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Vet 2142

SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

JOSEPH ENRIGHT (2142-1992)

United States Navy, Submarine Service Navy Cross

Known in the Submarine Service as “Oh Boat Joe of the Oh-One-Oh” because he was a training Skipper at Groton before the war and his boat was an old “O” Class boat,
the O-10, thus the name.

His wife had the nickname “Lighthouse Lil from Little Gull Hill” because of the place their house stood.

ENRIGHT always knew what the weather in the Sound was going to be long before his boat got that far out because his wife could look far out over the sound from their house and gave him the weather report.

He was the commissioning Skipper of USS DACE (SS 247) but soon asked to be relieved of command; he told us that he didn’t think he was aggressive enough.

Later in the war, in 1944, he asked for and received a combat command, USS ARCHER-FISH (SS 311) and was sent to the home waters around Japan. It would appear that good fortune was with him as when he arrived in his patrol area, the Japanese Navy decided to move their giant aircraft carrier SHINANO to the Inland Sea where she could be better protected from air attacks during her fitting out.

Again Dame Fortune smiled on ” Oh Boat Joe” as SHINANO sailed almost directly into the path of a great torpedo setup. The battle-hardened I.J.N. escorts detected ARCHER-FISH and set out to attack but the Japanese admiral aboard SHINANO thought that ARCHER-FISH was only a decoy meant to draw the destroyers away from the carrier so another submarine could make an unopposed attack. He ordered the escorts back – the escort skippers were angry over this order, but being good officers, they obeyed and returned to the carrier. Again Fortune smiled on JOE, as the carrier inexplicably made a turn that put her dead in his sights. ARCHER-FISH fired, striking the carrier and within hours, the huge carrier sank.

At this point, one would think that JOE ENRIGHT would be hailed as some kind of hero but that was not the case. In this attack, he had set many submarine records that have never been surpassed which included:

  • The biggest ship ever sunk by a submarine
  • The most tonnage sunk on a patrol
  • The most tonange sunk in a single attack

ENRIGHT had been shoreside most of the war while other Skippers were out, suffering the tough submarine life, suffering the depth charges from destroyers and bombs from planes while JOE was in his safe office.

ENRIGHT gave us this information during a visit to this HQ.

Many of these Skippers were openly displeased over this turn of events.

To make matters worse, the U.S. Navy refused to give credit to ENRIGHT for sinking this 65,000-ton carrier because Japan did not have such a huge carrier …according to the Navy. This massive ship was built along with YAMATO and MUSASHIs battleships but the I.J.N. needed carriers, so construction was changed and SHINANO was built as a carrier – but she was so secret that U.S. Intelligence knew nothing of her existence and so they denied credit to JOE for sinking her. It was only after hard research by JOE ENRIGHT years after the war that he was able to prove to the Navy that SHINANO did exist and that he had sunk her. The Navy finally corrected their records to show that “Oh Boat Joe of the Oh-One-Oh” had sunk the biggest ship ever sunk by a submarine – ever.