USS Paddle (SS-263), a Gato-class submarine, was a ship of the United States Navy named for the paddle, a large ganoid fish of the Mississippi and its larger tributaries. Paddle was laid down 1 May 1942 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT; launched 30 December 1942; sponsored by Mrs. William M. Fechteler, wife of later Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William M. Fechteler; and commissioned at New London 29 March 1943, Lt. Comdr. R. H. Rice in command.
After trials and training, Paddle left New London 8 June 1943 for the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor, arriving 5 July. She based at Pearl Harbor during her first two war patrols, between which she trained destroyers in antisubmarine warfare and received meteorological equipment.
Paddle's first patrol, 20 July – 12 September, was conducted south of Japan. She scored a hit on a large freighter in her first attack 13 August, but alert escorts forced her down with a 13-hour depth charge attack. Enemy search planes damaged her slightly 19 August with 7 bombs dropped as she patrolled submerged off the coast of Japan, but she repaired damage quickly and struck back, sinking passenger-cargo ship Ataka Maru 23 August.
During her second war patrol, 17 October – 9 November, Paddle took station off Nauru to provide continuous weather reporting for the carrier task force attacking the Gilberts and Marshalls to cover the Tarawa landings. She also guided, by radio, Army bombers in to raid Tarawa and attacked tanker Nippon Maru off Eniwetok, though escorting destroyers forced her down before she could observe the damage inflicted on the tanker.
After West Coast overhaul, Paddle sailed for her third war patrol from Pearl Harbor 19 March 1944, bound for the Dutch East Indies and the southern Philippines. In a brilliant night attack 16 April she sank two of a three-ship convoy guarded by four escorts, torpedoing Mito Maru and Hino Maru No. 1. Breaking off to reload her tubes, Paddle returned to attack a tanker, which had joined the group, and engaged escorting destroyers and aircraft. She ended her patrol at Fremantle, Australia, 12 May.
Paddle's fourth war patrol, 5 June – 29 July, began with reconnaissance of the eastern approaches to Davao Gulf guarding against a Japanese sortie during the U.S. landings on Saipan. Damaged by bombs in the Celebes Sea 30 June, Paddle repaired quickly and 6 July attacked a small convoy, twice hitting a large freighter, and sinking destroyer Hokaze before being forced down by other escorts.
She prepared for her next patrol in Mios Woendi Lagoon, sailing 3 October for lifeguard off Balikpapan. During brief offensive periods she sank two oil-laden sea trucks and a schooner by gunfire, then returned to Fremantle 1 November.
Her 7th war patrol began at Fremantle 25 November and ended at Pearl Harbor 18 January 1945. Operating mainly in the South China Sea and west of Luzon, Paddle fought through heavy weather to join Hammerhead in sinking tanker Shoei Maru and damaging an enemy destroyer.
After overhaul at San Francisco, Paddle trained at Pearl Harbor whence she sailed on her 8th and last war patrol 15 May. Prowling the Yellow and East China Seas she found few substantial targets, she and her sisters having by this time almost annihilated the Japanese merchant marine. She turned her attention to sinking floating mines with gunfire, and sank eight schooners and picket boats.
Returning to Guam 18 July, Paddle sailed 13 August for lifeguard duty off southern Honshū. With the war's end, she sailed for Midway Atoll 17 August. The long voyage home via Hawaii and the Panama Canal ended at Staten Island 30 September.
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