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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

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Snook (SS-279)

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - November - Hotel

Gato Class Submarine: Laid down, 17 April 1942, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, on Seavey Island in Kittery, Maine. Launched, 15 August 1942; Commissioned USS Snook (SS-279), 24 October 1942; Sunk on 9th patrol by unknown causes, April-May 1945 east of Taiwan, all hands lost; Struck from the Naval Register, (date unknown). Snook earned seven battle stars for World War II service.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,410 t.; Length 311' 8"; Beam 27' 4"; Draft 15' 3"; Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts; Complement 6 Officers 54 Enlisted; Operating Depth, 300 ft; Submerged Endurance, 48 hrs at 2 kts; Patrol Endurance 75 days; Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10 kts; Armament, ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 3"/50 deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns; Propulsion, diesel electric reduction gear with four Fairbanks Morse main generator diesel engines, HP 5400, Fuel Capacity, 94,400 gals., four General Electric main motors, HP 2740, two 126-cell main storage batteries, twin propellers.

(For more info scroll down)

It is my fondest hope that with the most remote of chances someone in the U.S. Navy will undertake a training exercise at Iriomote Island, Ryukyu Islands, area where the final resting place of the USS Snook (SS-279), according to Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet USS SNOOK (SS 279) April 8 1945 - 84 Men Lost could quite probably be.
I have contacted several individuals and organizations in the past year to go and explore the possibilities, but nothing so far has come out of it. It was worth the shot and I fully understand any lack of commitment on anyone's part when it comes to putting the time, energy & resources into anything other than a sure bet. To go looking on what is a speculative hunch is simply what it is.
I don't think it is worthwhile tracking every possible blip on the sonar screen on the assumption it is a lost boat. It is an endeavor that would not be cheap and my money tree is never going to sprout enough anyway. On the other hand, if the Navy wants a change of scenery on training exercises, and / or any of the shakers and movers who plan international fleet exercises happen to be in the area with a ROV (and frequent these pages) why not take the plunge? The crew of the Snook will not be walking through any open doors after their deaths 60 plus years ago, but hopefully finding their resting place might bring closure to those who need it where ever they are.

On a personal note, my neighbor Danny Eisen is the former head of ICMIS: The International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers.
When it comes to closure, people will make tremendous efforts to locate those near and dear to them, even chasing old and cold leads. This is my 2 cents worth of the political situation as I see it from my vantage point in the non-Christian world.
My eldest daughter (I have two girls) was born around the time that Israeli Navigator Ron Arad went missing in October 1986 and is being used as a political pawn. We measure his time as a M.I.A. by her birthday. He was married long enough to father a daughter who is the same age as mine. His family is still waiting for him to walk through the door & come home.
One of our soldiers, Gilad Schalit had been kidnapped for over a 1,000 days. As of this writing (16 October 2011), he will shortly be released for over 1,000 Arab murderers in our jails. That is about the value of his worth, 1 for over 1,000 pieces of human scum. Unfortunately we can probably only look forward to the murder of more innocent people in Israel once these s.o.b.s are released, hopefully they will all be killed next time so we won't have the agonizing decision as a nation to worry about how many more people we will have to give over the next time (G-D forbid) something like this happens. These are the same wonderful folks and their cronies that brought you the hanging of Lt. Col Higgins, the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon & celebrated 9/11.
There is such a thing as individual and group accountability on actions taken and not. In the small country that I live in everybody can know everyone else without too much difficulty and who knows what consequences we do here on Earth in this life affects the real shaker and mover of things.

