ROYAL NETHERLANDS NAVY
SUBMARINE HNMS O-19
IN SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA DURING WWII

 

HNMS O-19 was laid down on 15 June 1936 as K XIX. It was launched on 22 September 1938 and commissioned into the Royal Netherlands Navy RNN on 3 July 1939. HNMS O-19 sailed via the Suez canal to the Dutch East Indies arriving there on 13 September 1939.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Netherlands declared war on Japan. On about 11/12 December 1941, HNMS O-19 is placed under the operational control of the British Eastern Fleet. Dutch submarines HNMS O-19 and O-20 were ordered to sail to Singapore and from there they patrolled the South China Sea between 14 to 15 December 1941, making several attacks on enemy shipping. HNMS O-19 continued to patrol the South China Sea in early January 1942 and then patrolled the Makassar Strait from 15 to 28 January 1942.

 

Dutch submarine HNMS O-19

 

After the Japanese invasion of Borneo on 24 February 1942, submarine O-19 patrolled the Java Sea from 26 February through to 1 March 1942. On 1 March 1942, O-19 participated in the evacuation of Soerabaja and escaped via the Strait of Sape to Colombo.

From 25 March to June 1942, O-19 based at Colombo, was under the operational control of the British Eastern Fleet. Submarine O-19 patrolled off Minicoy (Maldives) from 31 March to 8 April 1942. She then patrolled the Strait of Malacca from 20 April to 9 May 1942. The submarine's aft horizontal rudders (Hydroplanes) were damaged during a Japanese depth charge attack.

Submarines O-23, O-19, HMS Scout and Tender Colombo left Colombo on 16 May 1942 headed for Bombay where they arrived on the same day. After a small refit in Bombay O-19 returned to Colombo in mid July 1942.

HNMS O-19 was then based out of Kilindini (Mombassa, Kenya) as an ASDIC piggy boat. O-19 was then refitted at Simon's Town in Africa from 10 September 1942 through to December 1943. O-19 departed Simon's Town on 23 December 1942 on only one diesel engine as one "Vulcan Clutch" had been removed. She arrived in Freetown where she stayed for a few days and then sailed via Falmouth (England), Greenock (Scotland), Scapa Flow, and Dundee (on 9 Feb 1943) to Grangemouth in Scotland arriving there on 12 February 1943.

HNMS O-19 underwent a major refit at the HM Dockyard at Grangemouth, Scotland from 12 February 1943 through to 1 February 1944. During February to June 1944, O-19 carried out trials and training off Dundee and Holy Loch. In late April 1944, she called in to Camperdown Dock in Dundee for battery repairs and to load 40 dummy mines. O-19 carried out mine laying exercises off the Scottish west coast in late May 1944.

Lt. Comdr. F. J. A. Knoops took over command of HNMS O-19 on 31 May 1944.

After another dry dock for some cleaning, HNMS O-19 left Holy Loch in Scotland on 12 June 1944 and sailed to Malta via the Mediterranean Sea. It then commenced a War Patrol initially through Greek waters. From about June through to September 1944, HNMS O-19 is based out of Colombo attached to the 8th Flotilla under British Eastern Fleet operational control. HNMS O-19 arrived at Trincomalee in Ceylon on 11 August 1944 and joined the 8th Flotilla under British operational control.

On 21 August 1944, HNMS O-19, under Lt. Comdr. A. van Karnebeek, RNN, departed Trincomalee (Ceylon) on her 7th War Patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the east coast of Sumatra and to proceed to Fremantle at the end of her patrol.

HNMS O-19 made a short stop at Exmouth Gulf, in Western Australia to take on board some fuel on 15 September 1944. HNMS O-19 sailed later the same day and proceeded to Fremantle arriving there on 18 September 1944 where she was under U.S. operational control.

HNMS O-19 was docked at Fremantle on 20 September 1944 when It was found out that the starboard after hydroplane was missing and that the starboard propeller was damaged. A new hydroplane was manufactured and the propeller was repaired.

On 13 October 1944, HNMS O-19 was put on a slipway at Fremantle and the the newly manufactured starboard hydroplane was installed and the ships hull was cleaned and painted.

