Aircraft carrier USS “Saratoga” torpedoed, propaganda postcard, 1942.

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USS Saratoga torpedoed, propaganda postcard, 1942. On January 11, 1942, the US aircraft carrier was en route to a rendezvous northeast of Johnston Island with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise when she was hit by a torpedo fired by the Japanese IJN submarine I-6. The sub quickly deep-dived to escape a counterattack by US destroyers; the submarine commander, Lt. Cmdr. Inaba, later reported his target “probably sunk”.
In the heady weeks following Japan’s successful attack on Pearl Harbor, but which had failed to locate and destroy any US aircraft carriers, Japanese military propaganda took advantage of the “probably sunk” to depict a successful attack. But, two days later, the Saratoga limped into Pearl Harbor for repairs. Five months after being torpedoed, in June 1942, the Saratoga was designated the flagship of Carrier Division One and participated in the Battle for Guadalcanal.

See also:
Attack on Pearl Harbor propaganda postcard, c. 1942.

11 January 1942

“At 1841, while patrolling 270 miles NE of Johnston Island, I-6 sights a destroyer and crash-dives. Soon thereafter, a LEXINGTON-class carrier, one heavy cruiser and another destroyer appear on a southeasterly course at 19N, 165W. The carrier is USS SARATOGA (CV-3) of TF 14 under Rear Admiral Herbert F. Leary, steaming at 15 knots to rendezvous with USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6).

“Lt. Cdr. Inaba fires three Type 89 torpedoes in three-second intervals from 4,700 yards. At 1915, one hits SARATOGA starboard amidships, flooding three of her boiler rooms and killing six firemen. The carrier heels first to starboard, then to port, taking on 1,100 tons of water and losing headway. Seven minutes after the hit the escorting destroyers commence a counterattack, but fail to locate the submarine, escaping at 330-feet depth.

“The soundman of I-6 reports two loud explosions, followed by a series of smaller detonations, interpreted as breaking-up noises. After 2200, Lt. Cdr. Inaba reports two hits on a LEXINGTON-class carrier, claiming her as probably sunk.”

Combined Fleet

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