U.S.S. Allen M. Sumner DD-692
Sumner's Action Report


Cover Page of the Report

DD692/A9 U.S.S. ALLEN M. SUMNER (DD692)
Serial 089 c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California
C O N F I D E N T I A L 4 December 1944
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet.
Via: (1) Commander Destroyer Division 120.
(2) Commander Task Group 77.3.
(3) Commander Task Force 77.
(4) Commander Seventh Fleet.
(5) Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Action Report - 2-3 December 1944.
Reference: (a) Pacific Fleet conf. Ltr. 2CL-44.
Enclosures: (A) Track chart showing route to Ormoc Bay.
(B) Track chart showing maneuvers in and approach to Ormoc Bay.
(C) TBS log.

PART I

          1.          Destroyer Division 120 less INGRAHAM was detailed by Commander Task Force 77 to conduct an attack on shipping which might be landing reinforcements at Ormoc, Leyte, P.I., on the night of 2-3 December 1944. All times are local zone time, Item. Passage from the Leyte Gulf at 1830 2 December 1944 via Surigao Strait, Mindanao Sea and Camotes Strait was uneventful. Proceeding at 30 knots in line on northerly course at 2308 ALLEN M. SUMNER received a near miss on the starboard bow from bombs dropped by a Jap Dinah. From this time until 0307 3 December 1944 the ship was under continual air attack by various types of Jap planes.

                      At 0005 3 December a surface target in Ormoc Bay was taken under fire. A shed and a derrick or crane two hundred yards beyond the target was also hit and destroyed. Opening range was 8,900 yards; bearing 050T. The surface target believed to be a small AK burst into flames after the fourth salvo, The fifth salvo crumpled the bridge structure. At 0018 a second surface vessel was taken under fire at a range of 4,000 yards bearing 050T. by the main battery and port side 40 mm guns director control. This target appeared to be either a DE or a small DD. It appeared to disintegrate and sink. This target was also under fire by USS MOALE. At 0030 retired on a southerly course at 33 knots continuing to beat off air attacks until 0307. ALLEN M. SUMNER and MOALE returned to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P.I., at 0800 3 December 1944.

         2.          (a) Destroyer Division 120 less INGRAHAM proceeded at 1830 2 December 1944 along track shown in enclosure (A). Division in column, distance 600 yards, speed 25-30 knots.

                       (b) At 2251 formed line with ALLEN M. SUMNER (guide) on the left flank, distance 1500 yards between ships. Bearing of line 090-270 T. Speed 30 knots, course 334 T.

                      (c) Friendly PT boats and barge traffic was expected south of latitude 10-55 W. in the Camotes Sea. A black cat was operating in conjunction with Destroyer Division 120.

                       (d) Enemy forces encountered consisted of aircraft of various types (Dinah, Val, Zeke). Fifteen to twenty aircraft were believed engaged. One (1) PT boat was seen sunk by 5 inch gun fire from the MOALE. One small AK was seen and destroyed. One DE or DD (small) was seen and destroyed by combined gun fire from MOALE and SUMNER. Shore batteries were observed firing from various points on the beaches.

                      (e) Wind was from 030 T; force 1 (2-4 knots); sea was smooth; visibility 6 miles; high, light overcast with a full moon. Objects against high, dark land were hard to see or distinguish.

