Bonefish SS-223 - History

Bonefish SS-223 - History


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Bonefish SS-223

Bonefish

Bonefish is a name for the ladyfish, dogflsh, and sturgeon.

(SS-223: dp. 1526; 1. 311'9"; b. 2713"; dr. 17'; s. 20.3 k.;
cpl. 60; a. 14", 10 21" TT.; cl. Gato)

Bonefish (SS-223) was launched 7 May 1943 by Electric Boat Co., -Groton, Conn.; sponsored by Mrs. F. A. Daubin, wife of Rear Admiral Daubin; commissioned 31 May 1943, Commander T. W. Rogan in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet

Bonefish arrived at Brisbane, Australia, 30 August 1943. Between 15 September 1943 and June 1945 she completed seven war patrols in the South China, East China, Java, Celebes, Sulu, and Sibuyan Seas. Bonefish sank 12 Japanese vessels totaling 61,345 tons, including the destroyer Inazuma, 14 May 1944 in 05*08' N., 119*38' E.

Bonefish departed Guam 28 May 1945 for her eighth patrol as part of a submarine group under Commander G. Price for operations in the Sea of Japan. On the morning of 18 June Bonefish received permission to conduct a patrol of Toyama Wan, Honshu. She was never heard from again. Boneflsh was probably the submarine attacked by the Japanese 18 June in 37*18' N., 137*25' E.

Bonefish received the Navy Unit Commendation for her first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth war patrols as well as seven battle stars during World War 11.


The USS Bonefish SS-223

The name, USS Bonefish (SS-223), the 51st of 52 submarines lost in World War II was assigned to Washington State by the United States Submarine Veterans of WWII. (Each state was assigned a lost submarine name, except California and New York, who were assigned two each.) Bonefish was lost with all hands (85) on June 18, 1945.

Gato Class Submarine: Laid down, 25 June 1942, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, CT. Launched, 7 March 1943 Commissioned USS Bonefish (SS-223), 31 May 1943 Final Disposition, sunk on 8th patrol by Japanese warship in Toyama Wan, west coast of Honshu, 18 June 1945, all hands lost. Struck from the Naval Register, (date unknown). Bonefish received five Navy Unit Commendations and seven battle stars during World War II.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t. Length 311′ 9″ Beam 27′ 3″ Draft 15′ 3″ Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts Complement 6 Officers 54 Enlisted Operating Depth, 300 ft Submerged Endurance, 48 hrs at 2 kts Patrol Endurance 75 days Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10 kts Armament, ten 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 3″/50 deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns Propulsion, diesel electric reduction gear with four General Motors main generator engines, HP 5400, Fuel Capacity, 97,140 gals., four General Electric main motors, HP 2740, two 126-cell main storage batteries, twin propellers.

Additional details of Bonefish’s short history are recorded at On Eternal Patrol and on Wikipedia.


Operational history [ edit | edit source ]

Bonefish's keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut on 25 June 1942. She was launched 7 May 1943 (sponsored by Mrs. F. A. Daubin, wife of Rear Admiral Freeland A. Daubin), and commissioned on 31 May 1943, Lieutenant Commander Thomas W. Hogan (Class of 1931) in command.

The submarine conducted shakedown training out of New London, Conn., and Newport, R.I., until 23 July, when she set out for the Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on 4 August and arrived at Brisbane, Australia, on the 30th. Following a week of training out of that port, she again got underway for more days of drills in Moreton Bay. The submarine departed there on 16 September for her first war patrol.

First patrol, September – October 1943 [ edit | edit source ]

After transiting Balabac Strait on 22 September, Bonefish continued on to her patrol area in the central part of the South China Sea. Three days later, the submarine attacked a convoy of eight ships, scoring three hits on a freighter before the escorts forced her to go deep to avoid a depth charge attack. Bonefish encountered another convoy on 27 September and launched four torpedoes at the lead ship, the largest of the five, and sank the 9,908 ton transport Kashima Maru. The escort ships pursued Bonefish, but she was able to dive and elude her attackers. On 6 October, the boat approached a third convoy and scored hits on two heavily laden cargo vessels. Again forced to go deep to avoid the counterattack, she failed to evaluate the damage that her torpedoes had done to the targets. On 10 October, in her last action of the patrol, Bonefish fired a spread of four torpedoes at two ships of a convoy off Indochina, sending both the 4,212 ton cargo ship Isuzugawa and the 10,086 ton transport Teibi Maru to the bottom. Bonefish concluded her first war patrol back at Fremantle, Western Australia on 21 October.

Second patrol, November – December 1943 [ edit | edit source ]

After refit and training, the submarine got underway on 22 November for the South China Sea and her second war patrol. She entered the Flores Sea on 28 November and, the next day, intercepted two enemy ships. Bonefish made a submerged approach and launched four torpedoes. Two of the four — one hit amidships and another struck the freighter under her mainmast — sent the 4,646 ton cargo ship Suez Maru down rapidly by the stern. The escort increased speed and headed for Bonefish, but the sub went deep and escaped the barrage of depth charges. Unknown to Bonefish, Suez Maru was carrying 415 British and 133 Dutch POWs. Minesweeper W.12 picked up the Japanese survivors although recently released documents state that W12 machine-gunned the surviving POWs (a minimum of 250) in the water, Ε]

On 1 December, the boat sighted a convoy of three ships with two escorts hugging the Celebes coast. In two separate attacks, the submarine scored a hit on a large passenger/cargo ship Nichiryo Maru which later sank and another on a destroyer escort which apparently survived.

