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After the submarine's crew had discovered the downed planes, it was shadowed by a Japanese destroyer. Rather than giving the order to retreat, Sanford ordered the crew to stay in the area. Around this time, the crew began to succumb to radiation burns, a calling-card from exposure to the black oil. The executive officer aboard the submarine, Christopher Johansen, begged Sanford to reconsider his order but Sanford refused.
Captain Sanford went down to the infirmary and was confronted by one of the dying men at gunpoint. Sanford wrested the gun away just as Johansen got down to them. Johansen sealed the infirmary off, trapping the sick men with the infected captain. Sanford turned on the other men in the infirmary, who watched the black oil pass over his eyes. One of the crewmen crept up behind Sanford and killed him, and the men subsequently watched with horror as the filmy black substance drained out of Sanford's lifeless body. (TXF: "Piper Maru", "Apocrypha")