LCDR A.H. Alston Jr.
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
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