PART II

          1.           At 2308 2 December 1944 a Dinah scored a near bomb miss about 30 feet off the starboard bow abreast of frame 22. This bomb appeared to be a small fragmentation bomb and wounded approximately twelve (12) men and one (1) officer. Commenced swinging ten degrees to right and left of base course using 10 degree rudder. At 2310 commenced firing at plane bearing 260 T. At 2318 commenced firing at plane bearing 355 T. At 2323 commenced firing at plane overhead. At 2333 commenced firing at plane bearing 270 T., and splashed him with combined fire from USS COOPER on our starboard bow. At 2340 commenced firing at plane bearing 070 T., and splashed him on port quarter; exploding as it hit. At 2358 commenced firing at plane bearing 310 T. At 0005 3 December commenced firing at surface target bearing about 050 T., range 8,900 yards. After the third or fourth salvo an explosion and fire was observed on what appeared to be a small AK close to the beach. Another salvo was seen by the range finder operator to hit the bridge structure. Succeeding salvos landed in a shed and on a derrick or crane just beyond the AK. At 0008 executed emergency 270 turn and ceased firing. At 0010 a PT boat was sighted bearing about 030 T. and was sunk by 5" gun fire from USS MOALE. At 0010 commenced firing at plane, to the northwest. At 0012 executed turn 022. At 0013 commenced firing at a plane to the north. At 0014 executed turn 090. At 0016 executed turn 150. At 0018 commenced firing at DE or DD bearing 050 T,; range 4300 yards, heading directly for us. Main battery shells were observed to hit target and 40 mm shells from mounts 42 and 44 were also seen to hit. Mounts 42 and 44 were being controlled by the main battery director. This target was also under fire by USS MOALE, After about six salvos from the main battery the target appeared to disintegrate and sink. At 0020 closed USS MOALE to the eastward believing her to be USS COOPER. TBS conversation disclosed that COOPER was missing. At 0025 executed 000 turn. A stick of three bombs exploded on the starboard beam and quarter distant about 200 yards. At 0030 commenced firing at planes overhead. At 0032 executed turn 180 retiring. At 0037 still under attack and firing at plane overhead. At 0040 changed course to 211 T. At 0042 commenced firing at plane on the port bow and splashed him on starboard quarter. At 0045 Jap plane strafing MOALE. Opened fire on plane. MOALE reported being hit in after engine room but could maintain speed. At 0052 commenced firing at plane on port bow. At 0055 MOALE formed astern distance 2000 yards. At 0101 opened fire on plane bearing 210 T. At 0122 opened fire on plane bearing 020 T. At 0130 opened fire on plane overhead. At 0145 commenced firing at plane bearing 180 T. At this time the attacks lessened, fortunately, and the passage between Canigao and Leyte was made without difficulty. At 02224 passed through about 20 native fishing boats which showed lighted white flares as we approached. At 0253 commenced firing at plane bearing 020 T. This plane was a probable for a splash was noted on the VF PPPI screen and persisted for approximately one minute at a range of 3000 yards. At 0306 commenced firing at a plane on the port bow.

PART III

          1.           (a) During the air and surface engagements on the night of 2-3 December 1944 all ordnance equipment gave excellent performance. There were no major casualties in any of the batteries. Two jams occurred in the 5"/38 cal. Battery. Bomb shock disrupted communications and power to Mount II for approximately fifteen minutes. One shell hoist in Mount I jammed due to a bent crank on the clutch interlock assembly. All machine guns fired continuously without gun casualties. One hot case jammed in the chute of 40 mm mount number 44 while the mount was firing at a high angle of elevation.

                       Personnel performance during the action was considerably better than expected. No difficulties were experienced with gun control. The main battery received target designations from both Conn and Combat. The 1JW circuit was used as the control circuit and at times was overloaded due to the rapidly changing events, many targets appearing at short ranges, and the quantity of information to be transmitted between Combat, Conn, and Director. This action vividly demonstrated the need for only evaluated and critical information to be transmitted during a heavy air attack. During protracted periods the main battery director was actually spinning from target to target in order to attempt to cover the threatened sectors as plane after plane made runs on the ship.

                       Training should stress individual action by mount captains and gun captains when casualties occur in the heat of battle. They must be indoctrinated to expect the unexpected and to effectively handle inexperienced men with both material and personnel casualties are received.

                       Machine gun control was excellent. Quadrant control with a reliable officer controlling his individual groups proved very effective. An Air Defense Officer with initiative and good judgment is of primary importance.

                       All main battery firing was in full radar control. Bogies used land background to mask their runs and great difficulty was experienced in picking them up until they were clear and at relatively short ranges. The Mark 12 radar was very reliable and provided the means of obtaining relatively accurate solutions in the matter of eight or ten seconds. Concentrated training in full radar control is a necessity for any ship expecting to operate in restricted water.

