USS Drum (SS-228)

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Fifth War Patrol

March 24, 1943 - May 13, 1943

Commanding Officer - Lieutenant Commander B.F. McMahon

Drum War Patrol Five

Sinkings and Damages - USS Drum (SS-228) War Patrol Five

Date Name
of Vessel
of Vessel
Location Assessment
9 April 1943 Yuzan (Oyama) Maru Cargo 3,809 3,809 00-32N, 150-05E Sunk Sunk
10 April 1943 Akagisan Maru Passenger/Cargo 4,634 4,634 01-37N, 149-20E - Damage Confirmed
18 April 1943 Nisshun Maru Cargo 6,380 6,380 01-55N, 148-24E Sunk Sunk

Award of Submarine Combat Insignia for this patrol is authorized.

Submarine Combat Insignia

1. Narrative
2. Weather
3. Tidal Information
4. Navigational Aids
5. Description of Enemy Vessels Sighted
6. Description of Aircraft Sighted
7. Summary of Submarine Attacks
8. Enemy A/S Measures
9. Major Defects Experienced
10. Radio Reception
11. Sound Conditions and Density Layers
12. Health and Habitability
13. Miles Steamed
14. Fuel Oil Expended
15. Factors of Endurance Remaining
16. Factor Ending Patrol
17. Remarks


Arrived Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, T.H. on January 24, 1943 from Fourth War Patrol. Commenced overhaul by Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, on January 25, 1943. Completed overhaul on March 11, 1943. Trim and drain pumps silenced; laminated battery jars installed; 4"/50 caliber gun installed forward of conning tower; pilot house cut away and a second 20 mm mount installed; all outstanding alterations completed. Commenced training period March 16, 1943, and completed it on March 19, 1943. Ready for sea March 24, 1943. Flashed and depermed.

(1.) Narrative

24 March
Underway from Pearl Harbor in company with PC 586.
1100 (VW) Made trim dive.
1700 (W) Went to four (4) engine speed to arrive in Johnston Island on time.
1930 (W) Escort returned to Pearl.
26 March
0645 (X) Sighted Johnston Island PBY.
0805 (X) Sighted Johnston Island.
1015 (X) Moored to U.S.S. MIDWAY at fuel dock, Johnston Island. Took on fuel and lube oil, water, stores, and one (1) bottle of beer per man, with the compliments of the Ship's Service, Johnston Island.
1500 (X) Departed Johnston Island, without escort.
27-31 March
Surface cruising, training dives, battle surface drill - fired 14 rounds 4"/50 ammunition and 240 rounds 20 mm. A squeal developed in the port stern tube bearing at 40 R.P.M. and below. The gland was repacked and the squeal disappeared on April 1, 1943.
1 April
0542 (M) Commenced submerged patrol in pass between Makin and Matthew Islands.
1200 (M) Passed to Command of Commander Task Force 72.
1837 (L) Surfaced; no enemy activity.
2 April
Cruising on surface, 130 miles from Makin and Tarawa Islands, awaiting patrol instructions. Adjusted advance to arrive off Nauru Island at dawn, tomorrow.
3 April
0502 Submerged 24 miles west of Nauru Island.
0740 Sighted Nauru Island, distant 15 miles.
0936 Heard two (2) distant bomb explosions, but sighted no planes.
1438 Approached to within one (1) mile of west shore of Nauru and took eight (8) reconnaissance pictures. No military targets were observed on land or sea. Reversed course.
1857 Surfaced, heading west.
4 April
Received Subs 72 NR 11, assigning us a patrol area. Also received instructions to run submerged during daylight.
0537 Submerged and commenced all day periscope patrols.
8 April
0450 Entered area at Lat. 00-07.5 N., Long. 152-13.0 E.
2100 Received Subs 72 NR 30 concerning a convoy sighted heading north, and proceeded to its April 9, 1200 position
9 April
1158 Sighted smoke bearing 080°(T). Distant 12,000 yards. (Contact No. 1) (Attack No. 1). Lat. 00-32.0 N., Long. 150-05.0 E. Commenced approach at high speed. Sound picked up enemy echo-ranging.
1230 Determined convoy to consist of four (4) medium sized freighters and one PC boat. Two (2) freighters were lagging with the escort on their quarter, starboard, then port.
1356 Fired 3 torpedoes from the bow tubes at the last freighter. The escort, PC #39, was then 1000 yards, bearing 300° relative.
Went to 200 feet and commenced evasive tactics.
1358 One (1) hit.
1402 First of twelve (12) depth charges, none close.
1435 Last depth charge. Suffered no damage.
1600 Echo-ranging ceased. Returned to periscope depth - nothing in sight.
1642 Surfaced, and headed for the vicinity of the attack.
1715 Sighted one (1) empty life boat, several rafts, loud-speakers, and other debris. Picked up a life ring of "Oyama Maru - Tokyo". Fired 240 rounds of 20 mm ammunition at the lifeboat and "floating-mine" type buoys - no explosions, however. This is all that was left of the Oyama Maru. The camera officer took several pictures of the afternoon's activity. Oyama Maru life ring

