Rasher (SS-269) was laid down 4 May 1942 by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, Wis.; launched 20 December 1942; sponsored by Mrs. G. C. Weaver; and commissioned 8 June 1943, Cmdr. E. S. Hutchinson in command.
Following builder's trials in Lake Michigan, Rasher was decommissioned and towed down the Mississippi on a floating drydock. After recommissioning and fitting out in New Orleans, La., the new submarine trained in the Bay of Panama, departed Balboa 8 August 1943, and arrived at Brisbane, Australia, on 11 September.
On her first war patrol, 24 September through 24 November 1943, Rasher operated in the Makassar Strait-Celebes Sea area, and sank the passenger-cargo ship Kogane Maru in a submerged attack at dawn on 9 October. Four days later, off Ambon Harbor, she spotted a convoy of four merchantmen escorted by two destroyers and a "Pete" seaplane, fired two salvoes of three torpedoes each, and crash dived to avoid the destroyers, and bombs from the scout plane. Freighter Kenkoku Maru broke up and sank, while the escorts struck back in a vigorous but vain counterattack. On the afternoon of 31 October, while patrolling the shipping lanes off the Borneo coast, Rasher commenced trailing tanker Koryo Maru, but because of a patrolling float plane, was unable to attack until night. Rasher then surfaced, attacked and sent the tanker to the bottom after a thunderous explosion of exploding torpedoes and gasoline.
The submarine's next victim was tanker Tango Maru which lost her stern to a spread of three torpedoes on the afternoon of 8 November. Rasher escaped the escorts by diving deep and silently slipping away. A midnight attack on a second convoy off Mangkalihat resulted in hit on a tanker, but vigorous countermeasures by enemy destroyers prevented any assessment of damage. Rasher escaped the enemy surface craft and, her torpedoes expended, headed home and arrived at Fremantle on 24 November.
Following refit, Rasher commenced her second war patrol on 19 December 1943 and stalked Japanese shipping in the South China Sea, off Borneo. When she attacked a three-tanker convoy on the night of 4 January 1944, her first torpedo exploded prematurely. A wild melee ensued, with tankers scattering and escorts racing about, firing in all directions. Rasher was pursuing Hakko Maru when the tanker exploded from a torpedo from Bluefish (SS-222). Rasher fired at a second target while submerged, and heard the explosions rip into the tanker's hull, but was unable to confirm a sinking. She pursued the third tanker, firing a spread of four fish early in the morning of the 5th. A mushroom of fire arose as the last two torpedoes struck, and Kiyo Maru sank, leaving only an oil slick and scattered debris. During the patrol, Rasher planted mines off the approaches to Saigon harbor. Prematurely exploding torpedoes and vigilant escorts frustrated her attacks on convoys on 11 and 17 January. A week later she returned to Fremantle.
Rasher's third war patrol from 19 February to 4 April 1944, was conducted in the Java-Celebes Sea area. On 25 February she attacked a Japanese convoy off Bali, sinking cargo ships Tango Maru and Ryusei Maru. Then, after transiting Makassar Strait into the Celebes Sea, she destroyed cargo ship Nattai Maru on 3 March. En route home, she met Nichinan Maru on 27 March, and sent the 2,750-ton freighter to Davy Jones's Locker.
Rasher returned to Makassar Strait-Celebes Sea area for her fourth patrol, from 30 April to 23 June. On 11 May, she torpedoed and sank the freighter Choi Maru. Next to go down were the converted gunboat Anshu Maru on 29 May and the tanker Shioya Maru in the Celebes Sea off Manado 8 June. Six days later, the cargo ship Koan Maru went to the bottom, after taking a spread of torpedoes aft and capsizing.
