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USS Bullhead (SS-332)

USS Bullhead (SS-332) patch

The USS Bullhead (SS-332) was a Balao-class World War II era submarine.

The namesake of the USS Bullhead is any of several fresh water North American catfishes of the genus Ameiurus (or Ictalurus).  The bullhead is easily recognized by its lack of scales, squared tail, and four pairs of fleshy barbels surrounding its mouth.  Rarely exceeding eighteen inches in length, the bullhead is highly regarded in some regions as a source of food and is also valued as a sport fish.

The radio call sign of the USS Bullhead was NAN-KING-BAKER-TARE.

On July 31, 1945, the Bullhead, captained by Lieutenant Commander Edward R. Holt, Jr., left Fremantle on her third and final war patrol.  She had received orders to transit the Lombok Strait and patrol in the Java Sea with several other American and British submarines.  On August 2, 1945, she kept a rendezvous with the Dutch submarine Q 21 about 350 miles south of Lombok Strait and transferred mail to her.  On August 6, 1945, the Bullhead reported that she had transited the Lombok Strait safely was on station in the Java Sea.  She was never heard from again and was presumed lost with all hands. 1

Postwar analysis of enemy records indicated that the Bullhead was ambushed by a Japanese Army plane off Bali on August 6, 1945, at 0835 hours.  The pilot of a Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia" dropped two sixty-kilogram bombs on the submarine.  The pilot claimed two direct hits and said he saw oil and bubbles coming from the area where the submarine had submerged.  The Bullhead was the last U. S. submarine lost during World War II.  The attack happened at coordinates 8° 20' S, 115° 42' E, which is very close to the Bali coast.  The orange marker in the chart below points to this position.  It is possible that the mountain peaks on Bali blocked the Bullhead's SD radar thus giving the Sonia the advantage. 2

USS Bullhead location

The Bullhead received two battle stars for her World War II service.  She was not scored by JANAC.  Her Alden-McDonald score is four vessels sunk for 750 tons and three vessels damaged for 1,300 tons.  Her SORG score is two vessels sunk for 1,800 tons and one vessel damaged for 1,300 tons. 3

A list of the personnel lost with the Bullhead is maintained at

Also see:

USS Bullhead (SS-332) Second Patrol

Patrol Data and Captains for the USS Bullhead (SS-332)

Patrol Duration
Rank & Name
1 South China Sea;
ended at
Subic Bay
21-Mar-45 to 28-Apr-45 CDR Walter T. Griffith Guam
⇒ Subic Bay
2 Gulf of Siam &
Java Sea; ended
at Fremantle
21-May-45 to 02-Jul-45 Same Subic Bay
⇒ Fremantle
3 Java Sea 30-Jul-45 to 06-Aug-45
LCDR Edward R. Holt, Jr. Fremantle

Alden-McDonald Score for the USS Bullhead (SS-332)

2 30-May-45 Unknown Schooner  3 150  
2 18-Jun-45 Sakura Maru #58 Coastal
2 19-Jun-45 Tachibana Maru #57 Coastal
2 19-Jun-45 Unknown Coastal
Freighter  2
2 19-Jun-45 Unknown Sea Truck  4   300
2 19-Jun-45 Unknown Sea Truck  4   300
2 25-Jun-45 Unknown Sea Truck  2 300  
  TOTALS 4 vessels sunk
3 vessels damaged
3 = Probable
2 = Highly probable
4 = Possible
Tons sunk
Tons damaged

SORG Score for the USS Bullhead (SS-332)

USS Bullhead (SS-332) SORG score report

SORG totals for Bullhead
2 vessels sunk for 1,800 tons
1 vessel damaged for 1,300 tons

Updated Thursday, 25-Dec-2014 16:46:45 EST


1.  Blair, Clay Jr., Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, p. 856.

2.  Sturma, Michael, Death at a Distance: The Loss of the Legendary USS Harder, p. 188; United States Submarine Losses World War II, p. 155; Miller, Vernon J., "U. S. Submarine Losses," issue 41, p. 60.

3.  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, data collected by the Submarine Operations Research Group (SORG) in the report "Results of U. S. Submarine War Patrols Listed Alphabetically by Name of Submarine"; Japanese Naval And Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes, Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, published online at (accessed September 29, 2011).