Bonefish conducted a submerged patrol of Sandakan Harbor, Borneo, from 4 – 6 December and then sailed for Tarakan. On 11 December, she surfaced to engage small cargo vessel Toyohime Maru Ε] with gunfire, scoring several hits before a mechanical problem put her gun out of action. The next day, the boat made a submerged approach on an unidentified Japanese vessel and fired six torpedoes, scoring one hit Bonefish never learned the fate of her target. She cleared the area and arrived at Fremantle on 19 December.

Third patrol, January – March 1944 [ edit | edit source ]

Following refit and training, the submarine sailed from Fremantle on 12 January 1944 to conduct her third war patrol. While operating in the vicinity of Makassar Strait on 22 January, Bonefish encountered a large sailing vessel. The stranger's crew of seven acted suspiciously as the submarine approached, and despite repeated orders to do so, the crew refused to abandon ship. When Bonefish opened fire with her machine guns, the natives leaped overboard. As the vessel began to sink, Japanese troops emerged from below decks Bonefish counted 39 men going over the side.

On 6 February, the submarine sighted a convoy composed of at least 17 ships. As she maneuvered into attack position, Bonefish selected a large oiler as her primary target and launched four bow "fish" at it. She fired the other two bow tubes at a cargo ship and then tried to swing her stern into position to fire her after tubes. With escorts charging her, the boat suddenly lost depth control and ducked her periscope below the water. Nine tons of water rushed into her forward torpedo room before the proper valves were secured. Bonefish managed to evade the escorts, and her crew heard explosions which they interpreted as at least two hits on the oiler and one on the cargo ship. Nevertheless, it seems that neither target sank.

The submarine next trained her torpedo tubes on a convoy of 13 ships which she contacted on 9 February in Camranh Bay. Although detected by a Japanese destroyer, Bonefish succeeded in firing five torpedoes at a tanker before making an emergency dive in shallow water. The submarine escaped damage from both the destroyer's depth charges and from aerial bombs which enemy aircraft dropped, but they prevented her from observing the results of her attack. Following this action, she continued to seek targets for more than a month before returning to Fremantle on 15 March.

Fourth patrol, April – May 1944 [ edit | edit source ]

Underway again on 13 April, Bonefish headed for the Celebes Sea and her fourth war patrol. On 26 April, she intercepted a convoy of four ships steaming along the Mindanao coast. The submarine maneuvered into a position suitable to attack Tokiwa Maru, launched four torpedoes, and then turned to evade the escorts. Two torpedoes struck the 806 ton passenger/cargo ship amidships and aft, sinking her. The next day, Bonefish fired a spread of four torpedoes at a cargo ship headed for Davao Gulf but, in spite of three hits, failed to sink the target.

While in the Sulu Sea on 3 May, Bonefish approached a convoy but was forced to dive when an enemy plane dropped two depth bombs which exploded close aboard. The boat sustained minor damage and surfaced to make repairs, but two Japanese ships began to close in on her. Bonefish went deep once again and rigged for the depth charges, 25 in all. When her pursuers left the area, so did Bonefish. She moved to the northern approach to Basilan Strait. She attacked a convoy in those waters on 7 May, firing four torpedoes at an escort vessel, but could not observe the results.

On 14 May, Bonefish approached a convoy of three tankers and three escorting destroyers, steaming off Tawitawi in the Philippines and headed for Sibutu Passage. The submarine fired five torpedoes. One hit under the bridge of a tanker and another struck under the stack, enveloping the ship in smoke and flames. The destroyers converged on Bonefish for counterattack, but she escaped into the depths. Postwar records show that, while her torpedoes only damaged the tanker, they sank one of the escorting destroyers, Inazuma.

Bonefish then set course for Sibutu Passage on a reconnaissance mission. She sighted a Japanese task force consisting of three battleships, one aircraft carrier, three heavy cruisers, and one light cruiser, screened by eight destroyers. The submarine relayed the information, then continued her reconnaissance. She again sighted and reported the same task force on the 17th, this time anchored in Tawitawi Bay. Upon completing this mission, she headed for Australia and arrived at Fremantle on 30 May.

Fifth patrol, June – August 1944 [ edit | edit source ]

Under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Lawrence L. Edge, the submarine began her fifth war patrol on 25 June and headed again for the Celebes Sea. On 6 July, she surfaced to destroy a wooden-hulled schooner by gunfire. She then cleared the area and, the next day, engaged and destroyed another small ship with gunfire. Later that same day, the boat fired eight torpedoes at a small cargo ship, scoring several hits. On 8 July, she used her guns to touch off a blazing fire in a small, inter-island steamer and, two days later, sank a sampan with gunfire.

