US SUBMARINE ALMOST SUNK
BY "FRIENDLY FIRE" IN MORETON BAY

 

In early 1942, Stan Muller was posted to Fort Bribie, on Bribie Island. One night the general alarm was sounded and the gun crews manned their guns. An American submarine had tried to enter the port of Brisbane submerged and at night time via Moreton Bay. Stan suggested that the Captain of the submarine may have been drunk.

The submarine had been detected by the RAN's loop system and the Navy ordered that the controlled minefield for that area should be detonated. Apparently the relevant detonation lever was pulled but luckily for the submarine crew, the master switch had been turned off. It was thought at the time that a Japanese submarine was trying to enter the harbour.

The US submarine eventually surfaced and Stan Muller was able to watch it's progress across the bay via his gun's telescope. There were sailors on the deck of the submarine flashing lights as it disappeared in the direction of Moreton Island.

In Captain William J. Ruhe's book, "War in the Boats", page 36, (Brassy's, Incorporated, with foreward by Tom Clancy), he speaks of coming to within 5 seconds of his submarine being blown up by an allied mine across the entrance to Moreton Bay, before "recognition signals were exchanged and the activated mine was turned off. It is not clear whether this is the same incident as above or a different one.

 

Can anyone please advise me whether it is the same incident?

 

On pages 63-64 of his book, Captain Ruhe writes, "As before, we were challenged by the (Australian) shore station guarding the bay, and as before, the army used an incorrect challenging procedure. When a correct recognition signal was sent by S-37, the shore station gave the wrong reply. There was much blinking back and forth to straighten things out, and all the while the S-37 was posing as good bait for any Japanese submarine the might be lurking off the entrance to Moreton Bay."

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Fort Bribie"
By Ron Donald

(Available from the Bribie Island RSL)

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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This page first produced 28 March 2001

This page last updated 11 March 2017