87 Men Lost

March 20, 1945

USS Kete (SS 369)
Portside view of the open outer torpedo door shutters of the Kete (SS-369), taken on the building ways shortly before being launched at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI., 9 April 1944.

  • Balao Class Submarine
  • Keel laid: October 25, 1943, at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI
  • Launched: April 9, 1944
  • Commissioned: July 31, 1944
  • Displacement: 1,526 tons surfaced; 2,424 tons submerged
  • Length: 311′ 9″
  • Beam: 27′ 3″
  • Operating depth: 400′
  • Complement: 6 officers, 54 enlisted
  • Armament: ten 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 5″/25 deck gun, one 40mm, one 20mm, two .50 cal. machine guns

With Lieutenant Commander Edward Ackerman in command, Kete cleared Guam on March 1st 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 March 9th and 10th, she surprised an enemy convoy and torpedoed three marus totaling 6,881 tons. During the night of March 14th, she attacked a cable-laying ship.

With only three torpedoes remaining, she was ordered to depart the area March 20, refuel at Midway Island, and proceed to Pearl Harbor for refit. Kete acknowledged these orders March 19; and, while steaming eastward the following day, she sent in a weather report from a position south of Colnett Strait. She was neither seen nor heard from again. She was scheduled to arrive Midway by March 31st; when repeated attempts to contact her by radio failed she was reported as presumed lost on April 16th.

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.

Naval Historical Center

Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

USS Kete (SS 369)
Patch(es) were obtained from:
NavSource Online (Submarine Photo Archive).
Originally contributed by Mike Smolinski.
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19 Responses to “USS Kete (SS 369)”

  1. Kearn Schemm Says:

    My cousin, George Schemm, was lost on the Kete. Has anyone ever looked into whether the ship was lost to friendly fire? I have read that two Japanese subs were sunk near where the Kete should have been, were they ever positively identified?
    Thanks,
    Kearn Schemm
    Arlington, Va

  2. Diana Says:

    My uncle was killed on the Kete. My grandmother said the government told her it was due to friendly fire…unbelievable! I didnt find this out until after she had passed away.

    Diana
    Los Angeles, CA

  3. Nelia Vesco Says:

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  4. Jeanie Bella Says:

    Terrific site, where did you come up with the information in this piece? Im glad I found it though, ill be checking back soon to see what other articles you have.

  5. Eric Says:

    My uncle was also killed on the USS Kete. My mother was the one that answered the door and received the Western Union telegram on April 16th 1945 regarding her brother. She has never heard that friendly fire could have been involved. Who within in the Government and when was this told to her?

    Eric
    St. Louis, MO

  6. Vasiliki Mateja Says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually think this website wants way more consideration. I’ll in all probability be once more to learn much more, thanks for that info.

  7. Patrick Bergadine Says:

    My cousin Donald L. Bergadine was on USS Kete. I have so much information about what happen to USS Kete. Former USS Kete mate Dallas Dolan was forced to transfer to different ship. He tried to warn about problems with USS Kete and no one listen to him and not only that there were 4 experience crew were removed and put inexperience or unfamiliar what was going on with USS Kete. That possible leaded into problem with USS Kete and sunk?

  8. Vintage Watches Ohio Says:

    Hey there! I know this is somewhat off-topic but I had to ask. Does managing a well-established blog like yours take a large amount of work? I’m brand new to running a blog however I do write in my journal everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

  9. Kearn Schemm Says:

    This is the official story:
    RO-41(a Japanese sub) was sunk east of Okinawa by a U.S. destroyer on 23 March 1945, and two other Japanese submarines were sunk southeast of Okinawa near this date. Conditions attendant to Kete´s loss suggest the likelihood that one of these submarines might have torpedoed and sunk her and been unable to report the attack before being sunk. Thus, Ketemust be considered probably a loss due to an unreported enemy attack.
    To me, the “conditions attendant to Kete’s loss” suggest that one of the (unnamed) Japanes subamrines was actually the Kete, sunk by our own navy! What a sad story, if true. Kearn

  10. Dave Says:

    Not at this point, it does not. This has been a very busy year for me and I have not been able to post as frequently as I’d prefer. Tip: get it up and going and little by little new ideas for content will come to you.

  11. Jessica Says:

    My great uncle was lost on the Kete, and I grew up listening to my Grandmother talk about him and submarine. To see this, and to see all of the information and photos avaiable now, has really helped me to bring my family’s history to life. Thank you.

