The USS Snook (SS-279) was a Gato-class World War II era submarine.
The namesake of the USS Snook is any bass-like fish of the genus Centropomus, especially C. undecimalis, inhabiting waters off Florida and the West Indies and south to Brazil. It is valued as food and game.
The radio call sign of the USS Snook was NAN-ABLE-NAN-HOW.
On March 25, 1945, the Snook left the submarine base at Guam for her ninth and final war patrol with Commander John F. Walling at the helm. She departed Guam in company with USS Burrfish (SS-312) and USS Bang (SS-385), as part of the wolf pack Whalers under Commander Walling's leadership. On March 27th, Snook returned to Guam for emergency repairs. She left to rejoin the group the following day. The group was under orders to conduct a coordinated patrol in the Luzon Strait area and to perform lifeguard duty if so directed by dispatch. On April 1, 1945, Snook was ordered to disband the Whalers pack and join a new group, Hiram's Hecklers, under Commander Hiram Cassedy in USS Tigrone (SS-419). This came about because Burrfish and Bang had been pulled for lifeguard duty. 1
On April 8th, Cassedy had been fired at by an unseen opponent and had dodged two torpedoes. He suspected that the Snook might have fired the torpedoes at him. Cassedy raised the Snook by radio that night and Walling said he had not yet fired any torpedoes. Cassedy cautioned Walling to be on guard for the enemy submarine that had fired the torpedoes at Tigrone. The submarine Tigrone was in radio contact with the Snook until April 8, 1945, on which date the Snook reported that as of 0740 hours she was at the geographic position 18° 40' N, 110° 40' E. The next day Cassedy could not raise the Snook by radio. She was never heard from again. 2
On April 12, 1945, the Snook was ordered to perform lifeguard duty in the vicinity of the Sakishima Islands, about 200 miles east of northern Formosa, in support of British carrier air strikes. On April 20th the commander of the British carrier task force reported that he could not contact her by radio. Bang was then sent to rendezvous with Snook, but no sign of the submarine was found. 3
There are two possible causes for the Snook's loss, neither with sufficient evidence to be deemed conclusive. The first possibility is that on April 14, 1945, she was detected by enemy Magnetic Anomaly Detector-equipped patrol planes off the Chusan Archipelago and attacked with depth charges. Surface vessels were called in and attacked the submarine with depth charges over the next two hours until a widening oil slick was sighted. The second possibility is that on April 14, 1945, while the Snook was on lifeguard duty near the Sakishima Islands, she was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-56. The Tabular Records of Movement for the surface vessels involved in the first attack indicate the cause of the loss of the Snook, or even its sinking location, have never been officially determined. The Tabular Record of Movement for the I-56 indicates several sources credit her with sinking the Snook sometime after April 8th, but this is not confirmed by any Japanese sources. The reason for her loss remains a mystery. 4
The Snook earned seven battle stars for World War II service. Her JANAC score is 75,473 tons sunk in seventeen enemy vessels. Her Alden-McDonald score is twenty vessels sunk for 76,597 tons and six vessels damaged for 15,529 tons. The SORG score for the Snook is sixteen vessels sunk worth 105,800 tons and ten and one-half vessels damaged for 67,600 tons. According to the Alden-McDonald analysis, JANAC incorrectly credited the sinking of the Arisan Maru to the USS Snook. It was sunk by the USS Shark (SS-314). Therefore the Snook's JANAC score is overstated by one vessel and 6,886 tons. 5
A list of the personnel lost with Snook is maintained at On Eternal Patrol.
1. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 148.
2. Lockwood, Charles A., Sink 'Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific, p. 294.
3. United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 148.
4. Hackett, Bob, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall, "IJN Escort Okinawa: Tabular Record of Movement," published online at Combined Fleet; Hackett, Bob, and Sander Kingsepp, "HIJMS Submarine I-56: Tabular Record of Movement," published online Combined Fleet; Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 44, p. 57.
5. Alden, John D., and Craig R. McDonald, United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East During World War II, Fourth Edition, see USS Snook (SS-279), Attack Nos. 771, 793, 794, 796, 797, 821, 825, 909, 947, 948, 949, 1109, 1139, 1140, 1142, 1167, 1364, 1365, 1366, 1368, 1369, 1370, 1542, 1605, 1606, 1628, 1631, 1684, 2268, 2906, 2907, 2908, 2913, 2917, 2956, 4765, 4766, 4816, 4830, and 4843; Submarine war patrol reports on CD, data collected by the Submarine Operations Research Group (SORG) in the report "Results of U. S. Submarine War Patrols Listed Alphabetically by Name of Submarine"; Japanese Naval And Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes, Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, USS Snook (SS-279).