Skate (SS-305) I
A salt water fish of the ray family, with a broad, flat body, and greatly developed pectoral fins that give the fish a rhomboidal shape.
The first Skate (SS-23) was renamed F-4 (q.v.) on 17 November 1911.
The first Skate (SS-305) was laid down by the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., on 1 August 1942; launched on 4 March 1943; sponsored by Mrs. George P. Shamer; and commissioned on 15 April 1943, Comdr. E. B. McKinney in command.
Following shakedown off the California coast, Skate sailed to Pearl Harbor and then, on 25 September 1943, headed toward Wake Island and her first war patrol, during which she performed lifeguard duty for the carriers during air strikes against that Japanese-held island. At dawn on 6 October, the submarine was strafed by enemy aircraft, mortally wounding one of her officers as he attempted to assist wounded airmen from a life raft. The next day, Skate closed to within 5,000 yards of the beach, in the face of heavy enemy bombardment, to rescue two downed aviators. While searching for a third, she was attacked by a Japanese dive-bomber, and was forced to dive to escape. After a short return to Midway, Skate returned to Wake Island and rescued four additional airmen before terminating her first patrol at Midway on 29 October.
On 15 November, Skate departed Midway for her second war patrol, conducted off Truk in the Caroline Islands. On 25 November, she sighted the masts of five warships; but, after firing a spread of torpedoes at overlapping aircraft carriers, she was forced down by depth charging from the escort ships. While north of Truk on 21 December, the submarine torpedoed and sank the cargo ship, Terukawa Maru. During a rain squall on Christmas day 1943, she made a daring attack which damaged battleship, Yamato, the pride of the Japanese Fleet. Skate returned to Midway for refit on 7 January 1944.
Skate's third war patrol was again conducted in the area of the Carolines, in support of operation "Hailstone," the carrier air strikes on Truk. On 16 February, the evening before the air strike, Skate intercepted the Japanese light cruiser, Agano, which had survived a previous torpedo attack by Scamp (SS-277). Skate fired four torpedoes for three certain hits that engulfed the ship in a shroud of smoke as the submarine submerged to evade heavy depth charging from the enemy escorts. She later returned to the scene of the attack, but before another torpedo could be launched, the cruiser rolled to port and sank. Following the air strikes and further patrol in the area, the submarine returned to Pearl Harbor on 17 March.
During her fourth war patrol, off the Bonin Islands from 11 April to 31 May, Skate scored hits on an enemy cargo ship for unconfirmed damage and, on 14 May, sank an enemy sampan in a surface attack, taking three prisoners of war.
Skate departed Midway on 23 June on her fifth war patrol, conducted off the Kuril Islands. On 7 July, she intercepted a convoy of five ships and escorting destroyers, fired three torpedoes, and sank the trailing destroyer, Usugumo. The submarine was then forced deep by the other escorts and depth charged for over two hours before escaping. On 15 July, the submarine sank the cargo ship, Miho Maru, taking two prisoners; and, on the following day, the cargo ship, Nippo Maru, was also sent to the bottom. Skate terminated her fifth patrol at Pearl Harbor on 7 August.
Departing Pearl Harbor on 9 September, Skate sailed for the Ryukyu Islands and her sixth war patrol, during which she performed photographic reconnaissance of Okinawa and, on 29 September, sank a small patrol craft and the cargo ship, Ekisan Maru. Following her return to Pearl Harbor, she got underway for overhaul at Hunters Point Navy Yard, San Francisco, Calif.
Skate got underway from Pearl Harbor for her seventh war patrol on 11 April 1945, to form a coordinated attack group with other submarines and patrol in the Sea of Japan. On the morning of 10 June, she encountered the Japanese submarine I-222 on the surface returning to port. As the enemy crossed her bow, Skate fired two torpedoes with two hits that quickly sank the submarine. Two days later, Skate had her most productive day of the war. While off the Nanto Peninsula, she evaded gunfire of enemy ships and an attack by an enemy escort to sink three cargo ships, Yozan Maru, Kenjo Maru, and Zuiko Maru. Skate terminated her seventh war patrol at Pearl Harbor on 4 July.
Skate departed Pearl Harbor on 5 August for her eighth war patrol; but, while en route to the patrol area, she received word of the Japanese surrender and returned to port, and then set sail for the United States, arriving at San Diego on 6 September. For the next four months, she participated in training operations along the west coast, and then sailed to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 9 January 1946. On 21 May, she departed for Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, to be used as a target ship in Operation "Crossroads," the atomic bomb tests. Although considerably damaged by the first of the tests, the submarine survived and was towed back to Pearl Harbor, where she was moored in an isolated berth. On 11 October, Clamp (ARS-33) took Skate in tow and headed for San Francisco, and then to Mare Island Naval Shipyard, where the submarine was inspected and then decommissioned on 11 December. The submarine was destroyed on 5 October 1948, off the California coast, and struck from the Navy list on 21 October 1948.
Skate (SS-305) received 8 battle stars for World War II service.