USS Scamp I

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Scamp I SS-277

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Scamp I

(SS-277: dp. 1,525 (surf.), 2,415 (subm.), 1. 311'8"b. 27'3", dr. 15'3", s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k.(subm.); cpl. 80; a. 10 21" tt., 1 5", 1 40mm.; cl.
Gato )

Scamp, a fleet submarine, was laid down on 6 March 1942 at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard, launched on 20 July 1942; sponsored by Miss Katherine Eugenia McKee; and commissioned on 18 September 1942 Comdr. W. G. Ebert in command.

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

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 20 March and the other damaged Manju Maru early the next morning. The submarine stopped at Midway again on 26 March and returned to Pearl Harbor on 7 April.

Scamp put to sea again on 19 April, bound for the Southwest Pacific. She took on fuel at Johnston Island then slipped between the Marshalls and the Gilberts to reconnoiter Ocean Island and Nauru Island. This mission she completed on 27 and 28 April 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 28 May, she succeeded in pumping three torpedoes into the converted seaplane tender, Kamikawa Maru. 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 4 June 1943.

From Brisbane, she departed on her third war patrol on 22 June 1943. She patrolled a scouting line off the Solomons and north to the Bismarck Sea. She passed the Shortland Islands on 14 July and, on the 27th, 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 1754, still on the 27th, she sighted the Japanese submarine 1-24 which fired a torpedo. Scamp went ahead full and levelled off at 220 feet, letting the torpedo pass above her. Less than ten minutes later, she returned to periscope depth to engage her adversary. At 1812, she launched four torpedoes and 1-24 erupted in a tremendous explosion. By 8 August, Scamp was back in Brisbane.

After almost a month inport at Brisbane, the fleet submarine stood out on her fourth war patrol. She again patrolled off the Solomons and into the Bismarck Sea. On the 18th, 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 come 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 8,614-ton passenger ship, Kansai 31 Maru, which she succeeded in doing late that night.

On the morning of 21 September, 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 the 22d and, at around 0300 on the 23d, unleashed four torpedoes at the convoy. While still maneuvering to attack the convoy, she passed through the wreckage of the 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 24 September, she was ordered to terminate her patrol and she reentered Brisbane on 1 October.

She cleared port again on 22 October and began her fifth patrol with a mission in support of the Treasury Island invasion, 28 to 30 October. From there, she moved to her patrol area, between Kavieng and Truk. On 4 November, she launched three torpedoes at a passenger 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 6,481-ton Tokyo Maru; then, after evading the escorts, pumped three more torpedoes into the listing target. At about 2100, the cripple was observed being towed away. It was later learned that Tokyo Maru sank before daybreak. On 12 November, she damaged light cruiser, Agano, so severely that the enemy warship remained in repair at Truk until the American strike of 16 and 17 February 1944. On 18 November Scamp suffered minor shrapnel damage from two bombs dropped by an enemy float plane. Eight days later, she sailed back into Brisbane.

On 16 December 1943, Scamp departed Brisbane and headed back to the Bismarck Archipelago for her sixth war patrol. On the night of 6 January 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 astern. On the 14th, 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 11 February, she put into Milne Bay, New Guinea, for refit.

Scamp spent her seventh war patrol searching the shipping lanes between New Guinea, Palau, and Mindanao in the Philippines. She exited Milne Bay on 3 March 1944 and, after uneventful patrolling, put in at Langemak Bay, from 29 to 31 March, for repairs to her torpedo data computer. Following her resumption of patrol, she battle-surfaced on 4 April 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 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, 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, the decision having been made to surface and slug it out with the deck gun if she could not be held below 50 feet. 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 levelled off at 150 feet. She released oil and air bubbles to appear to have sunk and then headed for the Admiralty Islands. At 2103, she surfaced and, with a 17-degree list, made for Seeadler Harbor, Manus, where she arrived on 16 April 1944.

She made emergency repairs at Manus, shifted to Milne Bay on 22 April and then moved on to Pearl Harbor for a thorough overhaul at the yard. Scamp set out on her eighth war patrol on 16 October. She fueled at Midway on the 20th, then set course for the Bonin Islands. On 9 November, she acknowledged a message changing her patrol area. She reported her position to be about 150 miles north of the Bonin Islands with all 24 torpedoes aboard and 77,000 gallons of fuel remaining. On 14 November, she was ordered to take up the life guard station off Tokyo Bay in support of B-29 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 a coast defense vessel to the south of Tokyo Bay on 11 November 1944. Scamp was struck from the Navy list on 28 April 1945.

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