On 29 July, Bonefish commenced tracking a large, but empty, tanker with escorts and, early the next morning, gained a favorable attack position. She fired six torpedoes and scored four hits. The target, Kokuyo Maru, immediately settled by the stern, and Bonefish headed for the traffic lanes north of Sibutu and Tawitawi. On 3 August, she damaged a tanker with one torpedo hit. She set course for Fremantle the next day, ending her patrol there on 13 August.

Sixth patrol, September – October 1944 [ edit | edit source ]

With her crew refreshed and her provisions and ammunition replenished, Bonefish got underway on 5 September for the Sibuyan Sea. After three days there without encountering any enemy ships, she departed those waters on 24 September. Four days later, while patrolling off Mindoro, the submarine sighted a large, heavily laden tanker escorted by two destroyers. She fired all of her bow torpedoes and heard and felt the hits on the 2,068 ton Japanese ship Anjo Maru. Bonefish tracked the target whose rapidly falling speed indicated her distress until the crippled tanker's escorts forced the boat to retire. A postwar examination of Japanese records confirmed that Anio Maru sank later that day.

During the later part of this patrol, Bonefish joined Flasher (SS-249) and Lapon (SS-260) in forming a coordinated attack group. Patrolling in the vicinity of Cape Bolinao on 10 October, the boats attacked a convoy of cargo ships, and Bonefish scored three hits for undetermined damage. Four days later, while en route to a lifeguard station, she sank cargo ship Fushimi Maru. On 18 October, the submarine rescued two naval aviators. She departed her lifeguard station the next day, stopped at Saipan for fuel on the 27th, and continued on to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 8 November.

From Hawaii, Bonefish continued on to San Francisco, California, where she underwent overhaul at the Bethlehem Steel Submarine Repair Basin from 18 November 1944 to 13 February 1945. Then, after refresher training off Monterey, Calif., she returned to Pearl Harbor where she conducted exercises until 20 March.

Seventh patrol, March – May 1945 [ edit | edit source ]

Bonefish then set sail via Guam for the East China Sea and her seventh war patrol. Despite thorough coverage of the waters assigned her, she made few contacts and each of these was a small antisubmarine vessel. On 13 April, she attempted to sink a patrol vessel, but the target's radical maneuvers enabled it to escape. While on lifeguard duty off Korea's southern coast on 16 April, Bonefish rescued two Japanese aviators who had been shot down by a Navy plane. On 7 May, the submarine returned to Apra Harbor, Guam, ending a short and unsuccessful patrol.

Eighth patrol, May – June 1945 [ edit | edit source ]

Upon completion of refit on 28 May, Bonefish got underway in company with Tunny (SS-282) and Skate (SS-305), as part of "Pierce's Pole Cats", commanded by Tunny's skipper, Commander George E. Pierce. Equipped with a new mine-detecting device, the submarines were ordered to penetrate the Sea of Japan to sever the last of the Japanese overseas supply lines. Bonefish successfully threaded her way through the minefields by Tsushima Island as she transited the Korea Strait to enter the Sea of Japan for an offensive patrol off the west central coast of Honshū.

During a rendezvous with Tunny on 16 June, Bonefish reported sinking Oshikayama Maru, a 6,892 ton cargo ship. In a second rendezvous two days later, she requested and received permission to conduct a daylight submerged patrol of Toyama Wan, a bay farther up the Honshū coast. The attack group was to depart the Sea of Japan via La Perouse Strait on the night of 24 June. Bonefish did not make the scheduled pre-transit rendezvous. Still, Tunny waited in vain off Hokkaidō for three days. On 30 July, Bonefish was presumed lost.

Japanese records reveal that the 5,488 ton cargo ship Konzan Maru was torpedoed and sunk in Toyama Wan on 19 June and that an ensuing severe counterattack by Japanese escorts, the Okinawa, CD-63, CD-75, CD-158 and CD-207, brought debris and a major oil slick to the water's surface. There can be little doubt that Bonefish was sunk in this action.


The Loss of USS BONEFISH (SS-223)

Built by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, CT, USS BONEFISH (SS-223) was commissioned on 31 May 1943. Less than two months later she was on her way to her new homeport in Brisbane, Australia her first war patrol began on 16 September. The month-long prowl, which earned the boat her first Navy Unit Commendation, resulted in the damage of a freighter and two cargo ships and the sinking of two transport ships (9,900 and 10,000 tons, respectively) and a cargo vessel (4,200 tons). It was an auspicious beginning.

The majority of the next six patrols were just as successful. BONEFISH terrorized enemy shipping in and around Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, sending a variety of vessels to the bottom or rendering them incapable of continuing to fight. On 6 February 1944, during her third war patrol, the boat had a close call when, as she moved into position to launch torpedoes from her aft tubes, she suddenly lost depth control, submerging her periscope. As nine tons of seawater gushed into the forward end of the boat crewmembers rushed to close the appropriate valves, saving her from a swift trip to the bottom.

