HMS Cockade in Korean War

uk 75

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A friend of mine has asked me to check out a rumour that HMS Cockade sank a suspected Soviet sub while serving with a US force in the Korean War. He thinks the papers are embargoed until at least 2050.
 

TomS

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It seems unlikely. Soviet sources say they lost only one sub (S-117) in the Far East during the Korean War timeframe, but that happened near Sakhalin, nowhere close to UN forces.

There is a recurring rumor that the USN prosecuted and possibly sank a Soviet submarine near Korea in 1950 but it doesn't match Soviet information. It was probably a sunken Japanese vessel instead.

 

Foo Fighter

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Could have been any wreck rather than just Japanese. I understand sonar has improved massively but nowhere near enough to interrogate a target for nationality.
 

Dilandu

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A friend of mine has asked me to check out a rumour that HMS Cockade sank a suspected Soviet sub while serving with a US force in the Korean War. He thinks the papers are embargoed until at least 2050.
There are a lot such rumors, but Soviet Navy during Korean War did not venture to Korean coast; even the planned deployment to Port Arthur were postponed to avoid the possibility of the incident. Considering that Stalin wanted Soviet participation to be as clandestine as possible, its hard to imagine that one of Soviet submarines may actually venture anywhere near American carrier group. What could possibly be gained by such action?

Purely hypothetically it may be possible that China get a submarine from USSR, send it to some hare-brained mission, and lost it (and USSR agreed to cover the situation to avoid embarrassing the Chinese). But it didn't fit the records. USSR did not give China any submarines at this time; just a pair of old "Shuka" (S-121 and S-123) were used to train Chinese crews in Port Arthur. Even if China get some operational submarine in 1951, where they could get the trained crews for it?
 

uk 75

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Did North Korea have access to any submarines?
 

Foo Fighter

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There was Russian involvement and it is possible that Russians manned a boat or two as 'advisers' or whatever. They certainly had pilots in the region operating Mig-15's.
 

Grey Havoc

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Alternatively, our mystery Soviet sub may have been on a agent insertion or retrieval mission.
 

Dilandu

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There was Russian involvement and it is possible that Russians manned a boat or two as 'advisers' or whatever. They certainly had pilots in the region operating Mig-15's.
For what purpose? You apparently did not realize, that USSR took a great efforts to conceal its involvement. The Mig-15 planes, piloted by our pilots, have strict instructions not to cross the border or shoreline - so if they would be shot down, they would not be captured.

For submarines, this wasn't possible - simply because neither China nor North Korea have any submarines in service. So it would be impossible to claim that submarine was "not ours" if it get into trouble.

Alternatively, our mystery Soviet sub may have been on a agent insertion or retrieval mission.

And why the submarine on supposedly secret mission suddenly decided to close with carrier group? It isn't actually what agent inserting/retrieving unit supposed to do, you know. Moreover, in such case, the sub would immediately surface after being detected and log an official complain against USN interfering with "usual transit" or "training exercises", or something. There were no point for DETECTED submarine to continue its mission.

And again, WHICH submarine? All Soviet submarines are listed. The sudden loss of one unit could not be just ignored; there would be thus a boat claimed to be "lost by accident", or something. But the only boat lost during Korean War was S-117 ("Shuyka"-class), lost in December 1952 during exercises in Sea of Japan. Neither time nor location fit.
 

Foo Fighter

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"For what purpose? You apparently did not realize, that USSR took a great efforts to conceal its involvement. The Mig-15 planes, piloted by our pilots, have strict instructions not to cross the border or shoreline - so if they would be shot down, they would not be captured".

I did know that. While a pilot or other aircrew are capable of being captured, the opportinities for a sub crew to survive to be captured is less so.
 

TomS

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Could have been any wreck rather than just Japanese. I understand sonar has improved massively but nowhere near enough to interrogate a target for nationality.

I said "Japanese" specifically because a diver sent to examine the site identified a Japanese vessel, Iona Maru, that had sunk there a few days earlier.
 
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Foo Fighter

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Sorry, I thought sonar imaging would be the modus.
 

