I'M THE GALLOPING GHOST OF THE JAPANESE COAST
By Constantine Guiness, MOMM 1/C, USN
I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast.
You don't hear of me and my crew
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan.
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.
I look sleek and slender alongside my tender.
With others like me at my side,
But we'll tell you a story of battle and glory,
As enemy waters we ride.
I've been stuck on a rock, felt the depth charge's shock,
Been north to a place called Attu,
and I've sunk me two freighters atop the equator
Hot work, but the sea was cold blue.
I've cruised close inshore and carried the war
to the Empire Island Honshu,
While they wire Yokahama I could see Fujiyama,
So I stayed, to admire the view.
When we rigged to run silently, deeply I dived,
And within me the heat was terrific.
My men pouring sweat, silent and yet
Cursed me and the whole damned Pacific.
Then destroyers came sounding and depth charges pounding
My submarine crew took the test.
Far in that far off land there are no friends on hand,
To answer a call of distress.
I was blasted and shaken (some damage I be taken),
my hull bleeds and pipe lines do, too
I've come in from out there for machinery repair,
And a rest for me and my crew.
I got by on cool nerve and in silence I served,
Though I took some hard knocks in return,
One propeller shaft sprung and my battery's done,
But the enemy ships I saw burn.
I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast,
You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan,
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.
The USS Trigger (SS-237) was launched on October 22, 1941, and commissioned January 30, 1942. The Trigger made 12 war patrols against the Japanese Navy and shipping during World War II. Her first skipper was Jack Lewis, and her first patrol left her beached on a coral reef near Midway Island. Lewis became ill, and was replaced for the second patrol by, Roy Benson, who went on to command all US submarines. She entered Japanese home waters on her second, sinking two ships and damaging two more. She sank the destroyer Okikaze on her third patrol, which was dedicated to minelaying.
Robert E. "Dusty" Dornan took over Trigger for her fifth patrol. On that patrol she sank two ships, and damaged three others including the aircraft carrier Hiyu, putting that flattop out of action for a year. All while dodging wild torpedoes and dealing with the torpedo failures that plagued American submariners for the first half of the war. She was almost struck by one of her own torpedoes. Trigger was awarded with a Presidential Unit Citation for that patrol.
Her sixth patrol proved even more eventful, which took place in the East China Sea. Dud torpedoes forced a second attack on Yowa Maru. But that was just a warm up for September 21, 1943. She encountered a six ship convoy escorted by aircraft. In a day long battle, Trigger sank two tankers and a freighter. She sunk four ships despite at least eight torpedo failures, and earned her second Presidential Unit Citation.
Her seventh war patrol earned her yet another citation. She began by attacking an escorted convoy on 1 November. She hit two ships and sank one before being driven deep to evade a depth charge attack. On the second, she got two more freighters in separate attacks. On 13 November she went after a nine ship convoy with empty bow tubes. In two separate attacks-- separated by a depth charging-- Trigger sank a transport and another frieghter.
Trigger made four more patrols, rescuing pilots, sinking ships and escorting the damaged USS Salmon to safety. Lt. Cmdr. David Connole took command and took her out. On March 18, 1945 she sank one ship and damaged another, alerting the Japanese to her presence. On March 26 she was ordered to form a wolfpack with the Seadog and Threadfin. Trigger never arrived.
Japanese records indicated that their aircraft conducted a two hour depth charge attack on an American submarine on March 28. Threadfin heard the attack on sonar, and reported "someone is getting quite a drubbing". Japanese records state at least eight detections, with attacks resulting in a large oil slick being detected. Later it was discovered that Trigger had attacked and sank the repair ship Oate on the 27th, and her loss came in revenge for that sinking. On May 4, 1945 Trigger was declared lost with all hands. Along with 52 other US submarines, she remains on patrol today and forevermore.
Over her career, Trigger sank 27 ships and damaged 13 more, sinking over 180,000 tons. She earned eleven battle stars.
USS Trigger (SS-237)
Displacement: 1870 tons
Length: 312 feet
Beam: 27 feet
Speed: Underway: 20.25 kts.
Submerged: 8.25 kts.
Test Depth: 300 feet --- U-boats went to over 700 feet!
Torpedo Tubes: ten, six forward, four aft.
Crew: six officers, 54 enlisted