A fishing trawler may seem like an easy target for a powerful U.S. submarine – but these were the early days of the Pacific War, and even Japanese civilian boats were armed to the teeth.
From the Silverside Museum: After shakedown off the California coast, Silversides set course for Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 4 April 1942.
Departing Pearl Harbor on 30 April, Silversides headed for the Japanese home islands, in the area of Kii Suido, for the first of her many successful war patrols.
On 10 May, just after 8:00 local time, the submarine used her 3-inch (76 mm) gun to heavily damage a Japanese gunboat.
During this 75 minute action, an enemy machine-gun bullet killed one of her deck gunners, TM3 Mike Harbin, the only man lost in action aboard Silversides during World War II. Harbin was buried at sea later that evening.
On 13 May, Silversides fired torpedoes at an enemy submarine; although explosions were heard, a definite sinking could not be confirmed.
On 17 May, while maneuvering through an enemy fishing fleet and approaching her targets, Silversides’periscope became entangled in a fishnet marked by Japanese flags held aloft on bamboo poles.
The sub continued her approach, fishnet and all, and fired three torpedoes at the first ship, a 4,000-ton cargo ship.
Two hits tore the victim’s stern open. While that ship was sinking, the second cargo ship was also hit, but its fate could not be determined.
Patrol boats were closing in as the submarine, probably the only American submarine to make an attack while flying the Japanese flag, quickly left the vicinity. After damaging a freighterand tanker in the same area, Silversides terminated her first war patrol at Pearl Harbor on 21 June.