Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Ours

From our Monday night In Harm's Way: Pigboats game:

At sunset, the Pike and the Galatea rendezvoused in a channel between two islands just off the Surigao Strait. Mr. Vaugirard went aboard the Pike to confer with the Skipper and officers. "Wanna have a look at my new love?" he asked Ray. The skipper looked her over. "What's her armament?" "120mm guns fore and aft, four twin 20mm and two singles, and two torpedoes in the deck tubes!" Bobby said proudly as he pointed each out. "No reloads for the tubes, but she'll do 30 knots!" Ray considered this. "Any extra munitions or explosives?" "Plenty of shells for the 120mm and 20mm guns," Vaugirard replied, "And thirty odd depth charges!"

He thought, then added "If we're going to do a suicide run, I'll only keep the smallest crew. A lookout, and someone to run the engines and fire torpedoes." The Skipper nodded. "Remember to take the rubber boat if you don't want to go down with the ship."

For the next hour, they plan their attack. They figure that the task group, which is going from west to the east, will tear up the Surigao as fast as it can. Problem is, the Strait is 14-18 miles wide, and visibility in the rain and dark is only about 3 miles. The Surigao is almost perfectly north-south. The task group wants to go east. At the top of the strait, where it widens out, is a fair sized island, Hibusong, about a third of the way across the strait from the north.

"My guess they'll either take the east channel here between Hibusong and Dinagat, or possibly swing north around Hibusong then east." said the Skipper, tracing the route with his finger. The XO agreed. "The Galatea can wait up here, north of Hibusong, and still be in great position, and the Pike can wait here, behind this cape on Dinagat!"

Mr. Rizzo volunteered to go with the XO on the Galatea. The extra munitions were packed into the nose of the Galatea, and the depth charges were set for the shallowest depth. The wheel was rigged so it could be locked into position. They got into position and waited.

A little after 1100, Galatea's lookout spotted the task group. "They're coming up the east channel, like we figured, sir! A destroyer in the lead, and something big following!" Soon thereafter the lookouts on the Pike saw them coming too. A flattop emerged from the dark as well. "That big ship's a cruiser, Galatea" radioed the Pike. "Wait for the battleship." The destroyer had swept past, and the cruiser was going by when yet another, even larger carrier loomed up astern of the first. "Message the Pike, Mr. Rizzo! We want a carrier!" "Pike to Galatea. Take the first" "Let's go!"

With a roar, Rizzo opened up the engines full throttle. The Galatea leapt forward riding a white bow wave. The Japanese made no attept to fire on her, just a lazy aldiss lamp query. The Galatea's path turned into a high speed curve.  "Fire the  torpedoes!" "One away! Two away!" With that, a few guns began to fire on the Galatea. "Let's go, sir!" Vaugirard lashed down the wheel and leapt off, diving into the water. The two torpedoes hit first. Boom! BOOOM! Huge towers of water leapt up the sides! The light carrier slowed. Seconds later, the Galatea hit in a huge fireball. KABLAAAM! Then the depth charges went off in a staggered, rolling water-hammer underneath the flattop - BaBABOOOmBABOOOM! The middle of the carrier lifted, her back broken, sinking.

Rizzo and Vaugirard screamed in victory as they clung to the raft. "WE DID IT!" "Top THAT, Campbell!" They paddled toward Hibusong Island.

The big fleet carrier had gone around the stricken light carrier to the east, away from the Galatea's deadly attack from the west. Consequently, she was perfectly silhouetted against the burning carrier from the Pike's position at the tip of Dinagat Island. Ray Campbell was at the TBT on the surfaced ship as she bore in at 19 knots. "Bearing 2 5 1, range 1 5 0 0 yards! Shoot when we have a solution! Prepare to go about!" "We have a solution! Fire One! Fire Two!" came from Yoder at the TDC below, and the Pike shuddered. "Bring stern tubes to bear!" shouted Campbell. "Right full rudder! Come about to 8 0 degrees!" shouted Yoder.

Campbell raced back to the aft TBT on the cigarette deck as the Pike looped around in the darkness. "Use same range! This bearing on my mark!" "We have a solution!" "Fire five!" shouted the Skipper. "Fire six! Combat reload our last fish in tube five! Yoder - head for the cape and dive to 200 when we pass it!" "Aye sir!"

SLAM! BAAAM! Two torpedoes slammed into the big carrier. Fire blossomed and lit the Pike in sharp relief. A shell screamed overhead - from the destroyer or the cruiser, he couldn't tell. There was the cape. BRAAANNNNG! BAAAMMM! Two more smashed into the carrier. Foom! Fire spread quickley before KABAAAAM! she exploded! "Dive! Dive!" He hit the klaxon as more shells screamed in.

For two days, Vaugirard, Rizzo, and Sanderson the lookout had avoided Japanese patrols, lying up all day, and scavenging the beaches of  Hibusong Island by night. They ate crabs,  fish, and mussels raw, and drank from clear-running streams after popping in their water purifying tablets. It was night,  and they were scavenging a crab, when a soft hissing noise reached Rizzo's ears. "What's that?" he asked. "The radio!" shouted Vaugirard. "Listen to it!" "Hello? Hello?" shouted Rizzo into the small voice radio.  realizing how unprofessional that sounded, he added "Frigate Galatea." "Enjoy your shore leave, gentlemen?" The unmistakable sound of the Skipper's New York accent was electric.

The arranged a rendezvous.  The silhouette of the sub was frankly unrecognizable. It looked like bent and twisted steel that had survived a tornado. "What did he do to our baby?" said the XO softly. "What happened to the periscopes? The deck gun? The 20mm gun?" asked Rizzo as they were hauled aboard. " The Skipper answered "Dunno. Lost them somwhere. the Japs weren't too pleased with our shenannegans." The XO nodded. "They're petty like that. When you get beat up, you don't do it halfway." The Skipper grinned. "Your hand radio will be a major boost to our communications. I also don't think we can dive any more."   The XO replied "That's going to be a difficult ride home."

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