At the conclusion of her sixth patrol in October of 1944, BONEFISH departed Australia and steamed to San Francisco for an overhaul at the Bethlehem Steel Submarine Repair Basin. Then she moved on to her new homeport—Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

At the end of May, BONEFISH set out on her eighth war patrol alongside USS TUNNY (SS-282) and USS SKATE (SS-305). Named “Pierce’s Pole Cats” after TUNNY commanding officer Commander George E. Pierce, the wolfpack’s assignment was to invade the Sea of Japan, along with two other packs of American subs (Hydeman’s Hepcats and Bob’s Bobcats), and destroy what remained of Japan’s overseas supply lines. BONEFISH made scheduled rendezvous with TUNNY on 16 and 18 June, but when TUNNY, SKATE, and the six other American subs that had been patrolling the area met up on the 24 th to begin the trip back to Hawaii, BONEFISH was nowhere to be found. While the other boats transited La Perouse Strait and headed home, TUNNY waited three more days, hoping her sister ship would appear. She never did. The boat was presumed lost on 30 July.

Japanese records examined after the war indicate that on 18 June an American sub torpedoed a 6,000-ton cargo vessel in Toyama Wan Bay, where BONEFISH had been operating. The vessel sank, but its five escorts mounted a vicious counterattack that soon covered the ocean’s surface with oil and debris. BONEFISH’s luck had finally run out.

Eighty-five men were lost with BONEFISH. The boat was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation five times and received seven battle stars for her wartime service.


Bonefish SS-223 - History

Compiled by Paul W. Wittmer and Charles R. Hinman,

with editorial notes by Robert H. Downie, originally from:

U.S. Submarine Losses World War II, NAVPERS 15,784, 1949 ISSUE

In company with TUNNY and SKATE, BONEFISH (SS-223), commanded by CDR L. L. Edge, departed Guam on 28 May 1945 to conduct her eighth war patrol. This coordinated attack group under Commander G. E. Pierce in TUNNY, which was one of three groups then penetrating the Japan Sea, was ordered to transit Tsushima Strait on 5 June 1945 and to conduct offensive patrol in the Sea of Japan off the west coast of Honshu. This area was further subdivided, with BONEFISH assigned to patrol the northern portion.

BONEFISH successfully transited Tsushima Strait, and made rendezvous with TUNNY on 16 June 1945, in position 36° 40'N, 135° 24'E. Commander Edge reported be had sunk one large transport and one medium freighter to date. On the morning of 18 June, TUNNY and BONEFISH rendezvoused in the vicinity of 38° 15'N, 136° 24'E. [Editor's Note: Position corrected from 38° 15'N, 138° 24'E.] BONEFISH asked permission to conduct a submerged daylight patrol in Toyama Wan, in the mid part of western Honshu, and having received it, departed for Suzu Misaki. She was never seen or heard from again.

BONEFISH, in accordance with the operation order, was to rendezvous with the other eight submarines of the three groups, at 46° 50'N, 140° 00'E at sunset on 23 June 1945, in preparation for the transit on 24 June of La Perouse Strait. BONEFISH did not make this rendezvous, and after the other eight vessels had successfully transited La Perouse Strait, TUNNY on 25 and 26 June waited off the entrance to the strait and unsuccessfully tried to contact BONEFISH.

Provision was made in the operation order governing this patrol group for submarines in case of necessity to proceed to Russian waters to claim a 24 hour haven, or to submit to internment in extreme need, or for them to make their exit from the Japan Sea prior to or after 24 June. When all of these possibilities had been examined, and she had not been seen or heard from by 30 July 1945, BONEFISH was reported as presumed lost.

Japanese records of anti-submarine attacks mention an attack made on 19 June 1945 [Editor's Note: Date corrected from 18 June 1945], at 37°18'N, 137° 25'E in Toyama Wan. A great many depth charges were dropped, and wood chips and oil were observed. This undoubtedly was the attack which sank BONEFISH.

In total, this vessel sank 31 enemy vessels, for a total tonnage of 158,500, and damaged 7, for 42,000 tons. She began her career as an active member of the Submarine Force with a patrol in the South China Sea in September and October 1943. She sank three freighters, two transports, a tanker and a schooner, and damaged a fourth freighter. On her second war patrol, conducted in the Celebes sea and near Borneo, BONEFISH sank two freighters and an escort vessel, and damaged a minelayer. Again in the South China Sea on her third patrol, BONEFISH sank a very large tanker, a medium freighter and a schooner, and damaged a second large tanker. This ship went to the Celebes and Sulu Seas for her fourth patrol and sank two freighters, a transport and a tanker, while she damaged a sub chaser. Post war information also reveals that on 14 May 1944, while firing at the large tanker, which she sank, BONEFISH hit and sank the Japanese destroyer INAZUMI.

This vessel's fifth patrol was in the same area as her fourth, and she sank two small freighters, a large tanker and five miscellaneous small craft, while she damaged a second tanker. BONEFISH covered a South China Sea area in her sixth patrol, and sank two large tankers and a freighter during September and October 1944. She also damaged two medium freighters. Then, after a thorough overhaul and the installation of much new equipment in San Francisco, BONEFISH made her seventh patrol in the East China Sea. She had only one attack opportunity and did no damage. However, she took two Japanese prisoners from a downed enemy plane, and performed reconnaissance work on the southern end of Korea. BONEFISH was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for the period of her first and third through sixth patrols.

