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

U.S.S. MOALE (DD693)

DD693/A12

c/o Fleet Post Office,
Serial 086 San Francisco, Calif.
5 December 1944.
CONFIDENTIAL
From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander in Chief, U. S. FLEET.
Via: (1) Commander Destroyer Division 120, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET.
(2) Commander Task Group 77.2, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET.
(3) Commander Task Force 77, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET.
(4) Commander SEVENTH Fleet.
(5) Supreme Commander Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area.
(6) Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas.
Subj: USS MOALE (DD693), Action Report 2-44, Night of 2-3 Dec. 44.
Encl: (A) Nav Track Chart.
(B) TBS Log covering period of Action Report.
(C) Narrative.

Part I(a)

1.     On 2 Dec. 44, while operating as a member of the Leyte Covering Group (TG77.2), orders were received for DesDiv 120, less INGRAHAM (DD694), to proceed to ORMOC BAY and destroy any surface vessels encountered.   Five (5) unidentified ships had been reported as approaching this area, and CTF77 assigned their destruction as the primary mission.
2.     The three (3) ships, ALLEN M. SUMNER (DD692), MOALE (DD693), and COOPER (DD695), departed the vicinity of the Task Group at about 1830(I). While proceeding down LEYTE GULF a TBS transmission was received reporting enemy planes attacking TG77.2. Soon thereafter the COOPER, who was astern of the MOALE, gaining her station in column, fired to the northwest. The after machine gun groups of the MOALE then fired on two (2) low approaching planes astern. It was quite dark and these planes were not identified before they turned away. During the MOALE firing a plane was seen to crash and burn about two (2) miles west. Observers report the plane to be a PBY and may have been the plane on which the COOPER was firing.
3.     The division then proceeded around the southern tip of LEYTE, passing into the CAMOTES SEA as shown on the track chart.
4.     Soon after arrival in the CAMOTES SEA, about 2220(I), bogies were reported by all ships almost continuously, and all ships fired at planes at frequent intervals during the remainder of the stay in the area.
5.     Approach to ORMOC BAY was continued, and after passing PONSON ISLAND a doubtful surface radar contact was made about two (2) miles south of ORMOC. This contact plotted and showed southward movement. As soon as the main battery radar could distinguish the target against the land background, fire was opened at a range of 8000 yards. This enemy vessel had previously opened fire on the MOALE.
6.     It is believed that two (2) ships fired on this target originally. Hits were obtained on the fourth salvo, at about which time a second target showed up on the radar. This second target was north of the first target, turned east and merged with the shore line. After about the eleventh salvo the first target caught fire. However, she continued to return fire for several salvos later.
7.     About the time the target caught fire a big explosion was observed amidships on the COOPER. The COOPER broke in two and was last seen with only the bow and stern visible above the water.
8.     The range then being 1200 yards, the COOPER having been destroyed, and the SUMNER having started retirement, course was changed to 150T. Shells of about 3" caliber were still splashing all around the ship, presumably from the shore battery.
9.     Since only the after mount could bear on the target, and since a fast small boat had us under machine gun fire, the 5" battery was shifted to the fast boat to the east. No hits were observed.
10.   The SUMNER and the MOALE returned to LEYTE GULF via original route, being attacked by aircraft until leaving the CAMOTE SEA.

PART I(b)

1.     The primary mission of DesDiv 120 was to search for and destroy five (5) enemy ships reported approaching ORMOC.
2.     Own forces consisted of ALLEN M. SUMNER (DD692), MOALE (DD693), and COOPER (DD695) (DesDiv 120 less INGRAHAM (DD694)), COOPER was destroyed by torpedo or mine.
3.     Enemy forces encountered by MOALE were one (1) BETTY or JILL, one (1) DE or small DD, one (1) fast motor boat, one (1) unidentified surface vessel, several unidentified planes, and numerous small shore batteries. One (1) DE or small DD, and one (1) BETTY or JILL were probably destroyed by the MOALE.
4.     Wind was from North, about eight (8) knots, sea smooth, moon bright, visibility about 6000 yards, with numerous clouds.

PART II(a)(All times item)

