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Pickerel

Wednesday, May 12, 1943
Unknown, Possibly Lost to Enemy Depth Charge

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LCDR A.H. Alston Jr.

Commanding Officer

 

PICKEREL commanded by Lt. Cmdr. A.H. Alston, Jr., the first submarine to be lost in the central Pacific area, set out from Pearl Harbor on 18 March 1943 and ,after topping off with fuel at Midway on 22 March, began her seventh war patrol off the eastern coast of northern Honshu. She was never heard from after her departure from Midway.

She was ordered to remain in her area until sunset 1 May 1943 and then to return to Midway. Standing orders required her to transmit by radio prior to entering a circle of radius 500 miles from Midway, and this report was expected by 6 May. When it was not received, a message ordering immediate reply was repeatedly sent. Nothing was received, and plane search along her expected course revealed nothing. As a result, she was reported lost on 12 May 1943.

Antisubmarine attack data submitted by the Japanese at the end of the war list one attack which conceivably could have been on PICKEREL. This attack occurred on 3 April 1943, off Shiranuka Lighthouse, on the northern tip of Honshu. This attack occurred outside the area assigned to PICKEREL, but no other submarine was there. FLYING FISH was en route to the area between Honshu and Hokkaido and arrived there on 6 April, but PICKEREL might well have moved into the northern area for a few days until FLYING FISH’s arrival if she found hinting poor in her own area. Indeed, unless the Japanese attacked a submarine which was the product of their own imaginations, they must certainly have attacked PICKEREL on 3 April, since no other boat of ours was near the area of attack.

However, a special notation is made on the Japanese records to the effect that they are inaccurate for the month of April 1943. Thus there is every reason to speculate that, if PICKEREL did survive the attack on 3 April, she may have been attacked later in her own area and the attack may not have been reported. We know that there were Japanese mine plants along the coast of Honshu, but a study of the track chart for PICKEREL’s sixth war patrol, conducted in the same area, shows that the Commanding Officer was accustomed to stay outside the 60 fathom curve. Mines are normally ineffective in water that deep.

The probability as to the cause of PICKEREL’s loss is that she was sunk by enemy depth charge attack. Operational casualties or mine explosions represent possibilities, but are not thought to be likely.

During the six patrols before her final one, PICKEREL sank five ships totaling 16,100 tons, and damaged 10, totaling 9,100 tons. On her first patrol she did no damage to the enemy. Her second, conducted between Manila and Surabaya, resulted in the sinking of two freighters. PICKEREL’s third patrol was conducted along the Malay Barrier and again no successful attacks were made. In her fourth patrol, in the Philippines, six attacks were made, but none resulted in damage to the enemy. PICKEREL’s fifth patrol was a passage from Australia toe Pearl Harbor to refit, with a short patrol in the Marianas en route. She damaged a freighter on this run. On her sixth patrol this ship was sent to the Kuriles to patrol the Tokyo-Kiska traffic lanes. In sixteen attacks she sank a freighter and two sampans, and did damage to another freighter and eight sampans.

 

Lost At Sea Log

Number of sailors in this log: 74

Namesort descending Service Branch
CDR--CO A ALSTON USN
OC2 DIONISIO APSAY USN
CGM EDWARD AYER USN
S1 KENNETH BAURMEISTER USN
EM1 LESLIE BAYS USN
MoMM1 JOSEPH BEAUREGARD USN
Y1 ROBERT  BECK USN
Bkr2 JULIUS BERGMAN USN
S1 WALTER BLAYLOCK USN
FC3 ROBERT BROWNELL USN
S1 DAVID BROWNING USN
CMoMM RAY CARROLL USN
TM1 CYRIL CLINE USN
F2 THOMAS COFFEY USN
MoMM2 PAUL CYNEWSKI USN
TM2 GRADY DAVIS USN
LTJG HARRY DOWE USN
TM3 ROGER EAGAN USN
S2 WARREN EVANS USN
S1 DAVID EVIDON USN

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