See also Ed Howard's Final Patrol page on USS Bonefish (external link).


Bonefish SS-223 - History

The BONEFISH SS223 First War Patrol
by Cornelius Russell Bartholomew

"OOOGAH . OOOGAH . . . " The sound frightened the crew of the USS BONEFISH (SS223). The sixteen war veterans sprung into action surprised by the unforeseen dive. The forty-four other crewmembers, half of them a year or less off farms or from cities, rushed to their diving stations not knowing what was happening. The veterans expected emergency dives in the war zone but not a few miles west of the Panama Canal. The unexpected dive became a part of every watch as the training intensified en route to Brisbane, Australia. Three months after her commissioning, May 31, 1943, BONEFISH arrived in Brisbane and stayed for six days of upkeep and final tests. The crew enjoyed their stay because they realized the war zone was only a few hundred miles away. Leaving Brisbane, the route inside the Barrier Reef was followed to Darwin, Australia. Uneasiness had spread throughout the crew because an enemy airplane had attacked an U.S. Navy submarine along the some route two days earlier. After topping off with fuel, BONEFISH departed Darwin on 16 September for her assigned war patrol area in the South China Sea. The crew trained as the diesel's droned on. The sighting of a ship's most at 0440 A Mon 18 September gave every crewmember a dry mouth.


First skipper: Thomas Wesley Hogan
(Ensign here, LCDR when he took command)

It was north of Damor Island in the Banda Sea that the mast was identified as belonging to a sailboat. The sailboat, the first of numerous ones, was thought to be fishermen.

"OOOGAH. OOOGAH," blared at 0816 AM when a lookout sighted an enemy airplane. All eyes turned upwards as BONEFISH crash-dived to two hundred feet. An hour later a periscope look and radar showed the area clear and the BONEFISH surfaced. Twelve hours later a small patrol craft came over the horizon and it was chased until contact was lost in a rainsquall. The following day was uneventful.

On 20 September as the sky was beginning to lighten at 0458 AM a large enemy ship was sighted. Tension rose as BONEFISH maneuvered into the attack position ahead of the enemy. The foe traveling at twenty knots suddenly turned toward BONEFISH forcing her to dive. After dropping one depth charge, the first for a majority of the submarine crew, the attacker sped away. Surfacing for a chase, the excited submarine crew kept alert. During the pursuit an unescorted 10,000-ton tanker, a more lucrative target, hovered into view.

The tanker was stalked and as BONEFISH gained a position ahead for a submerged attack, three sailboats appeared. Diving to avoid detection, the apprehension ran high as the bow tubes were made ready for firing. The tanker reached the sailboats, turned ninety degrees and raced toward black threatening clouds. Surfacing Bonefish's engines bellowed black smoke as she tried to overtake the enemy. The tanker disappeared into the black clouds and was lost to sight and radar. Disappointed and figuring that the sailboats had alerted the tanker crew, it was decided to check sailboats when time and circumstances permitted. After a peaceful transit of the Sibutu Passage on 21 September, the Balabac Strait was run the next day and BONEFISH entered the South China Sea. Under the watchful eyes of veterans the training and qualification of the crew continued when time permitted. Saturday, 25 September at 0610 a five ship escorted convoy was sighted.

The tension ran high as BONEFISH tracked the convoy at the same time notifying the USS BOWFIN(SS287) which was in the area. Reaching an attack position, BONEFISH dove and waited for the zig-zagging convoy.

The formation changed course toward the Bowfin's area. Surfacing and using full power to pursue, the Bonefish's lookouts and officer-of-the-deck sighted large plumes of black smoke and heard explosions. The crew felt cheated until two stragglers, a 9000-ton tanker and the same size transport were discovered. Using full power, an attack position was gained.

"OOOGAH . OOOGAH " sounded at 1846. The stern tubes were made ready as the stress on the crew increased. Torpedo tubes number seven eight, nine and ten were fired starting at 1918. As the first torpedo exploded under the tanker's bridge, two escorts crossed the enemy ship's bow and raced toward the BONEFISH. A second hit was observed and a third torpedo was heard exploding before the submarine pulled the plug to go deep. Three violently bursting depth charges shook BONEFISH. The next three depth charges exploded farther away. The crew heard groaning and cracking sounds like a ship breaking up. As the escort's high-speed screws faded from sonar, the exuberant crew was ready to continue the hunt. Two days later on a clear night at 0208 AM smoke was sighted. The smoke turned into a five ship escorted convoy in three columns. The enemy was tracked until BONEFISH was in firing position.

"OOOGAH. OOOGAH", jarred those sleeping awake at 0545 AM. The bow torpedo tubes were made ready. The convoy changed course so the stern tubes were readied. Four torpedoes were sent on their way toward the leading ship, a large Transport. The crew heard four tin fish explode. Sonar picked up light high-speed screws rushing to attack the BONEFISH. Rigged for silent running she went deep as eight depth charges rattled the submarine. Coming up to periscope depth four more depth charge shook BONEFISH.

