torpedo crew

Two of the eighteen POWs rescued by the USS Queenfish (SS-393) from the sunken Rakuyo Maru on September 17, 1944. 

On September 12, 1944 the USS Sealion (SS-315) attacked the Japanese passenger cargo ship and sank it with two torpedoes. Unbeknownst to the crew of the Sealion, the Rakuyo Maru was actually a hellship-a floating prison transporting nearly 1,300 Allied POWs. The Japanese crew fled immediately after the attack and the ship took 12 hours to sink, which gave the POWs an opportunity to gather supplies and build rafts but help did not arrive until four days later when the USS Pampanito (SS-383) found two of the survivors floating on a raft. The Pampanito radioed for help and soon the USS Queenfish and the USS Barb (SS-220) were also combing the area for survivors before a typhoon forced them to abandon the search. Altogether the American submarines picked up 159 POWs which along with the 136 recovered by the Japanese left a total of 295 survivors from the Rakuyo Maru’s original 1,318.