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Robalo95kCentropomus undecimalis, a common snook. The common snook is also known as the sergeant fish or ro'balo. Photo & text courtesy of
PNY2.40kOriginal Caption: "Naval Yard Portsmouth, NH. US Submarines Scamp (SS-277), Scorpion (SS-278), and Steelhead (SS-280) under construction in building ways. Stern views looking ford from after catwalk, 7 July 1942.
Directly to the left of the Scamp, there is apparently an empty way. However, if you look closely enough, you can just barely see a small section of Balao (SS-285). She filled the way vacated by Sawfish (SS-276) on 23 June 1942.
Over on the far left is Snook (SS-279). You can see her conning tower and covered wagon ribs and some portions of her bow. The numbering system for the ways at Portsmouth was quite odd at the time. They were out of numerical sequence. From left to right, they are Ways #2, 4, 3, 1A, & 1. The construction shed was widened in 1941 and two ways were added. Way #1A was crammed in between the others in 1942 and Scorpion was the first to be built on it.
Photo i.d. courtesy of Ric Hedman, John Hummel, David Johnston (USN, retired) & Robert Morgan.
US National Archives photo # 19LCM 757-42, from National Archives
Scamp & Scorpion 319k Scamp (SS-277), on left & Scorpion (SS-278) at right, dual launching ceremony on 20 July 1942, at Portsmouth Navy Yard,N.H.
The book "Portsmouth-Built Submarines of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard" states that this shiphouse contained five ways at the time. The boat on the left of the Scamp should be the Snook (SS-279), on ways 2, which would be launched 26 days from now, 15 August 1942.
Photo i.d. courtesy of Darryl L. Baker, David Decrevel, Ric Hedman, John Hummel & David Johnston.
USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
PNY865kMrs. James C. Dempsey, sponsor, Miss Nancy Lee Dismukes, Maid of Honor, and Rear Admiral Thomas Withers at launching of U.S. Submarine Snook (SS-279), Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH., 15 August 1942.National Archives Identifier: 7788883
Photo courtesy of
Snook 317k Snook (SS-279) going down the ways, 15 August 1942, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Snook 61k Snook (SS-279) going down the ways, 15 August 1942, at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H. U.S. Navy photo.
Snook 120k Snook (SS-279) taken during sea trials, 8 January 1943.U.S. Navy photo.
Snook 103k Snook (SS-279) is shown here in this 11 January 1943 photo taken during sea trials. This boat shows the next step forward of removal of the fairwater. The metal around the scopes and the front part of the fairwater have been removed. A 20mm gun both fore and aft have been added. However, this gun had the heavy cast base which was soon replaced with the tripod type base. Photo and text courtesy of The Floating Drydock, Fleet Subs of WW II by Thomas F. Walkowiak.
Snook 197k Snook (SS-279) is shown here in this 11 January 1943 photo taken during sea trials off the Isle of Shoals near Portsmouth, NH. Her number two scope is shown fully raised and the boat is equipped with two 20mm guns on her gun decks. Text courtesy of The Floating Drydock, Fleet Subs of WW II by Thomas F. Walkowiak.
USN Archives photo # 19-N-39693 courtesy of Scott Koen &
Snook 87k Snook (SS-279) operating near shore, circa 1943. Official USN photo # NH 98380, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
NR Members of the crew of the United States submarine Snook (SS-279) have not, as yet, invited their mascot Baby Snooks (Fannie Brice) aboard for inspection, They are afraid the impish Thursday night tormenter might do more damage than Tojo's Navy. Photos of Snooks and insignia she presented the crew go, however, with the men on their dangerous missions....
The crew recently wired Fannie Brice, creator of the impish brat, as follows: "Baby Snooks is no longer an innocent child."
Realizing the message meant her namesake had done a job on an Axis ship, Fannie immediately cabled back: "Congratulations. May she continue to have experiences unbecoming to a child of her age." Fannie, or Baby Snooks, has a standing invitation for dinner aboard the sub the day the war is over.