The high-speed screws of the escorts crisscrossed the BONEFISH all day while twenty-one more depth charges were dropped. At 1630 the submarine eased upto periscope depth for a look. An enemy float airplane dropped seven exploding bombs forcing BONEFISH deep. The stimulated crew was growing weary of the enemy's explosive reaction. Before surfacing several leaks were repaired. During the next five days and intense search by the BONEFISH turned up several small patrol boats and she was forced to dive by an zero type enemy airplane. But her luck changed October 3rd.

A sic ship convoy with escorts was picked up on radar and then visibly. BONEFISH ran on the surface using three engines but could not get ahead of the convoy before it passed out of view behind the Paula Cecir De Mer Island. Let down, the crew intensified the search. October 6th was a rainy day with a moderate sea and swells increasing when radar picked up a contact. The radar blips were three heavily loaded cargo ships in a triangular formation.

"OOOGAH. OOOGAH," echoed through BONEFISH at 0609 AM. Starting at 0706 AM torpedo tubes number one, two and three were fired at the flank ship. One exploded under the ship's main mast. Torpedo tubes four five and six were fired at the lead ship. Torpedo four ran erratic but the other two were seen exploding under the center of the target. The third ship tried to ran BONEFISH. Her first depth charge shook the BONEFISH at 0716 AM. The second depth charge exploded astern. At 0944 AM with not contacts in sight or on radar, BONEFISH surfaced and found wreckage from the two ships that sunk. The swells continued to increase so BONEFISH moved out of the area.

The following morning a HINO MARU type cargo ship was found and tracked. In the downpour of rain, BONEFISH submerged and got into firing position. Number one torpedo tube was fired at 1811. Thirteen seconds later it prematurely exploded vary close jarring the BONEFISH and rattling the crew's nerves. Number two torpedo passed ahead and number six torpedo passed astern of the enemy ship. Numbers three, four and five torpedoes passed under the enemy ship and exploded beyond the target. The torpedoes had been set to run at ten and fifteen feet. Deciding the enemy ship was smaller than the original estimate, the BONEFISH surfaced to attack using her four inch fifty caliber deck gun.

The gun prepared for the battle with their mouths feeling like they were filled with cotton. Their fears changed as adrenalin made them desire the enemy ship like a hunter yearn for a trophy. The chase started in a tropical downpour. The enemy disappeared from sight in the darkness and was lost by radar a few minutes later. The crew's frustration remained high through the next day. But the following day 10 October turned out to be the most electrifying day of the first patrol.

An enemy airplane forced the BONEFISH to crash dive at 0819. Back on the surface, a lookout sighted a mast on the horizon at 1043. Tracking commenced and visual observation through the raised periscope showed the mast belonged to a large troop transport. The other ships were heavily loaded cargo ships of about 4000 tons each. All the ships had soldiers milling around on deck. BONEFISH dove ahead of the convoy and checked and rechecked the firing set up. With only four torpedoes left BONEFISH waited. Starting at 1402 torpedo tube number one was fired followed by number two, three and four (periscope photos).

One cargo ship frantically blew its whistle as the first torpedo exploded under her mast. The second torpedo blew the ship apart. Number three torpedo exploded under the troop ship's mast and the fourth blew her stern off. The enemy fired their guns in all directions making the sky look like a fireworks display. A cargo ship turned toward BONEFISH.

BONEFISH took a steep down angle as the first depth charge exploded. The next three depth charges chipped paint off the inside bulkhead. During a lull in the foes attack, cracking and groaning sounds were heard from the area of the sinking ships. Loud explosions made the BONEFISH crew jubilant because they knew the sinking ships boilers were bursting. Their attitude changed as two more depth charges sprayed them with paint chips. The depth charge put extreme pressure on the hull and a strain on the crew. Minutes later eleven depth charges, three very close, rattled and shook BONEFISH as she used evasive tactics. More breaking up noises from the area of the sinking ships were heard on sonar. Another depth charge made the lights blink and caused another shower of paint chips. As the submarine hid under a negative gradient at 150 feet, twelve additional depth charges exploded but farther away giving the crew hope. The last nine depth charges were heard at 1601. The attack that started at 1043 AM ended at 1720 when the crew received a shot of Brandy after the Captain ordered, "SPLICE THE MAIN BRACE." Surfacing at 1821 the fresh air smelled sweet to the joyful crew. The last torpedo had been fired but the battle wasn't over.

Heading for Australia, BONEFISH stopped an investigated a sail boat in Makassar on 13 October. The next day in the Java Sea an abandoned canoe of excellent workmanship was picked up and lowered into the forward torpedo room. That evening at 1732 a two-masted schooner of about ten tons was sighted. It was decided to attack her with gunfire.

The first burst from the 20MM cannon was over the schooner and resulted in enemy soldiers jumping overboard. The target was riddled with 20MM fire but refused to sink. A Molotov Cocktail was used to set the schooner on fire. It sank. Two days later an enemy airplane forced BONEFISH to crash dive. The following day, 16 October, the transit of Lombok Strait was completed leaving the war zone behind.

