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Strike of the Sailfish

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‘Strike of the Sailfish’: The Beleaguered Submarine’s Famous Attack

In May 1939, the U.S. Navy submarine Squalus sank in a diving accident. Half the crew died; the rest were rescued, in part due to their sister submarine Sculpin. Squalus, refloated and refurbished, was recommissioned as Sailfish. In December 1943, Sailfish became the first U.S. Navy submarine to sink a Japanese aircraft carrier.

“Strike of the Sailfish: Two Sister Submarines and the Sinking of a Japanese Aircraft Carrier,” by Stephen L. Moore, tells the story of Sailfish, Sculpin, and Chuyo (the aircraft carrier that Sailfish sank), during World War II.

The Misadventures of Two Submarines

The book opens with Squalus’s sinking. A test dive accident flooded the aft half of the boat, drowning the men there. Mr. Moore describes the rescue, including the role Sculpin played in finding Squalus and marking the wreck site.
The wartime careers of Squalus and Sailfish follow. Mr. Moore shows how the two subs were like kids on a teeter-totter. When one was up, the other was down. Up until November 1943, Sailfish was down, a hard-luck boat. Some considered it jinxed by its past, nicknaming it “Squalfish.” Regardless of the reason, it had a lackluster career until Robert Ward became skipper. He commanded Sailfish on its tenth war patrol, determined to break the jinx.

Sculpin, by contrast, had a productive war. Then in November 1943, through a combination of bad luck and bad decisions by its captain, it was trapped and sunk. The survivors were taken to Truk, a Japanese-controlled atoll in the Pacific Ocean. After brutal questioning, the survivors were split between two of three carriers heading to Japan together. One was Chuyo.

U.S. signal intelligence detected the carriers’ departure. Submarine Command, Pacific sent several submarines after the ships. Only Sailfish caught up with it. The climax of the book follows Sailfish’s attack on the convoy, which culminated in sinking Chuyo.

Sailfish attacked in a typhoon, amid adverse conditions for both sides. Mr. Moore describes the tenacity of Sailfish’s skipper. It took three attacks to sink Chuyo. In the first two, he never saw Chuyo. Attacking at night by radar, he shot at the biggest target. Both times he hit it; both times, he was driven deep by Japanese destroyers. Both times he evaded the destroyers and reloaded torpedo tubes to finally sink it on the third try.

“Strike of the Sailfish” uses accounts by the participants to tell a story that reads like an adventure novel. It happened, though. It is an exciting and true story of World War II in the Pacific.

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Never have I been so glad to have a working knowledge of something as I have been with this book. While I have read quite a few books about WW2 and about the battle in the Pacific theater, I have not read any books about submarines and their part in the fight during said war. I HAVE however, watched a T O N of submarine movies [I acknowledge here that they are not all completely accurate in their depiction of sub life] and what I didn't get from the movies, my ex made up for with his extensive knowledge of both ships of war and submarines, and [though I despise giving him credit for anything] that is what helped me throughout this excellent book! I was able to grasp so much more of what was going on and I am grateful for that previous knowledge.

This book was just amazing from beginning to end [where many tears on my part were shed - the extreme bravery of these men will never fail to move me and be grateful for their willingness to serve and save our very way of life] and to give many details does the book disservice - this is so much better going in with as little information as possible so you can live out all that happened in "real time" along with the men in the book. The men of Sailfish, and her sister ship, the USS Sculpin, are beyond brave and deserved every accolade they received. I know I spent much of this book on the edge of my seat, wondering just how it was going to all work out and I was absolutely gobsmacked and in awe of what I was listening to.

Filled with intricate details of life on a submarine, it makes me realize I'd never be able to live that life [so many times as they were in DIVE! DIVE! DIVE! mode, I found myself holding my breath] and have an even greater appreciation for those who do. It also goes into great detail of what life was like for those who were in Japanese POW camps and those sections will just break your heart.

This was just a really excellent read and I am so glad I was able to experience it. Very well done.

Thank you to NetGalley, Stephen L. Moore, and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton/Dutton Caliber for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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The Strike of the Sailfish by Stephen L Moore – Fascinating World War II History


In recent years, I have been interested in reading World War II history books and wanted to read Stephen L Moore’s book The Strike of the Sailfish, Two Sister Submarines and the Sinking of a Japanese Aircraft Carrier.

The sister submarines, the Squalus and Sculpin, seemed to be ill-fated. In 1939, off the coast of New Hampshire, the Squalus sunk. Twenty-six of officers and men drowned, and thirty-two men remained alive. Thanks to the help from the men on their sistership, the Sculpin and other ships, the men were rescued. Amazingly, the Squalus was raised, decommissioned, and overhauled. In 1940, she was recommissioned as the USS Sailfish. Three of the Squalus survivors went on to serve on the Sailfish during WWII in the Pacific. Their sistership, the Sculpin was also in the battle in the Pacific fighting against Japan.