[This is a Drum crew member (believed to be Donald O. Vaughn, RM1c) in Brisbane, Austrailia on May 13, 1943 holding the Oyama Maru life preserver. Photo source: U.S. Submarines in World War II: An Illustrated History by Larry Kimmett and Margaret Regis. Click on the image for a larger view.]

1750 Started after convoy. course 340°(T) at 19 knots.
2115 Made SJ radar contact, bearing 265°(T), range 18,200 yards. Commenced approach (Contact No. 2) (Attack No. 2). Lat. 01-19.0 N., Long. 150-04.0 E. Closed convoy, now only three (3) ships, from their starboard quarter. Tracked convoy on course 300°(T), speed 7 knots. At 7500 yards, the SJ radar picked up the escort; between us and the last ship in column. Changed course to pass astern of convoy, and thus gain attack position on port bow of leading ship.
10 April
0100 Peter Charlie was now between us and the leading ship in the column. We waited until 0200 for the escort to shift his position, but no luck.
0200 Changed course to let Peter Charlie pass ahead with the two (2) leading ships.
0250 Fired 3 torpedoes at the last ship in column, range 2800 yards, 140° track. Cleared the area to southward at 20 knots.
0253 Heard two (2) torpedo explosions.
0254 Heard two (2) depth charge explosions. The radar maintained contact on the disposition, and reported three (3) pips separated from the fourth, the target. The fourth gradually grew smaller, disappearing at 8000 yards.
0310 Changed course to parallel convoy. The radar now had two (2) large pips and occasionally a smaller one, close together, with no sign of the fourth pip. The last ship of column sank.
Commenced taking position for daylight attack submerged.
0500 Lost radar contact with convoy at 19,000 yards, bearing 110°(T).
0630 Submerged on track of convoy. Expect to make contact about 1000.
1605 Surfaced, and commenced search for convoy, covering speeds up to 7 knots, and courses from 295°(T) to 340°(T). Results negative.
11 April
0625 Submerged. Lat. 02-38 N., Long. 149-00 E. Patrolling across Long. 149-00 E.
12 April
Swung ship submerged for deviation curves of two (2) new aviation magnetic compasses, one mounted in control room, one in conning tower.
14 April
0614 While circling in Lat. 01-29.0 N., Long. 148-28.0 E., sighted four (4) ships, bearing 250°(T), distant about three (3) miles (Contact No. 3). No contact was ever made on the SJ radar. Four (4) days ago, we had targets at 19,000 yards!
0616 Heard four (4) depth charge explosions.
0620 Submerged to 200 feet on course 070°(T), opening range, running silent. Heard intermittent pinging and screws, gradually fading out on bearing 250°(T); and two more depth charges at 0632 and 0710.
0728 Sighted smoke bearing 248°(T).
0731 Sighted tops of one small freighter and masts and stack of another larger one bearing 195° and 199°(T), range 12,000 yards. Commenced closing. The bearing of the smoke remained steady, while the two (2) ships drew to the left, then right, and finally left again.
0840 The smoke also commenced drawing to the left. Determined enemy course as 165°(T), speed 5.5 knots, but could not gain an attack position submerged.
1255 Changed course to open range, commencing mooring board solution - to gain position ahead of convoy and not approach closer than 15 miles.
1355 Surfaced and started chase at 19 knots.
1438 Sighted smoke bearing 151°(T). The bearing drew to the left to 075°(T), while the plot showed an increase of speed to 10 knots.
1742 Lookout sighted a large monoplane making a bombing run on us, range about 5 miles. Submerged to 150 feet; but no bombs were dropped. Lat. 00-05.0 S., Long. 148-43.0 E. Picked up enemy echo-ranging at an estimated range of 10 miles. Decided not to continue pursuit because of 1) Unreliable or possibly no SJ radar for a night attack; 2) Loss of several miles when submerged; 3) Presence of friendly submarines on track.
2010 Surfaced and sent contact report.
15 April
Received new area assignment. Continued patrol in vicinity of our last contact.
17 April
0330-0430 Intermittent heavy gunfire felt and heard faintly by the bridge watch, direction undetermined. Lat. 01-35.0 N., Long. 148-24.0 E.
18 April
1214 Sighted smoke bearing 310°(T). (Contact No. 4) (Attack No. 3). Lat. 01-55.0 N., Long. 148-24.0 E. Commenced approach on fully loaded freighter similar to Tatutake Maru, 7065 tons (MKFKM).
1346 Fired 4 torpedoes from the bow tubes.
1346'25" Premature explosion.
1347 Two (2) hits, one at forward well, the other abaft stark. Ship listed to port and commenced sinking, screws stopped.
1351 List decreasing, but screws still stopped. Swung to bring stern tubes to bear.
1354 Fired 2 torpedoes from the stern tubes.
1355 Two (2) premature explosions within one (1) second of each other, about 500 yards from the enemy, in line with his bridge.
1356 Fired 2 more torpedoes from the stern tubes. Both missed astern.
1402 Heard "end-of-run" explosions. The ship was still afloat, with little change in condition.
1403 Swung again to finish her off with the last two (2) loaded torpedoes.
1413 Her bow went under, and the crew took to the boats.
1415 Ship sank. The camera officer took eight (8) pictures. Gave all hands a look at either the sinking ship or the three (3) lifeboats in the water. Many small and several heavy explosions accompanied the breaking up of the ship. Nisshun Maru sinking

