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On April 28, 1945, the USS Bullhead (SS-332) departed Subic Bay for her second war patrol under the captaincy of Commander Walter T. Griffith. Griffith's operation orders instructed him to wage unrestricted submarine warfare in the Gulf of Siam (Gulf of Thailand) as part of a coordinated attack group 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.

On May 23, 1945, at 10° 33' 0.000" N, 110° 40' 0.000" E, the Bullhead sighted a ship on high periscope. It turned out to be British. On the night of May 25, 1945, in the Gulf of Siam, the Bullhead rendezvoused with the USS Bergall to give her mail and receive wolf pack instructions. The general operating plan called for the USS Cobia, the Bergall, and the Bullhead to form a patrol line in the south central part of the Gulf of Siam while the USS Kraken and the USS Hawkbill patrolled the northern part of the gulf. The Bullhead then proceeded with the Bergall to rendezvous with the Cobia on the scouting line. Once there the Bullhead was assigned a patrol station at the southern end of the line and set course for that area.

On May 26, 1945, at 0030 hours, she began patrolling her assigned station, at 7° 49' 60.000" N, 102° 45' 0.000" E, reversing course hourly. That night the Bergall came alongside to return misdirected mail which had been mistakenly placed in her pouch; it was intended for the crew of the USS Boarfish (SS-327). The Bergall also received a replacement bulb for her movie projector from the Bullhead. The Bergall's captain said the Cobia had probably been sighted by an enemy plane earlier that day. The next morning, the Bullhead rendezvoused with the Bergall to suggest a change in the patrol stations in light of the aircraft sighting. That night she rendezvoused with her again. At that time it was decided they would team up with the Kraken in order to intercept two enemy merchant ships spotted by friendly aircraft the previous day. The enemy vessels were seen standing out of Singapore Strait on course 010° true. The Kraken joined the patrol line and the three submarines began closing the coast toward the Great Redang Islands. The pack spent the next day searching for the enemy ships in the general area of 6° 0' 0.000" N, 103° 14' 0.000" E, but they came up empty handed.

In the early morning of May 29, 1945, the Bullhead rendezvoused with the Kraken and the Bergall. Griffith received orders to patrol close inshore in fifteen fathoms off Hilly Cape and Pattani Yaring. On May 30, 1945, at 1939 hours, the Bullhead surfaced to engage a 150-ton wooden two-masted skysail schooner with her deck guns. This engagement occurred at 6° 52' 0.000" N, 101° 40' 0.000" E. From a range of 2,220 yards, all guns opened fire. The target sank four minutes later. Griffith was certain that his high-capacity rounds had blown its bow off.

On June 3, 1945, Griffith received orders from the Bergall to proceed independently to a new patrol station just south of the Anambas Islands. On June 4, 1945, he rendezvoused with the Bergall and the Kraken and received orders to take station between Pulo Rittan and Thailand on a scouting line to support the Brunei Bay Operation. On June 5, 1945, the Bullhead was on her assigned station at 2° 18' 60.000" N, 106° 13' 0.000" E. On June 8, 1945, Griffith intercepted orders instructing the Bergall to return to base and informing all units that the British submarines Taciturn and Thorough would join the scouting line later that day. Griffith would assume leadership of the now two-boat pack. On June 12, 1945, Griffith requested permission from the Commander Task Force Seventy-One (CTF 71) for the Bullhead and the Kraken to spend the remainder of their patrol time in the Java Sea in light of their fuel situation. On June 14, 1945, he received orders for the Bullhead and the Kraken to leave the scouting line the next night and to patrol in the western end of the Java Sea. Griffith rendezvoused with the Kraken the next morning and the two skippers agreed on their patrol areas.

The sunrise on June 17, 1945 found the Bullhead submerged off the Java coast in fourteen fathoms, just east of Batavia (Jakarta). At nightfall Griffith surfaced the boat and set course for Pamanukan Anchorage. Finding no targets, Griffith headed north to round the Thousand Islands and notified the Kraken in order to coordinate the patrol line. That night Griffith sent a message to CTF 71 informing him that the two submarines would patrol between Pulo Babi and St. Nicholas Point the next day. On June 18, 1945, at 0917 hours, the Bullhead sighted a camouflaged 700-ton steel hulled diesel sea truck headed eastward near St. Nicholas Point. The Bullhead battle surfaced and closed the target as it headed for the beach. From a average range of 1,800 yards, all guns opened fire and the target sank soon after being hit at the water line. Judging from the number of people left in the water, Griffith estimated there were about fifty Japanese on board. The forty and twenty millimeter guns were used on the survivors after the sea truck went down. This gun action occurred at 5° 53' 0.000" S, 106° 1' 60.000" E. Later that day, at 1415 hours, the Bullhead spotted a small patrol vessel patrolling very close to the coastline. At 2120 hours, the Bullhead sighted two columns of smoke near Banten Anchorage. Griffith notified the Kraken of the contact. About two hours later, the ships turned back to the safety of the anchorage. Griffith surmised that they must have picked up his radio transmission to the Kraken.

