USS Snook (SS-279)
USS "Snook" (SS-279), a "Gato"-class
submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navyto be named for the common snook, an Atlantic marine fish that is bluish-gray above and silvery below a black lateral line.
"Snook"'s keel was laid down by the
Portsmouth Navy Yardin Kittery, Maineon 17 April 1942. She was launched on 15 August 1942sponsored by Mrs. James C. Dempsey, wife of Lieutenant Dempsey who had been awarded the Navy Crossfor heroism as commanding officer of the submarine "S-27", and commissioned on 24 October 1942with Lieutenant Commander C.O. Triebel in command.
After shakedown training off the
New Englandcoast, "Snook" departed New London on 3 March 1943and set sail for the Pacific. Following a 12-day stopover at Pearl Harbor, the submarine put to sea on 11 Apriland headed for the Yellow Seaand East China Seafor her first war patrol. Upon completion of mine planting in the Shanghaiarea, "Snook" continued on up the coast of Chinato the Yellow Sea. On the afternoon of 5 May, she sighted two freighters standing out of Dairenand took up the chase. She trailed both until after nightfall, then let go with a spread of three torpedoes that quickly sank "Kinko Maru". The lead freighter continued on, oblivious to the fate that had befallen her companion, until someone on the sinking ship sounded a whistle. At that point, the freighter began a series of frantic maneuvers to dodge two of "Snook"s torpedoes, then opened fire with her guns, forcing the submarine to race out of range. "Snook" quickly returned to the action, however, firing three torpedoes, with one hit amidships, that sent "Daifuku Maru" to the bottom. With two "kills" to her credit, "Snook" resumed patrol.
Early on the morning of
7 May, "Snook" began quickly closing a convoy. Upon overtaking the enemy cargo ships, she launched four torpedoes, followed by three others five minutes later. Amid a din of explosions, the 4,363-ton cargo ship "Hosei Maru" was mortally wounded and several other ships were possibly damaged. After destroying two armed trawlers in actions on 13 Mayand 16 May, "Snook" terminated her first patrol at Midway Islandon 23 May.
"Snook" set sail from
Midway Islandfor her second war patrol on 9 Juneand headed for the waters off the Ryukyu Islands. In the morning twilight of 24 June, the submarine closed a six-ship convoyescorted by two destroyers, fired two torpedoes at a large tanker, and heard two hits as she went deep and rigged for silent running to avoid the patrolling escorts. Coming back up to periscope depth, she found a destroyerguarding the crippled ship and was prevented from a second try by overhead aircraft.
Shortly before midnight on
3 July, "Snook" made radarcontact with another enemy convoy. Early the following morning, she sent a spread of six torpedoes on their way and was rewarded with hits that sank the cargo ships "Koki Maru" and "Liverpool Maru" and severely damaged "Atlantic Maru". "Snook" returned to Pearl Harborfrom her second patrol on 18 July.
"Snook" got underway from
Pearl Harborfor her third war patrol on 18 Augustand arrived off Marcus Islandon 30 Augustto take reconnaissance photographs and stand lifeguard duty for the carrier airstrikes of 1 September. Following the airstrikes, the submarine resumed patrol and headed for the East China Seawhere, in the early morning darkness of 13 September, she torpedoed and sank the 9,650-ton transport "Yamato Maru". On 22 September, "Snook" intercepted a Japanese ship departing Dairenand quickly sent the 715-ton cargo ship "Katsurahama Maru" to the bottom. The submarine terminated her third patrol at Pearl Harboron 8 October.
"Snook" spent her fourth war patrol in a coordinated attack group with sister ships USS|Pargo|SS-264|3 and USS|Harder|SS-257|3 in the waters off the
Mariana Islands. On 29 November, the submarine spent a productive day sinking the passenger-cargo ship "Yamafuku Maru", the victim of four torpedo hits, and the cargo ship "Shiganoura Maru", as well as damaging an escort ship. "Snook" returned to Midway Islandon 7 Decemberand was routed on to Pearl Harbor.