Insert photo via
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Ohio History Connection, Columbus, OH. & Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT.
Photo & text by The Dayton Forum. [volume] (Dayton, Ohio) 1913-1949, 19 March 1943, Image 3, & Carbon County News. [volume] (Red Lodge, Mont.) 1936-current, 05 February 1943, Image 2, & Evening Star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 05 September 1943, Image 50, courtesy of
Mackerel 103k Submarine Commanding Officer sights through a periscope in the submarine's control room, during training exercises at the Submarine Base, New London, Groton, Connecticut, in August 1943. In the background, another officer watches men at the control dials. Photographed by a member of Edward Steichen's unit.
Note: Captain Edward L. Beach commented (during the mid-1980s) that this submarine is not a "Fleet Boat", but is more likely either Mackerel (SS-204) or Marlin (SS-205). He also thought that the officer at the periscope might be John F. Walling, who was lost in April 1945 while commanding Snook (SS-279).
USN photo # 19-N-23871 from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
Snook88kAfter shakedown training off the New England coast, Snook (SS-279) 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.text courtesy of DANFS.
Photo courtesy of
Snook 239k Snook (SS-279) 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 airstrikes of 1 September. Following the airstrikes,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.Text courtesy of DANFS.
Photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
Snook 234k Snook (SS-279) crew members holding up ship's scorecard while at Midway at the end of her 4th patrol on 7 December 1943. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
PNY593kCommander Charles O. Triebel, USN, Commanding Officer of Snook (SS-279) receiving the Silver Star for gallantry on a war patrol on 23 December 1943. The citation read, "in extremely shallow water, he skillfully attacked a heavily escorted convoy which resulted in sinking a large enemy transport." Much enemy shipping was sunk by the submarine. The citation was presented by Captain J.B. Longstaff, USN, acting Chief of Staff, Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet. USN photo # 80-G-208327 courtesy of National Museum of the U.S. Navy via
Snook550k The submarine terminated her fifth patrol at Pearl Harbor on 6 March and continued to Hunters Point Navy Yard for a major overhaul. She is seen here on 25 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook619kPlan view looking forward from the stern on 25 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs2, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook667kPlan view amidships as seen on 25 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs63279, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook550kBow view as seen on 25 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs69815, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook481kStern view as seen on 30 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs63280, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook505kBroadside view as seen on 30 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs69809, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook474kView 45 degrees off centerline as seen on 30 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs69811, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook431kPortside view near the Golden Gate 30 May 1944. US National Archives photo # 19LCM bs69810, from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Snook 393k Snook (SS-279) crew members holding up ship's scorecard while at Midway before her 8th patrol in December 1944. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Snook 113k Snook's (SS-279) scorecard.USN photo courtesy of
Coastal Defense Vessel No. 2 346k Photo of Coastal Defenses Vessel No. 2, probably similiar in appearance to Coast Defense Vessel No. 32 & and Coast Defense Vessel No. 52 which may have sunk the Snook (SS-279).
