Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Best Laid Plans!

In last night's Pigboats game, the USS Pike received a radio transmission from Fremantle while off the eastern coast of Mindanao. It was of course, coded, but when the signals officer decoded it, it turns out that part of it was still encoded. He brought it to the Skipper, who immediately recognized it as an ULTRA message.

Now Ray Campbell, the Skipper, knew about ULTRA, and how it could come to him for decoding because of a scene we played out before the Pike had left Fremantle. OTOH, it turned out that the persona playing Ray had completely forgotten all about it. Entirely. Like wiping a whiteboard with Windex clean. A tabula rasa. So, of course, I had to explain that ULTRA was extremely secret information obtained from highly confidential and reliable sources - which is what sub skippers were told. in reality, it was from intercepted and decoded Japanese messages, but that didn't come out until after the war.

The ULTRA message turned out to be orders to intercept an IJN (Imperial Japanese Navy) task unit which included an aircraft carrier and a battleship along with unspecified other ships, in the Surigao Strait at approximately 22:15 the next evening, and sink or damage as many ships as he could.

Ray and Bob, the XO, laughed at this! With two torpedoes left in the forward tubes, and two loaded and one spare in the aft tubes, and all of them weak (but reliable) old Mark 10 steam torpedoes, they would make a pitiful showing against battleships and carriers! So, the started to get creative. First Ray asked if they had any non-torpedo warhead explosives aboard, but all they had was three pounds of plastique and a couple blasting caps. That wouldn't do much!

The rest of the night was a planning session between Ray and Bob, and I won't go into details. Ideas floated about - steal mines from the Japanese minefields and drag them behind the Pike to mine the strait. Drive the task force into the minefields. Capture fishing boats and load them with mines, then crash them into the big ships. Capture a patrol boat and do the same.We ended the session on our way to the Strait. Next week, the big bang!

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