World War II Pacific
Submarine Attacks , Aug-Sept 1942
Imperial Japanese Navy submarines accompanied the Japanese fleet to the Solomons area.
They did their damage after the surface fleet retreated after the Battle of
Eastern Solomons, 24Aug42. Three were sunk : I-123,
28 Aug by Gamble (DM-15) ;
RO-33, 29 Aug by HMAS Arunta (DD.30) ; and
The rest did significant damage to U.S. convoy escorts accompanying troops and
supplies to Guadalcanal. The area was called "Torpedo Junction".
Saratoga Damaged, 29 Aug 42
Continuing to patrol east of the Solomons, Saratoga (CV-3) was found by
I-26 that sent a spread of six torpedoes at Saratoga. One torpedo hit
that damaged her turbo-electric propulsion system. Saratoga returned
to Tongatabu and then to Pearl Harbor for permanent repair until November.
I-26 had been so intent on her attack, that her hull was grazed by
Macdonough (DD-351) who had just detected her periscope and was on a
depth charge run. I-26 escaped.
Wasp Sunk and North Carolina Torpedoed, 16 Sept 42
Wasp (CV-7), Hornet (CV-8), North Carolina (BB-55) with 10
other warships were escorting transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment from
Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal as reinforcements. Wasp was performing flight
operations with gasoline and munitions exposed. I-19 fired a spread of six
torpedoes at Wasp and three hit. Gasoline and ready ammunition ignited followed
by internal explosions. She was ordered abandoned after a half hour and was sunk by
her escorts that night.
About the same time, I-15 was thought to have sent a torpedo spread on a line towards
Hornet and North Carolina operating about 5 miles to the northeast.
After the war records show she had not fired and these were the three misses
on Wasp from I-19 that had lined up the two task forces for her
These missed Hornet but one caught North Carolina. Two minutes later,
O'Brien (DD-415) was shattered. North Carolina returned to Pearl
Harbor for repair of a 20 foot hole and was out of action for the rest of the year.
O'Brien was temporarily repaired, but her damaged
seams opened up a month later and she sank while returning to San Francisco for permanent repair.
With Enterprise (CV-6) damaged by bombs at Eastern Solomons, Saratoga
damaged by a torpedo, and Wasp sunk, Hornet was the only carrier left
in the South Pacific for six weeks. Then Hornet, too, was lost in the
Battle of Santa Cruz Island on 26 Oct 1942 from air attack.
Enterprise was damaged, again, and there were no active fleet carriers in the Pacific until Enterprise returned 12 Nov for the Naval Battles of Guadalcanal with repair parties still aboard and one elevator out of service.
Japanese use of Submarines.
The Tokyo Express of destroyers ran troops and supplies to Guadalcanal
by night. Eventually, they could not support the 15,000 men they
had delivered to Guadalcanal. Submarines, too, were assigned to
the task. By year-end, thirty-eight combat submarines were stripped of
arms and used for resupply. Twenty of these were sunk in the effort.
Four fleet attack submarines were also sunk during the period.
The few offensive submarines in the area, while damaging enough,
allowed the rapid buildup of U.S. troops and material.
Meanwhile, the USN worked on its problems with defective torpedoes and offensively
attacked every enemy ship sighted.
By the end of the war, Japanese submarines could not keep up with supplying
outposts on remote islands that had been bypassed by U.S. forces -- starvation had already started and those people
were only saved from death by the end of the war when U.S. ships raced to accept their surrender and also provided food.
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About this page: Sub Attacks Aug-Sept 1942 - the Pacific War, the early years.
Last updated on July 4, 2000
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