Along with USS BURRFISH (SS-312) and USS BANG (SS-385), USS SNOOK (SS-279) left Guam on her ninth war patrol on 25 March 1945. The three boats headed for the Luzon Strait that lies between Taiwan and Luzon, an island in the Philippines. The group disbanded on 1 April when BURRFISH and BANG headed off for lifeguard duty; SNOOK joined up with a wolfpack known as “Hiram’s Hecklers” under the command of Commander Hiram Cassidy, C.O. of USS TIGRONE (SS-419). A week later TIGRONE dodged two torpedoes that Cassidy believed SNOOK might have launched at him in error. When the boat surfaced that evening Cassidy radioed the other sub and was told they had not yet fired any torpedoes. He warned them to be on the lookout for what he now assumed was an enemy submarine. The following day, 8 April, SNOOK radioed her position to TIGRONE. It was the last transmission she ever sent.
On 12 April SNOOK was ordered to take up a lifeguard station, a message that she did not acknowledge. Eight days later a British commander informed the Americans that he had a plane down in SNOOK’s area but could not make contact with the sub; BANG was sent to check on her. BANG picked up the downed flyers but saw no sign of the other boat. She was declared overdue and presumed lost on 16 May.
There have been two possible theories advanced to explain SNOOK’s loss. First, she may have been the victim of a depth charging orchestrated by a patrol aircraft on 14 April. The plane dropped its own bombs on a surfaced sub and then called in surface vessels, which continued to pound the area with explosives until an oil slick rose to cover the waves. It is also possible that on that same day she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-56.
SNOOK, the recipient of seven battle stars for her wartime service, took 84 men to the bottom with her.