The following is the most accurate, detailed, and authoritative account available, of the Japanese aircraft attack on the USS Mullany at Okinawa on 6 April 1945.

Action report - USS Mullany DD528

C/O Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, Calif.,
April 16, 1945

From: The Commanding Officer
To: Commander in Chief,

(1) Commander Destroyer Division One Hundred twenty-six.
(2) Commander Destroyer Squadron Sixty-Three.
(3) Commander Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Four.
(4) Commander Transport Squadron Fourteen.
(5) Commander Task Force Fifty-Five.
(6) Commander Task Force Fifty-One.
(7) Commander Fifth Fleet.

Action Report - Preparation for, and Landing on Okinawa Gunto, Nansei Shoto, from 15 March 1945 to April 6 1945.

(a) ComphibsPac OpPlan A1-45.
(b) ComphibsGrp Attack Order A1202-45.

(A) Copy of Ships Battle Damage Report.
(B) Form for reporting Anti-Aircraft Action by Surface Ships (Cominch F-01 AA-1).
(C) Form for reporting Anti-Submarine Attack by Surface Ships (ASW-1).
(D) Comments of Ship's Fighter Director Officer.
(E) Comments of Ship's Gunnery Officer.

1. In Accordance with Pacific Fleet Confidential Letter 1CL-45, the following action report for U.S.S. Mullany (DD528) for the period 15 March to 6 April 1945 is submitted herewith.

Part I
(A) From 15 March to 27 March 1945, Mullany operated in Leyte Gulf Area, Patrolling entrance in the station #4 from 15-17 March 1945. On 18 March took part in simulated shore bombardment exercises in Tarraguna anchorage, Leyte, and during remainder of period carried out logistics and urgent tender repairs. 28 March - 1 April 1945, enroute Leyte Gulf to Okinawa Gunto, Nansei Shoto, with Task Force 55, during which time the ship made a single anti-submarine attack on 29 March 1945.

Action Report-Preparation for, and landing on Okinawa Gunto, Nansei Shoto, from 15 March 1945 to 6 April 1945.

LCI numbers 79, 453, 455, 472, and 725 respectively in stations A-136, A-139, A-140, A-137, and A-135. &bnsp; Mullany was assisted in station A-153 by Tracy (DM69), which was assigned the northern leg, while Mullany took southern leg. Screen was kept on station after dark by Mullany by CIC's plots; LCI's were directed by course and distance to get back on station. Mullany maintained this screed buring night of 4 April, day and night of 5 April, and day of 6 April. On this last day only LCI's 79, 347, 453, 461, and 472 were in the screen. On 6 April, at which time Mullany patrolled all of station A-153, Tracy took station A-154. At 1653, 6 April, in accordance with commander Destroyer Division 126 TBS orders, patrolled station A-1 and A-3 during daylight, A-153 during darkness.

C.        (1) During the period 15 March to 6 April, Mullany carried out screening assignments in accordance with specific directives of the individual screen commanders. These were, for all practical purposes, patterned after the anti-submarine screens of Table #1 of USF 10A (good sonar conditions) with slight modifications. When directed to repel air attack, ships stood stations in equally spaced sectors through 360°, closing in towards center to take distance 1500 yards from nearest screened ship. (These directives were sunk with registered confidential publications used by bridge personnel, and therefore cannot be referred to here.)

(2) On the eve of the action in which this vessel was subjected to attack by Japanese aircraft, Mullany had just shortly before commenced patrolling outer anti-submarine screen stations A-2 and A-3, centered approximately 25 miles east of Zanpa Misaka, Okinawa Shima. In addition to duty as anti-submarine screen vessel, Mullany was assigned as radar picket in this station.

D.        (1) Friendly ships in the area consisted of Purdy (DD734), Gherardi (DMS30), Execute (AM232), PGM-10, and LCI 461. These had various patrol or minesweeping stations in the neighborhood.

E. (1) Enemy forces encountered were four Japanese aircraft, variously identified as "Tojos", Nakajima Ki-43 fighter "Oscars", or Zekes". Although they were in the same area almost simultaneously, they did not appear to coordinate their attacks. Their original approach, when first sighted by this vessel was generally from the north.


