SUBMARINE ATTACK IN KOREAN WATERS
by Don GILES - HMS MOUNTS BAY (1949 - 1951)
On the 13th September 1950 HMS MOUNTS BAY was on passage in the Yellow Sea engaged on escort duties shepherding a convoy of landing and assault craft destined for Inchon and the landings due to take place five days later. During the first dog watch at about 16.45 the alarm rattlers sounded sending the ships company to action stations. This activity was the result of a "possible" submarine contact by the ASDIC team. In double quick time depth charge and attack crews closed up and MOUNTS BAY moved in for the kill. On reaching the firing position ten depth charges each containing 410lbs of amatol tumbled into the sea. By use of depth charge throwers and stern rails 4,100lbs of explosive was deposited over a sea area approximately 100 x 125 yards in a attempt to straddle and destroy the target. Due to the ensuing water disturbance after explosions of this quantity use of ASDIC's becomes impossible for a short time so normal practice is to run on for some distance before returning to assess results. In this instance contact was lost and no evidence of destruction was found resulting in an attack beeing called off.
After the landings at Inchon was engaged with other U.N. Forces including FMS LA GRANDIÈRE, HMS WHITESAND BAY, HMS MORECAMBE BAY, RNZN TUTIRA, RNZN PUKAKI, USS BAYONNE, USS ROWAN, USS NEWPORT and USS EVANSVILLE, in forming a protective screen around the landing area. The screens task was to engage enemy surface vessels, deal with floating mines, prevent movement of the enemy between islands and rescue downed aircrew.
On the 19th of September at 16.30 whilst engaged on these duties the ASDIC team of MOUNTS BAY made contact in position latitude 36°.55 north and longitude 126°.06 west, classified as "possible" submarine. Once again the alarm rattlers sounded and with the ships company closed at action stations an attack commenced. A full pattern of 10 depth charges was dropped. On return on the target area no result was observed but contact was regained. A second attack developed using the Hedgehog, an ahead throwing weapon comprising of 24 projectiles containing 32 lbs of torpex explosive based on the mortar principal and fired in quick succession. The 24 spigots on which the projectiles sat were arranged in 6 rows of 4 and offset so the Hedgehog bombs entered the water ahead of the ship in a circle of about 130 feet in diameter. The bombs were armed by an impeller located on the nose which rotated as it passed through the water actuating the percussion fuse allowing the bomb to explode on contact.
Donald GILES and "hedgehog"
Did one of those bombs find its target that day, we were never sure. Although some disturbance in the water following the second attack was detected, wreckage indicating a possible kill, was not. Further ASDIC searches with the assistance of RNZN TUTIRA and USS ROWAN did not regain contact and the hunt was eventually called off.
On researching the navies of North Korea and of their allies in China it would appear neither had submarine capabilities at that time but other sympathetic communist states most certainly did. Now the cold war is over and the iron curtain down perhaps we may find out if there was submarine activity in and around the Yellow Sea at that time. Did the paths of the MOUNTS BAY and some "unfriendly" submarine cross and if so did they return safely. Looking back to those events so very long ago I hope they return safely and in the fullness of time found a safe anchorage in which to live out their lives in peace and fulfilment.
Donald GILES, 14 Thonock Close LINCOLN LN1 3SW - UK
(TTX: Léon C. ROCHOTTE FMS LA GRANDIÈRE 1950 - e-mail: email@example.com)
(On the web, please check also : Léon ROCHOTTE's page: http://web.meganet.net/kman/nfleon.htm thanks to Karl Kristiansen USS MANSFIELD DD728)
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