Her fifth patrol, from 22 July to 3 September, was spent largely with Bluefish (SS-222) in the South China Sea, west of Luzon. South of Scarborough Shoal, Rasher fired a spread of five torpedoes at the largest ship in a three-ship convoy. Diving to avoid being rammed, Rasher heard the sounds of a ship breaking up as the Shiroganesan Maru went down. On the dark stormy night of 18 August, Rasher's radar picked up a large convoy, protected by destroyers and air cover. The first target, Teiyo Maru, a tanker loaded with gasoline, exploded into a column of flame 1,000 feet high, with parts of the ship being blown 500 yards from the flaming hulk. The escorts fired wildly and laid depth charge patterns 2 miles astern of Rasher. The submarine fired a second spread of "tin fish," sinking the cargo-transport Eishin Maru and scoring hits on a second vessel. Rasher resumed the attack on the shattered convoy, sinking transport Teia Maru and carrier Taiyo. Bluefish intercepted the remaining ships, sinking two tankers. Spadefish (SS-411) joined the wolfpack and scored hits on two of the surviving transports. All torpedoes expended, Rasher set course for Midway, thence proceeded via Hawaii to San Francisco, arriving Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard on 11 September for overhaul.
Rasher departed San Francisco on 20 December 1944, arriving at Midway via Pearl Harbor in early January 1945. Her sixth patrol, as a unit of a wolfpack with Pilotfish (SS-386) and Finback (SS-230), commenced on 29 January, and was conducted in the southern sector of the East China Sea. However, no suitable targets were found, only small patrol craft, hospital ships, and ubiquitous patrol aircraft. The patrol ended on 16 March 1945 at Guam.
Her seventh patrol, 17 April to 29 May 1945, was little more rewarding. On lifeguard station off Honshu, she riddled two small craft with gunfire. No aircraft came down in her area, and she returned to Midway on 29 May.
Rasher departed Midway 23 June 1945 to take lifeguard station off southern Formosa. No Allied planes were downed in her area before orders arrived to proceed to the Gulf of Siam. While she was en route the war ended, and Rasher returned to the Philippines. She departed Subic Bay on 31 August, arriving New York on 6 October, via Pearl Harbor and the Panama Canal. Following deactivation overhaul, she was decommissioned 22 June 1946 and was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at New London, Conn.
She was placed in commission in reserve at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 14 Dec 1951, Lt. V. D. Ely in command. After being reclassified as a radar picket submarine, SSR-269, she commenced conversion which continued after she decommissioned 28 May 1952. After extensive hull and interior alterations at Philadelphia Navy Yard, she was recommissioned 22 July 1953, Lt. Cmdr. R. W. Stecher in command. She departed New London on 12 November, arriving San Diego 17 December via Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal.
The following 2 years were spent off the west coast in operations from Washington to Acapulco. On 4 January 1956, she deployed to the 7th Fleet, where she operated with U.S. and SEATO naval units. She returned to San Diego 3 July 1956. Prior to and following a second WestPac deployment from 4 March to 4 September 1958, SSR-269 served in Fleet exercises as an early warning ship, and in ASW training operations.
On 28 December 1959, Rasher departed the continental United States for the Far East. While attached to the 7th Fleet, she participated in exercise "Blue Star," a large-scale American-Nationalist Chinese amphibious exercise. In May 1960, she took part in the Black Ship Festival at Shimoda, Japan, commemorating Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry's landing. She returned to San Diego on 20 June 1960.
Rasher was reclassified as an auxiliary submarine, AGSS-269, on 1 July 1960, with conversion being accomplished at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Involved in maintaining fleet readiness until mid-August 1962 when she deployed to WestPac, Rasher continued to exhibit her usual high standards of performance. She returned to San Diego on 15 February 1963, and was overhauled that summer.
During the next year, AGSS-269 was engaged in strike exercises involving other American and Canadian ships. Her next deployment, beginning on 3 August 1964, involved support of 7th Fleet operations off Vietnam, as well as ASW exercises with SEATO allies.
After returning to San Diego on 5 February 1965, she had ASW and amphibious training. Her next WestPac deployment, from 3 January to 17 July 1966, included amphibious and ASW training support for Republic of Korea, Nationalist Chinese, and Thai units, as well as operations with the 7th Fleet off Vietnam.
Rasher spent the remainder of her commissioned career providing training services off the coast of California to UDT and ASW units. She was decommissioned 27 May 1967, and later was towed to Portland, Oreg., where she served as a training submarine for Naval reservists until struck from the Navy list, 20 December 1971.
Rasher was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for outstanding performance in combat during World War II patrols 1, 3, 4, and 5. She received seven battle stars in World War II service, and two battle stars for service off Vietnam.
23 September 2005