Chronological Account of the Action.

1. At 1740 (I), 6 April 1945, Mullany was patrolling station A-1 and A-3, off the east coast of the island of Okinawa Shima, Nansei Shoto, at 15 knots, approximate course 145° (T true). The ship was in condition of readiness 1-E. The sky was overcast, about 4000 feet ceiling, visibility about 10 miles: the wind, 3 to 5 knots, was from 030° (T); the sea was slight with no swell.

2. At 1743 anti-aircraft fire was seen on the starboard bow about 5 miles away; the rudder was put right full, flank speed rung up, and the ship went to general quarters.

When first sighted, the Japanese aircraft was flying at constant altitude from right to left across the starboard bow at about 9000 yards and circled before beginning a dive. The ship started swinging to right and when the range was 8000 yards the planes bore about 330° relative, target angle became zero, and the plane started a straight shallow dive towards the ship, simultaneously opening fire with two machine guns, one on either side of his radial engine; these were later determined as 12.7 mm. The plane, a radial engine, low wing single seated fighter was variously identified as a "Tojo", "Zeke", or "Oscar". Nakajima Ki-43 fighter.

3. At 1745 at 6000 yards range, fire was opened by the entire 5" battery, rapid continuous fire; the port 40mm and 20mm guns opening shortly thereafter. The 5" guns were in automatic control, with the director using direct range keeping, semi-automatic rate control, with optical pointing and ranging, spotting direct. The 40mm battery was in automatic, controlled by the individual heavy machine gun directors.

Direct hits by the 40mm battery was observed, a small flame spurting from the cowling. 5" burst were close, which probably caused some damage, but no direct hits were seen.

The plane headed for the bridge until about 1500 yards distance, where he was smoking from hits, and then veered off to his right and crashed at the port side of the after deck house between 5" mounts #3 and #4, into the crew's head and #3 5" handling room.
45 rounds 5" AA Common or AA Special, and 224 rounds of 40mm were expended. A message stating that the ship had been hit, and requesting assistance, was sent by TCS to CTF 51, 52, and 54.

4. The plane hit about 1746, exploded with a spray of gasoline, and started large fires. The area between 5" mount #3 and mount #5 was ablaze, 40mm ammunition was exploding about the burned area.

The deckhouse, 40mm mount and director, were a mass of torn wreckage. Steering control and other communications to the part of the ship abaft the after deckhouse were lost, but shift to emergency power was carried out, and in about twenty seconds control of 5" mounts #1 and #2 , and 40mm mounts #41, #42, #43, and #44 was recovered.

Attempts were immediately made to sprinkle the after magazines and handling rooms, but the fire main had been pierced, and damage to the sprinkling control valves by the fire and explosions would have prevented any degree of flooding even if water had been available.

5. The initial explosion carried away parts of the after bulkhead of the after engine room, spraying the engine room with fuel oil, and scalding the water from auxiliaries adjacent to that bulkhead. This drove the engine room personnel forward, and after clearing debris from the top of the main deck hatch, they abandoned the engine room, with all hands safe, one man receiving first degree burns on neck and ears. The after generator failed at this time.

6. The forward repair party went into action with two fire hoses led to the fire on the starboard side of the damage, with the first lieutenant and his assistant in charge.

Most of the after repair party, including the officer in charge, Machinist Wood, were killed or badly wounded by the initial explosion.

The starboard side of the blaze was beaten back to some degree with the two hoses functioning normally, with about eighty-five pounds pressure. Progress on the port side was not as effective, since practically all of the forward repair party was on the starboard side at the time of the initial damage. Only one hose was being led to the fire on the port side. Only one fire plug, at the galley, frame 89 was available, and an extra length of hose was necessary for this to reach the fire. Two hoses to the starboard, and one to port, were the only ones available at the scene of the fire at this time.
In a short time there was little pressure on the fire main, which appears to have improved after a check of the bulkhead stops in the after fire room at the order of the first lieutenant.

