USS Scamp (SS-277)

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USS Scamp
United States
BuilderPortsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine[1]
Laid downMarch 6, 1942[1]
LaunchedJuly 20, 1942[1]
CommissionedSeptember 18, 1942[1]
StrickenApril 28, 1945
FateProbably sunk by Japanese vessels and aircraft south of Tokyo Bay, November 11, 1944[2]
General characteristics
Class and typeGato-class diesel-electric submarine[2]
  • 1,525 long tons (1,549 t) surfaced[2]
  • 2,424 long tons (2,463 t) submerged[2]
Length311 ft 9 in (95.02 m)[2]
Beam27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[2]
Draft17 ft 0 in (5.18 m) maximum[2]
  • 21 knots (39 km/h) surfaced[3]
  • 9 knots (17 km/h) submerged[3]
Range11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h)[3]
  • 48 hours at 2 knots (4 km/h) submerged[3]
  • 75 days on patrol
Test depth300 ft (90 m)[3]
Complement6 officers, 54 enlisted[3]

USS Scamp (SS-277), a Gato-class submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the scamp grouper, a member of the family Serranidae.

Her keel was laid down on March 6, 1942 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. She was launched on July 20, 1942 sponsored by Miss Katherine Eugenia McKee, and commissioned on September 18, 1942 with Commander W.G. Ebert in command.

First and second war patrols[edit]

On January 19, 1943, after training out of New London, Connecticut, Scamp set course for Pearl Harbor, via the Panama Canal. She arrived in Hawaii on February 13, 1943 and commenced final training in the local operating area. Scamp began her first war patrol on March 1, 1943. She stopped at Midway Island on March 5, debarked her passenger, Rear Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Jr. Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, fueled, and then, headed for the coast of Honshū.

Her first two attacks on the enemy were doomed to failure by the faulty magnetic detonators in her torpedoes. After the inactivating of the magnetic features on her remaining torpedoes, Scamp scored two hits, one on an unidentified target on the night of March 20 and the other damaged Manju Maru early the next morning. The submarine stopped at Midway Island again on March 26 and returned to Pearl Harbor on April 7.

Scamp put to sea again on April 19, bound for the Southwest Pacific. She took on fuel at Johnston Island then slipped between the Marshall Islands and the Gilbert Islands to reconnoiter Ocean Island and Nauru Island. This mission she completed on April 27 and 28 and then shaped a course for the Bismarck Archipelago. She had to hold fire on each of her first three enemy contacts because they were hospital ships. However, on the afternoon of May 28, she succeeded in pumping three torpedoes into the converted seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru (The Kamikawa Maru had been damaged during an attack by the USS Wahoo on May 4, 1943). She evaded the enemy escorts and came up to periscope depth to observe the results. The enemy ship was down by the stern and loading men into boats. A little after midnight, Scamp finished off her stricken adversary with two more well aimed torpedoes. She ended her second war patrol at Brisbane, Australia, on June 4, 1943.

Third and fourth war patrols[edit]

I-168 in March 1934

From Brisbane, she departed on her third war patrol on June 22, 1943. She patrolled a scouting line off the Solomon Islands and north to the Bismarck Sea. She passed the Shortland Islands on July 14 and, on July 27, 1943 encountered an enemy convoy. During her approach, a destroyer passed over her and dropped two depth charges some distance from her. Scamp continued her approach and loosed a spread of six torpedoes at a Japanese tanker. She scored a hit but had to dive in order to escape the escorts. When she surfaced, a little over an hour later, all enemy shipping was out of sight. Continuing her patrol into the Bismarck Islands, Scamp patrolled to the southeast of Steffen Strait, between New Ireland and New Hanover. At 17:54, still on July 27, 1943, she sighted a submarine, which launched a torpedo at Scamp. Scamp went ahead full crash dive and leveled off at 220 feet (67 m), letting the torpedo pass above her.[7] Less than ten minutes later, she returned to periscope depth to engage her adversary. At 18:12, she launched four torpedoes and the Japanese boat erupted in a tremendous explosion. At the time, it was believed that the loser of that duel was the Japanese submarine I-24. Later analysis of Japanese records indicated that it was not; rather, it was I-168, which had previously sunk the disabled aircraft carrier Yorktown and the destroyer USS Hammann at the Battle of Midway a year earlier on June 7, 1942. By August 8, 1943, Scamp was back in Brisbane.

After almost a month in port at Brisbane, the fleet submarine stood out on her fourth war patrol. She again patrolled off the Solomon Islands and into the Bismarck Sea. On September 18, 1943, she attacked a three-ship convoy and crippled one of them. Another changed course and avoided her torpedoes. Scamp passed close under the stricken enemy, trying to evade her escorts and came under machine gun fire from her victim. She escaped the pursuit of the enemy destroyers but lost the undamaged quarry in a rain squall. Scamp returned to finish off the 8614 ton passenger-cargo ship Kansai Maru, which she succeeded in doing late that night.