BONEFISH arrived in Fremantle, Australia on 21 October a week short of five months since commissioning. She had steamed half way around the world to reach her first patrol area in the South China Sea.

While on war patrol BONEFISH had logged another 12,000 miles and fired twenty-four torpedoes. Torpedoes sank five ships one by gunfire and 5,800additional tons of shipping were damaged. Seventy depth charges and seven aerial bombs battered the submarine. The Captain was awarded the Navy Cross and each member of the crew awarded a Navy Submarine Combat Pin. For the aggressive manner in which the patrol was conducted, the BONEFISH received a Navy Unit Commendation.

The bone-weary crew with frazzled nerves relished the awards and the two weeks at the King Edward Hotel, a submarine rest hotel.


Bonefish SS-223 - History

[ Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]

In company with Tunny and Skate, Bonefish (SS-223), commanded by Cdr. L.L. Edge, departed Guam on 28 May 1945 to conduct her eighth war patrol. This coordinated attack group under Commander G. W. Pierce in Tunny, which was one of three groups then penetrating the Japan Sea, was ordered to transit Tsushima Strait on 5 June 1945, and to conduct offensive patrol in the Sea of Japan off the west central coast of Honshu. This area was further subdivided, with Bonefish assigned to patrol the northern portion.


L.L. Edge

Bonefish successfully transited Tsushima Strait, and made rendezvous with Tunny on 16 June 1945, in position 36°-40'N, 135°-24'E. Commander Edge reported he had sunk one large transport and one medium freighter to date. On the morning of 18 June, Tunny and Bonefish rendezvoused in the vicinity of 38°-15'N. 138°-24'E. Bonefish asked permission to conduct a submerged daylight patrol in Toyama Wan, in the mid part of western Honshu, and having received it, departed for Suzu Misaki. She was never seen or heard from again.

Bonefish, in accordance with the operation order, was to rendezvous with the other eight submarines of the three groups, in latitude 46°-50'N, longitude 140° -00'E at sunset on 23 June 1945, in preparation for the transit on 24 June of La Perouse Strait. Bonefish did not make this rendezvous, and after the other eight vessels had successfully transited La Perouse Strait, Tunny on 25 and 26 June waited off the entrance to the strait and unsuccessfully tried to contact Bonefish.

Provision was made in the operation order governing this patrol group for submarines in case of necessity to proceed to Russian waters to claim a 24-hour haven, or to submit to internment in extreme need, or for them to make their exit from the Japan Sea prior to or after 24 June. When all of these possibilities had been examined, and she had not been seen or heard from by 30 July 1945, Bonefish was reported as presumed lost.

Japanese records of antisubmarine attacks mention an attack made on 18 June 1945, at 37°-18'N, 137°-25'E in Toyama Wan. A great many depth charges were dropped, and wood chips and oil were observed. This undoubtedly was the attack which sank Bonefish.

In total, this vessel sank 31 enemy vessels, for a total tonnage of 158,500, and damaged 7, for 42,000 tons. She began her career as an active member of the Sub-marine Force with a patrol in the South China Sea in September and October 1943.

She sank three freighters, two transports, a tanker and a schooner, and damaged a fourth freighter. On her second war patrol, conducted in the Celebes Sea and near Borneo, Bonefish sank two freighters and an escort vessel, and damaged a minelayer. Again in the South China Sea on her third patrol, Bonefish sank a very large tanker, a medium freighter and a schooner, and damaged a second large tanker. This ship went to the Celebes and Sulu Seas for her fourth patrol and sank two freighters, a transport and a tanker, while she damaged a sub chaser.

Postwar information also reveals that on 14 May 1944, while firing at the large tanker which she sank, Bonefish hit and sank the Japanese destroyer Inazuma.

This vessel's fifth patrol was in the same area as her fourth, and she sank two small freighters, a large tanker and five miscellaneous small craft, while she damaged a second tanker. Bonefish covered a South China Sea area in her sixth patrol, and sank two large tankers and a freighter during September and October 1944. She also damaged two medium freighters. Then, after a thorough overhaul and the installation of much new equipment in San Francisco, Bonefish made her seventh patrol in the East China Sea. She had only one attack opportunity and did no damage. However, she took two Japanese prisoners from a downed enemy plane, and performed reconnaissance work on the southern end of Korea. Bonefish was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for the period of her first and third through sixth patrols.


Bonefish at Groton


'Up Scope!': Drawn by Cdr. Griffith Baily Coale

Bonefish SS-223 - History


Launched, 7 March 1943


Commissioned, USS Bonefish (SS-223), 31 May 1943

Final Disposition:
SUNK - JUNE 18, 1945 while on 8th patrol, by Japanese warship, in Toyama Wan, west coast of Honshu, all hands lost.

Bonefish received five Navy Unit Commendations and seven battle stars during World War II.