  12. Orlando Villalva Gonzalez Says:

    My uncle Solomon H Villalva. was on the kete when it was lost at sea, may he and all his brothers rest in peace. his loving nephew Orlando Villalva Gonzalez

  13. Diana Says:

    Three yrs later, I’m replying to Eric’s questions. My grandmother (deceased), told my mother, that the “government” had told her that the Kete was sunk by friendly fire. According to my mom, my grandmother was told this info a long time ago, and my mom never thought to mention it until after my grandmother passed away. My grandmother never said anything to me about my uncle or what was said to her. She never wanted to talk about it. But I believe her. I have no further info as my mother passed away since my last post, and she didnt know anything else aside from what was told to her.

  14. Garry Buzard Says:

    A young man from my home town, Clair Peterson, Jr., was lost on the USS Kete. The Kete’s last port of call was Guam. His brother, my Father and stepfather, all from Walnut, all US Navy Seabees and all were stationed on Guam at that time. I’ve done quite a bit of research on the USS Kete and there is no definate cause of loss. Only that she may have sunk because of a mechanical malfunction, sunk by enemy action, but no Japanese reports were filed reporting their attack on any vessel in that area on that date, or that the Kete may have hit a mine.

  15. John Gwinn Says:

    My cousin, Elmore Ellsworth Gwinn, 23yr. old. Electricians Mate.

  16. Guy Pusheé Says:

    My uncle Donald C. Pusheé from Adams, MA was nineteen at the time and was also lost with the Kete. It’s sad to read how many of us post their lost relatives on here. I recently came across a memorial to the Kete at the battleship North Carolina alongside the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC.

  17. Peggy Says:

    National Geographic Channel had the TV show Drain the Ocean:WWII. I wish they would drain the ocean in the area, hopefully explains what happened to the Jete. My great uncle Donald Egen was onboard the Kete.

  18. Cory Says:

    I know this site has been here a while. My grandfather Dallas Dolan was part of the commissioning crew. He passed away in March of 2016. He was kicked off in Saipan with some others from his engine room. Dallas wrote out some of his experiences and I found them while going through his old files and binders. The Engineering officer was a by the book officer. Which caused some tension when dealing with my grandfather. The engine were newer and couldn’t be shutdown until it reached 250 RPMS. He kept getting yelled at for not shutting down the engines fast enough when practicing for emergency dives. So the engineering officer went down showed him in the book that said it was ok and forced him shut it down earlier and proceeded to damage the engine. Another time on the same patrol they saw smoke on the horizon and dived. They checked and it was one of our ships. Shortly after the depth charges started. It lasted 45 mins….. They thought they were gonna die. They were finally able to send up a flare and let them know they were friendly. The depth charges stopped and the friendly ship left. During the depth charges the bow planes were damaged and were stuck on dive. Dallas was one of two guys called up to inspect and figure out what to do. After looking at it Dallas and the other man wanted to use a chain and pully to bring it back to normal position. The hydros for the planes had metal floating around the system. But they had a separate system that would kept the rest of boats hydros in working order. The engineering officer didnt want to chain up the planes and instructed Dallas and others to connect the two systems together which would foul up the entire hydro systems. After arguing with him about it they did it and had to limp back to base for repairs. Dallas was at odds with the Engineering officer because Dallas knew more about the boat than he did. He was kicked off the boat while the captian was at pearl. And the engineering officer became the 2nd in command for the Kete’s 2nd patrol. That engineering officer is the reason my father, uncles, and myself are here.

  19. TeAnna Hulse Says:

    Cory ^ I just got off the phone with my 93 year old Papa he too was on the USS KETE and remembers your Grandfather they were good friends on the ship…. My Papa said the story you posted sounds exactly right the engineering officer and him did but heads because your grandfather knew more then he did he had more experience then he did. My papa said he never knew how Dallas got off the Kete before it sunk even after the war your grandpa visited my Papa but he never spoke of how he survived but now that I read your post he understands how this was possible. My Papa and one other were taken off the Kete the first time they docked at Midway because they were very sick vomiting blood the last my Papa remembers is waving good bye to all his fellow ship mates and waited for them to return never to be seen again :( He still to this day gets choked up and has a hard time talking about it he has been sad all these years as to why he wasn’t on that submarine with all his friends when it went missing, I always try and remind him that there is a reason for everything God still had and still has plans for him that is why he is still with us today… If he wouldn’t had been let off from being sick My mother wouldn’t had been here, I wouldn’t had been here, and my girls wouldn’t had been here… But with that being said It still breaks his heart as if it was yesterday he remembers all of them loss at sea its a nightmare he will never forget!! RIP USS KETE You will always be remembered from generations to come!! <3

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