Task Group 22.2 Sinks First Japanese Sub in the Atlantic
On 13 May 1944 the USS Francis M. Robinson was a member of a the task group CTG 22.2 with Captain A. B. Vosseller as the new commander of the USS Bogue. The task group consisted of five DEs
supporting the USS Bogue (CVE-9). The five ships were:
1. USS Francis M. Robinson (DE-220), Lt. J. E. Johansen, Commanding
2. USS Haverfield (DE-393), Cdr T.S. Lank, TF 51 Commander.
3. USS Swenning (DE-394), Lt. R. E. Peek, Commanding
4. USS Willis (DE-395), Lt. Cdr. G. R. Atterbury, Commanding
5. USS Jannsen (DE-396), Lt. Cdr. H. E. Cross, Commanding
Francis M. Robinson Kills RO-501 (Thereby Downing a U-Boat)
German Vice Admiral Paul H. Weneker arranged the deal in Tokyo. Weneker was in charge
of blockade running by submarines between Japan and Germany. A number of U-boats
reached the Java Sea and Singapore late in the war, and several made Japan. One or two
Japanese submarines managed to run from Japan to Germany. Weneker did not think much of
Japanese submarines. “They were too big for easy handling when under attack," he asserted,
"and consequently they were easily destroyed. Then the Asdic and sonic and radar equipment
was very far behind in development."
However, Weneker cooperated fully with Admiral Miwa, and the Nazi U-boaters did their
best to aid and abet the Nipponese submariners. Weneker arranged for a Japanese submarine
crew to be sent Germany for training. "They had, I think, very good training in German boats and
German attack methods. But unfortunately they got caught in the North Atlantic in early 1944
while returning to Japan.
Evidence indicates that Admiral Weneker’s information was essentially correct, but his date
was slightly off. His account, therefore, was not quite as accurate as the report submitted by
Lieutenant Commander J. E. Johansen, U.S.N.R., captain of the destroyer-escort FRANCIS
The DE was a screening unit for BOGUE in Task Group 22.2, the hunter-killers who had
relieved the BLOCK ISLAND team in the Cape Verdes area where BUCKLEY had won her
memorable battle. Not to outdone by their predecessors, on the very day they took over from
the BLOCK ISLANDERs the Bogue team stirred up a submarine.
The date was May 13. The enemy was 1ocated northwest of the Cape Verdes, only a few
miles the spot where BUCKLEY downed U-66. The play fell to the FRANCIS M.
The seascape was painted with sunset (time: 1900) when the ROBINSON made sound
contact at 825 yards In a flash the hedgehogs fired. As the scattered projectiles splashed the
water, a salvo of depth charges went lobbing over the side-Mark 8 magnetics set to the moment
they were "influenced."
Seven seconds after the projectiles were fired, two distinct explosions indicated a couple of
hedgehog hits. Then came the deep throated thundering of three depth-charge explosions,
booming with a rumpus of up thrown water. Two or three minutes after the last depth charge
explosion there was a roar that sounded like a bursting pressure hull. This was followed by a
deep-sea blast that must have killed fish a quarter of a league away.
The destroyermen presumed they had polished off a U-boat. As indeed they had---the
U-1224. It was not until after the war that they learned this was the same U-boat was also the
RO-501. There in the Atlantic the FRANCIS M. ROBINSON had sunk a Japanese
The records in Doenitz's German Navy Headquarters and the testimony of Admiral Wenekar
is Tokyo explained the paradox. The U-1224 had been turned over to a Japanese crew in
Germany, and renamed the RO-501, and entered into the service of the Emperor. Then, en route
to Japan, she was removed from the Emperor’s service by the handiwork of Destroyer-Escort
FRANCIS M. ROBINSON.
The DE's skipper summed up the matter tersely: “HEARD SUB SANK SAME”
The USS Robinson received a Presidential Unit Citation for the sinking of RO-501.
Information courtesy of USS Francis M. Robinson DE 220 website. Visit the site for more on this historic event.