Additional hose lengths were brought up from the forward fire room and engine room, and were coupled to the handy-billy. One hose was played into #3 handling room, where fire was driven away from powder and projectiles. An attempt to put out a fire below the main deck aft of #3 handling room was not successful because wreckage from the blown-in bulkhead had made the fire inaccessible from above.

7. At the initial hit the men from #4 and #5 magazine and #5 handling room abandoned those stations and attempted to fight the fire topside at the starboard depth charges with a hose from compartment C-205L, through the after hatch, 1-168-2,4, but there was no water pressure. They then attempted to escape through this after hatch, but shrapnel from the exploding 40mm ammunition forced them to leave by the escape hatch from the after steering room. Compartment C-203L had been completely dogged down as the left.

8. By 1750, all torpedoes in the after mount, and in tubes #1, #2, #4, and #5 of the forward mount, had been jettisoned, and the depth charges in projectors #1, 2, 4, 6. One charge was jettisoned from the stowage rack #4, but the other charges in the port and starboard racks could not be removed due to the fire and wreckage. Rack #2 had been demolished by the original impact; there was no indication that these charges had exploded in their racks, as the weather deck was not damaged in this vicinity.

9. Realizing power and water supply to the fantail was lacking, an order was given to lower the motor whaleboat into the water with a handy-billy, with orders to proceed to the fantail for assistance in fighting the fire.

10. A red-hot depth charge was observed aflame on #3 rack, which the hoses could not reach effectively, only one small stream reaching the charges; and before water from an operating handy-billy could be provided, and unknown number of depth charges exploded at 1809, causing terrific damage and loss of life.

Fire fighters took cover from the shrapnel, and several personnel blown over the side were seen swimming in the water. A handy-billy was now rigged at the port side of the after stack. By this time there was fire hose all over the deck, kinked and pinned down by the wreckage.

11. At 1817 a second Japanese aircraft approached on the port bow and circled the ship at about 8000 yards. With an excellent solution in the computer, fire was opened with 5" guns #1 and #2 when the target angle was about 270°. The guns were again in automatic, director controlled. At 1818 the plane was hit and crashed into the sea after about 6 rounds each of AA common and AA special had been fired.

At 1819 fire was shifted to a third Japanese aircraft also on the port bow at about 6000-8000 yards range. A wing was shot off this plane which crashed. This pilot may have bailed out. About 39 total rounds of similar ammunition were expended on the run.

12. Numerous friendly ships were approaching at this time. The nearest, LCI #461, was requested to close Mullany's starboard quarter and to throw water into the fires deep in the damaged area, inaccessible from on deck. Assistance along the same line was requested of the Gherardi (DMS 30), which approached shortly afterward. Later, Execute (AM 232), PGM-10, and Purdy (DD734) arrived.

13. At 1825, Additional explosions occurred at the scene of the fire, possible 5" ammunition in handling rooms. As a result of these explosions more personnel were blown overboard. The motor whaleboat, with Lieutenant (jg) Fox, was lowered at this time with the handy-billy, and proceeded to the fantail. Lieutenant (jg) Fox first attempted to flood the after magazine, but the control valve shaft was bent, and there was no water pressure aft to permit flooding. Attempts to start the handy-billy were unsuccessful, when a rescue boat from Gherardi arrived with an officer, men and a handy-billy. At this time there was no fire in C-203L, which was just above the after magazine.

14. Fires were burning in most of the damaged area in the starboard side of the ship. Two below and one behind 40mm mount #5 and the upturned super-structure deck; The large 500-GPM pump was prepared for use here, when it was discovered that all of its four inch suction hose was in the fire at its stowage rack.

A hose from a handy-billy was led to the fire, but pressure was lost from intermittent stoppage and priming of the pump. Many hoses were dangling unattended in the tangled mess in the damaged area. A hose was hurriedly made up and led into #3 handling room, but a fire below and abaft the base of #3 lower ammunition hoist could not be reached with the stream of water.

The deck plating over the area just below the hoist was extremely hot, indicating a fire which could not be reached. The top of the ammunition dredger hoist had been blown away, so no water could be gotten into that area to flood magazine Group III, which was nearest the fire. Group III flooding valve, located in the crew's head, had been carried away by the initial explosion. This condition was reported to the captain.

