Daily Event for January 13, 2012

The Iwashiro Maru was a cargo ship built in 1939 for Kaiyo Kisen KK, by 1943 she was in the service of the Imperial Japanese Empire. On January 13, 1943 she was located by USS Whale SS-239, she was about 17 miles away, but she made a fine target. She was not an easy target to catch though, Lt. Cdr. John B. Azer and his crew chased the ship for 7 ½ hours before they were in a position to fire torpedoes. Three fish were fired, but after it was thought they had missed a forth was fired. Just after number 4 torpedo left the tube an explosion was heard and about 100' of the stern was blown off. The second torpedo hit forward of the bridge and the third one missed. Soon after the forth torpedo reportedly hit the target.

The ship was not under escort, but was armed and her gunners did manage to get off a few shots at the submarine, but failed to score a hit. Azer prepared his boat for surface action in the event that the ship did not sink, but he reported that she went down six minutes after being hit. I don't have any casualty figures, but Azer reported seeing three lifeboats launched with about 21 men in each, all in uniform. He also reported that "abandon ship was smartly carried out", but that the survivors had no life jackets and no oars and they did not make an attempt to row away from the sinking ship.

There were two depth charges dropped, but Azer believed these were located on the stern of the ship and they had fallen off during the attack, what ever the case, they did not detonate anywhere close to the boat. With no counter-attack to fear, Azer left the area and continued on his patrol. Before he returned to base, he sank three more ships, for this he was awarded a second Navy Cross.
© 2012 Michael W. Pocock

USS Whale SS-239.

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