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USS Gato (SS-212)

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Laid down:5 October 1940
Launched:21 August 1941
Commissioned:31 December 1941
Fate:sold for scrapping
Struck:1 March 1960
General Characteristics
Displacement:1526 tons surfaced, 2424 tons submerged
Length:311.8 feet
Beam:27.3 feet
Draft:19.3 feet
Speed:20.25 knots surfaced,
8.75 knots submerged
Armament:one three-inch gun, four machineguns, ten 21-inch torpedo tubes
Complement:60 officers and men

The first USS Gato (SS-212) was the lead ship of her class. Her keel was laid down 5 October 1940, by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut. She was launched 21 August 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Royal E. Ingersoll, and commissioned 31 December 1941 with Lieutenant Commander V.G. Myers in command.

After shakedown training at New London, Connecticut, Gato departed 16 February 1942, for Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and San Francisco. On her first war patrol from Pearl Harbor (20 April - 10 June 1942), she unsuccessfully attacked an converted aircraft carrier 3 May before being driven away by the fierce depth charging of four destroyers off the Marshalls. On 24 May she was ordered to patrol the western approaches to Midway, taking station 280 miles westward during that historic victory.

On her second war patrol (2 July - 29 August 1942), she patrolled east of the Kurile Islands toward the Aleutian chain. She obtained four torpedo hits with unconfirmed damage to a ship 15 August 1942, and terminated her patrol at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska. Her third patrol (4 September - 23 December 1942) included operations off Kiska; then she steamed via Midway and Pearl Harbor to Truk atoll, where her attack 6 December on a convoy was broken off by aerial bombs and a severe depth charge attack by three destroyers. This patrol terminated at Brisbane, Australia, 23 December 1942.

During her fourth war patrol (13 January 1943 - 26 February 1943), Gato torpedoed and sank transport Kenkon Maru 21 January; cargo ship Nichiun Maru on 29 January; and cargo ship Suruya Maru on 15 February -- all off New Georgia, Solomon Islands. On her fifth war patrol (19 March - 6 June 1943), she landed an Australian Intelligence party at Toep, Bougainville, 29 March 1943, and evacuated 27 children, nine mothers, and three nuns, transferring them 31 March to SC-531 off Ramos, Florida Island. During a submerged radar attack approach 4 April 1943, between Tanga and Lihir Islands, she was shaken so violently by three exploding depth charges that she returned to Brisbane for temporary repairs 11 April to 20 April. Gato landed more Australian commandos at Toep Harbor 29 May, transported more evacuees to Ramos Island, and then reconnoitered off Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands before putting in at Pearl Harbor 6 June 1943.

Gato was routed onward to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul; returned to Pearl Harbor 22 August 1943; and conducted her sixth war patrol (6 September - 28 October) via Truk and Bougainville in the Solomons to Brisbane. En route on 19 October she attacked a convoy, scoring hits for unknown damage to two large cargo ships. Her seventh war patrol (18 November 1943 - 10 January 1944) took her north of the Bismarck Archipelago. On 30 November she made a coordinated attack with Ray, sinking the cargo ship Columbia Maru. She rescued a Japanese soldier from a life-raft on 16 December; then attacked a convoy in the Saipan-Massau traffic lanes four days later to sink cargo ship Tsuneshima Maru and scored damaging hits on another freighter. After two hours of dodging depth charges, she finally evaded her attackers; surfaced and headed for Tingmon, the most likely course of the damaged cargo ship. Gato discovered a live depth charge on her deck at the same time that two enemy escorts headed in her direction were sighted. She outran them while disposing of the unexploded depth charge by setting it adrift, on a rubber raft. Although she did not overtake the cargo ship, she did sight a convoy. On 2 December her chase was foiled by a float plane finally driven off by her gunners. She concluded the patrol at Milne Bay, New Guinea, 10 January 1944.

Gato departed Milne Bay 2 February 1944, to conduct her eighth war patrol in the Bismarck-New Guinea-Truk area. She sank a trawler off Truk 15 February, transport Daigen Maru No.3 the 26th, and cargo ship Okinoyama Maru No.3 12 March. Two other trawlers were destroyed by her gunfire before she returned to Pear Harbor 1 April 1944.

On her ninth war patrol (30 May 1942 - 2 June 1944) Gato took Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood to Midway; completed photographic reconnaissance of Woleai Island served on lifeguard station for air strikes on Truk 11 June to 18 June, and terminated her patrol at Majuro atoll. On 15 July 1944, she was underway on her 10th war patrol taking lifeguard station for the carrier-based air strike on Chichi Jima, during which she rescued two aviators. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 2 September 1944, proceeded to Mare Island for overhaul and then returned to Pearl Harbor.

On her 11th war patrol (28 January - 13 March 1945,) Gato patrolled the Yellow Sea as a unit of a coordinated attack group which included Jallao (SS-368) and Sunfish (SS-281). She sank a coast defense ship on 14 February and cargo ship Tairiku Maru on 21 February, then returned to Guam. She departed on her 12th war patrol 12 April 1945, taking lifeguard station in support of the invasion of Okinawa. On the night of 22 April and 23 April she had a brief contest with two Japanese submarines and narrowly missed destruction as well-aimed torpedoes came close. Between 27 April and 30 April she rescued 10 Army aviators from shallow water near the beaches of Toi Misaki, Kyushu. She returned to Pearl Harbor 3 June 1945.

On her 13th war patrol Gato departed 8 July for lifeguard station for air strikes on Wake Island and then off the eastern coast of Honshu. She received word of "Cease Fire" 15 August while making an attack approach on a sea truck; steamed into Tokyo Bay the 31st; remained for the signing of surrender documents on board Missouri 2 September; and then departed the following day via Pearl Harbor and the Panama Canal to the New York Naval Shipyard, where she decommissioned 16 March 1946. She served for a number of years as a naval reserve training ship at New York and later at Baltimore, Maryland, until her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1960. She was sold for scrapping 25 July 1960, to the Northern Metals Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Gato received the Presidential Unit Citation in recognition of daring exploits during war patrols four through eight and 13 battle stars for service in World War II.

See also USS Gato (SSN-615).