1845 (about), While proceeding south in the SURIGAO STRAIT, a TBS transmission was received saying that TG77.2 was being attacked by enemy planes.
1847, The after machine guns of the MOALE fired at two (2) low-flying planes which turned away before they could be identified visually. The three (3) ships, SUMNER, COOPER, and MOALE, formed column and proceeded south through the SURIGAO STRAIT at 25 knots.
2010, Changed course to 240 and entered the MINDANAO SEA.
2019, Changed course to 280.
2054, Changed course to 309.
2105, Changed speed to 30 knots.
2123, Took distance 1500 yards, MOALE 3000 yards from the guide, SUMNER.
2145, Changed course to 350.
2155, Changed speed to 15 knots in order to pass through CANIGAO CHANNEL.
2221, Cleared channel, passed between CANIGAO ISLAND and LEYTE, entered CAMOTE SEA.
2227, Changed course to 310.
2231, Passed many friendly landing craft or barges which were operating close to the beach.
2235, Changed speed to 25 knots.
2242, Changed speed to 30 knots.
2250, Changed course to 270.
2254, Changed course to 334 by turn movement, ships in line of bearing, interval 1500 yards.
2300, Went to GQ.
2306, CDD120 reported three (3) surface raids which the MOALE could not verify. Various bogies were reported during this interval but could not be verified by the MOALE and none attacked the MOALE.
2310, SUMNER being attacked by aircraft. Fire observed underneath the bridge on her starboard side.
2324, Plane on SC Radar reported 260, 3 1/2 miles.
2325, Ceased firing, no results noticed, no plane seen visually. Various planes reported but nothing was picked up on Mk 12 director, no firing done.
2329, CDD120 commenced steering various courses avoiding enemy plane attacks, MOALE keeping station as well as possible.
2338, CDD120 requested MOALE to make contact report to CFT77, stating that the SUMNER had been attacked by one (1) single engine bomber. Various planes reported, none fired on by MOALE because unable to get any good contacts on radar.
0000, CDD120 directed MOALE not to send contact report.
0002, Picked up surface contact on SG radar which moved out from the land, bearing 358, 17,000 yards.
0009, Commenced firing on surface target bearing 338, range 7480, course 184, speed 30 knots by CIC.
0009, Target being fired upon by at least two (2) ships. Other ship firing at target across our bow. Small fast boat to east of us also firing machine guns at our target. MOALE commenced emergency maneuvers to avoid torpedoes that might have been fired and to confuse reported bogies. The range was also closing very rapidly, and it was not desired to go much further into ORMOC BAY.
0009, Changed course to 340.
0010, Surface contact developed into two (2) pips, apparently two (2) ships in column. 40mm and 20mm opened fire at a plane on starboard side. No results noted.
0010 to 0015, Continued fire on original target, which started to burn about 0011. Rate of return fire reduced as she caught on fire. Since other ship was shooting at this target, control was shifted to target to the east. The director could not immediately pick the new target up, so fire was resumed on original target which was still returning fire.
0015, Observed a large column of water amidships of the COOPER. She immediately broke in two. Was last seen with only bow and stern protruding from the water. MOALE was circling to the left with full rudder, 3" splashes falling on both sides and ahead.
0015, Opened fire on three (3) planes by 40mm and 20mm.
0015, CDD120 ordered change of course to 150. However, change was not made by MOALE because she was already in a turn to the left.
0020, Turned south to open range and join the SUMNER. Shifted fire to a fast motor boat to east. Straddle on fourth salvo. Caused fire after about seven salvos. Commanding Officer saw small fast motor boat in line of fire. Gunnery Officer states that radar indicated a much larger target.
0026, MOALE reported to CDD120 that we believed the COOPER was hit by a torpedo.
0029, Changed course to 000 to follow SUMNER.
0030, SUMNER turned north, MOALE made a complete circle to the left to follow motions of SUMNER.
0033, Changed course to 180.
0034, CDD120 reported SUMNER speed 30 knots.
0040, Changed course to211.
0040, CDD120 reported possible plane 280, two (2) miles, and 110, five (5) miles.
0041, Plane came in from astern and strafed us from stern to bow with 20mm incendiary bullets, about twenty (20) wounded, phosphorus about decks caused numerous reports of fires and one hit in after engine room. However, engine room was not hit.
0042, Changed course to 231 (ordered by CDD120).
0055, Following movements of SUMNER in steering zig-zag courses.
0056, Reported to CDD120 that we saw COOPER sink at Lat. 10-54, 124-36.
0058, Fired at plane targets (0058 to 130 fired intermittently at various plane targets by radar).
0135, Changed course to 128.
0147, Changed speed to 25 knots.
0155, Changed speed to 20 knots.
0156, Steaming on various courses to clear channel between CANIGAO ISLAND and LEYTE.
0205, Clear of channel, took course 200T.
0220, Secured from GQ.
0228, Changed course to 135.
0230, Changed speed to 28 knots.
0245, Enemy plane reported, went to GQ.
0252, Fired at plane or planes with 20's and 40's - no 5".
0258, secured from GQ.
0303, Plane reported, went to GQ. Fired 20's and 40's.
0314, Changed speed to 30 knots.
0325, Changed course to 090T.
0327, Changed speed to 28 knots.
0340, Secured from GQ.
0406, Changed course to 000.
0535, Changed course to 339.
0630, Changed speed to 20 knots.
0747, Anchored in SAN PEDRO BAY, P. I.

