USS KETE (SS-369) set out from Guam on her second war patrol on 1 March 1945. Aboard a boat that was less than a year old and fresh from a refit, the crew must have felt good about their chances of sinking their first enemy vessel.
The first week at sea proved uneventful as KETE pulled lifeguard duty and collected weather data. But her luck changed on the night of 9-10 March when she sank a convoy of three enemy ships; four days later she attacked another. Since she had only three torpedoes left, KETE was ordered to leave her area, top off with fuel at Midway, and pull into Pearl Harbor. She acknowledged those orders on the nineteenth and sent in some weather data the following day. Then she went silent. On 16 April she was declared overdue and presumed lost.
It is still unclear what caused the boat’s demise. It is possible she hit a mine or was torpedoed by an enemy sub; RO-41, a Japanese boat, was known to be in KETE’s area when she sent her weather message on the twentieth and those waters were also known to be heavily mined. It is also possible that she suffered a fatal malfunction. Her bow planes had quit working during her first patrol, necessitating a month-long repair in Saipan. It is possible the planes jammed in the dive position, rendering the boat unable to return to the surface.
KETE, the recipient of one battle star for her wartime service, took 87 men down with her.