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U.S. Coast Guard Historic Documents

Coast Guard Cutter


At Sea, North Pacific Ocean,                        
22 December, 1941  

From:                 Commanding Officer, TANEY
To:                     Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District

Subject:              TANEY; report of activities December 7-20, 1941.

Reference:          (a)  Article 712, U.S. Navy Regulations.

     1.     When anti-aircraft fire was first observed over Pearl Harbor on December 7th, general quarters were sounded and all officers not on board ordered to return.  The anti-aircraft battery as well as all other guns were ready to fire with their full crew and three officers at their stations within four minutes.  The remaining officers with one exception were aboard less than ten minutes later.  Steam was ordered and vessel was ready to get underway.  Without having received orders from any source, between 0901 and 0902 and between 0915 and 0918 opened fire on scattering formations of enemy aircraft at high altitude passing over the harbor from west to east, using #4 and #5 3" guns.  #3 gun did not bear and machine guns were outranged.  Long fuse settings were used but fire failed to reach planes.  27 rounds of 3" shrapnel were fired in these attacks.  At 1135 opened fire with #3 gun on a small formation of enemy planes which had passed over the city from north to south and were almost overhead at time of firing.  One of these planes appeared to have dropped a bomb on Sand Island.  No report was heard but dust and smoke were observed.  At 1158 a formation of five enemy planes approached the vessel directly from the south southwest over the harbor entrance on what appeared to be a glide bombing or strafing attack on this vessel or more probably a bombing attack on the power plant which is located north of vessel's berth at Pier Six, Honolulu.  Fire was opened with #4 and #5 3" guns and #3, #4, #5, and #6 50/Cal. machine guns after planes were in range.  No direct hits by the 3" guns were definitely seen but planes were rocked by the fire and swerved up and away.  Several 50/Cal. tracers appeared to pierce wing and tail of structure of one plane.  No bombs or machine gun bullets were received aboard nor observed falling near-by.  54 rounds of 3" shrapnel were expended and about 250 rounds of 50/Cal. ammunition.  The only casualty was a delay in firing #4 gun due to the projectile being unseated from cartridge.  Cartridge was rammed home, breech closed and gun fired.  A fairly satisfactory volume of fire was obtained but it was not as great as would have been desirable, due to interference with loading from splinter shielding at that particular angle of fire.  A modification of the drill requiring an extra shellman was made and eliminates this difficulty.  This vessel had had no opportunity to fire anti-aircraft practice although the difficulty would not have appeared and might not have been discovered at the angles of fire used in prescribed practices.  The officers and crew bore themselves well although most members of the crew had had no training except drill and had never seen anything above a 50 caliber fired.

     2.     Proceeded to sea at 0546, 8 December, and commenced patrol of vicinity of Honolulu Harbor entrance.  On this patrol made sound contact with submarines and dropped depth charges as listed below:

Position                        Time             No. Dropped Result                   
About 3 miles SE of Ahoa Pt. 1230, Dec. 8 3 Unknown
1.6 miles 207 from #1 buoy 0200, Dec. 10 2 Unknown
3 miles 183  from Aloha Tower 2043, Dec. 10 3 Oil slick observed
4 miles 126  from #1 buoy 1703, Dec. 11 6 Unknown
4 miles 120  from #1 buoy 1720, Dec. 11 2 Unknown
2.7 miles 200  from Aloha Tower 1720, Dec. 13 3 Unknown
3.5 miles 206  from Aloha Tower 1500, Dec. 14 5 Unknown

     3.     Approaches were made in as close adherence to doctrine as possible.  Visible results were disappointing except in the case described in detail below.  The following characteristics were common to most contacts:

               (a)  True bearing changed little if at all after vessel brought contact dead ahead.  This might indicate a wake knuckle or a former depth charge disturbance and in some cases this was probably true but it is believed in most cases it meant that the enemy was proceeding directly toward or away from vessel.  The approaches indicated this particularly in two cases where the range decreased very slowly in one case and very rapidly in another.

               (b)  All contacts were made at short ranges, 800 yards or less, indicating the possibility that the target was considerably smaller than submarines on which practice had been conducted when contacts of 1500-2000 yards has been made.  With this type of contact the probability of false contacts with wake knuckles and large fish is increased.  One very large manta badly injured was observed at one time and a slightly smaller one floating dead was observed later.  These fish may have been accidentally injured or killed but it is possible that they were actually targets for some attacks, but not necessarily by this vessel.

               (c)  Difficulty was experienced in regaining contact after an attack.  Search around the disturbed area of the first attack was usually useless possibly because submarine had succeeded in getting out of effective range (less than 800 yards).

          3.  Description of three attacks follows:

               2043, 10 December, 1941.  This contact developed shortly after tracer bullets from the vicinity of the harbor entrance were observed ahead apparently aimed at a surface vessel although none could be observed from this vessel.  Sound contact was made on the starboard bow shortly thereafter and vessel made an approach beginning with a sharp turn to starboard to bring submarine ahead.  Rate of change of range indicated that submarine was running away.  Completed approach and dropped three charges with 100 yard spread.  Immediately after attack turned right and attempted to regain contact.  Returning echo indicated possible contact almost dead ahead and in vicinity of our first turn.  Signalled [sic] RAMSAY patrolling with us and approaching that spot to search but her search was without result.  The wake knuckle of our first turn may have produced the second echo.  A thorough sound search of vicinity failed to re-establish contact.  A very strong odor of fuel oil was noticed aft after the attack and the turn down wind.  For several hours this odor was noticeable when passing this spot, diminishing toward morning.  A definite oil slick persisted in this spot, diminishing toward morning.  A definite oil slick persisted in this spot for two days.  In smooth water it was not observed after that time.  On two separate days thereafter with high winds and quite choppy seas a clearly defined oil slick, 50-100 yards in diameter, was observed 3/4 mile to one mile to leeward.  Since depth of water was over 200 fathoms and under these wind conditions a current of one knot to a knot and a half develops here it is possible that this slick might have come from same source.

            1702, 11 December, 1941.  Dropped six charges using Y gun on an urgent approach at full speed on a sound contact made while a cruiser was leaving Pearl Harbor and within torpedo range.

            0940, 14 December, 1941.  Dropped five charges on an excellent contact with range closing fast from dead ahead.  This was the best contact made, solid and definite and all hands were convinced that results would be obtained, but no visible evidence of damage to submarine was found.  A careful search of vicinity failed to re-establish contact.

          4.  After considerable thought on this subject as a result of previous sound training practices, a study of the doctrine and the experiences of this period, a changed method of estimating an approach when contact develops at close range has been worked out and will be submitted in a separate letter as a possible improvement.

L. B. OLSON.                                                 

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Last Modified 1/12/2016