Skippers poaching on each other?




Skippers were assigned areas to avoid "friendly fire," but at sea chasing targets it was hard to keep within one's assigned bit of ocean. For wolf packs keeping in contact was important, yet could give away their location to the enemy if they used radio. One tactic was point the radar at another's blip and dot-dash the radar signal.

Two skippers, Dusty Dornin of Trigger and Slade Cutter of Seahorse, both took command of these boats in September 1943. One action led to a legend that they enjoyed poaching on each other’s assigned areas. In early November Dornin found a convoy on radar and closed to attack, but found an escort with a strong radar blocked his approach, so using his speed ran around to attack from the opposite side. Again an escort with a strong radar blocked him. Hours later he found an opening to fire torpedoes at ships in the convoy, scoring hits. Then more torpedo explosions hit the convoy, and Dornin realized that escort with strong radar was another submarine. Both attacked again. Hours later from reports radioed to Pearl and congratulations from SubComPac Admiral Lockwood, the two realized who the two attackers were. Those messages, heard by many submariners, gave rise to the legend that Dornin and Cutter, both of whom were very aggressive, liked to poach on each other’s areas.