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Wahoo: The Patrol of America's Most Famous World War II Submarine Paperback – June 1, 1996
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“This is an exceptional story of American men who rose to the occasion time and again under dangerous circumstance.”—Abilene Reporter News
“A first-hand—and first-rate—narrative, told by the former executive officer of this legendary WWII submarine, which gives readers an intimate feel for life aboard the ‘boats’ that helped beat the odds in the battles of the Pacific and put Japan on the defensive.”—Sea Power
“Like Clear the Bridge!, [Richard] O’Kane’s bestselling account of the Tang’s 33 confirmed sinkings, [Wahoo] is a rousing, authentic war adventure that could well become a classic of its type, crack[ling] with the tensions, boredom, and occasional exhilaration of submarine life under the Pacific, O’Kane is a superb storyteller, and his credentials are impeccable.”—Springfield Sunday Republic
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This book, a chronicle of the wartime patrols of the USS Wahoo, is an excellent recounting of the way in which the Wahoo worked. In the first couple of chapters, we read an unspoken, but obvious, problem in that submarine commanders did things "by the book" even though "the book" was written in peacetime. These men, mostly older commanders, were clearly risk averse and were simply passive in their approach.
When Dudley Morton became captain of the Wahoo, their first patrol was a sign of things to come. Morton coolly ordered a bow shot on a Japanese destroyer escorting a convoy. In other words, the two ships sailed straight at each other and a torpedo from the Wahoo hit the narrow target of the destroyer, sinking it! Such a thing hadn't been seen before! Not only that, but the Wahoo chased down every merchant ship in the convoy, both with torpedoes and using the Wahoo's deck guns.
With each new patrol, the Wahoo is assigned more dangerous, but potentially richer, hunting grounds around Japan itself. The Wahoo sends the Japanese merchant ships to "Davy Jones' locker" and racked up a score that is still a marvel of American submarine warfare. Captain Morton divided up responsibilities for maximum efficiency. While he ordered the track of the attack, he delegated the firing of the torpedoes to his executive officer. He told his subordinates to exercise initiative and order attacks when he wasn't present in order not to lose time summoning the Captain to initiate an attack sequence. Dudley Morton was all about results.
There is another story here. The weapons used by the submariners were sometimes deficient. Throughout the book, there is the sense that the torpedoes were a weak link. early in the book, there were a few "duds". As time went on, a US sub might fire all their torpedoes and all of them fail!
In the end, the USS Wahoo and her crew paid the ultimate price for their country. Richard O'Kane had been promoted to command his own submarine prior to that patrol and lived to write the story of his own boat, the USS Tang, as well as the USS Wahoo. O'kane's boat was also destroyed - by one of their own torpedoes which had malfunctioned and circled around to sink the Tang that had launched it.
This is an excellent book about submariners, naval life and the making of new "rules" on the fly to bring about the results required, regardless of the peacetime book. This is the story of brave US sailors who volunteered for the most dangerous job in the navy. O'Kane brings the submarine war alive in this book and I cannot recommend it more highly! Five stars!
However, on her third patrol, a new captain, Dudley "Mush" Morton took command and the results couldn't have been more different. Gone was the apprehensiveness, replaced by a newfound confidence and killer spirit. Under Morton and O'Kane's command, Wahoo began sinking enemy shipping at an unprecedented rate. One one patrol, Wahoo single-handedly sank a complete four-ship convoy. Another time, Morton sank an enemy destroyer with a "down the throat" torpedo shot. When his torpedoes didn't sink a vessel, Morton wasn't afraid to surface and shell the enemy vessel with Wahoo's deck gun. Morton's bravery immediately rubbed off on O'Kane and the rest of the crew and, for three patrols, Wahoo sent numerous Japanese ships to the bottom. During his time aboard Wahoo, Morton became known as the Navy's most aggressive and successful submarine commander. The results could have been even better if Wahoo hadn't had to deal with defective torpedoes which either didn't run straight or, on one patrol, were all duds.
After Wahoo's fifth patrol, Dick O'Kane received command of his own boat; the legendary USS Tang. O'Kane used many of the tactics he had learned from Morton, and Tang ran up its own impressive record. Sadly, Wahoo was lost with all hands in the sea of Japan when Japanese planes sank her. Morton's and Wahoo's legacy will be remembered as one of daring and aggressiveness that marked a turning point in the submarine war against Japan.
This is a remarkable book. O'Kane's prose reads like a good action novel, and the reader gets a true sense of what it was like to be in an attack submarine. Each of Wahoo's seven patrols are covered, and O'Kane relies on other reliable sources in discussing the sixth and seventh patrols after he left the boat. The book is a quick read and definitely holds the reader's interest.
I highly recommend this fine book. Don't miss O'Kane's "Clear the Bridge!", which covers his time as captain of the USS Tang. Fans of submarine warfare will want to read both of O'Kane's great books.
Read this book, tell this story.
Top international reviews
I have almost finished reading it and it is so well written
and very informative.