By the spring of 1945, USS TRIGGER (SS-237) was the veteran of eleven war patrols and the recipient of three Presidential Unit Citations. By the time she departed Guam on her twelfth patrol on 11 March she had already sunk at least fifteen enemy vessels for a total of more than 85,000 tons of shipping. Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class Constantine Guinness immortalized these accomplishments in a poem he wrote, entitled, “I’m the Galloping Ghost of the Japanese Coast.”
The first verse went like this:
I’m the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast.
You don’t hear of me and my crew
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan.
If he knows of the TRIGGER Maru.
TRIGGER’s crew was surely eager to keep up their swaggering reputation as they headed for their patrol area in the waters around Japan’s Ryukyu Islands. The boat attacked a convoy on 18 March, sinking one merchant vessel and damaging another, and then fell in behind to follow the remainder of the ships. She subsequently received orders to continue reporting on the convoy’s whereabouts and also to attempt to find a safe passage through a heavily-mined area of the East China Sea. Further orders were sent on 24 and 26 March; on the 26th TRIGGER sent in a weather report, but did not acknowledge receipt of her new instructions. The sub was never heard from again.
Records examined after the war indicate that on 28 March Japanese aircraft and ships discovered and attacked an American submarine in TRIGGER’s area. The intensive two-hour depth-charging was heard by four other subs that were in the area; USS THREADFIN (SS-410), which was also attacked, reported hearing many depth charges and several heavy explosions to the east of her position. “Found oil pool of 1×5 miles in size the following day,” read the conclusion to the Japanese report. It is believed that that was all that remained of TRIGGER.
Eighty-nine men were lost with the boat, the recipient of eleven battle stars for her wartime service.