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The first war patrol of the USS Bonefish (SS-223) was conducted during the period September 15, 1943 to October 21, 1943, under the captaincy of Commander Thomas W. Hogan. On her maiden voyage, she had arrived at Brisbane from New London, Connecticut, on August 30, 1943. Following equipment modifications and repairs, she then conducted training exercises for two days off Moreton Island. On September 8, she departed Brisbane for Darwin, via a prescribed route inside the Great Barrier Reef, Grafton Passage (off Cairns), and Torres Strait. Bonefish arrived at Darwin on September 15, whence she took on diesel fuel and fresh water, made minor repairs, and received her final patrol orders. On September 16, she completed training exercises with Australian and U. S. units and then set course for her patrol area off Cape Varella, north of the Malay Barrier, in the South China Sea. On September 21, she cleared the Sibutu Passage and on September 22, she crossed the Balabac Strait. 1

On September 25, at 1918 hours, Captain Hogan coordinated his first torpedo attack. It was made against a large enemy tanker which was sailing in company with one single-stack transport and one double-stack transport. He identified the tanker as being of the Omurosan Maru-class. The formation was running roughly in a column, with each ship zigging independently of the other. All three vessels were fleeing the scene of a burning ship, a victim of the USS Bowfin (SS-287), earlier that day. That ship was the 8,267-ton converted tanker Kirishima Maru. It sank at 1530 hours, killing fourteen crew members. At the geographic position 11° 5' 0.000" N, 112° 24' 0.000" E, Hogan made a submerged periscope attack, firing four stern Mark 14-3A torpedoes at the tanker, from a distance of 1,400 yards. He saw two hits, one under the bridge and one abaft the bridge. He heard the third torpedo hit while sweeping the area for escorts. The fourth torpedo missed astern. Six minutes after the third torpedo hit, Hogan heard a series of loud groaning and cracking noises in the direction of the target. Sonar could not hear the target's screws after the torpedo hits. After the first hit, the target opened fire with a large caliber deck gun aft and machine guns all around the horizon. An escort came around the target's bow and headed for Bonefish, so Hogan took her deep. Six depth charges were dropped, but none exploded nearby. Hogan kept Bonefish under a negative gradient at 250 feet as the escort's screws faded out. The Commander of Task Force Seventy-One credited Hogan with sinking a 9,205-ton Omurosan Maru-type tanker in this attack. JANAC gave no credit for it. Japanese records indicate that the vessel, the 5,239-ton tanker Seishin Maru, reported it had avoided four torpedoes during this attack. 2

Bonefish's second attack occurred on September 27, at 0600 hours, at the geographic position 10° 9' 60.000" N, 109° 40' 0.000" E. At 0221 hours that day, Bonefish had gone to battle stations to track and keep pace with a radar image consisting of two or more ships at a range of 16,000 yards. Hogan rang up full power to get ahead of the formation before daylight. At 0430 hours, radar distinguished five ships in the convoy at a range of 15,000 yards. At 0540 hours, with dawn just beginning to break and the convoy at bearing 025° T at a range of 15,000 yards, Hogan made a quick dive and commenced the approach. At 1547 hours, Hogan picked up the convoy in the periscope at bearing 031° T, range 11,000 yards. It was in three columns, one - two - one. He chose the lead ship of the center column for his target because it was the largest one, a three deck transport. Three escort vessels were sighted. He ordered the boat to be rigged for silent running and depth-charge attack. The sea was glassy and perfectly smooth. After reaching a run distance of 2,100 yards for his Mark 14-3A torpedoes, he fired the four stern tubes. Hogan believed the first two torpedoes hit the target and the second two ran astern of it and hit the flank ship. Breaking up noises subsequently heard indicated that at least one of the ships sank. The target ship's screws stopped after the first explosion and were not heard again. Light and high speed screws at the bearing of the target were heard for the next two hours. Hogan took Bonefish below an isothermal layer at 325 feet. Six depth charges were dropped, but none exploded too close. Each was over 1,000 yards away. At one point, he tried to get to periscope depth to take a look, but four depth charges dropped at 150 feet convinced him to go back under the isothermal. At 1915 hours, he surfaced the boat and opened the range quickly from three escort vessels about 8,000 yards distant. The Commander of Task Force Seventy-One credited Hogan for sinking a 9,908-ton Kasima Maru-type transport in this attack. JANAC credited Bonefish with the sinking of the 9,908-ton passenger-cargo ship Kashima Maru. Japanese records indicate it had left Bako for Singapore on September 21, in convoy 324 with a 1,665-man army unit, 107 other passengers, and equipment aboard. It was hit by two torpedoes, one in its number four hold and one in its number five hold, and sank at 0802 hours. One crewman and 139 passengers were killed. Hogan was of the opinion that the two torpedoes that had run astern of the target had hit the flanking vessel. Japanese records also indicate the vessel, the 7,089-ton converted transport Chihaya Maru, reported a torpedo had crossed its bow around 0700 hours during the attack, but no hits were taken. 3

