Engagement in the Aleutians
At 2030 on the night of 7 October, S-44 made radar contact on what was mistakenly determined to be a small merchant. She closed the range on the surface and engaged with her deck gun. The contact, which was a destroyer, immediately returned fire, scoring hits below the waterline in the control room, the conning tower and the forward battery compartment.. The CO on the bridge ordered the control room to submerge and sounded the diving alarm. The boat did not submerge, for reasons which are not clear in the statements of the two survivors. The CO then ordered S-44 to be abandoned, and had a white pillow case waved from the forward hatch. The destroyer ignored the white flag and scored several more hits. The gun crew and the bridge watch, about eight men in all, made it into the water before the ship sank. All but two died in the heavy seas and freezing water. The two survivors were picked up by the destroyer and spent the remainder of the war at forced labor in the copper mines in Ashio, Japan.