Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


At a dedication of the Bonefish Memorial (symbolized by a MK 14 torpedo) at Bangor, Washington on 16 March 1984, Tom Hogan, Bonefish’s first skipper, summarized her war exploits. After telling of the Bonefish commissioning he outlined her short history:

“Beginning with a patrol in the South China Sea in September and October of 1943, Bonefish sank 4 freighters, 2 transports, 1 tanker and a schooner. One of the freighters was a bonus — it ran across two of the torpedo tracks intended for a   transport.  We had a close shave with the schooner in Makassar Strait. She had new sails and was really a beautiful boat. I thought she was a coast watcher. So I put Bonefish off her beam at about 150 yards, from where we peppered the schooner’s water-line with the 20 MM gun. When we started firing she stopped, let her sails down, and 7 natives were visible up on deck. The natives launched a boat, got in it, and moved off away from the schooner. Bonefish was then conned alongside the schooner and started to send an officer aboard to inspect her when the schooner began sinking on an even keel, very slowly. At that time 39 Japanese soldiers came up from below decks and jumped overboard. They would have slaughtered anyone who had boarded her. When the boat sank, we just went off and left the soldiers in the water.

“On Bonefish’s second patrol in the Celebes/Borneo area, we sank 2 freighters and a destroyer-type escort, and damaged a minelayer by gunfire. On this patrol there was very poor torpedo performance. On one night surface attack, 6 premature explosions were experienced in a 10-fish attack.

“For the third patrol, Bonefish was again in the South China Sea. By this time, January and February 1944, the Japanese were fully aware of the danger of night surface attack by radar-equipped submarines. Where possible, they would bring their convoys into protected anchorages overnight and proceed at sea during daylight hours with surface and air escort. Cam Ranh Bay, the former French Naval Base, was one such convoy anchorage in our area. So we gave it our full attention and got some results in spite of very rough seas.

“On this patrol we sank a very large tanker, a medium freighter, and a schooner. We also got two hits in a tremendous ship, a converted whale factory with a raised deck platform on which were 26 Zero-type aircraft. It was damaged alright but Bonefish was driven deep by a plane and a destroyer for about an hour. When we came back to periscope depth, it was not in sight. Later it was found that this outfit made its way to a reinforcement of Burma.

“Bonefish was in the Celebes area for the fourth patrol. She sank 2 freighters, a tranport, a tanker and the DD Inazuma. It was during this time that the Japanese were forced to send their fleet to this area to be near their fuel supply for training naval aviators . US Naval Intelligence lost track of the Japanese Fleet after they left Manila. U.S. Seventh Fleet subs on patrol were then diverted to watch certain areas which it was expected the enemy would use for their carrier air training. We were told to watch Tawi Tawi Bay, a former U.S. Navy Fleet anchorage near the Northeast corner of Borneo in the Sulu Archipelago. Consequently, Bonefish received orders to look into Tawi Tawi on 12 May 1944. As Bonefish began her night transit of Sibutu Passage submerged– due to a full moon– we sighted and attacked a formation of 3 tankers and 3 destroyers southbound. One tanker and one OD were sunk and then the Japs chased Bonefish back out the northern end of Sibutu Passage. After charging batteries, Bonefish was submerged at daylight and started south back through the Pass. We sighted a patrol of 2 DDs. Also» 2 planes were sighted to the south of Bonefish– apparently searching. Bonefish was taken to 150 ft. and kept going» coming back to periscope depth every 30 minutes for periscope observations. At about 1130 when passing 100 ft. coming up for an observation, the sound man reported many light, high-speed screws and depth was held at 90 ft. Meanwhile light» then heavier screws passed directly over Bonefish headed south. After the ships had passed» Bonefish was brought up for a look. There they were– what every submariner dreams of– the whole enemy fleet. But only one torpedo was left onboard and it had been flooded so many times that I didn’t trust it . So Bonefish was taken north and that night a report was sent on what we had seen. Headquarters ordered us to keep in contact with the enemy and report daily. This we did for 12 days.