She is seen here on her trials in Tokyo Bay on 26 February 1944.
Photo courtesy of,
Okinawa 123k Shonan, a type B modified escort, the same as the Okinawa, which may have sunk the Snook (SS-279)
She is pictured at Osaka, Japan in July 1944.
Imperial War Museum photo courtesy of A. J. Watts, "Japanese Warships of World War II", submitted by Aryeh Wetterhorn.
I-56 17k A number of enemy submarine contacts were reported in the vicinity of Snook's (SS-279) lifeguard station during the period in which her loss occurred. During April and May 1945, five Japanese submarines were sunk in the Nansei Shoto chain. The circumstances surrounding Snook's loss suggest the possibility that one of these lost submarines may have torpedoed her while she was surfaced during her lifeguard duties and it was not reported. It is known that such tactics were suggested to Japanese submarine commanders by their supporters, according to Submarines Lost Through Enemy Action
According to Rick Cline, author of The Final Dive, the five submarines were:
RO-46, &
The (B-1) type I-56 is pictured here & and torpedo room of sister I-58 here & here. She was lost to five destroyers and aircraft from the light aircraft carrier Bataan (CVL-29) east of Okinawa on 18 April 1945.
Photo courtesy of Torikai Yukihiro @Torikai Lab Network. Toka University, 1117 Kitakaname, Hiratuka, Kanagawa, Japan, 259-1292 &
Photo courtesy of USNHC via Scott Koen &
RO-46 25k Pictured here is the RO-46. She was reportedly sunk 9 April 1945 S.E. of Okinawa by U.S. destroyers. Photo courtesy of
USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
RO-109 39k Pictured here is the RO-109. She was sunk 29 April 1945 S.E. of Okinawa by U.S.fleet units. Photo courtesy of
RO-46 21k Pictured here is the I-361. She was sunk by aircraft from the escort carrier Anzio (CVE-57) off Okinawa on 30 May, 1945.
Two photos of a sister boat, the I-369 & RO-58 appear here.
Photo & text courtesy of
PDF courtesy of Scott Koen &
Devilfish258kSimply conjecture, but this could have been the view through the periscope lens of any of the Japanese submarines if & when the Snook (SS-279) was sunk. This is the Devilfish (SS-292), being sunk as a target by Wahoo (SS-565) at San Francisco, CA., 14 August 1968. U.S. Navy photo, courtesy of
Snook687k6 page PDF of ships named Snook.Photos via Scott Koen &
Okinawa 52k The final resting place of the Snook (SS-279) could quite probably be here, at Iriomote Island, Ryukyu Islands, photographed in August, 1991.
One of the southernmost of the Ryukyu Islands, Iriomote Island can be seen in this near-nadir view. As with all of the Ryukyu Islands, Iriomote Island is the exposed top of a submarine mountain range and is volcanic in origin. The island is fringed by coral reefs and has a hilly, and tropical vegetation covered interior. Iriomote Island is not heavily populated. The city of Ishigaki on Ishigaki Island is visible in the upper right portion of the image. The small island near the bottom center of the image is Hateruma.
Photo # STS043-608-037 & text courtesy of via
Okinawa 44k Snook (SS-279) last known geographic position 18 40' N, 110 40' E. Photo courtesy of Google Earth.
Snook 103k Commemorative photo in honor of the memory of the crew of the Snook (SS-279).Photo courtesy of Tom Kermen.
Dante's Prayer courtesy of Loreena McKennitt via
Snook 12k John Franklin Walling, Commander (Commanding Officer) of the Snook (SS-279) at the time of her loss.USN photo courtesy of
Snook 208k The Snook Memorial, at the entrance to the North Shore Maritime Center, on Riverfront Drive in North Little Rock, AR. Photo courtesy (Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum at North Little Rock).
Tolling the Boats 117k Joyce DaSilva, the wife of Jesse DaSilva of the Tang (SS-306), one of the nine survivors of the boat, tosses a flower into a reflecting pool to honor the memory of one of the 52 submarines lost during World War II at the National Submarine Memorial-West on board Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif. On this Veterans Day, the Submarine Veterans of World War II transferred ownership of the memorial to the U.S. Navy.