HNMS O-19 left the slip on 16 October 1944 and conducted exercises off Fremantle from 19 to 21 October 1944. HNMS O-19 sailed from Fremantle on her 8th War Patrol on 23 October 1944 to patrol in the eastern part of the Java Sea and in the Bali Sea. HNMS O-19 made a short stop a Exmouth Gulf on 26 October 1944 for more fuel and to take on board a replacement for the 2nd watch officer who left the boat sick. HNMS O-19 ended its 8th War Patrol at Fremantle on 24 November 1944.

HNMS O-19 departed Fremantle on 18 December 1944 under the command of its new captain Lt. Comdr. Drijfhout van Hooff, RNN on her 9th War Patrol in the Java Sea to lay a minefield west of Batavia. They had previously loaded 40 mines at Woodlands Point. They carried out some sea exercises with HMAS Warrnambool on their way to the Java Sea. HNMS O-19 stopped at Darwin on 26 December 1944 to top up with fuel and left the same day for the Java Sea.

HNMS O-19 called back into Darwin on 15 January 1945 for some emergency repairs and more fuel and left for Fremantle on 17 January 1945 where they ended their 9th War Patrol on 24 January 1945.

HNMS O-19 was put on the slipway at Fremantle on 18 March 1945 to install two new after hydroplanes which were lost during a depth charging attack on 9 January 1945. Submarine O-19 was taken off the slip on 25 March 1945 and conducted exercises off Fremantle on 27 and 29 March 1945.

HNMS O-19 sailed from Fremantle on 31 March 1945 on her 10th War Patrol to patrol in the Java Sea and lay a minefield in the Banka Strait. They had previously loaded 40 mines at Woodlands Point. They carried out some sea exercises with the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Warrnambool on their way to the Java Sea. Submarine O-19 called into Exmouth Gulf on 3 April 1945 to top up with fuel and proceeded to the Java Sea the same day. HNMS O-19 ended her 10th War Patrol at Fremantle on 3 May 1945.

Submarine O-19 was placed on a slipway at Fremantle on 9 June 1945 for repairs and placed back in the water on 12 June 1945. They carried out mine laying exercises off Fremantle on 17 June 1945  following by some other exercises on 22 June 1945. HNMS O-19 left Fremantle on 25 June 1945 loaded with dummy mines and stores for Subic Bay in the Philippines. HNMS O-19 pulled into Onslow in Western Australia on 28 June 19465 and departed the following day.

HNMS O-19 made the northbound passage of Lombok Strait on 2 July 1945. On 8 July 1945, whilst enroute to Subic Bay, HNMS O-19 struck Ladd Reef at a speed of 16 knots. It ran up high onto the reef and was unable to free itself.

 

HNMS O-19 stuck fast on Ladd Reef as view from the deck of USS Cod

 

USN submarine USS Cod was ordered to mount a rescue mission. USS Cod set course for Ladd Reef at four engine speed at 0646 hours on 8 July 1945 in accordance with CTF 71 serial 61. At 2035 hours, USS Cod exchanged calls with HNMS O-19. Until that time USS Cod had not been aware of the condition of the Dutch submarine or its personnel. They made preparations for bringing all Dutch hands aboard USS Cod. They had two rubber boats, heaving lines, life rings, and a rescue party topside. Dry clothes, empty bunks, hot soup and coffee were in readiness below decks.

At 2048 hours on 8 July 1945, USS Cod received a message from HNMS O-19 giving her exact location of Ladd Reef and asking them to approach at dawn to take towlines. USS Cod advised they would see them at dawn. The Dutch Captain replied "We will certainly be here."

At 0606 hours on 9 July 1945, USS Cod commenced approaching HNMS O-19. They were flooded down, with sound heads and pit log raised. At 0615 hours a terrific rain squall reduced visibility down to 200 yards. The rain had abated by 0721 hours which allowed them to see the grounded Dutch submarine which was hopelessly stuck on Ladd Reef.

