USS Darter SS-227
The first Darter (SS-227) was launched 6 June 1943 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; sponsored by Mrs. E. B. Wheeler; and commissioned 7 September 1943, Commander W. S. Stovall, Jr., in command.
Darter put out from New London 31 October 1943 for Pearl Harbor, arriving 26 November. On 21 December, she cleared on her first war patrol, bound for the heavily traveled shipping lanes south and west of Truk. This patrol was twice interrupted for repairs, at Pearl Harbor from 29 December to 3 January 1944, and at Tulagi and Milne Bay from 30 January to 8 February. She performed a reconnaissance of Eniwetok on 12 January, and on 13 January scored a torpedo hit on a large ship, only to receive a severe depth-charging from her target's escorts. She stood by on patrol during the carrier air strikes on Truk of 16 and 17 February, then fueled at Milne Bay on her way to refit at Brisbane between 29 February and 17 March.
On her way to her second war patrol north of Western New Guinea and south of Davao, Darter topped off fuel at Milne Bay 21 and 22 March 1944. On 30 March she sent a cargo ship to the bottom, then patrolled off New Guinea during Allied landings on its coast. She put in to Darwin to refuel on 29 and 30 April, then returned to her patrol area until 23 May when she arrived at Manus. Refitted, she put out for action waters once more 21 June on her third war patrol off Halmahera and Mindanao. She sank Tsugaru, a large minelayer, off Morotai on 29 June, and again endured a heavy depth charge barrage as a result of her attack.
Returning to Brisbane 8 August 1944, Darter cleared on her fourth and last war patrol. She searched the Celebes and South China Seas, returned to Darwin to fuel and make minor repairs 10 September, and put back to the Celebes Sea. She put in to Mios Woendi 27 September for additional fuel, and sailed on 1 October with Dace (SS-247) to patrol the South China Sea in coordination with the forthcoming invasion of Leyte. She attacked a tanker convoy on 12 October, and on 21 October headed with Dace for Balabac Strait to watch for Japanese shipping moving to reinforce the Philippines or attack the landing forces.
In the outstanding performance of duty which was to bring both submarines the Navy Unit Commendation, Darter and Dace made contact with the Japanese Center Force approaching Palawan Passage on 23 October 1944. Immediately, Darter flashed the contact report, one of the most important of the war, since the location of this Japanese task force had been unknown for some days. The two submarines closed the task force, and initiated the Battle of Surigao Strait phase of the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf with attacks on the cruisers. Darter sank Admiral Kurita's flagship Atago, then seriously damaged another cruiser, Takao. With Dace, she tracked the damaged cruiser through the tortuous channels of Palawan Passage until just after midnight of 24 October when she grounded on Bombay Shoal. As efforts to get the submarine off began, a Japanese destroyer closed apparently to investigate, but sailed on. With the tide receding, all Dace's and Darter's efforts to get her off failed. All confidential papers and equipment were destroyed, and the entire crew taken off to Dace. When the demolition charges planted in Darter failed to destroy her, Dace fired torpedoes which exploded on the reef due to the shallow water. As Dace submerged, Darter was bombed by an enemy plane. Dace reached Fremantle safely with Darter's men on 6 November.
In addition to the Navy Unit Commendation, Darter received four battle stars earned during her four war patrols, the last three of which were designated as "successful". She is credited with having sunk a total of 19,429 tons of Japanese shipping.