What happened to officers and men who served on those submarines and what they encountered during WWII is hard to imagine. This book was well researched and is filled with a lot of details about the men who served, operation of the submarines, problems encountered with equipment, weapons, and the challenges of fighting a war in a submarine.

The difference an effective leader can make as he leads his men in the battle was amazing to read about. What these men endured in the submarines, the battles they fought, facing storms, disasters, being taken rescued, only to be taken captive as prisoners of war is almost beyond comprehension. The drive to survive and commitment to fight and win the battle was awe inspiring.

There were times, it was hard to read what about what these men experienced. But I am glad I finished it. In many ways, these men were part of the greatest generation who fought evil and won. So very grateful for their service and sacrifice.

If you are interested in World War II history, or appreciate the military, you may wand read The Strike of the Sailfish by Stephen L Moore. It was challenging, and at times a hard read, but it was well worth it.

I would like to thank the Publisher Dutton Caliber and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of The Strike of the Sailfish by Stephen L Moore. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

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"Down periscope! Dive! Dive!" is the cry of the submarine's captain as submarine and her crew seek to sink beneath the waves before the enemy spots them. Many books and movies have this scene. In Strike of the Sailfish, this scene plays out several times as the Sculpin and the Sailfish search the Pacific Ocean for prey.

As the title states, Strike of the Sailfish is the intertwined tale of two submarines - the Squalus and the Sculpin. The tale starts when the Squalus sank during a test dive in 1939 killing half the crew. The Sculpin happened to be in the area and helped in rescuing the crew and recovering the boat. The Squalus was refitted and renamed the Sailfish in May 1940 before getting a new crew and reentering the fleet.

After United States entered the war, both submarines were sent to the Pacific to attack Japanese shipping. Each submarine suffered through the teething issues of dud torpedoes, bad warheads, and plan bad luck. But by 1943, better weapons had arrived and the submarines started coming into their own. But when the Sculpin attacked a convoy near Truk on November 19, 1943, her luck ran out and she was sunk. Part of the her crew were captured and taken to Truk and then transferred via aircraft carriers to Japan. But on December 3-4, 1943, the Sailfish as part of a wolfpack attacked this convoy in the midst of a typhoon and sank the aircraft carrier Chuyo. I took three separate attacks to sink it. George Rocek was the only Sculpin sailor onboard the Chuyo to survive.

Strike of the Sailfish provides a very gritty look at World War II submarine warfare through the lenses of two U.S. submarines and the stories of their crews. Stephen Moore provides plenty of details of a submariner's life and the plight of submariner POWs alongside the various attacks and other duties the submarines performed. If you enjoy reading about WW II naval action, pick up this title. It will not disappoint!

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I’m not the ideal reviewer for Strike of the Sailfish. I have what I think can charitably be called a decent working knowledge of the Pacific theater in World War 2, but I didn’t study it at the collegiate level, and I tend to read more speculative fiction than historical fiction. This book assumes you’ve read at least three and maybe five to ten books about World War 2, and at least one other in depth look at the Pacific theater.

It’s got a laserlike focus on two subs during the back half of the war, and it leaves it up to you to contextualize the stories. It was still an enjoyable read for me, but I felt like I would have been able to get a lot more out of it if I wasn’t doing quite so much googling or just rolling with the punches.

It’s a well documented story, and the author has the advantage of excellent source material. And while he does a good job, it’s merely a good job, and not a great one. He tells the story of two sister submarines, both commissioned at around the same time. One of them had a tragic accident while out on an early training run, and the sister sub came to her rescue. On the battlefield they met again, with roles somewhat reversed. It’s a good story, and not one I knew about. I enjoyed getting a sense of what life was like on a submarine. However,I think a casual reader would get more out of a broader scoped look at the history, but if you’re a buff, this might be a story you hadn’t heard yet.

I received an advance review copy from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.

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For the life of me, I cannot understand people who take boats out into the middle of the ocean. I especially cannot understand choosing a boat which is created to go underwater on a regular basis. However, there are people much braver than I and you can read all about them in Stephen Moore's Strike of the Sailfish.

The story is the stuff of nightmares. The Squalus was a submarine which sank (in a bad way, not the normal way) on a test run. Many men died. The navy brought it back up, made some fixes, and then sent it back out into service. Imagine going into that thing knowing full well its history is more than just a little checkered. There is also a sister submarine called the Sculpin. It did not sink on a training run. I probably would have picked that one if forced to choose between the two.

