Dudley Morton was the Captain of the USS Wahoo during World War II in the Pacific Theater. He led his boat to fame in the first “Clean Sweep” of a Japanese convoy. The following captures the essence of Dudley Morton.
Morton was the type of man needed in the Submarine Fleet. While cautious captains were going to sea and coming back with no kills, Morton actively sought out the Japanese and attacked with a periscope sighting—a dangerous tactic. A periscope can be spotted from the surface but it is far more accurate than a sonar-guided attack. Morton was a maverick in every way. Traditionally, the captain was the one looking through the periscope; Morton assigned his XO to that job, preferring to take information from both sonar and periscope sightings.
On one mission Morton was assigned to recon an enemy port. To most sub captains this means sitting outside and counting what goes in and out. Morton took it upon himself to sneak into the harbor itself. Upon entering the port, Morton spotted a destroyer at anchor—a target too tempting to resist. But by the time Wahoo had moved into attack position, the Destroyer was on the move. Again, another captain would just let the target go, but not Morton. He fired a spread of three torpedoes, taking a chance that one would hit and sink the Destroyer. If it did not, he would have just revealed Wahoo's position to the enemy. None of the torpedoes hit and the ship turned and charged the Wahoo full on. Morton did not tuck and run. Rather, he lined up and faced down the charging Destroyer. He fired the last of his torpedoes in a bow shot; perhaps the most difficult ever attempted. He scored a solid hit and sank the Japanese Destroyer in its own harbor with an "impossible" bow shot; possibly the inspiration for the famous scene from Run Silent, Run Deep. Morton then went on to torpedo every other ship he could find.
See also: USS Wahoo
Back to Jane's Military History Nodes