U. S. S. ROPER
A9/DD147
 
Serial 014
 
 
                                                                                                                At sea
 
 
                                                                                                                April 15, 1942.
 
 
 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L
 
 
 
 
From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations.
     
Via: (1) Commander Destroyer Division FIFTY-FOUR.
  (2) Commander Inshore Patrol, Norfolk.
  (3) Commandant Fifth Naval District.
  (4) Commander Eastern Sea Frontier.
  (5) Commander Destroyers Atlantic Fleet.
  (6) Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet.
     
Subject: Destruction of German submarine - Report of.
     
Reference: (a) U.S.N.R., Article 712 and 874(6).
  (b) Atlantic Fleet Confidential C/L 7CL-42 of March 16, 1942.
     
Enclosures: (A) Report of the Executive Officer, U.S.S. ROPER.
  (B) Diagram of movements of submarine and U.S.S. ROPER.
  (C) Original and one copy of form reports "Anti-Submarine Action by Surface Ship" required by Cinclant 7CL-42 to be submitted via chain of command to Cinclant.
 
 
 
 
        1.                Pursuant to reference (a) the following report of particulars concerning the action between the U.S.S. ROPER and a German submarine in which the latter was destroyed is submitted herewith:
 
                          On the night of April 13-14 at 0006 in latitude 35-55 N., longitude 75-13 W., this ship while on course 1820 T. at a speed of 18 knots made a radar contact, 1900 T. - range 2700 yards, which was of a type that could have been a submarine.  Decision was made to investigate and the ship was brought to 1950 T.  The night was clear, with many stars visible; the sea was very nearly calm, the the water phosphorescent.  A wind of force one was blowing from the southeast.  Bodie Island Light and Bodie Island Lighted Bell Buoy #8 were discernable to starboard.
 
        2.                Very shortly after the radar contact was made the sound operator, who was echo ranging from bow to bow, heard rapidly turning propellers and obtained a range and bearing which
 
 
 
 
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A9/DD147
Serial 014
                                                                                                                   April 15, 1942.
 
 
 
Subject:                Destruction of German submarine - Report of.
 
 
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coincided with those obtained by the radar operator.  Then as the range became 2100 yards the wake of what appeared to be a small vessel running away at high speed was observed.  The range was decreasing very slowly so this ship increased speed to 20 knots.  The vessel appeared to be a small Coast Guard craft, but her speed made it possible that she actually was a submarine.  The crew was called to general quarters and orders given to prepare machine gun, 3" gun, torpedo, and depth charge batteries for immediate action.
 
 
 
 
        3.                The unknown vessel commenced changing course successively to port first to about 1750 T., then 1550 T., 135 T., and 1150 T.  A position very slightly on the starboard quarter was maintained to avoid possible torpedoes, and when range was about 700 yards the track of a torpedo did pass close aboard down the port side.
 
 
 
 
        4.                When the distance had been reduced to 300 yards the vessel cut sharply to starboard.  At this instant, using the 24" searchlight, she was finally identified as a large submarine.  A camouflage preponderantly light in color was noted.  The submarine continued to turn to starboard inside the turning circle of this ship.  The searchlight was held on the submarine, and fire was opened first with the machine gun battery and then with the 3" battery.  The machine guns, particularly #1, cut down the submarine personnel rushing to man their gun.  A direct hit in the conning tower near the water line was made by #5 - 3" gun as the submarine commenced to sink.  Orders were given to fire a torpedo at the submarine, but she disappeared before it was fired.  The submarine apparently was scuttled inasmuch as she settled slowly and went down stern first.  About forty of her crew were on deck and soon sighted in the water.
 
        5.                A barrage of eleven depth charges was laid by use of racks, Y-guns, and K-guns, based on an eye estimate of the submarine's location plus an excellent sound contact.  The bearing of the submarine remained almost constant and the speed was negligible.  Wreckage could not be detected because of the darkness.  On two occasions this ship passed near the survivors, but the fact that German submarines frequently work in pairs made the conduct of any rescue work before daylight far too dangerous to risk.  Search in the general area was continued until daybreak.  At that time the PBY plane commanded by Lieutenant C.V. Horrigan, U.S.N.R., cooperated in an intensive sight search.  Suspicious oil slicks and bits of debris were investigated.  The plane dropped one charge and this ship dropped two.
 
        6.                At 0706, by means of smoke floats dropped from two planes which appeared on the scene, the attention of this ship was
 
 
 
 
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A9/DD147
Serial 014
                                                                                                                   April 15, 1942.
 
 
 
Subject:                Destruction of German submarine - Report of.
 
 
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called to bodies in the water.  At 0717 this vessel placed the first of two lifeboats in the water in charge of an officer, and commenced recovering bodies and floating articles.  At 0727 an airship was observed approaching.  She was asked to circle the ship as a protection against submarines while the boats were in the water.  This she did.  Communication by flashing light was made without difficulty, and on one occasion the airship idled her motors and communicated by megaphone.  A maximum of seven planes of various types appeared on the scene at one time.  Near the end of the recovery operation a British trawler stood over and was asked to watch for submarines.
 
 
 
 
        7.                At 0750 the first boat returned with five bodies, and at 0834 hoisting of fifteen more bodies by means of a small davit was commenced.
 
