The USS Dace at the beginning of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Just after midnight on October 23, Japanese Admiral Kurita’s First Attack Force (Japanese Center Force)
was discovered off Palawan, Philippines by the U.S. submarines USS Darter and USS Dace. For the next
several hours, the two submarines shadowed the Japanese armada and radioed vital information about
its speed, heading, and makeup back to the Pacific Fleet. When dawn broke, the submarines made visual contact with the lead elements of the Japanese force and launched torpedoes. Ultimately, in its opening salvo, the Darter sank the Japanese heavy cruiser Atago, Kurita’s flagship, and proceeded to seriously damage the cruiser Takao.
After that exchange, through his periscope aboard Dace, Commander Claggett watched Atago sinking and Takao listing and badly damaged. “It looks like the fourth of July out there!” he shouted to everyone on the
conning tower. “One is sinking and the other is burning.”
The USS Dace struck a mortal blow to the Japanese heavy cruiser Maya, which sank in less than five minutes with great loss of life. Although the USS Darter ran aground and was eventually destroyed by Japanese aircraft after its crew had safely transferred to the Dace, the two submarines had inflicted
serious damage on the Japanese fleet as well as robbing it of the element of surprise.
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