At 0806 hours they received the first line from the line-throwing gun. They had a wire cable secured through their hull nose in the bow by 0830 hours. At 0835 hours both USS Cod and HNMS O-19 had their engines running in full reverse. HNMS O-19 even fired her forward gun in an effort to free their submarine. Firing the gun created a lot of smoke. The sea current had carried USS Cod so much that it was impossible for them to tow directly astern.

At 0840 hours the new 1 1/2" stainless steel wire supplied by the Dutch submarine broke aboard HNMS O-19. At 0845 hours USS Cod made an SD contact 20 miles out with no IFF signal received. They sighted a B-24 Liberator at 0850 hours. USS Cod exchanged calls via VHF with the B-24 at 0906 hours.

At 0925 hours as they hauled the broken line aboard USS Cod, they sighted a B-24 Liberator and a Privateer. At 1035 hours they maneuvered as close as they could to the Dutch submarine to send the line over to them. USS Cod was shifting around in an easterly set which they measured by TDC at one and half knots.

At 1155 hours after securing the line again, they both started reversing again. At 1156 hours the second cable snapped. At 1255 hours USS Cod sent the First Lieutenant over in a rubber boat for discussion with the Dutch captain. They recovered the tackle remnants from the last towing efforts aboard using both capstans.

At 1416 hours Commanding Officer of HNMS O-19, Lt. Comdr. J. F. D. VAN HOOFF, RNN, came aboard USS Cod.

At 1520 hours they had 80 fathoms of chain onboard USS Cod, taken from HNMS O-19. They had lashed ten fathoms of it to a mooring lines with marlin. They then proceeded to send a line for the throwing gun to HNMS O-19, 21-thread, and a mooring line and chain, in that order.

At 1530 hours USS Cod tried to maneuver her bow within ten feet of the stern of the Dutch submarine whilst allowing for the current. They were in between 3 and 4 fathoms of water with jagged rocks very close. They could only maintain that position for fifteen to twenty minutes, twisting in the seas all the times meaning they would have to back clear and come in again at times.

At 1605 hours Lt. Comdr. VAN HOOFF returned to HNMS O-19. At 1615 hours HNMS O-19 had both ends of the chain. They would secure one end around their conning tower that night and at dawn the following day the other end would be taken by USS Cod for the final tug attempt at high tide.

At 1900 hours USS Cod received a message that HNMS O-19 could not lift the chain with their capstan and requested USS Cod to lift it for them. USS Cod did not want to attempt this near a reef in the dark, at low tide with unpredictable currents and told them they would return at dawn.

At 0547 hours on 10 July 1945 they commenced approaching HNMS O-19 which was sitting on two rocks, one aft of the longitudinal centre and there were rock projections into their outboard mine tanks. At 0715 hours USS Cod had received a manila line from HNMS O-19.

At 0725 hours one end of the chain was lifted onto the deck of HNMS O-19 and was secured at about 0815 hours. By 0915 hours the first two attempts to haul the other end of the chain onto USS Cod were unsuccessful. The current seemed to be stronger than the previous day. They had life jackets on the end of the line as a marker. At each new attempt, USS Cod would pick up the end of the line and heave in until the line snagged or until the current sets would push them toward the reef and they were forced to back away clear.

At 0950 hours they made an SD contact on an aircraft about 13 miles away. They received an IFF signal and a PBY Catalina arrived and circled them at 0958 hours.

At 1025 hours on 10 July 1945 the lines was hopelessly fouled on the reef bottom. USS Cod launched a rubber boat to help free the line. At 1100 hours USS Cod made one more approach and picked up the manila line and tried to clear the mess on the bottom.

At 1145 hours the last line parted. USS Cod advised HNMS O-19 that they would then standby to take their personnel onboard. They had spent eight hours the previous day and six hours that day with no success. USS Cod had touched bottom forward at least once in their maneuvers. USS Cod towing gear was makeshift and their crew were inexperienced in rigging for a tow. They were also very concerned about Japanese aircraft or submarines arriving on the scene.