 
 
 
        8.                At 0850 the sound operator detected a sharp echo at a range of 2700 yards, and at 0857 a four charge pattern was dropped.  One very large air bubble and one smaller one appeared, together with fresh oil.  The airship and one plane dropped flares on the spot, and the airship reported the continuation of the air bubbles.
 
        9.                At 0932 commenced hoisting the twenty-ninth body on board.  The officer in charge of the boat reported that two additional bodies had been allowed to sink after the clothing had been searched for articles of possible use to Naval Intelligence.  No other search of clothing of effects was made in the belief that that action should be left for Naval Intelligence personnel.  At least two of the bodies were those of officers, and one appeared to be the submarine commander.  Among items recovered were six escape lungs.  Two bodies had mouthpiece tubing in their mouths, indicating escape after the submarine sank.  While picking up the bodies at least fifteen additional empty life jackets were seen.
 
        10.              At 0957 two more charges were dropped over the largest air bubble.  Both bubbles continued after the depth charging, and air was still rising when this ship left the scene.  Before departure an orange colored buoy was put over in 14 fathoms of water about two hundred fifty yards bearing 2700 T. from the largest air bubble.  The position was checked as being latitude 35-55 N., longitude 75-19 W.  In view of the proximity of the bodies and debris, the sharp sound contact on an object which remained stationary, and the large air bubbles which persisted, it is believed that the buoy marks the location of the submarine.
 
 
 
 
        11.              In accordance with Article 874(6), U.S.N.R., it is reported that two of the four 3"50 calibre guns which could bear upon the submarine misfired, and one 50 calibre machine gun misfired five times.  In each instance it is believed that the casualties were
 
     
 
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A9/DD147
Serial 014
                                                                                                                   April 15, 1942.
 
 
 
Subject:                Destruction of German submarine - Report of.
 
 
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  due to ammunition failures.  Both 3" cases were thrown overboard as soon as possible during the darkness in order to have the guns ready for further action.  The case pulled away from the projectile in one instance and the latter had to be unloaded separately.  The same thing occurred when attempting to unload another gun which could not bear during the action.  All five 50 calibre cartridges were inspected at daylight and large indentations in their primers where noted which indicated primer failures.  It is believed that the machine gun ammunition failures are a result of weathering.  The guns are kept half-loaded at all times when at sea and it is difficult to protect the ammunition from rain, sun, and spray.  In the future machine gun ammunition will be shifted daily.  Test shots as authorized are fired whenever the location of the ship permits.  Both 3" guns had been fired three weeks previously in an attempt to sink the bow of an overturned tanker.  
     
          12.              The officers and crew of the U.S.S. ROPER, as a whole, in their first enemy action (countless depth charge attacks after sound contacts excepted), conducted themselves creditably.  It is difficult to single out individuals for special praise, but the work of two officers and two men was particularly outstanding.  Lieutenant William W. Vanous, U.S.N., Executive Officer, took station of the flying bridge as soon as chase of the submarine was begun, and constantly kept the conning officer informed of his observations as to the movements of the submarine, directed the training of the searchlight, and generally was of great assistance to the commanding officer throughout the action.  
     
                             Ensign Kenneth M. Tebo, U.S.N., who was officer-of-the-deck, by holding the ship imposition close on the starboard quarter of the submarine during the chase, showed considerable skill and judgment and assisted greatly in the success of the operation.  
 
                           Jack Edwin WRIGHT, Chief Boatswain's Mate, U.S.N., stationed as gunner on #1 - 50 calibre machine gun opened fire so promptly and effectively that he was a major factor in bringing about the destruction of the submarine.  He raked the submarine in the vicinity of her gun and prevented every attempt by the crew to man this gun and counter attack the ROPER.  The promptness and accuracy of this fire undoubtedly materially hastened the decision of the submarine commander to scuttle, and saved this vessel from possible damage and loss of life before the submarine's gun was silenced.
 
                              The action of Harry HEYMAN, coxswain, U.S. Navy, junior gun captain on board, who had replaced the regular gun captain detached two days previously, and who previously had never been in charge of a gun during firing, in coolly and quickly spotting the shots on the target and securing a hit in the conning tower at the waterline is also considered to be extremely praiseworthy.  This hit undoubtedly contributed markedly to the final destruction of the submarine.  
     
 
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A9/DD147
Serial 014
                                                                                                                   April 15, 1942.
 
 
 
Subject:                Destruction of German submarine - Report of.
 
 
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         13.              It is particularly desired to mention the invaluable service rendered by Commander Stanley C. Norton, U.S.N., Commander Destroyer Division 54, an officer of considerable submarine experience, who was present on the bridge during the entire action and by his helpful suggestions and sound advice contributed greatly to the results obtained.  
     
          14.              The twenty-nine bodies and the floating material recovered were turned over to representatives of the Commandant Fifth Naval District in Lynnhaven Roads the afternoon of April 14, 1942.  
     
     
                                                                                  H. W. HOWE.
 
     
  Copy to:  Comdesron 27  
                 Comdag, Little Creek  
                 CO, NAS, Norfolk, Va.  
 
 
     
     
     
     
 
 
 
 

Enclosure B

Enclosure (C)

 


 

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