Today’s Illustration: One Of The Most Dangerous Missions Ever!

View from the periscope of the submarine Wahoo (SS-238) shortly before attacking a Japanese vessel.
(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

Who: Vice Admiral Charles Lockwood, operational commander, and 760 submariners

  • Admiral Lockwood was commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Submarine Force.
  • In 1943, the submarine, Wahoo, under the command of Dudley W. Morton, was attacked and sunk while working in and around the Sea of Japan.
  • Lockwood wrote in his diary —  “This is the worst blow we’ve had,” he wrote in his diary. “I’m heartbroken. God punish the Japanese!”
  • Lockwood “resolved there would come a day — a day of visitation — an hour of revenge.” [1]

When: May 27, 1945, during World War II

What: The Story of one of the most daring submarine operations in military history.

  • The plan of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific submarine force was to stop the supply of goods to Japan, hopefully forcing them to surrender.
  • Operation Barney: The name of the plot to breach the minefield protecting Japan’s merchant marine fleet.  It was named “Operation Barney” after William Bernard Sieglaff, one of the leading officers in Guam who worked the mission. [3]
  • Nine Submarines, known as the “Hellcats,” were part of the operation.
  • It was an attempt to breach Japan’s minefields that were protecting the supply line to Japan.
  • The plot was built on the development of “FM-sonar.”  FMS was developed by scientists in the California laboratories in the early 1940s. It would be the development of this new sonar technology that would give these nine submarines the potential to get into the harbor of Japan — “Hirohito bathtub.”
  • All the submariners realized that they were risking their lives and that they might well not return.
  • Part of the mission was to convince Japan that they could no longer defend their ports and shipments against US submarines.  “It would demonstrate that by penetrating the minefield ringing the Sea of Japam, U.S. subs could operate virtually anywhere and under any conditions . . .  it would demonstrate that the Japanese were utterly defenseless against U.S. military forces.”  — “Hellcats”
  • “Hellcats” was the book that was written covering this operation, and publishing the many operational and personal letters of those involved.
  • All nine submarines made it through the minefields protecting Japan’s harbors.
  • The mission lasted 20 days.
  • Shortly after this mission, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
  • All of the submarines had escaped any meaningful detection and had torpedoed and sunk approximately 28 Japanese ships.
  • One of the nine submarines did not return back to its base in Guam — the USS Bonefish, under Captain Lawrence Lott Edge — with a crew of 85 men.


“The secret sonar device abroad those subs, which had made the mission possible and on which so much was riding for its success, was neither perfect nor foolproof. . . . . Not everyone in the submarine fore shared Lockwood’s Ironbound confidence in the secret electronic weapon aboard those subs, not his unshakable belief that the mission, if it succeeded, would help end the war.  Officers whose judgment he repeated had told him that it was a suicide mission.  But there were others, especially the scientist who had worked like demons to perfect the secret weapon, who believed it would work and that the mission would succeed. . . .  those subs and the one to follow would fight one of the most daring — and dangerous — submarine battles of World War II.” — pgs 1-2

“Whether or not Operation Barney contributed to tat collapse (of Japan) may never be known for certain” — since the dropping of the atomic bomb occurred shortly after this mission and forced the surrender of Japan.” — pg. 5

“As for submariners, the fear of death was something they learned to live with, though it was never far from their minds, given the dangers inherent in submarine operations themselves, and not just from enemy action.  Yet by their nature submariners are optimists.” — pg. 54 — Hellcats, by Peter Sasgen


Sarah Lott’s letter to Lawrence Lott about the approaching birth of their baby:

“. . . . a notice appearing the in the August 12 edition of the Atlanta Journal announced the end of one life and the beginning of another.” — pgs -236-237

pg. 262

— pgs. 271-272


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

  • courage
  • fear
  • duty
  • sacrifice
  • war
  • life and death
  • providence
  • salvation
  • revenge
  • “Stay with the enemy until they’re on the bottom.”


Sermonic Example:

(use whatever information from above you find useful)

. . . . Sometimes we lose perspective and history — reading history — brings things back into focus!  That is true with secular history and with biblical history.  While there were great miracles of deliverance recorded in the book of Hebrews — chapter 11 —  there is another part of the record — and people died . . . . .

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[fn] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—
of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.
These accounts are also meant to steel us as believers!




— “Hellcats : the epic story of World War II’s most daring submarine raid.” by Sasgen, Peter T.


“Lockwood’s desire for vengeance wasn’t immediately possible, but not long after, submarines of the US Pacific Fleet started to receive an upgrade that vastly improved the potential mission’s chances for success: FM sonar. Intended to detect underwater obstacles, the implementation of FM sonar was the only way a fleet of submarines would survive the mine-infested straits leading into the Sea of Japan. Believing that Wahoo had struck a Japanese mine, Lockwood was at first reluctant to send any additional submarines into the Sea of Japan, but the FM sonar instilled in him enough confidence to start orchestrating another attempt.

In April 1945, the Lockwood assigned Commander William “Barney” Sieglaff the task of training the submarines and planning the proposed mission to disrupt enemy shipping in the Sea of Japan. Dubbed Operation Barney, Lockwood and Sieglaff had the resources needed to pull off the secret mission, but there was still a great danger that put every crewman on the submarines at risk. The Tsushima Strait, which separated Korea and Japan, was riddled with mines. Even with the FM sonar, there was no guarantee any of the nine submarines would make it back.” —


“Hellcats of the Navy is a 1957 American black-and-white World War II submarine film drama . . . . .The film stars Ronald Reagan and his wife, billed under her screen name Nancy Davis . . . . This was the only feature film in which the Reagans acted together, either before or after their 1952 marriage.” – wikipedia

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