[Photo of the Nisshun Maru sinking. Click on the image for a larger view.]

1430 Cleared area.
2010 Surfaced, standing to westward toward Palau - Rabaul route. On surfacing, the port 75% motor field interlock refused to lift, and power on the port screw was lost. This is the third (3) successive patrol on which this casualty has occurred.
22 April
0702 Sighted patrol boat bearing 354°(T), range 8000 yards. (Contact No. 5). Lat. 00-11.0 N., Long. 146-26.0 E. He was not pinging, and disappeared to the westward at 0725.
23 April
1156 Sighted smoke bearing 230°(T), distant 10 miles. (Contact No. 6). Lat. 00-12.0 S., Long. 147-08.5 E. Attempted to track the enemy submerged but no further smoke was sighted. Decided to gain position for submerged attack before dark, providing the smoke sighted was no illusion.
1335 Surfaced and commenced chase at four (4) engine speed.
1342 Sighted the smoke again - apparently one ship, oil burning, on 300°(T), making 11 knots.
1422 Lookout and Commanding Officer sighted plane bearing 290°(T), distant about 6 miles. Submerged to 150 feet. Johnson, L.H. #628-80-46, S1/c, sighted this plane, as well as the one which ended our pursuit on April 14. Determined that we can be at enemy's 0800 position by surfacing at sunset and using four (4) engine speed all night.
1930 Surfaced and commenced pursuit. Sent message regarding contact and chase.
24 April
0625 Submerged at the 0700, 11 knot position of the contact. Lat. 01-33.0 N., Long. 144-06.5 E.
0730 Sighted a plane through periscope, close to the horizon, at about 6 miles, and followed it from 240°(T) to 305°(T).
2030 Surfaced and commenced patrolling Palau - Rabaul line to the eastward. Received information that a convoy was bombed about 100 miles from our dawn position. Our contact could have been at that point by making 12 knots on 290°(T).
25 April
Patrolling Palau - Rabaul and Truk - Wewak lanes.
30 April
The weather was generally overcast and squally, with poor visibility.
1 May
Received Subs 72 NR 92 ending the area patrol at dawn on May 3. Commenced patrolling in a southeasterly direction in order to be at the southeast corner of the area at dawn on May 3.
3 May
0300 Left area in Lat. 00-30.0 S., Long. 150-00.0 E.
5 May
Passed between Feni and Green Islands submerged. No enemy activity observed.
7 May
1925 Surfaced and took two (2) heavy seas down the Conning Tower hatch. The pump room machinery, with the exception of the gyro, hydraulic plant, and radar, was grounded out.
8 May
0400 All machinery back in commission.
8-10 May
Continued submerged running, wind and sea southeast, force 5-6.
10 May
2200 Received rendezvous instructions, and adjusted speed to arrive as directed.
13 May
0500 Affected rendezvous with escort, SC 648, and proceeded to Brisbane.

