We were making our final approach at full speed to get into position to fire our tubes at the Japanese Heavy Cruiser, Takao, that we had torpedoed and crippled earlier that morning. I believe Captain McClintock's plan was to get into the best firing position and to fire the forward tubes while on the surface of the water and then do an about face and leave the area immediately, leaving the Japanese Cruiser to sink.
Then, with a tremendous thud and noise that felt like an explosion, we in the Forward Torpedo Room imagined we were hit with a torpedo in the after part of the submarine. It literally shook the hell out of all of us there. Of course, being in the most forward part of the ship, it should have since the submarine climbed the reef traveling at a speed of about 20 knots. I thought for sure that a Japanese torpedo had hit us in the after part of the submarine. Nervously, we waited for word from the bridge to tell us what had happened.
After a few minutes, which seemed like a long time, we were asked to check for leaks. Everything in the FTR was still water tight and we reported that. More time went by as the ship shook, not knowing what was happening. Finally word came down from Control that we had stranded on a reef and were trying to back the submarine off the reef by using our engines. Again more time passed and later we were all ordered to go topside using the After Battery hatch from the mess hall.
As we assembled on deck, Ernie Schwab, the Exec, was on the after 40 mm gun deck at the rail, talking to us in total darkness. He told us what had happened and that we would try to rock the boat off the reef using both engines at full speed astern. He felt this would move us off of the reef. My point in this story is what happened at this particular time. Quite a few of us would laugh about it after we had arrived back in Perth, Australia, and were again safe and sound.
Ernie Schwab stood as a band leader on the after gun deck, and told the entire crew to assemble on the starboard side of the submarine. Then, with the wave of his arms he directed all of us to move quickly to the port side of the ship, and then back to the starboard side. He thought it would cause the boat to rock from port to starboard and from starboard to port.
What was funny to most of us later on was the term Ernie Schwab used, "Sallying Back and Forth." I and all the others had never heard the word "Sally" before, other than that it was a girl's name. Some of us did look it up in a dictionary and for sure it did mean a sudden rushing back and forth.
Of course, we were unable to unreef the submarine and were then directed to unload and throw overboard anything that was heavy in order to lighten the boat. But, that is another story.
The USS Darter (SS-227) aground on Bombay Shoal