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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 the geographic coordinates 08° 20' S, 115° 42' E, which is very close to the Bali coast.  It is possible that the mountain peaks on Bali blocked the Bullhead's SD radar thus giving the Sonia the advantage. 2

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 On Eternal Patrol.

Patrol Data & Tonnage Scores

USS Bullhead (SS-332) Second Patrol

Footnotes:

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, USS Bullhead (SS-332).