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Bullhead &

The Cautious Minelayer


The second war patrol of the USS Bullhead (SS-332) under the captaincy of Commander Walter T. Griffith was conducted in the Gulf of Siam, in the South China Sea east of Singapore, and in the Java Sea. The patrol was of forty-three days duration, of which thirty-six days were spent on station. While patrolling in the Gulf of Siam, the Bullhead was assigned to a wolf pack composed of the USS Cobia (SS-245), the USS Bergall (SS-320), the USS Kraken (SS-370), and the USS Hawkbill (SS-266), with the commanding officer of the Bergall as the group commander. In the South China Sea during the Brunei Bay Operation, the Bullhead coordinated her patrol with the Kraken and the British submarines HMS Thorough and HMS Taciturn. In the Java Sea, the Bullhead and the Kraken formed a coordinated attack group with Commander Griffith as its group commander. The first part of her patrol in the Gulf of Siam involved a thorough search of coastal traffic lanes and harbors, but no worthwhile targets were found. After her special assignment on a scouting line in the South China Sea in support of Allied landings at Brunei Bay, Borneo was completed, the Bullhead used her guns in a very effective manner in the Java Sea against enemy shipping and harbor installations, and took on ten Javanese prisoners from one enemy vessel for interrogation. On the final leg of her patrol near the Lombok Strait, the Bullhead teamed with the USS Blueback (SS-326) to track and attack two small Japanese minelayers. Unfortunately, six torpedoes fired by the Bullhead at one of the minelayers were set to run too deep. The Blueback set hers to run shallower and sank one of them. At daybreak the Bullhead surfaced and from 12,000 yards she and the remaining minelayer sighted each other, but the Japanese captain decided to avoid the stealthy submarine. Before entering the Lombok Strait for her trek to Fremantle, the Bullhead put the ten Javanese survivors in a rubber boat 1,200 yards off Bali’s coast.

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