PART III(a)

1.    In order that this action report will not be delayed, a brief summary of the requirements of this paragraph only will be submitted, details to be forwarded later.
2.    The following casualties were suffered in the Gunnery Department:
       a. During AA fire on approach, power was lost on the Mk 12 because one of the cabinet doors was blown loose and opened the safety interlock. The cause was not determined. However, the radio technician tied the relay down and power was available during the remainder of the action.
        b. After about 75 rounds, one (1) rammer in No. 1 mount was sluggish.
        c. Hydraulic control in elevation on No. 1 mount was lost after about the fifth salvo at the surface target. This was caused by a fractured hydraulic line.
        d. The reticule mirrors of four (4) Mk 14 sights were blown loose by own gun blast.
3.     Ammunition expenditures:
             At surface target:
                  550 rounds - 5" AA common with flashless powder.
                  300 rounds - 40MM HET.
                    50 rounds - 40MM AP.
                  600 rounds - 20MM HET and HEI.
             At Air Targets:
                  200 rounds - 5" AA common (about 25 smokeless, rest flashless).
                  250 rounds - 40MM HET.
                  800 rounds - 20MM HEI and HET.
PART IV(a)
1.     The only hits sustained by the MOALE were from one (1) strafing plane. This plane dove from astern and strafed the ship for its whole length with four (4) machine guns. The projectiles were mainly20mm phosphorus, there being approximately 75 hits. One (1) penetrated the stern, three (3) penetrated the main deck, and about ten (10) penetrated the superstructure deck. The after end of the ship was almost aglow with phosphorus, several small fires were started, two (2) men killed and 22 wounded.
2.     One (1) shell pierced the train amplifier on Mount 42 and demolished it. Another hit the starboard tube of the after torpedo mount and bent the tube in enough to cause a restriction.
3.     While surveying damage, a large hole was found in the hull plating at the stern. It appeared that a 3" or 5" shell hit here and did not explode or penetrate.
4.     Damage control consisted only of extinguishing small fires caused by the phosphorus. Neither water nor CO2 were effective. Only sand would do the trick. Since arrival in port, the supply of sand on board has been greatly augmented.

PART IV(b)

1.     The Commanding Officer and the Gunnery Officer observed hits only on the original surface target. It is strongly believed that this target (a small DD, a De, or a minelayer) was destroyed and probably sank with very few survivors.
2.     The second surface 5" target may have been a fast motor boat or a transport. The Commanding Officer saw a fast boat in the line of fire; however, the Gunnery Officer states that the radar indicated a much larger ship. After the fourth salvo the fast boat was not seen again by the Commanding Officer. This boat was probably destroyed and the larger target probably damaged.
3.     From reports in Enclosure (C), not confirmed by the Commanding Officer or Gunnery Officer, it is believed that the MOALE inflicted additional damage as follows:
        Damaged or possibly destroyed - Four (4) PT Boats.
             "            "         "            "       - Four (4) Planes.
             "            "         "            "       - One (1) Landing Barge.
4.     No estimate of damage inflicted by SUMNER or COOPER can be made by this command.

PART V(b)

1.     It is felt that the damage done to the enemy as reported in this letter is not as much as could have been done with the armament installed in the MOALE.
2.     The reasons are various. This was the MOALE's first gunnery duel and the flow of information between the Bridge, C.I.C., and Gunnery was not as smooth as it should have been.
3.     Since the enemy was all contained in one (1) small bay, our radars were very handicapped by land echoes on all sides, so much so that all possible targets were not recognized and plotted as such.
4.     The maneuvers during the action took almost all of the Commanding Officer's attention for he was concerned with avoiding planes, possible torpedoes, the survivors of the COOPER, as well as enemy fire from ahead and on both sides. Reports from men on the depth charge racks indicate that many splashes were following extremely close astern that were not seen from the bridge. These men report that the splashes were of the 5" size.
         Although the Commanding Officer realized he was in a "hot spot", the spot was apparently hotter than was known at the time.
         Operations of this sort should not be entered into unless air coverage is assured. Enemy planes continually tracked and attacked our group for one (1) hour prior to the surface engagement until one (1) hour after our retirement. The enemy was thoroughly alerted and had only to wait until our arrival to fire torpedoes at us. The strike was designed as an offensive; however, there was a strong feeling of being on the defensive throughout.
5.     Target practices have shown that the 5" battery of the MOALE can hit early and continue to hit, and it is believed that since the ship has now experienced the baptism of fire, her next engagement will be conducted in a calm manner with full effectiveness.

