Had a great session tonight! We started out where we left off, with three characters trapped in a flooded conning tower, and a sub looking for us. The Skipper was running silent at our test depth, and it seemed the other sub was gone, when the cook dropped a bunch of pans. Immediately, the hydrophone operator heard screws speed up and head for us. the skipper was inclined to tough it out, but then the phones heard the sound of outer torpedo doors opening.
The skipper took the Thresher down below our test depth looking for a thermoclyne. The deck plates began to warp and the sub groaned and creaked with the pressure. He found one at 320 feet, and ducked under it. the other sub - presumably Japanese, pinged furiously, but it lost us and went away. After seven hours under, the skipper ordered us up to the surface,and we could pump out the conning tower.
As we headed towards the Makassar Strait - between the east coast of Borneo and the west coast of Celebes - to drop off Mr. Graves, our Australian Mystery man, we sighted a small convoy - two big ships and one little one - heading south directly across our path. We got in close enough to see a couple of passenger ships in dazzle camoflage and a small corvette type escort. If we had been at war it would have been an easy shot. As it was, the navigator projected theor course to Palau, a group of Japanese owned islands between the Philippines and New Guinea. The skipper reported the sighting and the presumed Jap sub that had tailed us from Pearl.
We continued on course, and entered the Makassar Strait on the morning of December 5. We cruised on the durface down the strait, then went under around noon, heading for the insertion point for Mr. Graves. We sere droppig him on the Borneo coast, about 20 kilometers south of Balikpapan. We waited for nightfall, then surfaced.
We sent the rubber raft in under Mr. Jerkin, the XO, along with Ensign Vanderbilt - yes, one of THE Vanderbilts - and Lt. jg Higgins, along with three ratings and Mr. Graves. On the way in, Mr. Graves told Higgins that he was going to walk to Balikpapan - a city and port - and get transportation to Sarawak and Brunei on the north coast. he felt sure the Japanese were going to invade to get the oil in North Borneo, and he wanted to be there to observe.
As the raft came in close to the beach under its small outboard, Mr. Jerkin saw a light ashore, and told the crew to cut the motor and row north. The current was setting south, however, and they made no headway against it, so they decided to row south. They found a beach about two kilometers south of the original landing point, and went in.
As the bow man was pulling the rubber boat up on the beach, a truck or car driving on the beach came around a headland and lit up the bowman, who froze. Ens. Vanderbilt and a seaman jumped off and pushed the boat out into the surf, and the bowman stumbled after as the vehicle roared up the beach. Mr. Higgins, Mr. Graves, and Mr. Jerkin hauled the three others back into the boat while the other rating started the engine and headed out.
Two men with rifles, apparently a dutch shore patrol, began shooting at the boat. Higgins went down fast with a chest wound. Vanderbilt, Jerkin, and one of the ratings were also hit, though lightly, as they wen tout into the night. The boat was punctured twice, but Mr. Jerkin was able to patch the rubber hull fast enough to keep most of the air in. He stopped the engine, and had everyone lay low and let the current take them, and they drifted south out of sight in the moonless night.
After another three kilometers, Eddie, teh bowman, offered to swim Mr. Graves ashore. Graves, who was unwilling to risk his life in such a clusterf**k any more, agreed. Between the teo of them, they got Mr. Graves and his luggage ashore, and off he went into the night. Eddie swam back to the boat, and Mr. jerkin tried to figure out where they were. As he had no charts and no navigational instruments, having failed to take any along on such a short ride he got lost. Finally, they figured out where they were, considerably to seaward of the Thresher, and made it back to the boat. The Skipper gave a severe dressing down to Mr. Jerkin, who had really messed up.
After radioing his report to Pearl, Pearl ordered him to reconnoiter Palau, where the convoy had been heading. They made it there on December 6. There was a minefield about the entrance, with an unmarked narrow channel in. There were two corvettes patrolling the channel, so the skipper waited until a ship came in, a seaplane tender.
He followed the seaplane tender in underwater at periscope depth, keeping close astern so that the prop wash messed up the escorts' sonar. About halfway through the double dogleg channel, the escorts passed the tender from front to back, and one of them noticed something. He swung in behind the Thresher, and began catching up to the tender. The skipper decided to fox him, and drifted back to directly under the corvette. the corvette tried turning to port and then to starboard, trying to get a good reading, but the Thresher stayed right under him. The escort lost the ghost they had been chasing against the starboard minefield and turned back. The Thresher continued into the lagoon.
In the lagoon, the Thresher sighted many ships - tankers, troopships, cargo vessels, and destroyers, as well as several corvettes. She exited the harbor via a different exit, and lurked outside underwater until the sun went down. She surfaced and waited, and pretty soon in the very early morning of December 7, before dawn, the convoy began exiting the lagoon and heading north and west. The thresher stayed back and surfaced to send a message to Pearl, and got the reply that Japanese planes were attacking Pearl, and that this would mean war. She was authorized to go after any Japanese ship she could find.