Commanding Officers:
CDR Thomas Wesley Hogan 05/31/1943 - 06/13/1944
CDR Lawrence Lott Edge 06/13/1944 - 06/18/1945

Executive Officers:
LCDR Guy Edward O'Neil 05/31/1943 - 01/12/1944
LT Leon Stuart Eubanks 01/12/1944 - 08/27/1944
LT/LCDR Frasier Sinclair Knight 08/27/1944 - 06/18/1945

Chief of the Boat (COB):
TMC Eugene Freaner, 05/31/1943 - 01/12/1944
MoMMC G. M. Fuller 01/12/1944 - 06/18/1945


Specifications:
Radio call sign: Nan - Baker - King - Fox
Displacement:
Surfaced: 1,526 tons
Submerged: 2,424 tons
Length 311' 9"
Beam 27' 3"
Draft 15' 3"
Speed:
Surfaced 20.25 kts
Submerged 8.75 kts
Complement 6 Officers 54 Enlisted
Operating Depth, 300 ft
Submerged Endurance, 48 hrs at 2 kts
Patrol Endurance 75 days
Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10 kts
Armament:
Ten 21" torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft
24 torpedoes
One 3"/50 deck gun
Two .50 cal. machine guns
Two .30 cal. machine guns

Propulsion, diesel electric reduction gear with four General Motors main generator engines, HP 5400, Four General Electric main motors, HP 2740, two 126-cell main storage batteries, twin propellers.
Fuel Capacity, 97,140 gals.


USS Bonefish (SS-223)

In company with TUNNY and SKATE, BONEFISH (SS-223), commanded by Cdr. L. L. Edge, departed Guam on 28 May 1945 to conduct her eighth war patrol. This coordinated attack group under Commander G. W. Pierce in TUNNY, which was one of three groups then penetrating the Japan Sea, was ordered to transit Tsushima Strait on 5 June 1945 and to conduct offensive patrol in the Sea of Japan off the west central coast of Honshu. This area was further subdivided, with BONEFISH assigned to patrol the northern portion.

BONEFISH successfully transited Tsushima Strait, and made rendezvous with TUNNY on 16 June 1945, in position 36° 40'N, 135° 24'E. Commander Edge reported be had sunk one large transport and one medium freighter to date. On the morning of 18 June, TUNNY and BONEFISH rendezvoused in the vicinity of 38° 15'N, 138° 24'E. BONEFISH asked permission to conduct a submerged daylight patrol in Toyama Wan, in the mid part of western Honshu, and having received it, departed for Suzo Misaki. She was never seen or heard from again.

BONEFISH, in accordance with the operation order, was to rendezvous with the other eight submarines of the three groups, in latitude 46° 50'N, longitude 140° 00'E at sunset on 23 June 1945, in preparation for the transit on 24 June of La Perouse Strait. BONEFISH did not make this rendezvous, and after the other eight vessels had successfully transited La Perouse Strait, TUNNY on 25 and 26 June waited off the entrance to the strait and unsuccessfully tried to contact BONEFISH.

Provision was made in the operation order governing this patrol group for submarines in case of necessity to proceed to Russian waters to claim a 24 hour haven, or to submit to internment in extreme need, or for them to make their exit from the Japan Sea prior to or after 24 June. When all of these possibilities had been examined, and she had not been seen or heard from by 30 July 1945, BONEFISH was reported as presumed lost.

Japanese records of anti-submarine attacks mention an attack made on 18 June 1945, at 37°18'N, 137° 25'E in Toyama Wan. A great many depth charges were dropped, and wood chips and oil were observed. This undoubtedly was the attack which sank BONEFISH.

In total, this vessel sank 31 enemy vessels, for a total tonnage of 158,500, and damaged 7, for 42,000 tons. She began her career as an active member of the Submarine Force with a patrol in the South China Sea in September and October 1943. She sank three freighters, two transports, a tanker and a schooner, and damaged a fourth freighter. On her second war patrol, conducted in the Celebes sea and near Borneo, BONEFISH sank two freighters and an escort vessel, and damaged a minelayer. Again in the South China Sea on her third patrol, BONEFISH sank a very large tanker, a medium freighter and a schooner, and damaged a second large tanker. This ship went to the Celebes and Sulu Seas for her fourth patrol and sank two freighters, a transport and a tanker, while she damaged a sub chaser. Post war information also reveals that on 14 May 1944, while firing at the large tanker, which she sank, BONEFISH hit and sank the Japanese destroyer INAZUMI.

This vessel's fifth patrol was in the same area as her fourth, and she sank two small freighters, a large tanker and five miscellaneous small craft, while she damaged a second tanker. BONEFISH covered a South China Sea area in her sixth patrol, and sank two large tankers and a freighter during September and October 1944. She also damaged two medium freighters. Then, after a thorough overhaul and the installation of much new equipment in San Francisco, BONEFISH made her seventh patrol in the East China Sea. She had only one attack opportunity and did no damage. However, she took two Japanese prisoners from a downed enemy plane, and performed reconnaissance work on the southern end of Korea. BONEFISH was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for the period of her first and third through sixth patrols.

See also Ed Howard's Final Patrol page on USS Bonefish (external link).

The Los Angeles Pasadena Base of the USSVI is the officially recognized custodian of the National Submarine Memorial, West.


Watch the video: Bonefish Submarine Fred Etzel Boy Engineer