On the morning of September 21, 1943, Scamp happened upon a heavily guarded convoy and began to stalk it. After dark, she moved in for the kill and, after launching three torpedoes, heard two double explosions. Her second attack was foiled by a severe rain squall. However, Scamp hounded the convoy all through the day on September 22 and, at around 03:00 on September 23, unleashed four torpedoes at the convoy. While still maneuvering to attack the convoy, she passed through the wreckage of Kansai Maru and came upon an empty boat containing the sunken ship's logs and other documents. These were taken on board and later turned over to intelligence. Scamp made one more attempt upon the convoy, but was driven off by planes and kept down by aerial bombs. On September 24, she was ordered to terminate her patrol and she re-entered Brisbane on October 1, 1943.[citation needed]

Fifth and sixth war patrols[edit]

She cleared port again on October 22 and began her fifth patrol with a mission in support of the Treasury Island invasion, October 28–30. From there, she moved to her patrol area, between Kavieng and Truk. On November 4, she launched three torpedoes at a passenger-cargo ship. One exploded prematurely, but one reached its mark. By the time of the explosion indicating success, Scamp was already in a dive evading a depth charge attacker. Six days later, she disabled the 6481 ton Tokyo Maru; then, after evading the escorts, fired three more torpedoes into the listing target. At about 21:00, the cripple was observed being towed away. It was later learned that Tokyo Maru sank before daybreak. On November 12, she damaged light cruiser Agano, so severely that the enemy warship remained in repair at Truk until the American strike of February 16 and 17, 1944. On November 18, Scamp suffered minor shrapnel damage from two bombs dropped by an enemy float plane. Eight days later, she sailed back into Brisbane.

On December 16, 1943, Scamp left Brisbane and headed back to the Bismarck Archipelago for her sixth war patrol. On the night of January 6, 1944, she missed a small tanker and was boxed in by the sound search of two Japanese destroyers. At 2323, she was able to surface and clear the area while the convoy escorts hunted for her about 8,000 yards (7.3 km) astern. On January 14, she slipped by two destroyers to launch six torpedoes at Nippon Maru. The 9,975 ton tanker sank as Scamp made her escape. Foiled in an attempt to return to the area, she headed south to act as plane guard north of Lyra Reef for B-24 bombers. On February 6, she put into Milne Bay, New Guinea, for refit.

Seventh war patrol[edit]

Scamp spent her seventh war patrol searching the shipping lanes between New Guinea, Palau, and Mindanao in the Philippines. She exited Milne Bay on March 3, 1944 and, after uneventful patrolling, put in at Langemak Bay, from March 29 to 31 for repairs to her torpedo data computer. Following her resumption of patrol, she battle surfaced on April 4 and set fire to a 200-ton trawler, but broke off the action when her deck gun failed.

Three days later, south of Davao Gulf, she encountered six cruisers escorted by destroyers and planes. She dived and the destroyers passed overhead without noticing her presence a scant 100 feet (30 m) below the surface. She returned to the surface at 1405 but was forced down by a plane. A little later, she tried to surface again but was attacked by a diving float plane. As she crash dived to escape the enemy plane, an aerial bomb exploded. All hands were knocked off their feet by the explosion and all power was lost. Scamp began to take an up angle and started to settle rapidly. At just below 300 feet (91 m), she began to hang on, then started up. The diving officer reported that the hydraulic controller had been jarred to "off" in the attack and that the hydraulic plant started closing all the main vents as fire started filling the maneuvering and after torpedo rooms with a thick, toxic smoke.

Fortunately, the sub caught at 52 feet (16 m), the decision having been made to surface and slug it out with the deck gun if she could not be held below 50 feet (15 m). Scamp started down again, "see sawed" three times, and started down a third time before power was regained. Soon the submarine was making two thirds speed on each shaft and had leveled off at 150 feet (46 m). She released oil and air bubbles to appear to have sunk and then headed for the Admiralty Islands. At 21:06, she surfaced and, with a 17 degree list, made for Seeadler Harbor, Manus, where she arrived on April 16, 1944.

Eighth war patrol and loss[edit]

She made emergency repairs at Manus, shifted to Milne Bay on April 22 and then moved on to Pearl Harbor for a thorough overhaul at the yard. Scamp set out on her eighth war patrol on October 16. She fueled at Midway Island on October 20, then set course for the Bonin Islands. On November 9, she acknowledged a message changing her patrol area. She reported her position to be about 150 miles (240 km) north of the Bonin Islands with all 24 torpedoes aboard and 77,000 US gallons (290,000 L) of fuel remaining. On November 14 she was ordered to take up the life guard station off Tokyo Bay in support of B-29 Superfortress bomber strikes, but failed to acknowledge the message. Scamp was never heard from again. From records available after the war, it appears that Scamp was sighted by Japanese planes and reported depth charged by kaibōkan CD-4 to the south of Tokyo Bay on November 11, 1944. Scamp was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on April 28, 1945.

Scamp (SS-277) earned seven battle stars for World War II service.


  1. ^ a b c d Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 271–273. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311
  4. ^ a b c d e Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 270–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9.
  5. ^ U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 261–263
  6. ^ a b c U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  7. ^ Blair, Clay, Jr. (1975). Silent Victory. Philadelphia: Lippincott. pp. 476. ISBN 0-553-01050-6.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°38′N 141°0′E / 33.633°N 141.000°E / 33.633; 141.000