THE SILENT SERVICE "The U.S.S. Sculpin Story" 1957
This is the fourth episode of the U.S. war series, "The Silent Service". The series was about the exploits of the U.S. Navy's submarine fleet. Each episode is a stand-alone tale of the actions of a particular submarine. Most of the stories are about actions against the Japanese Navy and merchant fleet in the Pacific. There is also the odd tale from the Korean conflict. The series ran for 78 episodes during 1957 and 1958. The stories were all based on actual events. Some pretty good attention to detail here with the U.S Navy allowing filming on several WW 2 era Gato class subs.
Each episode started and ended with retired Real Admiral Thomas M. Dykers giving a breakdown of the action. Dykers became a writer, producer and technical adviser after leaving the service. He worked on films such as, TORPEDO ALLEY, FLAT TOP, THE FROGMEN, HELL AND HIGH WATER and SUBMARINE COMMAND.
This episode is about the "Sculpin". It is November 1943 and the "Sculpin" is sent on a patrol off the big Japanese naval base at Truk. The Marines are landing at Tarawa and the "Sculpin" is assigned to intercept any Japanese naval units sent out in reply to the invasion.
Besides the combat patrol, the "Scuplin's" Captain, Liam Sullivan, is transporting an important officer. On board is the officer commanding all the submarines in the area, Harry Lauter. Lauter is using the submarine has his headquarters boat.
The "Sculpin" arrives outside the Japanese base and starts looking for targets. She spots a Japanese convoy leave the lagoon and moves in for an attack. She is however spotted before she can launch torpedoes. It is a crash dive followed by a fierce bout of depth charges. The submarine sustains damage and stays down till night.
That night, the submarine surfaces to have a look at how bad the damage is. The Japanese though have pulled a fast one, and left a destroyer loitering in the area. Another crash dive is needed followed by another round of depth charges. More damage is received and the hull starts to come apart.
Now the depth meter malfunctions and the "Sculpin" surfaces right in front of the Japanese destroyer. The gun crews rush to their weapons but the destroyer is faster off the mark. The gun crews, as well as Captain Sullivan are killed as the Japanese hit the submarine repeatedly.
The abandon ship is called and the men swarm for the decks. That is all except Commodore Harry Lauter. He decides to stay with the submarine. He has all the invasion plans etc and is afraid he might spill under Japanese torture. Needless to say he goes down with the ship.
The survivors were picked up by the Japanese and taken to Truk. Half of the 40 survivors were sent to Japan on the escort carrier Chuyo. The ship though never makes it as it is torpedoed and sunk by another U.S. submarine with only one American surviving. The other 20 "Sculpin" crewman were on another ship that made Japan. They spend the rest of the war as forced labour in a copper mine.
After the war, when the story of the submarine came to light. The real officer, John Cromwell, who went down with the submarine, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
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