On October 6, at 0300 hours, Bonefish made a radar contact at bearing 040° T, range 13,800 yards. Hogan pointed Bonefish at the contact at five knots and sounded battle stations. Visibility was poor due to rain and low lying clouds, but Hogan was able to determine that the convoy was on a northerly course close to the coast near 11° 46' 0.000" N, 109° 23' 0.000" E. The target was on a base course of 000° T, not zigzagging, and making about nine and one half knots. Bonefish was about five miles off the beach. At 0424 hours, radar was able to identify three targets. At 0609 hours, with the leading ship at bearing 181° T, range 11,000 yards, and dawn just breaking, Hogan ordered battle stations submerged to close for the attack. At 0624 hours, Hogan identified the vessels through the periscope as three cargo ships (AKs) in a triangular formation. Each appeared to be heavily loaded. At 0706 hours, from a range of 1,900 yards, Hogan fired three forward torpedoes at the left flank cargo vessel. He then fired the remaining three forward torpedoes at the leading ship from 2,700 yards. He saw one hit on the first target under its mainmast and a hit on the leading ship amidships. He also saw the fourth torpedo broach twice and then go erratic. At 0711 hours, he observed the leading ship stop and take a port list and the first target take a heavy down angle by the stern, almost awash. The right flank-ship turned towards Bonefish as if intent on ramming. Hogan went deep and found a heavy negative gradient at 150 feet. Two depth charges were dropped close by, but no damage was taken. Hogan took the boat to 300 feet and successfully evaded his attacker. At 0831 hours, periscope observation showed smoke in the direction of the targets. At 0944 hours, Hogan surfaced the boat to investigate the targets. At 1000 hours, he slowed and swung left to avoid what appeared to be part of a small boat and other debris. Hogan was satisfied that both targets sank while Bonefish was at deep submergence. He felt that given how heavily loaded they were, they could not have survived with a torpedo in each of them in the sea with the wind and weather conditions as they were. The Commander of Task Force Seventy-One credited Hogan for sinking two cargo vessels in this action, one for 3,944 tons and the other for 3,500 tons. JANAC did not credit Bonefish for either sinking. There is no evidence in Japanese records of any vessels sunk or damaged in this attack. 4

On October 7, at 1034 hours, Bonefish found a large merchantman steaming independently without escort, at 13° 15' 0.000" N, 113° 12' 0.000" E. Hogan immediately went to battle stations, commenced another end around at high speed, and ordered continual tracking of the target with the high periscope. At 1556 hours, with the target at 22,000 yards, Hogan went to battle stations submerged and commenced the approach. When the target reached a range of 1,400 yards, he fired the six forward torpedoes at the target. The first Mark 14-3A prematured close to the target. The second one passed ahead of it, the next three passed under it, and the last one passed astern. No explosions were heard from them. Periscope observation showed that the vessel was heavily loaded. He identified it as a Hino Maru-type cargo ship. At 1814, he saw two torpedoes explode beyond the target. Hogan also observed men on the target's deck rolling depth charges off the ship's stern. He observed three of them explode far away. At 1830 hours, the target was lost from sight. 5