On June 19, 1945, at 1415 hours, the Bullhead sighted the same ships heading towards Sunda Strait close to the beach. Two picket boats were trailing them astern. Griffith identified the targets as two 700-ton steel hulled sea trucks and one 300-ton steel hulled sea truck. At 1415 hours, she battle surfaced and commenced firing at the closest target from 2,600 yards. After taking repeated hits in its stern and superstructure, the vessel finally sank when it was holed several times at the waterline. From a range of 1,500 yards, Griffith shifted fire to the second target scoring three hits before it took cover behind a point of land. He then pointed the Bullhead's guns at two smaller vessels in a cove and obtained hits on each. They also sprayed the docks and buildings in the anchorage with their forty millimeter guns and several 5.25-inch rounds. The anchorage was located at 5° 56' 15.000" S, 106° 0' 30.000" E (Merak Roads). Griffith noted it could be approached within 1,800 yards on the surface. At 1440 hours, Griffith made way to clear the shoal water. That night he rendezvoused with the Kraken and gave her information on the damaged ships. The Kraken's captain requested permission to patrol in the Sunda Strait after gunning Merak Roads. Griffith concurred.

On June 21, 1945, the Bullhead received orders to proceed immediately to the east Java Sea to form a scouting line with the USS Icefish (SS-367) and the USS Puffer (SS-268), between the Kangean Islands and Cape Selatan. Griffith informed the lead boat, the Icefish, that he would arrive on the line about noon on June 23, 1945. On the night of June 23, 1945, Griffith rendezvoused with the USS Hardhead (SS-365), which was patrolling in an adjoining area. The two captains agreed to coordinate their patrol activities along the scouting line. The Hardhead's captain said he had no torpedoes aft and only six rounds of five-inch ammunition left. On the night of June 24, 1945, the Hardhead advised Griffith that a large enemy ship he had been tracking was a hospital ship. A bit later, the Bullhead also sighted the ship and kept tracking it just for drill purposes, in the absence of other targets. At 2300 hours, he abandoned tracking it and set course for the western Kangean Islands. The next day, Griffith decided to investigate the area north of Lombok Island. On June 25, 1945, at 2010 hours, while runnning on the surface, the Bullhead sighted a 300-ton sea truck carrying oil which she opened fire on from 750 yards. The target burned with frequent explosions for three hours before sinking. The Bullhead took on ten Javanese men hanging onto debris. They were stowed in an empty magazine and interrogated. Only two of them had been injured by burns. They said there were four Japanese on the oiler - the skipper, an engineer, and two soldiers. Two of them were killed in the attack. They did not know what happened to the other two Japanese.

On June 26, 1945, the USS Baya (SS-318) relieved the Bullhead on the scouting line and the Icefish gave Griffith the official go-ahead to head home. Griffith made way to head for the barn at Fremantle. On the night of June 26, 1945, while en route to Fremantle, the Bullhead tracked two small minelayers with SJ radar, the TDC, and the Plot, while running on the surface. Griffith maintained a range of about 13,000 yards until the USS Blueback (SS-326) arrived and also made contact. Griffith informed the Blueback he was diving to make an attack using ST radar. From 1,500 yards, Griffth loosed six Mark 14-3A torpedoes at the nearest vessel. The second and fourth torpedoes broached. All six missed the target. The attack occurred at 8° 27' 60.000" S, 115° 46' 60.000" E. The Bullhead went deep. Four depth charges exploded in the distance. When it was safe to surface, Griffith told the Blueback to make his attack. At 0149 hours the next day, Griffith watched as one of the minelayers blew up and disappeared. He reckoned the Blueback had sunk her. On June 27, 1945, at 0600 hours, Griffith sighted the other minelayer from the bridge at 12,000 yards. The minelayer could also see the Bullhead clearly, but it was obvious he had no intention of coming toward the submarine. Griffith opined it was a case for the books. He turned and made way for the Lombok Strait and Fremantle. The remaining submarines would deal with the cautious minelayer. Before entering Lombok Strait, Griffith put the ten Javanese survivors in a rubber boat 1,200 yards off Bali's coast. The Bullhead then set course to transit the Lombok Strait.

At noon on July 28, 1945, King Neptune came aboard, for he had learned some crewmen had traveled south of the equator line without the proper equatorial-baptism ceremony. King Neptune decreed that the Bullhead's batch of Polywogs should have a twenty-four hour probationary period, and then at 1300 hours the next day they should be introduced to the Royal Domain. On June 29, 1945, the Royal Party received, examined, and indoctrinated the Polywogs into the Royal Domain. 1

At 1050 hours on July 2, 1945, the Bullhead moored alongside the USS Clytie (AS-26) in Fremantle Harbor.

Upon review of Griffith's patrol report, the Commander Submarines Seventh Fleet credited the Bullhead for sinking 1,850 tons of enemy shipping in four vessels: one 150-ton schooner, two 700-ton coasters (coastal freighters or sea trucks), and one 300-ton coaster. He also credited the Bullhead for damaging 1,300 tons of enemy shipping in three vessels: one 700-ton coaster and two 300-ton coasters. Thus the total tonnage awarded to the Bonefish was 3,150 tons. A postwar analysis of enemy records credits the Bullhead for sinking 750 tons of enemy shipping in four vessels: one 150-ton schooner, two 150-ton coasters, and one 300-ton sea truck. It also the credits the Bullhead for damaging 1,300-tons of enemy shipping in three vessels: one 700-ton coaster and two 300-ton sea trucks. The total award is 2,050 tons. The Bullhead was not scored by JANAC. 2


USS Bullhead (SS-332) CTF 71 endorsement


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Updated Friday, 12-Dec-2014 15:08:01 EST

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1.  See "Line-crossing ceremony," published online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line-crossing_ceremony (accessed September 1, 2013).

2.  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 Bullhead (SS-332), Attack Nos. 4015, 4141, 4153, 4154, 4155, 4156, and 4202; Submarine war patrol reports on CD, USS Bullhead (SS-332), Report of Second War Patrol; Japanese Naval And Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes, Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, published online at http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/Japan/IJN/JANAC-Losses/JANAC-Losses-6.html (accessed September 29, 2011).