          (b) The following ammunition was expended:
                842 rounds 5"/38 cal. AA common Mk18-2 time fuse and flashless powder.
                1472 rounds 40mm HET.
                2490 rounds 20mm HEI and HET.

          (c) The gunnery for this type of ship is considered effective.

          2.           Enemy bombing was poor. This vessel was an excellent target in the moonlight. Only one hit was suffered with several near misses as a result of four hours of air attack. Return shore fire was very poor with only a few straddles at relatively short gun ranges.

Part IV

          1.           (a) Damage received in action from near miss, blast and strafing. Engineering casualties were mainly electrical and were as follows: shrapnel tore loose the electrical control unit of the anchor windless; degaussing cable M coil was ruptured at frame 30, starboard side, all D.C. cables were punctured in athwartship section at frame 15, boatswain’s locker; lighting cables in Mount II upper handling room and the loading machine room, A-303-L, plus the power cable in A-303-L were severed by shrapnel; shrapnel punctured and made inoperative vent blower 01-80-1 supplying CIC and superstructure. QCA gear was severed by shrapnel. Vent set 1-53, in Mount II upper handling room, pierced by shrapnel and inoperative; 36" searchlight lens and shutter pierced by shrapnel; X17J telephone call circuit between upper and lower handling rooms of Mount I severed by shrapnel; DC power cable to galley refrigerator severed at frame #60; #1 and #2 stacks punctured by shrapnel and strafing; constant service steam line frame 53 Mount II upper handling room severed by shrapnel; recirculating line #1 main feed pump ruptured by blast. Emergency fire pump C-13-4 burned out by failure of cooling supply; forward bearing of HP turbine #2 engine room overheated to temperature 223 F. after near miss on starboard side caused considerable whip in after part of ship. Investigation showed no metal in strainers or purifiers. Installation of a new thermometer after action, while engine was still in use, showed a drop to a normal temperature of 130 F. Number 4 spring bearing starboard shaft became hot to touch after near miss. Bearing cooled again shortly after explosion and investigation showed no damage. Main steam strainer and guarding valve gaskets were leaking after action.

                       Communication, Radar, and Sonar casualties were as follows. TBL antenna and one RBH antenna were severed by shrapnel or strafing. Cables connecting the projector and receiver of the 14MC QGA gear were severed by shrapnel. Dipole on Baker Mike antenna was punctured by strafing, and caused loss of pressure in the Sugar Charlie coaxial line. This did not effect the operation of the radar.

                      Ordnance casualties were as follows. Shrapnel punctured shields of Mounts I and II and dented barrels of Mount I. IJP telephone circuit to Mount II was shorted out by shrapnel; a jam, while loading, bent the crank of lower interlock clutch of Mount I and put it out of adjustment. Hydraulic line to surge tank of Mount III sprinkling system ruptured by blast. Gas ejection line to Mount III ruptured by blast. 1C warhead of torpedo mount I pierced by shrapnel.

                       Hull casualties were as follows. AIT, trunk, pierced by shrapnel, port and starboard at about 4 feet above the waterline. A302A pierced on starboard side in two places about 4 inches above waterline. The shrapnel pierced and mangled the stringers on the starboard side in this space and the compartment shipped about 6 feet of water during the action. A202EA, lamp room, pierced by shrapnel in 8 places. Holes approximately one inch diameter. A201A one shrapnel hole above water line, and frames 5, 6, and 7 appear slightly buckled. CPO quarters, starboard side, pierced in 16 places, size of holes range from one to six inches. CPO head has one two inch hole. A303A, loading machine room, pierced in 12 places. Size of holes to 2 inches. A205L pierced in 4 places, size of holes one to two inches. Superstructure from Mount I to Mount 43 (40mm) pierced in 30 to 40 places; size of holes ranging from to 3 inches. Floater net storage, forward, starboard side damaged. Bulkhead at frame 88, superstructure buckled out, no seams split. Cut out valve 2-162-1 of fire main in C203L and section of fire main split for 8 inches. Apparently caused by blast, 150 feet of fire hose torn by shrapnel. Shield of vent intake 1-60 buckled by blast.