“Taw! Tawi Bay is a large bay about 10 miles across and enclosed on the south by a coral reef. The procedure established for each night was: after charging batteries to go in as close as possible to the reef and beam the surface search radar into the Bay and plot the positions of the enemy’s surface craft on our chart. Then, after daylight, we would identify by sight what had been plotted from the radar. The U.S. Fleet Mooring Chart was used for that Bay. It had markings for moorings used by the U.S. Fleet. To my surprise, I found that the Japanese were also using those same mooring positions. So it was very convenient for our intelligence report to refer to the chart, reporting what was in each position. There were six carriers which would anchor at night, with 2 or 3 of them out operating by daylight every day.

“At night Bonefish would be steamed south about 20 miles to send a reconnaissance dispatch, and charge batteries. Then she’d return to her hole south of the reef before daylight. The first night after sending a dispatch, she stayed more or less in the same spot while charging batteries. After about an hour, a destroyer came out to investigate. Bonefish was dived, and the DD finally went back towards Tawi Tawi. I got to thinking they had probably pinpointed us by Radio Direction Finder. The next night Bonefish was 15 miles south and the batteries charged. The reconnaissance dispatch was sent and Bonefish waited right there. Sure enough, about an hour later, along came the DD. Again Bonefish dove and got away. I surely wished for some torpedoes.

“Later, we got word to be clear of that area on the 26th of May. The Harder was directed to come in and relieve Bonefish. The Harder had been life-guarding for a combined U.S. carrier air strike against Surabaja, Java. She was fresh out of port and had a full load of torpedoes. I sent a dispatch to Sam Dealey and told him what Bonefish had been doing and added, “if you are careful, yon can get yourself a DD.” Well, he was, and he did. He got 51

“This action, together with that of the Puffer at the north end of Sibutu Passage in sinking a destroyer and tanker loaded with plane spare parts, led the Japanese Fleet Commander to leave Taw! Taw! early.

“I left the Bonefish when we returned to Perth. I was relieved by an old and good friend, Commander Larry Edge.

“On Bonefish’s 5th patrol, she was in the same area as her 4th. Two small freighters, a large tanker, and 5 miscellaneous small craft were sunk while a second tanker was damaged.

“On her 6th patrol, during September and October of 1944, two large tankers and one freighter were sunk with 2 medium freighters damaged. After a thorough overhaul and installation of much new equipment in San Francisco, Bonefish made her 7th 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 did some recconnaissance work off Korea.

“A part of the new equipment installed in San Francisco was a piece of sonar equipment to be used primarily for locating small objects– mines. In the spring of 1945 with more submarines available for patrol and fewer targets, Admiral Lockwood, Commander Submarines Pacific Fleet, decided to have some submarines penetrate the mine fields in Tsushima Strait and cover the heretofore virgin territory of the Japanese Sea. Much planning and training was done by the submarines with this equipment, and nine boats in three groups of three boats each were ordered in– in June 1945.

“Bonefish,  under Commander Edge,successfully transited Tsushima Strait on 5 June. Bonefish redezvoused with Tunny, the Pack Commander, on 18 June, and the sinking of one large transport and one medium freighter was reported. Edge then requested          permission           to       conduct         a       submerge daylight patrol in Toyama Wan. Having received permission, he departed for Suzo Misaki. Bonefish was never seen or heard from again.

“Japanese records of anti-submarine attacks mentioned an attack on 18 June in Toyama Wan. A great many depth charges were dropped and wood chips and oil were observed to surface. This, undoubtedly, was the attack which sank Bonefish.

“It can be considered that Bonefish is symbolic of the efforts of all units of the submarine force which had such a tremendous impact on the outcome of World War II. In dedicating this MK 14 torpedo to the memory of Bonefish and her crew, we recognize that she was but a part of the combined efforts of _all.”

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League