15. With the fire at the forward port corner of the deck house now under control, the torpedo officer transferred a hose aft along the main deck, port side, to Lieutenant (jg) Fox, who played water against the starboard side of #4 handling room through an opening in the forward bulkhead, the hose being too short to get water through the main deck hatch into #4 handling room.

The Gherardi's handy-billy was then started, and the fire which had concentrated in wiring boxes was extinguished in #4 handling room under the direction of the Gherardi's fire fighting officer. With two additional hoses, water was now intermittently played from this handling room to #4 gun mount and parts of the wreckage still burning.

One additional hose was played on the ammunition in #3 handling room to cool it. This information was not available to the captain at the time. There was no indication of oil smoke. It was further learned later that there was about four feet of water and oil in the bottom of living space C-203L.

16. During this period, attempts were made to have Gherardi replace LCI #461 along the starboard quarter to get effective streams of water from the starboard side, but due to survivors and boats in the water, the area was restricted for maneuvering for both ships, and this was never accomplished.

17. At 1828 fire was opened on an aircraft approaching from dead ahead; this plane then turned away. About 15 rounds each of AA Common and AA Special were expended. Additional air-burst and splinters were noted in close proximity to this aircraft, apparently anti-aircraft fire from other friendly ships.

18. Based on the report by the assistant first lieutenant that the bulkhead of one of the magazines was red hot, and that the fire in that area could not be controlled, the captain gave the order to abandon ship at 1829, to avoid unnecessary additional loss of life.

Amplifying reports, stating that the ship was being abandoned, were transmitted by TBS. The gig was lowered with the wounded. Decoding machines, TBS transmitter crystals, SC magnetrons and stub assembly, and registered publications were destroyed or thrown overboard weighted down.

The crew abandoned ship in an orderly manner in nets and boats, and a large number swam independently to adjacent ships. Ship's position at this time was approximately 26° 24' 10" N. Latitude, and 128° 09' 30" E. longitude.

19. The commanding officer proceeded in the motor whale-boat to Purdy (DD734) to notify that commanding officer (next senior officer at the scene of the action), who then made arrangements for fighter cover and tug services to salvage the ship if possible. The Captain then proceeded to the LCI #461 to make preparations for salvage parties to return to the ship.

At approximately 2030, Purdy at great risk to personnel and material damage from possible explosion of magazines of this ship, stood close in to the quarter of Mullany and extinguished fires in the areas around the after magazines.

20. Salvage parties consisting of key members of Mullany crew were immediately organized in the various rescue ships. The commanding officer, with the first group, was finally able to return to the ship at about 2300.

Upon availability of additional members of the salvage party, small streams of water were played on the inaccessible areas under the after deck house to keep temperature down, assisted by hose from the Execute (AM232).

21. Two attempts were made by Execute to take Mullany under tow, but towing ship was unable to hold tow wires.

At 0030 a watch was set in the forward fire room and forward engine room. #1 and #2 boilers were lighted off. Damage control was set up in CIC and patrols established. An inspection was conducted by the first lieutenant and his assistants, and the extent of damage to the ship was determined.

Compartments C-201L, 203L and 204L were filled with oil and water to the depth of 3½ feet. #1 main engine was warmed up, #2 main engine being isolated and flooded with fuel oil to a depth of about 6 feet.

At 0100, #1 turbo-generator was lighted off.

At 0130, the gyro compass, which had been operating on emergency power, was cut into ship's service supply and the compass was brought up to speed.
At 0145 a watch was stationed in after steering station, in communication with the bridge with portable sound-powered telephones for steering manually.

22. At 0145 got way on the ship with the starboard engine, using hand steering. Starboard engine room was able to make turns for 15 knots, which gave an estimated 11 knot speed of the ship through the water.

Little or no difficulty was incurred in steering by hand. Changes in course were easily effected by varying rudder from 5° right to 15° right. Then the correct rudder angle was determined for each course, which varied with engine turns and direction of wind, the ship was able to maintain a fairly steady course steering by magnetic compass.

