Santee was launched on 4 March 1939 as Esso Seakay under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 3) by the Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., at Chester. Sponsored by Mrs. Charles Kurz. Acquired bv the Navy on 18 October 1940 and commissioned on 30 October 1940 as AO-29, Comdr. William G. B. Hatch in command.
- Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Volume VI