By 1255 hours on 10 July 1945 they had received the first boatload of Dutch personnel on USS Cod. They were using two of their rubber boats lashed together with lines from each submarine to the two boats. USS Cod had to back clear and go in again after every two or three trips of lifeboats because of the strong current.

At 1330 hours USS Cod sent over two demolition charges with their Gunnery Officer. The last boatload of Dutch crew members came aboard USS Cod at 1455 hours. Total personnel received were 47 men, and 8 officers. USS Cod backed clear of the area after the demolition charges were set for one and a half hours.

At 1536 hours USS Cod made a trim dive and surfaced again at 1545 hours. They closed in on HNMS O-19 at 1610 hours. The demolition charges went off at 1627 hours with a muffled explosion and smoke coming from the conning tower and forward hatch.

At 1628 hours USS Cod maneuvered to allow it to fire torpedoes from the bow tubes. They heard a second internal explosion at 1636 hours which was possibly the second demolition charge. At 1637 hours USS Cod fired No. 5 torpedo tube, just abaft of the conning tower with the depth set to zero feet. The torpedo hit at the aiming point 34 seconds later, leaving a large hole but the Dutch submarine had not moved at all.

At 1643 hours USS Cod fired a torpedo set for two feet depth from No. 4 tube at the after torpedo room on HNMS O-19 which contained two war heads. The torpedo hit 43 seconds later with a terrific explosion. The stern of the Dutch submarine had disappeared, and the after part was completely wrecked and the submarine was smoking.

At 1650 hours USS Cod started firing its 5-inch deck gun at HNMS O-19 at a range of 1,500 yards. USS Cod finished firing 16 rounds for 16 hits at 1700 hours. The remainder of HNMS O-19 was still sitting on the reef though it had a slightly greater list to one side. There were a dozen holes in the hull from the 5-inch guns. Her entire stern was wreckage and heavy smoke was coming from the hull. USS Cod set course for Subic Bay at 1702 hours on 10 July 1945.

At 1746 hours on 12 July 1945, USS Cod sighted two ships about 15 miles away. They changed course to intercept. At 1810 hours they identified them as two British submarines, possibly HMS SLEUTH and HMS SOLENT who were due to enter Subic Bay at the same time the following day. USS Cod exchanged recognition signals and calls by signal light with HMS SLEUTH and HMS SOLENT at 1832 hours.

At 0133 hours on 13 July 1945, USS Cod exchanged recognition signals and calls with escort USS ROMBACH (DE364). They took their position astern of their escort and set course for Subic Bay.

They moored alongside USS ANTHEDON in Subic Bay, the Philippines at 0837 hours on 13 July 1945. They disembarked their Dutch passengers, received fuel and carried out some minor voyage repairs.

USS Cod was underway at 1459 hours on 14 July 1945 in accordance with CTF 71 Operation Order 94-45. They carried out some training with USS HUTCHINS (DE360) that afternoon. USS Cod rendezvoused with USS BUGARA and escort USS WOODSON (ZDE359) at 1817 hours and proceeded in company.

At 2131 hours their escort departed and they proceeded to the patrol area with USS BUGARA.

USS Cod arrived back in Fremantle at the end of her 7th War Patrol on 13 August 1945 where they were met by the crew of HNMS O-19 who put on a large party to thank them for rescuing them from Ladd Reef. Apparently the party went for three days!! USS Cod immortalised this event by adding a cocktail glass and the name O-19 to their battle flag on the side of their Bridge.

 

Enemy ships sunk by HNMS O-19

Date Ship Sunk Nationality/Type Tonnage
10 January 1942 Akita Maru Japanese freighter 3817
15 January 1942 Tairu/Taieryu Maru Japanese ? 4944
10 September 1944 Korei Maru Japanese merchant 599
16 November 1944 Kaishin Maru No.2 Japanese coaster 150
9 January 1945 Shinko Maru No.1 Japanese auxiliary gunboat 935
10 April 1945 Hosei Maru Japanese merchant tanker 676

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

War Diary USS Cod (SS224)

Boat O 19 DutchSubmarines.com

uboat.net

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Paul Sobol for his assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 12 July 2020

This page last updated 13 July 2020