                       (b) Damage Control. Repair parties functioned quite smoothly and after the shock of the first explosion performed their jobs accurately and efficiently. The fire started by the first near miss was extinguished quickly but required too many men from Repair II for the size of the blaze. Repair I and Repair II coordinated well in combating the blaze and the extra men were required apparently because several men in Repair I were dazed by the explosion. An extra length of hose should be installed port and starboard at the ends of the deck house in order to reach fires from both sides. Our extra hose was stored in repair lockers which proved handy enough but outboard stowage would have facilitated reaching the fire on the starboard side from the port side. Communications were excellent and the only difficulty encountered was in getting complete reports to the Damage Control Officer from Repair I. This was due to a substitute talker and was corrected after the first action by using messengers for reports.

                       The Chief Boatswain’s Mate did an excellent job in carrying out orders and supervising the work of Repair I. Light leaks were plugged rapidly, a minimum of water was shipped before holes were plugged, and numerous small fires were extinguished quickly. A fast moving roving patrol covering all compartments gave a quick and accurate estimate of damage to the CBN although the message was garbled in the telephone report to the Damage Control Officer.

                       Repair parties showed some hesitation at first in applying first aid but after a reminder did quite well. There was a tendency to send all casualties to the forward dressing station in the wardroom where the Doctor was located which resulted in congestion in that space.

                       Repair parties did an excellent job of filling in for casualties and exhaustion cases. None of the repair parties rested during the attack which was of some length except the phone talkers and messengers. As soon as repairs were temporarily made by the men at hand, the required rates finished the job completely while the others immediately turned to on shifting ammunition, clearing away empty cases, shifting wounded and otherwise aiding at dressing station, and carrying water and coffee to battle stations.

                       There was an apparent lack of coordination in repair III which was due partly to the fact that due to previous loss of personnel from illness, new men had been put in Repair III and were not thoroughly indoctrinated. More training in determining the extent of damage is needed. In several cases the fact that the skin of the ship was punctured was noticed immediately, and not until a power or light failure was reported was it noticed that the shrapnel had also severed cables.

                       The ship is equipped with a number of new type battle dress outfits for experimental purposes. These proved excellent under actual battle conditions except that they were quite hot. All repair party personnel were equipped with these "Zoot Suits" and several were saved from flash burns, others from shrapnel, by the protective covering kapok. None of the repair party personnel were injured although they were working topside during all the bombing and strafing.

          2.           (a) At 0005 3 December a small AK or AF was first set on fire and then believed sunk by gun fire from the main battery (See Part II (1) event at 0005). At 0019 a DE or small DD (possibly MOZO type DD) was believed sunk by combined fire from USS MOALE and USS ALLEN M. SUMNER (See Part II (1) event at 0018). At 2333 combined fire of USS COOPER and ALLEN M. SUMNER splashed a plane ahead of COOPER. At 2340 one plane was splashed off the port quarter and exploded. At 0010 a PT boat was observed to sink due to gun fire from USS MOALE. At 0042 a Val was splashed off the starboard bow and exploded. At 0043 Mount 3 splashed a plane which exploded off the starboard quarter 1500 yards. At 0253 a plane was probably splashed bearing 330 T. distant 3000 yards. One plane which strafed the SUMNER was splashed on the port beam by 20mm and 40mm fire. One plane splashed on the starboard bow which left a plume of black smoke and exploded on impact with the water. A probable showed a splash on the VF PPPI, starboard bow after having been fired on by the starboard 20mm and 40mm battery. The plane flew parallel to the ship at a height of about 1000 ft. and was seen by machine gun personnel who immediately commenced firing in local control. Total splashed were six. There were in addition two probables as seen by the VF PPPI in CIC.

Part V

          1.           (a) Communications were excellent except for voice communications with PT boats.

