(SS-279: dp. 1,526 (surf.), 2,410 (subm.); l. 311'8"; b. 27'4"; dr. 15'3"; s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 80; a. 1 5", 1 40mm., 10 21" tt; cl. Gato)
A robalo of the Atlantic that is bluish-gray above and silvery below a black lateral line. The snook attains a length of about four feet and a weight of from 15 to 20 pounds.
The first Snook (SS-279) was laid down by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard on 17 April 1942; launched on 15 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs. James C. Dempsey, wife of Lt. Dempsey who had been awarded the Navy Cross for heroism as commanding officer of the submarine S-27; and commissioned on 24 October 1942, Lt. Comdr. C. O. Triebel in command.
After shakedown training off the New England coast, Snook departed New London on 3 March 1943 and set sail for the Pacific. Following a 12-day stopover at Pearl Harbor, the submarine put to sea on 11 April and headed for the Yellow and East China seas for her first war patrol. Upon completion of mine planting in the Shanghai area, Snook continued on up the coast of China to the Yellow Sea. On the afternoon of 5 May, she sighted two freighters standing out of Dairen and 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 and 16 May, Snook terminated her first patrol at Midway on the 23d.
Snook set sail from Midway for her second war patrol on 9 June and headed for the waters off the Ryukyu Islands. In the morning twilight of 24 June, the submarine closed a six-ship convoy escorted 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 destroyer guarding the crippled ship and was prevented from a second try by overhead aircraft.
Shortly before midnight on 3 July, Snook made radar contact 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 Harbor from her second patrol on 18 July.
Snook got. underway from Pearl Harbor for her third war patrol on 18 August and arrived off Marcus Island on 30 August to take reconnaissance photographs and stand lifeguard duty for the carrier air strikes of 1 September. Following the air strikes, the submarine resumed patrol and headed for the East China Sea where, 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 Dairen and quickly sent the 715-ton cargo ship, Katsurahama Maru, to the bottom. Thesubmarine terminated her third patrol at Pearl Harbor on 8 October.
Snook spent her fourth war patrol in a coordinated attack group with Pargo (SS-264) and Harder (SS-257) 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 on 7 December and was routed on to Pearl Harbor.
On 6 January 1944, Snook cleared Pearl Harbor and headed for the western coast of Kyushu and her fifth war patrol. While off the Bonin Islands on 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 the 14th, she quickly sank the freighter, Nittoku Maru, with one torpedo hit amidships and, on the following day, gave the same treatment to the cargo ship, Hoshi Maru No. 2. On 23 February, while returning to Midway, 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 Harbor on 6 March and continued to Hunters Point Navy Yard for 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 on 14 August.
Snook's seventh war patrol was conducted in Luzon Strait and the South China Sea. After stopping at Saipan for repairs from 25 September to 4 October, the submarine continued her natrol 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 No. 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 had the satisfaction of observing the cargo ship, Arisan Maru, sink beneath the waves. After rescuing a downed airman on 3 November, the submarine returned to Pearl Harbor on 18 November.
Snook's eighth war patrol was conducted off the Kuril Islands from 25 December 1944 to 17 February 1945. Her only sightings during this patrol were two Russian 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 Sea and Luzon Strait. On 8 April, she reported her position to Tigrone (SS-419) 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 Gunto in 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, Bang (SS-385) 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, credited with sinking 17 enemy vessels in her two and one-half years of active service, was presumed lost, the victim of unknown causes.
Snook (SS-279) earned seven battle stars for World War II service.