The early daylight hours of October 10 found Bonefish taking cover under 150 feet of sea after sighting a plane five miles eastward. At 0925 hours, she was back on the surface hunting for prey. At 1043 hours, the deck watch sighted the mast and stacks of a large steamer, bearing 200° T, range twelve miles. Smoke was also sighted on both sides of the steamer. Hogan went to battle stations and commenced opening the range to get ahead of the target. The steamer's position was constantly tracked using the high periscope. By 1105 hours, Hogan had determined the target's base course to be 005° T, with zigging 30° right and left. Hogan reckoned the steamer must have air cover in view of the plane contact earlier that morning. He brought the target to 185° T bearing at thirteen miles and watched him from there. At 1146 hours, Hogan ordered battle stations submerged to eliminate the possibility of detection by aircraft. With the target at bearing 175° T, angle on the bow 40 port, and range 20,000 yards, he commenced the attack approach. At 1253 hours, Bonefish rigged for silent running and depth-charge attack. From periscope observations, Hogan could see the convoy consisted of five ships. He identified them as one large Horai-type transport painted gray, with two cargo ships with goal post masts and two with stick masts, all between 3,500 and 4,000 tons each. He chose the Horai-transport for his target. The cargo vessels were disposed one on each beam and one on each bow. At first, it appeared that the closest AK had a lot of lookouts around the bridge, but further observation disclosed they were troops of some kind - masses of them. At 1402 hours, from a range of about 3,500 yards, at the geographic position 14° 43' 60.000" N, 110° 15' 60.000" E, Hogan fired his last four torpedoes at the target. He observed the target blowing its whistle frantically as it turned to starboard slowly. Hogan observed the first two Mark 14-3As hit one of the cargo ships - one under its foremast and the other under its mainmast. He also observed the third torpedo hit just forward of the mainmast of the transport and the fourth one hit between its stern and mainmast. The AK was blown apart and sinking evenly. A gun was firing from his stern as he went down. The transport started down by the stern with a small port list, on fire and settling rapidly. Hogan took several photographs of each ship. One of the other AKs headed towards Bonefish, so Hogan pulled the plug and took her to 250 feet. Eighteen depth charges, all very close by, were dropped. Hogan began evasive tactics. He reckoned the AK was equipped with some good listening gear and that some of the depth charges could have been dropped by aircraft. Other than giving the crew a good shaking, no serious damage was taken. Another twenty-one depth charges went off some distance away. At 1828 hours, Hogan surfaced the boat and headed for home. The Commander of Task Force Seventy-One credited Bonefish with sinking a 4,003-ton cargo ship and a 9,192-ton transport in this attack. JANAC credited her with sinking the 10,086-ton transport Teibi Maru and the 4,212-ton cargo vessel Isuzugawa Maru. Japanese records indicate both vessels were in convoy number 432 on the Cape St. Jacques to Takao route. The transport was carrying 254 passengers, 4,289 tons of cargo, seventy mail packages, and the ashes of ninety-two dead personnel. In the attack, it was hit by a dud torpedo and then by a good one aft. It sank at about 1521 hours. Six passengers and eight crew members were killed. The transport was the former French ship Bernardin de St. Pierre. The cargo vessel was carrying 7,000 tons of rice. It avoided two torpedoes, but was hit in its port side stern number four hold and amidships by two others. It sank killing two crew members and two passengers. 6

On October 14, while en route to Fremantle, Bonefish's deck watch sighted a two-masted schooner of about ten tons, bearing 172° T, range 16,000 yards. Hogan altered course to investigate the contact. At a range of 1,000 yards, at 14° 43' 60.000" N, 110° 15' 60.000" E, Hogan ordered the 20 MM battery crew to commence firing. The first burst went over the boat whereupon the seven crew members jumped overboard. They then proceeded to rake the schooner's hull with 20 MM fire and then approached it to plant Molotov Cocktails. The schooner sank while they were setting it afire. Hogan opined it was big enough to carry considerable amounts of Japanese cargo and could also be used for submarine spotting. The Commander of Task Force Seventy-One credited Bonefish for sinking a ten-ton two-masted schooner in this gun attack. 7

Bonefish would have one more bout with the enemy on the final leg of her patrol. On October 17, at 0357 hours, she entered Lombok Strait, the principal passage through the Malay Barrier for Fremantle-based submarines. At 0440 hours, they sighted a enemy patrol vessel, bearing 175° T, range 6,000 yards. At 0449 hours, they picked up the patrol vessel on SJ Radar, range 5,500 yards. Hogan altered course to starboard to avoid detection and get by him. At 0505 hours, the patrol vessel opened fire with its machine guns when abaft Bonefish's beam. His aim was bad as the bursts were off in deflection. The patrol vessel made two more short bursts of fire, each a bit closer, but short. Hogan guessed he had expended about 150 rounds. The patrol vessel ceased firing after the third burst. At 0545 hours, Bonefish departed Lombok Strait. She ended her first patrol at Fremantle on October 21. The Commander of Task Force Seventy-One rated the patrol as successful for purposes of awarding the Submarine Combat Insignia. 8

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Footnotes:

1. Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Bonefish (SS-223), Report of War Patrol Number One.

2. Submarine war patrol reports on CD, op. cit.; Alden, John D., and Craig R. McDonald, United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East During World War II, Fourth Edition, see USS Bonefish (SS-223), Attack Nos. 1153, 1160, 1161, 1181, 1182, 1195, 1196, and 1209; and JANAC.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Submarine war patrol reports on CD, op. cit.