Galantin watched it sink.
would fire two more dud torpedoes that same day, hitting the Japanese cruiser Nachi
and sending her to port for repairs. When Nachi
reached port, one of the dud torpedoes was still embedded in her side.
Thanks to CDR John Alden, USN (ret) for his great article "Downed by a Dud"
in the July 2010 issue of The Submarine Review
Official US Navy Photograph