Dilandu

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I did know that. While a pilot or other aircrew are capable of being captured, the opportinities for a sub crew to survive to be captured is less so.
But still not zero. And sub - which could be raised or investigated by divers - would hold a lot more incriminating evidence than plane. For what possible reason USSR may do something as risky as submarine operation in the war area, while even routine transits to Port Arthur were postponed to avoid incidents?
 

Foo Fighter

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For the same reason that other countries send their submarines into another nations waters, or those where anoth nation may be conducting operations, intelligence gathering.
 

Dilandu

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For the same reason that other countries send their submarines into another nations waters, or those where anoth nation may be conducting operations, intelligence gathering.
In other words, you could not suggest anything, why Soviet Navy would risk the submarine to venture into the area of military operations, despite having specific orders NOT to do it. What exactly Soviet submarine could gain from trailing the old escort carrier? It wasn't even the modern warship; just elderly WW2 escort carrier used for auxiliary purposes.

Seriously, with the same probability we could assume that USN accidentally attacked and sunk their own submarine, and covered up the whole story to avoid major embarrassment. :)

No, the most probable answer is that there weren't any Soviet submarine, and USN just spend a lot of efforts and munition attacking false acoustic contact. Since USN was NOT sure that there weren't any submarine attacked - after all, they did not exactly knew what orders Soviet submarine fleet may have at this time! - they decided to cover the whole story.
 

Foo Fighter

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Do you suggest I am saying it did happen this way, or, that that is plausible? I just said it COULD happen in such a manner rather than stating facts not in evidence.

I blame myself of course for not being clearer.

Cover ups, always a lot of them and they practically demand a conned schmiracy tale or ten.

As always, a privilege discussing this topic and others with you, Sir.
 
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TomS

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Do you suggest I am saying it did happen this way, or, that that is plausible? I just said it COULD happen in such a manner rather than stating facts not in evidence.

I blame myself of course for not being clearer.

Cover ups, always a lot of them and they practically demand a conned schmiracy tale or ten.

Not all discussions need someone to play Devil's Advocate.
 

Foo Fighter

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OK, who is the devils advocate then, sorry, lazy writing.
 

TomS

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Seems to be you were.

"I don't believe this thing happened but it totally could have" sure reads like playing Devil's advocate.
 

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I must admit I've never heard of this rumour before and it sounds like the sailors aboard HMS Cockade would have reminisced about such experiences by now.

Though after a Google search (which dredged up very little) I found a King's College PhD thesis (https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/files/2933044/272027.pdf) - Anglo American Strategic Cooperation: The Role of Carrier Aviation in Western Strategy, 1945-55, by Clare M. Scammell, 2001 - which has a footnote thus:
" Although not reported in official records thus far made publicly available, contemporary reports indicate that British naval forces did make contact with and sink a Soviet submarine in the Yellow Sea in December 1951. According to eyewitness accounts described in Prince, The Royal Navy and the Korean War, contact with a Soviet submarine was made by HMS Cockade while escorting the US escort carrier Rendova in the Yellow Sea. Debris and flotsam was apparently recovered but until official records are available to verify these accounts, the sinking of a Soviet submarine by British naval forces remains speculative. 106-108"

The source for the eyewitness claims quoted seems to be: Prince, Stephen. 'The Contribution of the Royal Navy to the United Nations Forces During the Korean War'. Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 17, no. 2 (June 1994). 94-120

Ironically if she did sink a Soviet sub, it would have occurred about four months before she received a refit in Singapore which gave her Double Squid as her new primary ASW weapon and new sonar installed...

EDIT: drat I tried to look up that journal but my university's online subscription only goes back to 1997... (and the catalogue entry for the original hard copies says "ask at the desk" which is librarian shorthand for "it's in the skip fool."
 
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Foo Fighter

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Seems to be you were.

"I don't believe this thing happened but it totally could have" sure reads like playing Devil's advocate.
Not at all, simply suggesting something that could have been. A devil's advocate would have gone on and on and on.....

Which is finger pointing and pedantic.
 

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