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Authors: Peter Sasgen

Hellcats

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Table of Contents
 
 
 
 
 
Other Books by Peter Sasgen
 
Stalking the Red Bear: The True Story of a U.S. Cold War Submarine's Covert Operations Against the Soviet Union
 
Red Scorpion: The War Patrols of the USS Rasher
 
War Plan Red (novel)
 
Red Shark (novel)
NAL CALIBER
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
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Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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New Delhi - 110 017, India
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New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
First published by NAL Caliber, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
First Printing, November 2010
 
Copyright © Peter Sasgen, 2010
Maps by Karen Sasgen
All rights reserved
 
NAL CALIBER and the “C” logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Sasgen, Peter T., 1941-
Hellcats: the epic story of World War II's most daring submarine raid/Peter Sasgen.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47503-4
1. World war, 1939-1945—Naval operations—Submarine. 2. World War, 1939-1945—Naval operations, American. 3. World War, 1939-1945—Campaigns—Japan, Sea of. 4. Operation Barney, 1945. 5. Lockwood, Charles A., 1890-1967. 6. Sonar—History—20th century. I. Title.
D783.S37 2010
940.54'25—dc22
2010028766
 
 
 
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To the men and the families
of the USS
Bonefish
(SS-223)
The Americans had not ... made any great sacrifices of blood. They would certainly not withstand a great trial by fire, for their fighting qualities were low. In general, no such thing as an American people existed as a unit; they were nothing but a mass of immigrants from many nations and races.
—Adolf Hitler, from
Inside the Third Reich
by Albert Speer
 
 
To our good and loyal subjects ... We declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement. Despite [this] the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage.
—Excerpt from Emperor Hirohito's surrender address to the Japanese people, August 15, 1945
 
 
It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril.
—Chester W. Nimitz, Fleet Admiral, United States Navy
PREFACE
M
ay 27, 1945. Diesel engines rumbling impatiently, a task force of submarines lay moored in Apra Harbor, Guam. Fueled, provisioned, torpedoes loaded, the subs and their crews were ready to sail. As the late-afternoon hour for their departure approached, submarine force commander Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood and his staff gathered to see the subs off on their mission.
With great anticipation and excitement, they watched the subs, their diesels rolling to a deep thrumming pitch, cast off lines and clear their moorings. As the task force formed up and moved slowly toward the open sea, Lockwood returned departing salutes and waved good-bye.
Earlier, Lockwood had thought to say something beyond the rote custom of “good luck” and “good hunting,” something that the submariners could draw strength from in difficult moments. But he had seen the steady burn of self-confidence in the faces of the departing skippers and knew that the time for speeches was over. The mission was in their hands now. And in their hands it would either succeed or fail; there would be no middle ground.
Lockwood felt an all too familiar pang of apprehension. There were so many unknowns. So many factors beyond the submariners' control. Anything could go wrong. For one, the enemy was unpredictable. For another, the secret sonar device aboard those subs, which had made the mission possible and on which so much was riding for its success, was neither perfect nor foolproof.
Lockwood had never felt more alone than he did at that moment. Yet, at the same time he felt more connected than ever to the almost eight hundred men departing on what might prove to be a doomed mission. Two years had passed since the loss of the storied submarine
Wahoo
and her gallant crew, which had inspired the mission. During that time more submarines had been lost and Lockwood feared that the mission on which he was sending the task force would result in further losses. A picture formed in his mind, one that had haunted him day and night since the war began: a submarine, destroyed by depth charges, plunging into a black void.
Not everyone in the submarine force shared Lockwood's ironbound confidence in the secret electronic weapon aboard those subs, nor his unshakable belief that the mission, if it succeeded, would help end the war. Officers whose judgment he respected had told him that it was a suicide mission. But there were others, especially the scientists who had worked like demons to perfect the secret weapon, who believed it would work and that the mission would succeed. It was, Lockwood reflected, too late to alter plans or have second thoughts.
As the submarines slowly threaded their way out of the harbor to disappear from view into the shimmering Pacific Ocean, Lockwood could only wait for the first reports from the sea to the north where those subs and the ones to follow would fight one of the most daring—and dangerous—submarine battles of World War II.
BOOK: Hellcats
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