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  USS Bullhead (SS-332)
USN
Balao Class Submarine

1,526 Tons (surfaced)
2,424 Tons (submerged)
311' 9" x 27' 3" x 16' 10"
10 × 21-inch torpedo tubes
(6 forward, 4 aft)
1 x 5" gun
1 x 40mm AA
1 x 20mm AA




USN c1945
Sub History
Built by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT. Laid down October 21, 1943 as a Balao Class Submarine. Launched July 16, 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Howard R. Doyle. Commissioned December 4, 1944 in the U. S. Navy (USN) as USS Bullfish (SS-332) with Commander W. T. Griffith in command.

Wartime History
Afterwards, conducted a brief shake down cruise off New London, CT but bad weather hampered effective training and only ten practice runs were made and three torpedoes fired. Next, departed with USS Lionfish (SS-298) from New London southward to Key West, Florida and continued training. During the trip, a dive was made to 600' while a "secret device" was tested. Afterwards, proceeded via the Panama Canal to Balboa in Panama and was assigned to Submarine Squadron Three and underwent additional training making more practice approaches and fired 26 torpedoes that were all retrieved and reused. Bullhead departed Balboa to Pearl Harbor and underwent minor repairs. Next, departed with USS Tigrone (SS-419) made daily trim dives while the crew continued to conduct training exercises before arrival at Guam.

First War Patrol
On March 2, 1945 departed Guam on her first war patrol under the command of Commander W. T. Griffith to wage unrestricted submarine warfare and performed life guard duty in the northern South China Sea operating with USS Tigrone (SS-419), USS Blackfish (SS-221) plus USS Seahorse (SS-304). During the patrol, Bullhead rescued three crew members from a B-29 Superfortress off the coast of China. Afterwards, bombarded radio installation on Pratas Island off China. On April 27, 1945 ended the patrol at Subic Bay and the next day moored along side of USS Barns (DE-353).

Second War Patrol
On May 21, 1945 departed on her second war patrol under the command of Commander W. T. Griffith to patrol the Gulf of Siam (Gulf of Thailand) then to the South China Sea and operated off Brunei Bay on northern Borneo. During this patrol, she sank two small freighters, schooner and a sub chaser with a total of 1,800 tons. Also, claimed to damage two other subchasers and another small freighter patrolling the western Java Sea. Each of these targets were sunk while surfaced with gunfire from her 5" deck gun. On July 2, 1945 the patrol ended at Fremantle.

Third War Patrol
On July 31, 1945 Bullhead departed Fremantle under the command of Lt. Commander Edward R. Holt, Jr. to patrol the Java Sea as part of a wolf pack with USS Capitaine (SS-336) and USS Puffer (SS-268) until September 5, 1945 then to proceed to Subic Bay. On August 6, 1945 Bullhead reported passing through the Lombok Strait but was never heard from again. On August 12, 1945 USS Capitaine (SS-336) attempted to contact Bullhead without reply and on August 15, 1945 reported "Have been unable to contact Bullhead by any means since arriving in area." Transiting the same area were other Allied submarines including HMS Taciturn, HMS Thorough, USS Cod (SS-224) and USS Chub (SS-329). When Bullhead failed to make contact or return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Sinking History
On August 6, 1945 after passing through Lombok Strait Bullhead was near the coast of Bali in the Java Sea at roughly Lat 8º 20'S Long 115º 42'E. Spotted by Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) Type 99 Assault Plane / Ki-51 Sonias from the 73rd Independent Chutai armed with depth charges or 60kg bombs that claimed two direct hits. For ten minutes after the hits, the Sonias observed a large amount of oil and air bubbles rising to the surface. Possibly, the submarine's proximity to shore shortened the range of her radar and failed to detect the approaching aircraft. When lost, Bullhead was the last U. S. Navy (USN) submarine sunk due to enemy action in World War II and earned two battle stars for her World War II service.

Memorials
The each member of the 84 crew remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and each earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All likely died inside the submarine when sunk August 6, 1945. All were officially declared dead on August 23, 1946. Each crew member is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

The crew are also memorialized at Fremantle on the Allied Submarine Plaque. Also with a plaque at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park waterfront memorial overlooking Pearl Harbor.

Lt. Commander Holt earned the Navy Cross, Presidential unit Citation with two Stars, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal with star, Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia and Purple Heart, posthumously.

References
NARA "History of USS Bullhead (SS-332)"
NARA "USS Bullhead (SS-332) Report of First War Patrol"
NARA "USS Bullhead (SS-332) Report of Second War Patrol"
NavSource - Bullhead (SS-332)
NavSource - USS Bullhead SS-332 August 6, 1945 - 84 Men Lost [PDF]
On Eternal Patrol - The Loss of USS Bullhead (SS-332)

On Eternal Patrol - USS Bullhead (SS-332) list of 84 crew lost
Pigboats - USS Bullhead SS 332 chronology of tonnage sunk & damaged
Wrecksite - USS Bullhead (SS-332)

Overdue and Presumed Lost: The Story of the USS Bullhead by Martin Sheridan
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edward R. Holt Jr.
FindAGrave - LCDR Edward Rowell Holt Jr (photo, obituary, tablets of the missing photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - QM2c Alfred Aiple Jr.
FindAGrave - QM2 Alfred Aiple Jr. (photo, tablets of the missing photo)

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Last Updated
July 29, 2020

 

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MIA
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