This one is reported in the book "Blind Mans Bluff" " U.S. intelligence officials have long believed that a U.S. surface ship sank a Soviet sub that came close to an aircraft carrier attack force in 1951, early in the Korean War, according to two former intelligence officers."
This is Don Wellsman responding to your mail. The incident started early 1951, I believe it was March. We were in Sasabo and we're to provide ASW protection for a carrier leaving Sasabo. There were 6 destroyers in the screen, names unknown. We were stationed off the port-bow on the screen. Approximately one-half to one hour after clearing the submarine nets at Sasabo, word came "Bridge, Sonar, we have a solid contact." Surprisingly the Japanese shoreline was still in view. The captain was called to the bridge, we went to general quarters, advised the carrier we were pulling out of the screen to check out the contact. The captain had the sonar sounds piped to the bridge, so we were able to follow the approach to the contact. It was almost a typical training exercise, with the pinging and the course changes leading us in. We immediately sent out the international identification code, dot dash or letter A . Three times this was sent with no response, but evasive action was being taken. We started a depth charge run, rolling from the rear racks and firing from the side charges. We completed our initial run, at times we lost contact but then we picked it up again and made an additional run. One of the destroyers in the screen came over to assist while maintaining sonar contact. We eventually ran out of depth charges. The second destroyer took over our position and we returned to Sasabo for replenishment. It was nighttime now, the submarine net crew had to be woken. We then went into the harbor alongside a tender. That crew had to be awaken by general quarters and we were reloaded with a full compliment of depth charges.
We immediately left the harbor through the nets and relieved the second destroyer on the scene. In the a.m. a salvaged ship arrived out at Sasabo. A hard hat diver was lowered to the scene. In a very short time he returned to the surface with a pair of new binoculars. The story we were told was that it was a "sunken W.W.II ship". If those binoculars were from W.W.II, why wasn't there depris or barnacles, on the item. Recently (this week) a former shipmate commented to me, "We sunk a W.W.II ship that was doing 5 knots!".
We then returned to the coast of Korea. All hands were sworn to secrecy. Nothing was ever said or reported until I read the notes in "Blind Man's Bluff" page 297. As far as I am concerned everyone lived up to their sworn secrecy and US Intelligence officials were the ones who tipped off Chris Drew at NY Times. Don QM3
I was the duty Quartermaster on the bridge when we stumbeled across the sonar contact. I immediately ran below to the Captains quarters. Woke Capt. Weatherwax and he ran to the bridge and commenced depth charge runs. We dropped about 128 depth charges in about a 12 hour period.
This is a letter sent to be by Don Hudnall which I have already sent to Chris Drew for his upcoming book.
I remember the incident that you referred to about the submarine. First of all, we signed affidavits that we would never devulge the incident to anyone in order to avoid an international incident. It may be declassified by now.
We had left Sasebo to join the 7th. fleet off the coast of Korea, and went into a cove to have aerial target practice. Sonar picked up two contacts. It is my understanding the international code to surface or we will drop depth charges was given.
We were operating with the Frank Knox and the contact did not respond. We commenced dropping depth charges. We dropped 11 per pattern and we would drop a pattern and the Frank Knox would cross our wake and drop a pattern. Soon we began to get low on depth charges and the DMS Doyle was in the vecinity. It came and geban dropping it's charges. The USS Tussig was in port and they sent her to assist. When the Tussig got there,We went into the Dixie and replenished and lashed extra depth charges on deck. Finally, we got oil and maybe a little debris. I don't remember. Anyway, they told us it was an old Liberty Ship from WW-II. Then they decided that story was not good enough. Thence the affidavite. I was on depth charge central which was on the starboard side of the ship one deck below the bridge. I fired the k-guns electronically and the crews on the k-guns fired manually. We never knew which of us actually fired the k-guns. The pattern of depth charges were eleven to a pattern. three on each side of the ship and two stern racks. The submarine was in 250 feet of water or above because any deeper the depth charges would not go off.
I also would like to say that the next morning the anti-sub airplane overhead reported a torpedo wake passing astern of the McKean. It just missed us, and we didn't even see it. John D. Price QM3
My name is George Johnson. I served on the Mckean from Feb. 1964 untill November 1966 as a GMM3 ( gunnes mate missil tech.) From Feb 1964 until about MAY OF 1965 we were in drydock in Long Beach undergoing major overhaul. (FRAM II CONVERSION) to include the addition of the ASROC MISSIL LAUNCHER AND CONTROL ROOM AND MAGAZINE. In 1965 after completion of our shipyard overhaul, we were patrolling off the coast of either Washington State or Oregan . This mission was an anti-submarine patrol as Russian Submarines were in the area. On one occasion , BATTLESTATIONS was sounded and after a few moments at full speed, we hit something in the water, ripping open the bow ofthe ship and literally destroying the sonar dome, which was suspended several feet under the bow. We took on quite alot of water before damage control secured the forward part of the ship. We were several hundred miles from San Francisco when this occured, and since our forward steering was rendered inoperable due to the collision and because of the massive damage to the forward part of the MCKEAN, beneath the water line, we were required to immediately leave the area and proceed to the shipyard in Sanfrancisco. We literally steamed BACKWARDS for two days until we entered the shipyard in `Frisco". The drydock that we entered was immediately secured with no one allowed to go underneath the ship. I was able to sneak under the McKean and see the massive damage firsthand.. I questioned the radiomen as well as the sonarmen about the incident and was told in every case that they were not allowed to discuss it!! The official story at the time was that we rammed a whale !! Question..... why were the individuals I questioned not allowed to discuss " ramming a whale" ??? Secondly, I do not possess a PHD in MARINE BIOLOGY, but I was not aware that certain species of whales were tough enough to cause this kind of damage to a NAVAL SHIP upon impact!! Perhaps something escapes me. My conclusion is this: We were on anti-submarine patrol at the time of the incident, there were Russian submarines operating in our area and I believe we rammed a Russian Sub, probably sinking it. I` ve never heard any official conclusion. Maybe this was the SECOND RUSSIAN SUB that the MIGHTY MAC had sunk. If so , then the score is MIGHTY MAC ... 2, RUSSIA....0 !!!! PLEASE get this information out to the MCKEAN CREWS LIST. I welcome all response GEORGE JOHNSON