The following text is from The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton., pg. 478.
"Major Sullivan Ballou of Rhode Island was killed in the battle, and just before it he had wrote to his wife, Sarah, to tell her that he believed he was going to be killed and to express a tremulous faith that could see a gleam of light in the dark:
"But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and float unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the gladdest days and in the gloomiest nights, always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your chest it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait, for we shall meet again!"
Text i.d. courtesy of Marlynn Starring. Photo i.d. courtesy of Chuck Senior, Vice Commander, Los Angeles-Pasadena Base, USSVI.
USN photo # N-1159B-021 by Journalist 2nd Class Brian Brannon, courtesy of


Snook 131k The How & the Why there was a ROV in the waters where the Snook (SS-279) may be.
My decision to protect company property (the SCORPIO ROV), to divert and avoid the surprise obstacle (rather than approach, investigate and take video footage) has haunted me ever since. I had never seen (nor will I ever again see) such a clear, well-defined symmetrical return image on a sonar screen as that day off the coast of Iriomote when our ship passed directly over the object.

What we really did for a living - one of only three vessels licensed by Okinawa prefecture to harvest the semi-precious deep-water hard corals in prefecture waters. (All three vessels were ROV support ships - an ROV was required to harvest semi-precious corals).
Portside view of Shinkai Chousa Maru. (Deep Sea Explorer)
Originally a 90-ton net tender in the fishing industry, she was reworked into a 149-ton ROV support vessel, most of the added weight above the waterline. A bit top-heavy and less than stable in rough seas.
Deck hand and ROV operator-trainee Chinen-san plays with the manipulator arm while Chef Yasumura hangs on to the cargo bracket. Yasumura-san never did develop his 'sea legs' (yes, he actually was a licensed chef and experienced at running hotel restaurants - sure did get seasick a lot in the galley though - had never worked aboard ship and thought it would be fun...?)
Bringing SCORPIO 54 back home after a 'test and training' dive. Left to right our 1st engineer Nakamura-san (the younger), ship's radio officer and ROV operator-trainee Ganaha-san and chef Yasumura-san hand retrieving and stowing the final 50 meters of umbilical cable with floats (to keep the 'leash' end of heavy umbilical buoyant above the ROV).
Chief engineer Nakamura-san (the elder, uncle) finally out of the engine room and able to relax with the ROV safely tied down.
"Liberty call Iriomote island". Bosun Okuhara-san, myself, radio officer Ganaha-san and chef Yasumura-san on a jungle trial. We rarely tied up ashore, almost always anchored off a ways from land to keep the crew from spending money & getting drunk at night when they needed their rest... but we did need to take on fuel, water and food a couple times a month.

If what I saw is a U.S. submarine, there were two possibilities as I recall. The other was most likely lost in the Taiwan strait? I visited the Undersea Warfare Museum to try to find out if US subs had been lost in the area during the war. And I was also curious about other deep sea ROVs...
I never did check on the possibility of it being a Japanese submarine but I understand there were about five reported lost in the Ryukyu or Nantou islands? It is possible that it might be a Japanese submarine.
The position off the west coast of Iriomote is probably not the safest place for a submarine to 'stand by' for a plane guard watch but it would have given the option to proceed either north or south of the islands.
Shallow reef between the main islands of Iriomote and Ishigaki prevented any transit between them by ships or submarines. Americans, myself included, have little or no knowledge of the 'other war' in the Ryukyu islands - the battle conducted mainly by our British allies in the Yaeyama area. While I am aware British pilots were captured and summarily executed on Ishigaki, I really know nothing of the campaign to secure the outer islands by the British.
Would the west coast of Iriomote have been a good position for a plane guard watch? Is a 350-400 meter seabed (near undersea sheer cliffs of stone at the edge of the shallows) a sufficient zone of safety for a submarine of that time? I've never really thought too much about why a submarine would have been there... and I no longer have the charts for that area - including the chart I sketched the sonar image on in the bridge that day along with exact lat-long position.
It is possible that this may be the Snook (SS-279). It is also just as possible it may be a Japanese sub. Based on the symmetry and rough dimensions of the sonar image, it is either a submarine or it may be an extremely large, long, cylindrical steel tank someone disposed of? I would place my bet that it is a lost submarine.
Photos & text courtesy of Gary Troemner.
Snook 98k The human factor: Summit Hill, Pennsylvania, Cemetery on White Street. Ernie Spence was lost on the Snook (SS-279), 9 April 1945.

In Memorium:
In the Second Book of Shmuel (Samuel), 22nd chapter, 5th through the 20th verses, translated from the original in Hebrew and published by the Koren Publishers of Jerusalem, Israel, 1982, can perhaps aptly describe the fate of the crew and all other U.S. submariners who died defending their county:

"When the waves of death compassed me / the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; / the bonds of She'ol encircled me; / the snares of death took me by surprise; / in my distress I called upon the Lord, / and cried to my G-D: / and he heard my voice out of his temple, / and my cry entered into his ears. / Then the earth shook and trembled; /the foundations of heaven moved / and shook because of his anger /...the heavy mass of waters, and thick clouds of the skies /... And the channels of the sea appeared, / the foundations of the world were laid bare, / at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast at the breath of his nostrils. / He sent from above, he took me; / he drew me out of many waters; / he delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. / They surprised me in the day of my calamity: / but the Lord was my stay / He brought me forth also into a large place: / he delivered me because he delighted in me./"
U.S. Navy photo, courtesy of

View the Snook (SS-279)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
On Eternal Patrol
ComSubForPac Report of loss of USS SNOOK (SS 279) April 8 1945 - 82 Men Lost
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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