(2.) Weather

Clear sky, excellent visibility, light airs, and calm seas were the order of the day enroute to station and during the first half of the time on station. When the moon waned, the weather changed abruptly to a continually overcast sky, winds from the north and west up to force five (5), sea condition four (4), with heavy swells, and generally poor visibility with numerous squalls.

(3.) Tidal Information

When the wind and sea remained steady for more than one (1) day, currents up to one (1) knot were experienced in the area.

In the pass between Feni and Green Islands a set of one to two (1-2) knots to the east was noted. The wind was from the west, force four (4), at the time.

(4.) Navigational Aids

None sighted.

The high grade sextant gave good results at night throughout the patrol.

(5.) Description of Enemy Vessels Sighted

Contact No. Time Date Position Course Speed Minimum Range Description
1. 1158 (L) Apr. 9 00-32 N.
150-05 E.
335° 6.5 knots 2100 yds. 4 freighters, 1 PC, in convoy.
2. 2115 (L) Apr. 9 01-19 N.
150-04 E.
300° 7 knots 2800 yds. 3 freighters, 1 PC, same convoy.
3. 0614 (L) Apr. 14 01-29 N.
148-28 E.
140° 5.5 knots 10,000 yds. 2-3 freighters, 1 escort, in convoy.
4. 1214 (L) Apr. 18 01-55 N.
148-28 E.
125° 10.5 knots 1500 yds. 7000 ton MKFKM freighter.
5. 0702 (L) Apr. 22. 00-11 N.
146-26 E.
270° 10 knots 8000 yds. Patrol vessel.
6. 1156 (L) Apr. 23. 00-12 S.
147-08 E.
300° 11 knots 20,000 yds. Smoke only.

On April 3, Nauru Island was reconnoitered. No shipping was observed anywhere along the western shore. No military installations were observed on or near the beach. There were about six (6) radio towers, of the single pole variety, at the northern end of the island. On the southwestern end, a large phosphate loading crane projected into the water. On the high point of the island, a tall mast with a possible radar screen was observed. This screen did not rotate during the several hours it was in sight. The position of this tower on H.O. Chart 2179 (Consec. 1632) is incorrect. It should be on the 213 foot hill.

(6.) Description of Aircraft Sighted

Contact No. Time Date Position Course Altitude Range Description
1. - Mar. 24 - - - - Numerous Pearl Harbor planes.
2. 0900 (W) Mar. 25 19-20 N.
163-30 W.
250° 2000 ft. 5 miles U.S. Army B-17
3. 1100 (W) Mar. 25 19-05 N.
164-05 W.
- - 16 miles Radar only.
4. 0645 (X) Mar. 26 17-05 N.
169-10 W.
060° 1000 ft. 8 miles U.S. Navy PBY
5. 1742 (L) Apr. 14 00-05 S.
148-43 E.
310° 4000 ft. 5 miles Large monoplane.
6. 1423 (L) Apr. 23 00-01 N.
146-58 E.
120° 3500 ft. 5 miles Land type monoplane.
7. 0730 (L) Apr. 24 01-34 N.
144-05 E.
000° Low 10 miles Unidentified through periscope.

