Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Memoriam - USS Kete (SS-369) - Lost on or about 20 March 1945

USS Kete (SS-369), a Balao-class submarine (sister ship to USS Razorback) was lost to unknown causes on her second war patrol.

Departing Guam on March 1st, 1945, her assignment was to gather weather data for the upcoming invasion of Okinawa and to also perform lifeguard duty as needed.

Although she had encountered no Japanese ships on her first war patrol, Kete surprised a small Japanese convoy and sank three Japanese merchant ships during the night of March 9th and 10th. On March 14th, she unsuccessfully attacked a Japanese cable-laying ship. These attacks left Kete with only three torpedoes remaining and she was ordered to depart her patrol area on March 20th.

Kete acknowledged receipt of these orders and sent in a weather report on that day.

She was neither seen nor heard from again.

After the war, Japanese records revealed no attacks on American submarines in Kete's area, so her loss remains a mystery to this day.

It is known that at least three Japanese submarines passed through the area that Kete was transiting. All three were sunk by American warships in late March. It is possible that one of these three subs sank Kete, but was unable to report the attack before they were, in turn, sunk. Another possibility is that she suffered some kind of operational accident, such as a battery explosion or even a "circular run" of a torpedo during an attempted attack on one of the Japanese submarines.

Until and unless her final resting place is found, her loss will likely remain a mystery.


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