USS Croaker - SS-246
International Radio Call Sign: November-Foxtrot-Alpha-Golf
Croaker (SS-246) was launched 19 December 1942 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; sponsored by Mrs. W. H. P. Blandy; and commissioned 21 April 1944, Commander J. E. Lee in command.
Croaker arrived at Pearl Harbor from New London 26 June 1944, and on 19 July put to sea on her first war patrol, sailing to the East China and Yellow Seas. In a series of brilliantly successful attacks which won her the Navy Unit Commendation, she sank the cruiser Nagara on 7 August, and two freighters, one on 14 August and one on 17 August. During this patrol, she served as lifeguard during air strikes on the Bonins. She refitted at Midway between 31 August and 23 September, when she sailed in a wolfpack for the same area on her second war patrol. Again successful, she sank a freighter on 9 October, and another on 23 October. She shadowed a convoy on 24 October, and sank one freighter and damaged another with her last torpedo. Tubes empty, she returned to Midway to fuel, and pushed on to Pearl Harbor, arriving for refit 10 November.
Croaker's third war patrol, in the Luzon Straits and South China Sea from 13 December 1944 to 12 February 1945, found her making no contacts with enemy shipping, but providing essential lifeguard service during strikes on Luzon preparatory to the invasion landings in Lingayen Gulf. She refitted at Fremantle, Australia, and on 12 March sailed for a patrol off the coast of Indo-China twice interrupted by the need to return to Australia for repairs. She refitted at Subic Bay, P.I., between 22 April and 15 May, then sailed for her fifth war patrol, in the Java Sea. On 30 May she attacked a convoy of three small oilers guarded by an escort, with unconfirmed results, and 5 June returned to Fremantle. Her sixth and final war patrol, between 1 July and 13 August, found her assigned to lifeguard duties in the South China Sea and off Hong Kong as the final series of air attacks on Japan were carried out.
Returning to Subic Bay, Croaker sailed for Saipan and continued on to Galveston, Tex., and New London, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 15 May 1946. Recommissioned 7 May 1951, she served as schoolship out of New London until 18 March 1953, when she was again decommissioned at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for conversion to a hunter-killer submarine. She was reclassified SSK-246 on 9 April 1953, and was recommissioned 11 December 1953. Returning to active duty in February 1954, she operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean, visiting ports in England while taking part in NATO exercises in 1957 and 1958. Special submarine exercises took her to England once more in February 1960, after which she resumed local operations out of New London. In September 1960, Croaker departed on a cruise which saw her sailing through the Mediterranean and Suez Canal to call at various Near Eastern ports and Karachi, Pakistan. She returned to New London in mid-December, retracing her outward track.
Along with the Navy United Commendation, Croaker received three battle stars for those of her war patrols designated as "successful," the first, second, and fifth of her six. She is credited with having sunk 19,710 tons of shipping.