PART VI(a)

1.     The personnel of the MOALE performed in a very exemplary manner. Each man put every effort into the engagement. The performance of Group 21 machine guns was outstanding. This group of guns is aft of the No. 2 5" mount on the starboard side and is directly in the blast of the 5" guns when they are trained aft on the starboard side. The men of Group 21 remained on their stations almost during the entire action, disregarding the concussion of the 5" gun firing just over their heads. On one occasion a shell from #2 mount struck and destroyed the barrel of the forward 20mm gun. The crew of Group 21 changed barrels and resumed fire. Their performance is attributed mainly to the leadership of JOHNSON, Robert William, 609 33 08, GM3c, V-6, USNR., who throughout the action showed skill in changing targets and directing the fire of this group.
2.     A copy of the Medical Officer's report will be forwarded later.

W. M. FOSTER.
Advance copy to: Cominch.
                             Cincpac(2).


Enclosure (C)

     After interviewing responsible men at various machine gun stations, the following narrative of events has been compiled. Times are approximate. Most of the events were observed by more than one man, but are not considered conclusive. They are submitted in an attempt to account for machine gun fire observed in many sectors.

2353, Fired 5" at air target to starboard. Mk 12 radar out of commission after 6 - 8 salvos.
0005, Received target designation on surface target 355T, range 14,000 yards. Made preparations for opening fire using CIC data.
0007, Mk 12 radar back in commission - picked up target at 345T, 10,000 yards.
0008, Target opened fire. Observed four (4) flashes. Flashless powder apparently used.
0009, Opened fire, target bearing 340T, range 8000 yards.
0013, Starboard machine guns opened fire on medium sized plane in steep five bearing 070T, range 2000 yards. Plane seen to dive near water, but not definitely seen to crash and was not afire.
0014, Fantail 20mm machine guns opened fire on landing craft bearing 220T, range 1500 yards. SUMNER also had craft under fir with machine guns. Landing craft burst into flames, exploded and disappeared.
0015, Starboard 40mm machine guns opened fire on PT boat bearing 090T, range 4000 yards. PT boat was apparently undamaged and returned fire with machine guns.
0016, Estimated 5" or larger splashes were observed short to starboard and then long to port. Fire apparently came from vicinity of VAGONDON RIVER. Fired machine guns at small craft, believed to be barges, to the north, range about 4000 yards. After 40mm's fired at plane crossing astern from port to starboard.
0017, Sighted plane slightly north and above the SUMNER. Starboard 40mm fired at plane. Plane was apparently undamaged. Fantail 20mm guns fired at small landing barge bearing 090T.
0018, Two (2) planes passing astern from starboard to port were fired at by starboard, port, and after machine guns between bearings of 345T and 010. Both planes were shot down in flames, falling in the water about 500 yards on the port quarter.
0019, Fantail machine guns fired on and sank a patrol type seaplane bearing 015T, range 500 yards which was sitting on the water. Seaplane returned the fire until sunk.
0019, Starboard forward 40mm fired on enemy DD under fire of 5" battery. M.G. hits were seen on forecastle and bridge structure. Starboard after 20mm guns fired at transport just beyond enemy DD.
0019, Starboard forward 40mm fired at two (2) PT boats bearing 280T, range 800 yards just astern of enemy DD. Both PT's were sunk. One (1) exploded and one (1) caught fire and sank.
0020, Large gun flashes observed bearing 275T by Machine Gun Control Officer.
0021, Mt. 41 mount captain sighted submarine bearing 270T, range 500 yards. (Note: This may have been the bow of COOPER).
0024, Main battery shifted to target bearing 090T, range 5000 yards, and opened fire. Two (2) PT boats accompanying or passing by close aboard target were hit and sunk. One (1) boat turned over and the other sank stern first. Several hits were observed on the main target which gave a strong radar pip indicating a large ship. The trainer in #2 mount reported seeing a mast hit and broken off. There was no indication, however, that target was seriously damaged.
0039, Fired 20 and 40mm machine guns on plane coming in astern bearing 000T, range 2000 yards. Plane strafed ship. Plane appeared to be NELL mounting two (2) 20mm guns in each wing.
0043, Fired 5" at plane bearing 135T, range 3000 yards. Plane seen to crash into water - did not catch fire.
0044, After starboard 20mm's fired on PT boat firing at us, bearing 270T, range 800 yards.  PT boat was seen to catch fire and return fire was ceased. PT boat was possibly sunk as fires were extinguished very quickly.

COMMANDING OFFICER'S COMMENT: It is realized that certain data covered by this action report is inconsistent. Because of firing on both sides and ahead, no one observer could give a complete story. The observers who supplied the information in this enclosure were mainly machine gunners on both sides and the fantail; therefore, the times cannot be accurately coordinated. Since the ship was almost constantly in a turn, even the bearings cannot be accurately given.
     In retrospect, the Commanding Officer made many errors. Had several star shells been fired, much more information would have been obtained. Had torpedoes been fired at the original target once she turned broadside, this target could probably have been ignored and more attention given to other targets that were undoubtedly present.

A sincere Thank You to Russ Catardi who supplied us with this report