At 0230 the gyro compass repeater systems were cut in, but continued steering with magnetic compass until the gyro compass was assuredly settling down. At 0245 took suction in after engine room bilges with two fire and bilge pumps.

23. At 0830 ran casualty power to the steering engine, the steering engine was cut in, and steering was conducted by trick wheel in the steering engine room.

Ship was now outside southern entrance of Kerama Retto anchorage. Since the tug which had been previously arranged for was not in sight, the ship proceeded through the net into the anchorage with one engine.

At 0936, anchored in berth K-11,Kerama Retto.

The able bodied members of the crew were returned aboard from the various rescue ships, and the wounded were transferred to Gosper (APA 170).

24. Upon anchoring, the chief engineer made examination of the after engineering spaces, and verified the large hole blown in the after engine room bulkhead from C-1-F, and the bulkhead partly distorted, with twisted lines and framework in the after part of the engine room. The deaerating tank had broken loose from the bulkhead with several ruptures from shell fragments. All auxiliary machinery on the lower level was flooded.

25. Inspection of #3 upper handling room showed the forward door sill as being blown outboard, and the starboard and port partitioning walls which isolated the blower trunks as being blown (driven) away from the center of the handling room.

This coupled with the report of one of the officers who was blown out of the handling room through the forward door by one of the explosions subsequent to the initial hit, indicates 5" powder explosions in this locality. The forward starboard corner of #4 handling room (adjacent to the starboard depth charges) was bent inwardly, with numerous fragment holes, indicating the effect of the starboard depth charges.

The port corner of this handling room had many small shrapnel holes driven inboard: also a horizontal 4' high by 1½' opening driven outwardly. The latter was about 4' high along the forward bulkhead of the handling room, and indicated an exploded powder charge in that area. The vertical right-hand after corner of #4 gun mount was blown outwardly sufficiently to have broken most of the corner rivets.

Click photo to enlarge




1. As soon as an air attack was suspected, flank speed was called for and the ship was swung to bring the entire anti-aircraft battery to bear. It is estimated that the ship had increased speed through the water to about 20 knots when the plane hit.  When the plane was about 2000 yards away an attempt was made to swing the stern clear by stopping and backing the inboard (port) engine, but this did not succeed, and the Japanese aircraft which appeared originally aimed for the bridge swerved to hit the after deck house.

2. There seemed to be no coordination amongst the three Japanese aircraft which were in the area at the time of the attacks, and with a fourth aircraft which appeared later.

There are indications that the plane which crashed into this ship was not a suicide plane, nor a member of the "Special Attack Corps". The pilot, found burned and mangled on the side of the ship opposite from the hit, wore a complete parachute rigging, and was not elaborately dressed similar to other suicide pilots.

Click on photo to enlarge. After the war it was learned that the pilot of the Nakajima Ki-43 fighter, "Oscar", was Takeichi Minoshima. The son of a Japanese farmer. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum (Chiran, Japan).

The gunnery officer is of the opinion that the pilot was killed by gunfire as he dove in his strafing attack, or that the plane was knocked out of control when very close aboard, and thus crashed into the ship.

1. Radio:

a. The number of circuits assigned by frequency plans for this operation could not be guarded adequately by destroyers because of limitations of equipment and personnel. It is difficult, for example, for destroyer personnel to maintain a continuous watch on a primary Fox, task force common Fox, and an expeditionary force Fox circuit.

b. Destroyers do not have sufficient VHF equipment for satisfactory communications with amphibious types and small craft, whose facilities are limited to common channels in VHF range.

c. In copying NPM on this operation a recurrence of poor signals was experienced because of the range and atmospheric conditions, and because of transmission difficulties which were apparently caused by slipping of the transmitter tape.

d. During the action in which this vessel was crashed by a Japanese aircraft, radio communications functioned satisfactorily after a brief loss of power, and all necessary messages were transmitted.

2. Visual:
a. The 12" signal searchlight is not adequate for daylight use at any appreciable range. There was little use of NAN equipment on this vessel during its part in the operation because of the comparatively isolated position of picket station and screening patrols.

The use of NAN equipment during periods of escort duty with other vessels, however has demonstrated that the type of X-12 mast-head light is not adequate as a point of train light.