USS Kete

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Kete SS-369

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Kete

(SS-369: dp. 1,526 (surf.), 2,424 (subm.); 1. 311'9"; b. 27'3"; dr. 15'3"; s. 20 k. (surf.), 9 k. (subm.); cpl. 66; a. 1 5", 1 40mm., 1 20mm., 10 21" tt.; cl. Balao)

Kete (SS-369) was launched 9 April 1944 by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Mnnitowoc, Wis.; sponsored by Mrs. E. S. Hutchinson; and commissioned 31 July, Comdr. R. L. Rutter in command.

Departing Manitowoc 20 August, Rete sailed via New Orleans to Panama. Arriving 5 September, she trained with SubRon 3 until 28 September; then the new submarine sailed to Pearl Harbor, arriving 15 October, and steamed westward on the 31st for her first war patrol.

She topped off her fuel at Midway 4 November and reached her assigned patrol area in the East China Sea on 15 November in company with Sea Lion ( SS-315). Harassed by heavy weather and nonfunctioning bow planes, she sailed 19 November for Saipan, where she arrived the 24th. She departed Saipan with Kraken (SS370) on 24 December and resumed her war patrol north of Okinawa 4 days later. Despite prolonged periods of heavy weather, she made lifeguard patrols off the central Ryutyus from 1 January to 27 January 1945 searching for American fliers downed during air strikes on the RyuRyus. After gathering vital weather data, she sailed to Guam and arrived 30 January for refit.

Lt. ComOr Edward Ackerman in command. Rete cleared Guam 1 March for her second war patrol. Assigned to waters surrounding the Nansei Shoto Chain, she resumed lifeguard duty and gathered weather data for the forthcoming invasion of Okinawa. While patrolling west of Tokara Retto on the night of 9 and 10 March, she surprised an enemy convoy and torpedoed three marus totaling 6,881 tons. During the night of 14 March, she attacked a cable-laying ship. With only three torpedoes remaining, she was ordered to depart the area 20 March, refuel at Midwny, and proceed to Pear Harbor for refit. Kete acknowledged these orders 19 March; and, while steaming eastward the following day, she sent in a weather report from a position south of Colnett Strait. Scheduled to arrive Midway by 31 March, she was neither seen nor heard from again. Repeated attempts to contact her by radio failed; and on 16 April she was reported as presumed lost.

Circumstances surrounding her loss remain a mystery. The cause could have been an operational malfunction, a mine explosion, or enemy action.

Kete received one battle star for World War II service.