                       (b) Radars functioned properly. SG was particularly useful in picking up low flying planes. SC was blocked almost entirely by nearby surrounding land.

                       (c) The black cat detailed to assist in the operation found no targets and could find no survivors from the USS COOPER.

                       All the planes which attacked appeared from a general north or west direction. They appeared to fly in a circle of about fifteen miles in diameter. Coordinated attacks were apparently attempted but in most cases were poorly executed. Altitudes varied from 500 to 3000 feet. Bomb sticks varied from 1 to 3 bombs. Ten to 12 bombs struck within 300 yards and indicated poor bombing techniques.

                       (d) This ship was kept swinging continuously after the first near miss. Ten degrees rudder was used; except for sharp turns as the planes approached a release point in order to unmask the main battery and to avoid bombs. No suitable torpedo targets could be seen nor were any tracked. Enemy fire from shore batteries was not effective and was ignored.

                       (e) Smoke could not be used to advantage because of the light wind. The bright moonlight made deception impossible. We were at a decided disadvantage tactically. Enemy planes and shore batteries could see us but we could not see them due to the dark land background. It was necessary to use instruments entirely except for station keeping. Enemy planes used land cover to avoid detection on approaches. This was particularly noted over Pore and Penson Islands. Night fighter protection is deemed necessary for an operation of this type. Being under heavy air attack detracts the attention of CIC personnel from the primary objective. In most cases the CIC personnel could not talk fast enough to amplify original reports. Their excellent work made possible the accomplishment of our mission.

                       Retiring, after hearing that COOPER had been torpedoed and without attempting a rescue of survivors, was a matter of grave concern to the Division Commander and to me. I am certain that if either SUMNER or MOALE had slowed to any speed less than 20 knots that ship would have been lost. Air attack was constant and both ships were under fire from shore batteries. Both ships were clearly visible on a calm sea and in bright moonlight which penetrated a high light fog. It was an agonizing decision for the Division Commander to make but I agree with his decision in getting his two remaining ships out of the area as fast as possible. If air cover had been provided there would be no decision to make, both SUMNER and MOALE would have attempted to rescue survivors.

PART VI

          1.           I consider the performance of all officers and the entire crew outstanding. This engagement was the first real fight in which this vessel has participated. A comparatively green crew weathered a four hour air attack while under fire of shore batteries, and delivered destructive gun fire which sank two enemy ships and destroyed eight planes. During the entire time there were no material failures due to lack of upkeep or repair. A fire was quickly put out and all guns were in operating condition at the close of the engagement. Medical assistance was promptly rendered and continuous reports were made to "Conn" on all matters of damage received, air targets, splashes and objects sighted. There were no engineering casualties or failures. Communications functioned smoothly.

                       The following named men received wounds during action against the enemy which required treatment by the Medical Officer.


TRAMMEL, W. F.
StM2c, USNR 832-11-23 Powder burn, eyes
GLENN, C. F. StM1c, USNR 827-45-11 Powder burn, eyes
DUNN, A. J. S2c, USNR 651-78-70 Shrapnel wound, left shoulder
REPECKI, S. J. BM2c, USNR 600-34-94 Shrapnel wound, right leg
BEARDSLY, W. J. Ensign, USN 389353 Shrapnel wound, right wrist
MULLEN, J. T. Y3c, USNR 833-95-97 Shrapnel wound, left forearm
CLARDY, W. W. S1c, USNR 637-81-73 Evulsion of nail, left 3rd finger
KEEN, S. L. F2c, USNR 830-66-33 Amputation traumatic, 3rd, 4th fingers,
left hand
RUTKOWSKI, S. (n) S2c, USNR 986-19-22 Shrapnel wound, right leg
MCCLENNAN, W. F. S1c, USNR 202-90-12 Fracture simple, left arm
PEDERSEN, W. R. Bkr3c, USN 225-01-62 Shrapnel wound, left leg


                                    N. J. Sampson.


cc: Cominch (1 advance copy, less enclosures)
      Cincpac (2 advance copies, less enclosures)

A sincere Thank You to Ron Babuka who supplied us with this report