Mush v the Harusame

80 years ago today: The Shiratsuyu-class destroyer Harusame of the Imperial Japanese Navy was torpedoed by the famed Gato-class submarine USS Wahoo (SS-238) under the command of LCDR Dudley Walker “Mush” Morton, near Wewak, New Guinea. It would be the third of 11 attacks logged during the boat’s Third War Patrol

Harusame’s back is clearly broken. Wartime intelligence evaluated this photo as showing one of the Asashio-class (see Photographic Intelligence Report # 82, 17 March 1943). However, the ship’s bridge structure identifies her as a Shiratsuyu-class destroyer, with the # 2 (single) 5 gun mount removed. Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-35738 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

From Wahoo’s patrol report, in “Mush’s” words. 

Just two weeks after the above image:

Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Morton, commanding officer of Wahoo (SS-238), at right with his executive officer, Lieutenant Richard H. O’Kane, on Wahoo’s open bridge at Pearl Harbor after her very successful third war patrol, circa 7 February 1943. Official U.S. Navy photograph now in the collections of the National Archives, 80-G-35725.

Beached to avoid sinking with her keel broken, Harusame was salvaged and towed to Truk where she was fitted with an emergency false bow, then sailed in convoy in May to Yokosuka for rebuilding. She returned to service in late November 1943, joining Desdiv 27, Desron 2, IJN Second Fleet.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Harusame underway after rebuild on November 30, 1943. Shizuo Fukui – Kure Maritime Museum, Japanese Naval Warship Photo Album: Destroyers, edited by Kazushige Todaka, p. 81

Her service would come to an end just seven months later, dispatched by USAAF B-25s 30 miles northwest of Cape of Good Hope near Manokwari on 8 June 1944 while on a troop transport run to Biak. She was lost with 74 of her crew.

As for Wahoo, she had already been lost by a remarkably similar fate– sent to the bottom by Japanese aircraft in October 1943 while returning home from her Seventh War Patrol, sunk with all 79 hands by a sustained air and surface attack as she was attempting to exit the Sea of Japan via the La Perouse Strait.

Detailed by DANFS:

The loss of Morton and Wahoo caused profound shock in the submarine force. All further forays into the Sea of Japan ceased, and it was not again invaded until June 1945, when special mine-detecting equipment was available for submarines. Morton was posthumously awarded a fourth Navy Cross. When he died, his claimed sinkings exceeded those of any other submarine skipper: 17 ships for 100,000 tons. In the postwar accounting, this was readjusted to 19 ships for about 55,000 tons. This left Morton, in terms of individual ships sunk, one of the top three skippers of the war. So ended the career of one of the greatest submarine teams of World War II: Wahoo and “Mush” Morton.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.