Stanley was a navigator on the USS Dace submarine at the age of 19. Here’s a different kind of story that occurred during my service. The USS Dace, SSN 247, was a Thresher class diesel powered fleet sub, stationed in Perth, Australia during WW 11. From there it patrolled the South China Seas with its partner, the USS Darter, SSN 227.
In October 1944, the submarines Darter and Dace encountered a major task force of the Imperial Japanese Navy en route through the Philippines to attack the Americans. A massive force was bound for Leyte Gulf, totaling 32 warships, including the largest battleships ever built: The Yamato and Musahi.
Early in the morning of October 23, 1944, the USS Darter and USS Dace were patrolling around Palawan Island in the southwest Philippines when they discovered Admiral Takeo Kurita’s Center Force. As the most powerful of three separate surface groups comprised of cruisers, heavy cruisers, a destroyer escort, and five battleships, including the Musashi and Yamato, the two largest battleships ever built.
Maneuvering to the front the enemy, the Darter and Dace launched spreads of torpedoes just before dawn. Four “fish” from the Darter shredded the heavy cruiser Atago, Kurita’s flagship and the first in the formation. Ten minutes later, she pumped a brace of torpedoes into the Takeo (Atago ‘s sister ship). Fifteen minutes after that, Dace pumped four torpedoes into the heavy cruiser Maya and damaged another. Then DACE torpedoed two more enemy warships.
During the night, both the Atago and Maya were sunk, and the Takeo would limp towards safety, the Darter unexpectedly ran aground. Resting high and dry on the reefs, the submarine had to be quickly abandoned. Rescued by the DACE, the Darter crew scrambled to safety aboard the DACE while the Japanese navy, just a short distance away, searched for the two American submarines.
This was the first time that these two Fleet subs encountered a huge Japanese fleet, did considerable damage and got away. Both the Darter and the Dace survived the war. The Darter went for scrap, while the Dace was sent to a Russian base in the Aleutians, (Cold Bay), where it was used as a training ship. That was in 1944 – 45. After that, who knows?