Operation Clambake and ronthenut.org present:

Ron The Submarine Slayer


Yes, a Japanese submarine did cruise off the West coast of the United States during World War Two. And yes, that submarine did fire their weapons against the coast: their target was a minor oil refinery which was insignificant to the war effort--- plus, they missed their target and the shells landed in a grove of orange trees. However, L.R. Hubbard's battle with "two Japanses submarines" was a figment of his own fantasy of being a "war hero." Of the people involed in the "battle," it appears that only Hubbard believed he was attacking enemy submarines. I think that Hubbard read news of the actual attack on the oil refinery in Southern California (newspapers throughout the USA demanded "vengence" for the attack), and that was enough to make him fantasize about himself battling Japanese submarines: but since L.R. Hubbard was a coward and evaded combat, fantasy was all it was. From reading Hubbard's account of the event, one can tell that he is writing a fantasy--- the prose is that of pulp fiction. Two sub chasers, two Coast Guard Cutters, and two blimps accompanied Hubbard's boat in the "battle."

Hubbard was relieved of command of two ships, including the PC 815, a submarine chaser docked along the Willamette River in Oregon. According to Navy records, here is what happened:

Just hours after motoring the PC 815 into the Pacific for a test cruise, Hubbard said he encountered two Japanese submarines. He dropped 37 depth charges during the 55 consecutive hours he said he monitored "the subs," and summoned additional ships and aircraft into the "fight."

He claimed to have so severely crippled the submarines that the only trace remaining of either was a thin carpet of oil on the ocean's surface.

"This vessel wishes no credit for itself," Hubbard stated in a report of the incident. "It was built to hunt submarines. Its people were trained to hunt submarines."

Hubbard got what he asked for: no credit.

"An analysis of all reports convinces me that there was no submarine in the area," wrote the commander of the Northwest Sea Frontier after an investigation.

Page one of Hubbard's report. Click on the image at the left to read the full-size image. There are 19 images in all: 18 written by Hubbard, one one written report by the Commander Northwest Sea Frontier.
Hubbard's report, page two. First depth charge released. Note the pulp fictional "The ship, sleepy and skeptical...."

Hubbard's report, page three. Hubbard had the deck guns fire upon a log found floating in the water.

Hubbard's report, page four. The imaginary submarine turned to attack Hubbard. Hubbard included a sarcastic, flippant remark on this page, about how he had radioed for more ammunition but only received the word "Roger" instead of more depth charges: that is dialogue from the captain of a war ship in pulp fiction, not in real life.

Hubbard's report, page five. Hubbard reported seeing oil on the surface of the water.

Hubbard's report, page six. Hubbard reported the imaginary submarine was "blowing tanks," which means it would have been trying to surface---- HIGHLY unlikely. Also on this page Hubbard reported that he was guiding the first sub chaser on station to the imaginary submarine. Hubbard then believed there were two enemy submarines. This page reports that Hubbard's boat received 23 depth charges from the Coast Guard.

Hubbard's report, page seven. Hubbard reported that a blimp may have seen a periscope. He also suggested that two ships of war were "unwilling" to engage the enemy--- a very serious charge that, if true or believed, would have resulted in the commanders of those ships to have been courtmarshalled and sent to prison. The truth is probably that these commanders realized that Hubbard's two Japanese submarines did not exist.

Hubbard's report, page eight. Blimp on the scene reported contact with the magnetic anomally and droped a smoke marker on the area. Hubbard reported again his belief that there were two enemy submarines in the area.

Hubbard's report, page nine. Hubbard reported hearing propeller noises; since the "target's" sounds and behavior matched the boat Hubbard was in with a few seconds delay, it is pretty obvious that he was hearing an echo of his own boat.

Hubbard's report, page ten. On this page Hubbard reported being given command of all five surface vessels.

Hubbard's report, page eleven. Hubbard, on this page, wrote that the war ship Bonham was not cooperating.

Hubbard's report, page twelve. Hubbard reported a thick orange oil slick. Sonar reported enemy air tanks being blown (i.e., the submarine was surfacing), and that a periscope was clearly seen. He reported that the submarine then moved under his boat--- it is HIGHLY unlikely that a submarine would deliberately do such a thing: Hubbard's boat was armed with depth charges!

Hubbard's report, page thirteen. Engines shut down for repair.

Hubbard's report, page fourteen. Depth charges used as mines.

Hubbard's report, page fifteen. On this page Hubbard gave an excellent description of exactly what the target was: a magnetic deposit on the sea floor! But he wasn't smart enough to understand what he himself was reporting. On this page Hubbard also implies that the enemy may have been destroyed.

Hubbard's report, page sixteen. Hubbard reported that his own deck gun shot off his boat's antennas. Crew commendations then followed.

Hubbard's report, page seventeen. Hubbard reported skepticism by his superiors. Hubbard wrote that the commanders of the other vessels lacked the knowledge and the willingness to enage the phantom Japanese submarines.

Hubbard's report, page eighteen. On this page, Hubbard claims to have sunk or damaged two Japanese submarines, and then asked for no "credit" for those successes: more pulp fiction talk, not real life talk.

Conclusion was that Hubbard et al was fighting a known magnetic anomally. Other than Hubbard declaring war on Mexico, this was the only "combat" that Hubbard ever saw in World War Two. (One can now understand why he wrote about his "war record" with so much shame and humilliation in his diary.) One may click on the image above to view a larger copy.

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