6 January 1944, "Snook" cleared Pearl Harborand headed for the western coast of Kyūshūand her fifth war patrol. While off the Bonin Islandson 23 January, the submarine torpedoed and sank the 3,120-ton converted gunboat "Magane Maru". On 8 February, she attacked a 13-ship convoy, firing a spread of four torpedoes for three hits before diving to evade the onrushing escort ships. In this action, she sank the freighter "Lima Maru", and heavily damaged the freighter "Shiranesan Maru". On 14 February, she quickly sank the freighter "Nittoku Maru", with one torpedohit amidships and, on the following day, gave the same treatment to the cargo ship "Hoshi Maru Number Two". On 23 February, while returning to Midway Island, she spotted an enemy convoy eight miles away and, not one to let such an opportunity pass, made a daring approach through a screen of 11 enemy escort ships. After firing five torpedoes, she observed two good hits which sank the passenger-cargo ship, "Koyo Maru". The submarine terminated her fifth patrol at Pearl Harboron 6 Marchand continued to Hunters Point Navy Yardfor a major overhaul.
After five productive war patrols, "Snook" came upon hard luck on her sixth. Although she fired at and missed two freighters on
12 July, the remainder of the patrol was devoid of worthwhile targets, and she returned to Midway Islandon 14 August.
"Snook"s seventh war patrol was conducted in
Luzon Straitand the South China Sea. After stopping at Saipanfor repairs from 25 Septemberto 4 Octoberthe submarine continued her patrol and contacted an enemy convoy on 23 October. Within the next 24 hours, "Snook" sent three enemy vessels to watery graves. The first to fall victim to her torpedoes was the passenger-cargo ship "Shinsei Maru Number 1". After evading two escorts, the submarine resumed the chase. The tanker "Kikusui Maru" was the next to be sent to the bottom after a torpedo hit disintegrated the entire after end of the ship. After again escaping the escorts, "Snook" quickly returned to the convoy and let go with five bow torpedoes and observed the cargo ship, or " Hell ship", "Arisan Maru" sink beneath the waves, killing about 1,800 American prisoners of war, one of the greatest losses of life in American maritime history. After rescuing a downed airman on 3 November, the submarine returned to Pearl Harboron 18 November.
"Snook"s eighth war patrol was conducted off the
Kuril Islandsfrom 25 December 1944to 17 February 1945. Her only sightings during this patrol were two Soviet vessels and a momentary contact with a small patrol craft which was quickly lost.
"Snook" was lost while conducting her ninth war patrol, in the
South China Seaand Luzon Strait. On 8 April, she reported her position to submarine USS|Tigrone|SS-419|3 and when she did not acknowledge messages sent from "Tigrone" the next day, it was presumed that she had headed toward Luzon Strait. On 12 April, she was ordered to take lifeguard station in the vicinity of Sakeshima Guntoin support of British carrier air strikes. On 20 April, the commander of the British carrier task force reported that he had a plane down in "Snook"s assigned area, and that he could not contact the submarine by radio. "Snook" was ordered to search the area and to acknowledge the order. When she failed to make a transmission, submarine USS|Bang|SS-385|3 was sent to make the search and rendezvous with "Snook". Although "Bang" arrived and rescued the downed aviators, she saw nothing of the missing submarine; and, on 16 May, "Snook" was presumed lost, the victim of unknown causes. It has been suggested that "Snook" may have been lost due to one of five Japanese submarines were which also lost in April–May 1945. [cite web
title= USS SNOOK (SS-279)
author= Royal Weaver
date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher=
pages= |language= |doi= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote=
accessdate= 2008-09-02 ] One candidate is Japanese submarine "I-56". [cite web
title= USS "Snook" (SS 279) Memorial
author= |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors=
date= |year= |month= |format= |work=
Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum
pages= |language= |doi= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote=
accessdate= 2008-09-02 ]
"Snook" was credited with sinking 17 enemy vessels in her two and one-half years of active service. She earned seven
battle stars for World War IIservice.
See USS|Snook for other ships of the same name.
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s14/snook-i.htm history.navy.mil: USS "Snook"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08279.htm navsource.org: USS "Snook"]
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/submar/ss279.txt hazegray.org: USS "Snook"]
* [http://www.oneternalpatrol.com/uss-snook-279.htm On Eternal Patrol: USS "Snook"]
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