16th December 1944
There has been a definite shift in submarine strategy employed by the enemy. After strikes on a convoy returning Eastwards two days ago a further attack on a tanker convoy has been reported today to the north of Canton Island. Three medium sixed tankers were delivering fuel to the new bases in the Marshalls and had reached a staging point near the protective air umbrella from Canton before heading Westwards. The first reports came into Canton Island at about 1:35am about one tanker, the Sun Type H-Class Sun Admiral (5,300 tons), being hit by one torpedo and burning profusely and quickly as her full bunkers feed the flames eagerly. Her sinking was confirmed at 02:10 am.
An hour later a second, similar sized tanker, the Mindanao, was initially hit by shell fire then by two successive torpedo hits that blew her in two. She went down with all hands. Observers on the third tanker in the convoy, the Gertrude Kellogg report that the Mindanao was firing her fore 5inch gun which indicates that the Japanese submarine engaged her target on the surface. An audacious move considering the proximity of Canton Island and her planes.
As day broke the Kellogg was ordered post haste into Canton Island’s safe anchorage while three ASW task forces scoured the seas for the submarine. A squadron of SBD’s resting at Canton Island has also been ordered to carry out an intensive ASW search to the NNE of the Island. Further afield plans have been put into action to create a series of ASW bases for float planes on the main supply lines to and from the Marshalls and the South Pacific.