Daily Event for October 3

October 3, 1944: In the waters off Morotai Island, Indonesia the USS Shelton DE-407 was screening for the carriers Midway CVE-63 and Fanshaw Bay CVE-70 when the RO-41 fired two torpedoes at the escort. Evading one the second one hit her in the stern. The USS Richard M . Rowell DE-403 removed her surviving crewmen (13 were killed in the attack) and took her in tow. Soon though the Shelton capsized and sank ending a short career. The Shelton was built in Houston, Texas and named after Ensign James A. Shelton, a navy pilot who was killed at the Battle of Midway. Shelton was commissioned April 4, 1944, 1 day shy of six months before she was sunk.

The Midway launched aircraft to locate the submarine responsible for sinking the Shelton and the Richard M. Rowell began her search for the boat. The R0-41 was surely still lurking in the area albeit, attempting to escape from the wrath of the US forces. Soon however the aircraft located a submarine submerging not far from the area where Shelton had been sunk. The aircraft attacked the boat with bombs and dropped a dye marker where the attack had been made. The Richard M. Rowell then moved in for the kill using her hedgehogs to destroy the target they picked up on sonar.

After hearing several large underwater explosions, debris began to surface and it was assumed that the RO-41 and her crew were gone. It was true, the RO-41 was gone but, gone to Japan not to the bottom of the sea. When all the excitement was over the US submarines in the area were ordered to send a signal giving their position, three did but the Seawolf SS-197 did not.

The following day Seawolf was again signaled but no reply was given. In fact the last contact anybody had with the Seawolf was at 07:56 that morning, only hours before the Shelton went down. The Seawolf was in the area en route to Samar with 17 US Army personnel they had picked up on Manus. The Seawolf was never heard from again and it is assumed she was lost in the attack by the Rowell. On Dec. 28, 1944 the navy declared her overdue and presumed lost with all hands, 83 crewmen and 17 US Army personnel.

The RO-41 met a similar fate insofar as there was no official confirmation of her loss. On Mar. 22, 1945 the
USS Haggard DD-555 depth charged and rammed a submarine presumed to be the RO-41. She went down with all 82 of her crew.

© 2006 Michael W. Pocock

USS Shelton DE-407


USS Seawolf SS-197

2005 Daily Event