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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Bumper

A green fish with a golden belly that grows to a foot in length and is found in warm waters along the Atlantic coast of North and South America.

I


(SS 333: dp. 1,810 (surf.], 2,415 (subm.); l. 311'9"; b. 27'3"; dr. 16'10"; s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 81; a. 10 21" tt., 1 5", 1 40mm.; cl. Balao)

Bumper (SS-333) was laid down on 4 November 1943 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 6 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Joseph W. Williams, Jr., the wife of the prospective commanding officer; commissioned on 9 December 1944, Comdr. Joseph W. Williams, Jr., in command.


Following her commissioning, the submarine conducted her shakedown training off the New England coast, and then reported to Key West, Fla., for training at the Sound School. Soon after her arrival at Key West, the crew discovered corrosion in the main hydraulic system which forced Bumper to return to the Electric Boat Co. for repairs. On 19 February 1945, Bumper once again got underway for Florida and Panama. After two weeks of advanced exercises in submarine warfare, Bumper left Panama on 15 March to report to the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, where she spent three weeks preparing herself in Pacific Fleet procedures before beginning her first war patrol on 22 April.


Bumper refueled at Saipan on 4 May and continued on to the South China Sea for her first patrol. Although she searched for enemy ships, her primary mission was lifeguard duty off Formosa and Hainan. On 6 June, Bumper was relieved by Bugara (SS-331). While en route to Subic Bay, she received orders to relieve Icefish (SS-367) to allow that submarine to return to port with some injured aviators. Bumper rode out a small typhoon before being relieved by Carbonero (SS-337) and continuing on to Subic Bay for refitting alongside the tender Anthedon (AS-24).


Bumper stood out of Subic Bay on 10 July for her second war patrol, this time in the Gulf of Siam, near Singapore. There, she sighted and pursued an enemy convoy of two small tankers and a freighter screened by a destroyer and several smaller escorts. However, the submarine's initial attacks were unsuccessful, as were those of Brill (SS-330) and Bugara. On 15 July, a schooner sailing south along the coast came into Bumper's sights, and the submarine used gunfire to sink the sailing ship. Two days later, a coastal freighter became the submarine's target, and her guns succeeded again. The entire incident was recorded on film.


Despite those interludes, Bumper continued to dog the track of the convoy she had encountered first. After pursuing the convoy for over two weeks, Bumper had another chance to attack on 20 July. She fired her last three torpedoes at one of the small tankers and sank Kyoei Maru along with her cargo of oil. Bumper then submerged to give the crew a brief rest before heading for Subic Bay to reload torpedoes. Following reloading, she sailed nort to patrol off Singapore and in the Java Sea. During the morning of 5 August, the submarine sighted and sank with gunfire a tug, a barge, and later a small sailing vessel.


Claiming to have sent some 2,500 tons of shipping to the bottom, Bumper sailed on to Fremantle, where she arrived on 15 August, just an hour after the Japanese announced their willingness to surrender. Following refitting by Clytie (AS-26), the submarine got underway for Subic Bay for service with the Commander, Philippine Sea Frontier. She remained in that status until the end of the year, devoting herself primarily to training missions. On 7 January 1946, Bumper headed home. She moored in San Diego on 4 February for availability. She spent April in intensive training; and, on 6 May, the submarine headed for her new home port, Pearl Harbor. After two more months of training, Bumper's crew, although cut to 75 percent of authorized strength and with a few reservists remaining, was capahle and ready for duty. Until the end of July, Bumper operated in routine exercises in a stepped-down postwar environment. After overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard from August through October, the submarine returned to Pearl Harbor where she participated in training exercises with other squadrons.


Bumper stood out of Pearl Harbor on 16 December for a simulated war patrol that included stops in the Caroline Islands; Guam; Subic Bay; Tsingtao, China; Yokosuka, Japan; and Midway Island. She reentered Pearl Harbor on 29 March 1947 for two weeks of upkeep before resuming local operations. In April, the submarine was assigned to drill Task Force (TF) 38 in antisubmarine warfare. A coordinated attack group composed of Bumper, Blackfin (SS-322), Tilefish (SS-307), and Chub (SS-329) made practice attacks on the task force, approaching the surface ships silently and submerged to stay undetected for as long as possible. Similar drills took place in May and continued through the end of the year.


Bumper spent the first part of 1948 on the west coast. On 12 January, she reported at San Diego to work with the Sonnd School in a variety of sonar research projects. In February, she carried out a two-week reserve training cruise before beginning a three month overhaul at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. On 12 June, the submarine arrived back at Pearl Harbor to resume her usual operational schedule. She made a second simulated war patrol conducting antisubmarine warfare drills with Salisbury Sound (AV-13) while making a circuit of port visits to Hong Kong, Okinawa, Sasebo, Tsingtao, and Midway. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 29 September and spent the rest of the year in local training operations with Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 5.


In February 1950, Bumper returned to the east coast of the United States for the first time since her commissioning. She transited the Panama Canal on 22 February and operated along the east coast until entering the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for a modernization overhaul. On 16 September, she reported to New London to take on Turkish sailors for training. Bumper was decommissioned on 16 November 1950 and was transferred to Turkey that same day under the terms of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program under the name Canakkale. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 20 December 1950.


Bumper received one battle star for her World War II service.

Mary P. Walker


22 November 2005