Saturday, November 29, 2014

USS Archerfish sinks Japanese Aircraft Carrier

"This Day in History"

November 28, 1944

Don Diess, a World War II submariner, recalls the evening of November 28, 1944, aboard USS Archerfish (SS-311) vividly.  "'FIRE ONE' came the call from the conning tower.  Then the whole sub bucked."  Diess then explained eight seconds later, the call came again.  The crew aboard Archerfish did not realize they were firing at, and would eventually sink, one of the largest Japanese aircraft carriers ever built.

Japanese Aircraft Carrier Shinano

The evening of November 28, 1944, Archerfish spotted what they believed to be an aircraft carrier leaving Tokyo Bay, Japan.  Archerfish was assigned to lifeguard duty, but immediately went on high alert when the aircraft carrier was spotted.  Diess explained, "I was with 10 other guys in the forward torpedo room waiting the next order.... Then every eight seconds we fired another torpedo until all six forward tubes were empty."

USS Archerfish, Photograph courtesy of the United States Navy.
What Archerfish sank was "arguably the first true 'super-carrier' ever built." The Japanese aircraft carrier, Shinano, had a standard displacement of about 59,900 tons.  Although this was an amazing feat from the crew of Archerfish, luck may have played a big part.  Shinano was not fully operational yet and was traveling through Tokyo Bay for sea trials.  Once Archerfish attacked, the partially trained crew of Shinano could not contain the flooding.  Interestingly enough too, the United States Navy did not recognize the kill because they had no idea the carrier existed.

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum has the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394) on display.  The submarine also served during World War II with a decorated battle flag.  Razorback's record is five rescued aviators, 16 Japanese merchant ships, and two Japanese destroyers.  While Archerfish is not available for tours, visitors who tour Razorback learn the lifestyle aboard any submarine during World War II.

Author: Ashley Hopper
Editor: Allison Hiblong


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