(7.) Summary of Submarine Attacks

  (1) (2) (3) (4)
Attack 1 2 3 4(a)&(b)
Use G.C.T.
Apr. 9
Apr. 9
Apr. 18
Apr. 18
00-32.0 N.
150-05.0 E.
1-37.0 N.
149-20.0 E.
1-55.0 N.
148-24.0 E.
1-55.0 N.
148-24.0 E.
Number and Type Torpedoes Fired on Each Attack 3 - 14-3A 3 - 14-3A 4 - 14-3A 14-3A, 14-3A
Hits 1 2 2 0, 0
Number Sunk (Tonnage) Oyama Maru est. 5000 5000 7065 ---
Number Damaged or Probably Sunk (Tonnage) --- --- --- ---
Type of Target Freighter Freighter Freighter Freighter
Range 2000 yds. 2800 yds. 1500 yds. 2000 yds., 2100 yds.
Type of Attack:
Periscope (P)
Surface (S)
Night (N)
Radar (R)
Estimated Draft of Target 15 ft. 15 ft. 25 ft. 35 ft.
Torpedo Depth Setting 10 ft. 10 ft. 15 ft. 20 ft.
Bow or Stern Shot Bow Bow Bow Stern
Track Angle 120°P 117°P 118.5°P 140°P 140°P 140°P 59°P 58°P 59°P 57°P 102°S 81°S
100°S 80°S
Gyro Angle 0 3°R 1.5°R 5°L 5°L 5°L 6°R 7°R 6°R 8°R 1°R 0.5°R
1°L 0.5°L
Estimated Target Speed 6.5 knots 7.0 knots 10.5 knots 0 knots
Flag Interval 7 secs. 7 secs. 7 secs. 7 secs.
20 secs.
Spread Amount
and Kind


2° 1°
Div. Div.
Was Torpedo Performance Satisfactory? Yes Yes No No


Attack No. 1 - Four (4) ship convoy, one (1) escort.

Attack No. 2 - Three (3) ship convoy, one (1) escort.

Attack No. 3 - One (1) premature explosion.

Attack No. 4a - Two (2) premature explosions.

Attack No. 3, 4a, 4b - Same unescorted ship.

(8.) Enemy A/S Measures

In both convoys contacted, the enemy was searching with echo ranging on 18 kilocycles. In the first convoy which was successfully attacked, the escort counterattacked with depth charges, but none were close. In the second convoy, the echo ranging was heard at about ten (10) miles, although the escort was never sighted.

Three (3) daylight surface chases were attempted. Two (2) ended when a plane was sighted at a distance of five (5) miles: One, after six (6) hours; the other, after one (1) hour. No bombs were dropped either instance.

(9.) Major Defects Experienced

(a) Engineering

(1) For the third successive patrol, power was lost on the port screw when the port motor starter-motor field interlock failed to operate. The interlock solenoid coil was recentered and power was regained.

The Portsmouth Navy Yard, the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, and the U.S.S. SPERRY have attempted to remedy this defect. No change in the mounting of the coil has been tried, however. This solution should be applied during this refit.

(2) The strainer plates of #4 main engine exhaust valve became loosened, and one fell on the seat of the exhaust valve preventing it from closing. All strainer plates were subsequently removed. A careful inspection of the holding clips is necessary to prevent a recurrence of this casualty.

(b) Radar

(1) SD Radar - The performance of the SD radar was unsatisfactory. Two (2) planes were sighted in this area, but no indications were obtained on the radar. Its operation appeared normal in every respect.

(2) SJ Radar - The SJ radar was superb until after the attack of 9-10 April. From that time on, performance was erratic.

On April 14, 1943 no indications were obtained on a convoy of four (4) ships at 10,000 yards. Inspection of the entire equipment revealed no defects, however.

Subsequently, the motor blower circuit caused visible interference on the screen. This was caused by grounds on the thyratron and magnetron blower circuits. The blowers, designed to be run dry, require lubrication, which under the high operating temperatures, causes the grounds. The magnetron blower was disconnected; while the thyratron blower was overhauled frequently to prevent these grounds.