I will avoid spoilers and they are not needed because Moore's book is straightforward in a wonderful way. This book is about submarine battles, survival, and POWs. Moore's prose makes you feel the tension of a sub crew staying quiet in the middle of the ocean hoping a bomb is not about to be dropped on their head. This narrative has no frills. It is a story about heroic men in World War II and their battles to stay alive. Moore knows these men deserve all of his attention and he gives it. It's a great read.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Penguin Group Dutton.)

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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for giving me a free eARC of this book to read in exchange for my review!

I went into this having NEVER heard of this particular battle, and I was very interested! The pacing is slow, and at times it was a struggle to get through, but overall I did enjoy this book and I thought the subject matter was covered in a way that it kept me interested.

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This is book is an account of some of the struggles and actions involving submarines in the Pacific during WWII.
SQUALUS undertakes one more test dive, with a full crew, before ending into the war, except the dive doesn't end well. Quickly into the dive, she springs a leak and half the crew are drowned. The other half, seal off compartments and wait for rescue. SCULPIN is SQUALUS's sister ship, who passed all testing earlier in the same week. She comes to the rescue of the trapped submariners.
After a complete repair SQUALUS is safe and ready for action with fresh crew and a the new name SAILFISH. Her troubles are not over yet.
Early on in the war, US torpedoes were notoriously unreliable. Premature detonation, inconsistant range and lack of detonation at all, were a constant problem. Especially when the result was drawing enemy fire. ,
SCULPIN had her own troubles too. Eventually leading to her surviving crew being taken to POW camps in Japan, suffering horrible treatment along with other US, British and Dutch prisoners, until the end of the war.
This is a riveting look inside aspects of the soldiers' lives during tense situations that we normally don't get a peak of.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group / Dutton for the opportunity to read this historic e-ARC.

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This is a novelized account of two WWII submarines and the relationship between them. You get to know the crewmembers and the odysseys they experienced. One had a horrific start and ended strong. The other had a horrific end.
This offers a very good picture of life on a submarine. At times, the detail bogged me down, but I kept reading to find out what happened to the men.

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A great novel of the US submarine warfare in WW2. The tie of the two submarines is intriguing and the heroism and hardships faced by the crews is inspirational. The firsthand accounts presented makes this a great read you will make you not wanting to put this book down.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I loved this book. The author does an amazing job of really setting the scene by providing information about the other boats that came in close contact with the Sailfish. Also I loved how we get background and information on the crew. It really felt like we weren't just learning about the boat but the men that fueled the machine to greatness.

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Four years later, on patrol during the darkest days of the Pacific War, the Sailfish’s radarman picks up the tell-tale signs of a Japanese aircraft carrier, the greatest of all enemy ships. Never before has an American submarine taken down a carrier. Immediately, the crewmen swing into action, embarking on a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as this once-dead boat evades enemy cruisers to stalk closer and closer to their prized target. Little do they know that aboard the Japanese carrier are the sole survivors of an attack on the USS Sculpin, the very boat that saved the Squalis-turned-Sailfish back in ’39.

Author Stephen L. Moore takes listeners inside the nine-hour duel, narrating the action aboard both the Sailfish and the doomed carrier, as the American POWs fight against all odds to save their own lives before the ship goes down. Strike of the Sailfish is the nail-biting story of this strange chapter of naval history, tapping into a wealth of new information, including long-lost survivors’ accounts.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book. My reviews are my unbiased opinions.

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This was a fascinating book about a topic I admittedly know little about. I found it thoroughly engaging and informative. Strike of the Sailfish covers the battle between submarine and carrier in a way that truly captures the readers attention, yet it does not overwhelm with details and information. I liked the pacing of the story and feel that it flows well. I really enjoyed this book and I will be recommending it to others as well. A must read for history buffs.

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As a lover of history myself, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it covers an oft forgotten front of WWII, the USA’s submarine operation against Imperial Japan. The book itself is a fascinating look at the US submariner’s life in WWII, full of confusing and frustrating bureaucracy, leadership that inspires or leaves much to be desired, terrifying and thrilling action, and the long hours of being in a tin can under the sea. This book captures that all, and more, very well.
War can be a confusing jumbled mess with many facets, especially to the individual experiencing it. But with the tone being very matter of fact, what may be confusing is easily digestible. When the action really got going I was instantly hooked. I even learned of interesting tidbits of history, and new facts about the order and structure of the US Navy’s submarine forces. Overall it’s a deeply interesting book.
However, the novel starts quite slow, requiring around 50 pages of reading before the pace really picks up. I also feel as if some of the people's excerpts may have in some part detracted from the drama or tone of the moment, and that some of the stories regarding them dragged on for quite some time. Additionally, the cuts between the sister submarines felt like they broke the general pacing in the book. Though I took issues with some parts of the novel, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the book on the whole.

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