THE SILENT SERVICE "The U.S.S. Pampanito Story" 1957
This is the tenth 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 "Pampanito". It is August 1944 and the "Pampanito" has been assigned to patrol the South China Sea. The submarine is part of a wolf pack looking for Japanese shipping. The "Pampanito", along with the "Growler" and "Sealion" make contact with a Japanese convoy. Each of the submarines scores a kill. They then continue on with their patrol.
72 hours later, the "Pampanito" returns to the same area looking for fresh targets. They see a large group of men clinging to various pieces of wreckage. They assume that they are Japanese survivors from the earlier action. The "Pampanito" alters course to avoid the men.
They quickly turn back when they hear shouts in English. The men turn out to be British and Australian prisoners who were on one of the torpedoed vessels. The Japanese had been transferring 900 of the prisoners to Japan from Singapore. The "Pampanito" starts pulling in all the men they can find. Water, food and medical aid are in rather short supply, but the crewmen do what they can.
The ship's officers, Jess Barker and Richard Crenna get on the radio and call for help. Headquarters in Pearl Harbor sends all subs in the area to help. "The "Pampanito" picks up about 75 men while the other submarines manage to pull in another 80 or so. The subs then set sail at top speed to get the men to Saipan for medical help.
The "Pampanito" completed 5 wartime patrols accounting for about 27,000 tons of enemy shipping. After the war she served as a training ship till 1971. She is now a museum ship based in San Francisco.
The "Pampanito" was used in the 1995 Hollywood film, DOWN PERISCOPE staring Kelsey Grammar and Laruen Holly.
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