The range step was lost during the last week on station. The cause of the failure is believed to lie within the crystal tank.

A modification of the bearing indicator is recommended. During the attack on the escorted three (3) ship convoy, the radar operators experienced much difficulty in maintaining contact with the escort and the chosen target. A bearing indicator similar to the repeaters installed in the sound gear, giving both true and relative bearings would be ideal.

(10.) Radio Reception

Reception of the NPM schedules was complete. The Belconnen schedules were received with little difficulty, although three (3) serials were missed.

Transmission to NPM proved more satisfactory than to stations in the Southwest area.

No results were obtained on the submerged loop on NPM's 16.8 kilocycles.

Last serial sent - 080712.

Last serial received - 120643.

(11.) Sound Conditions and Density Layers

Sound conditions were average. The enemy had little success with echo-ranging. Likewise, we had difficulty obtaining a range by pinging in the attack on the unescorted freighter on April 18, 1943. No density layers were observed.

(12.) Health and Habitability

In spite of the warm weather, the boat was comfortable and dry. CO2 absorbent was spread prior to diving each morning, and noticeably improved the air at the end of the day.

The food obtained from the SPERRY was not of as high quality as that carried on previous patrols. Coca Cola syrup and several hundred CO2 capsules were enjoyed by all hands.

The health of the crew was excellent.

(13.) Miles Steamed

Miles steamed to area: 3598.

Miles steamed to area: 2836.

Miles steamed from area: 1907.

TOTAL: 8371 miles.

(14.) Fuel Oil Expended

Fuel oil expended to area: 37566.

Fuel oil expended in area: 18206.

Fuel oil expended from area: 18170.

TOTAL: 72942 gallons.

(15.) Factors of Endurance Remaining

Torpedoes Fuel Provisions (days) Fresh Water Personnel (days)
10 32,743 gallons 10 Unlimited 0

(16.) Factor Ending Patrol

Orders of CTF-72 ended the patrol.

(17.) Remarks

The torpedoes on this patrol were far from what could be expected fifteen months after the outbreak of war. Three (3) out of eight (8) torpedoes, fired in a single day, went off prematurely; and all torpedoes the Commanding Officer had the opportunity to observe, smoked excessively. It is disconcerting to say the least, to lug torpedoes several thousand miles through the trials and tribulations of a patrol, only to have them blow up in your face. I believe it wold be practically impossible to get hits on a vessel as alert and maneuverable as a warship in the calm waters prevalent in the Solomon Area, with torpedoes having the trail of smoke ours do.

This vessel was given a six (6) week's overhaul at Pearl (they call it the "50 cent job"). Considering the time allotted, Pearl did an excellent job, particularly on the C&R work. However, a longer overhaul period is recommended to eliminate the small casualties which arise after a rushed overhaul. A longer overhaul period would also enable all hands (particularly the Commanding Officer) to return to the States on leave. Personnel, like machinery, cannot keep on going without rest.

A daily news item, such as the fall of Tunis and Bizerte, would be appreciated by all hands.

During this patrol the air conditioning plant condensed 150-200 gallons of fresh water per day. This water is thrown away and cannot very well be used for washing, due to its offensive odor. This water has been analyzed, however, and is chemically pure. It is recommended that some sort of filter be devised that will eliminate this offensive odor, so that the water may be used for washing.

This is the third successive patrol that sticking of the port motor field interlock has caused us to lose power on the port screw. This casualty left the vessel with but one screw during the attack on a carrier during the fourth patrol. The seriousness of the casualty was stressed during the overhaul, but the same thing happened again. This interlock has been worked on by four (4) different submarine overhaul activities without remedying the defect. This leads the Commanding Officer to believe there may be an inherent defect in the interlock circuit, and at the first available opportunity a thorough check by a factory representative should be made.

During the last refit, the brass section of the conning tower fairwater was etched with a silver sulphate solution. This turned the brass a dark brown. Even though the paint fails to adhere, the brass surface is still non-reflecting.

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