A large North American catfish inhabiting the Mississippi Valley. Dark olive in color, the bashaw has been reported to reach weights up to 100 pounds. It feeds on smaller fish and is regarded as one of the best varieties of catfish for food.
(SS 241: dp. 1,810 (surf.), 2,415 (subm.); l. 311'9"; b. 27'3"; dr. 15'3"; s. 20.25 k. (surf.), 8.75 k. (subm.); cpl. 80; a. 10 21" tt., 1 3", 1 40mm.; 2 20mm.; cl. Gato)
Bashaw (SS 241) was laid down on 4 December 1942 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 25 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Norman Ives; and commissioned on 25 October 1943, Lt. Comdr. Richard E. Nichols in command.
Following shakedown training in Long Island Sound, the new submarine proceeded south to provide services for the Fleet Sound School at Key West, Fla. She ended 1943 in training off Florida and, on 9 January 1944, got underway for duty in the Pacific Ocean. Bashaw transited the Panama Canal on the 14th and exercised with Flounder (SS 251) and Golet (SS 361) off the Canal Zone before beginning the voyage to New Guinea. She reported to Commander, Task Force (TF) 72, at Milne Bay on 3 March.
After voyage repairs and provisioning, Bashaw and Blackfish (SS 221) got underway on 10 March to patrol off the Palaus in the hope of intercepting Japanese ships trying to escape through Toagel Mlungui Pass. On the night of 21 March, the submarine conducted a surface radar attack on what she believed to be a submarine tender. Firing six torpedoes, Bashaw scored one hit, but she was unable to regain position to administer the coup de grace to what proved to be the salvage vessel Urakami Maru. While the Japanese destroyer Yuzuki screened the operation, destroyer Minazuki towed the crippled ship to safety. Later in this same patrol, on 27 April, Bashaw attacked and damaged three trawlers with gunfire. On 10 May, the submarine pulled into Brisbane, Australia, for refit.
Bashaw got underway on 27 May for her second war patrol in waters around Mindanao. During this war patrol, she made only one contact, when she attacked a convoy between Halmahera and Taland Island. Yamamiya Maru, a 6,440 ton army cargo ship, crossed Bashaw’s path on 25 June. Before the night was over, the submarine scored three hits that sank the cargo ship. On 16 July, Bashaw moored alongside Euryale (AS 22) in Seeadler Harbor, Manus, Admiralty Islands for refit.
After training exercises, on 7 August Bashaw stood out of Seeadler Harbor for her third patrol, bound for the Mindanao Sea and Moro Gulf. Opportunities to attack proved scarce; but, on 8 September, the submarine approached what turned out to be a Japanese cargo ship. Bashaw fired a six torpedo salvo from periscope depth and scored three hits that sent Yanagigawa Maru to the bottom. The submarine completed her patrol by providing lifeguard services during carrier air strikes against Cagayan, Mindanao. On the 9th, she assisted four airplanes to sink a 225 ton interisland supply ship loaded with drums of fuel oil. Bashaw rescued one of the ship's crewmembers and later turned him over to the authorities in Australia. Bashaw also rescued an American fighter pilot on 19 September before ending her patrol at Brisbane on 4 October.
Following a refit, Bashaw began her next patrol on 27 October in a coordinated attack group, which also included Flounder (SS-251) and Guavina (SS 362). They proceeded to the coast of Indochina to patrol, but found meager pickings. Finally, a small tanker crossed Bashaw's track on 21 November. The submarine fired four torpedoes and scored one hit. The lone hit failed to damage the enemy ship severely enough to sink her, and Bashaw was unable to reach a firing position again. Continuing the patrol in the South China Sea, Bashaw sighted a large and heavily escorted Japanese task force on 14 December. Although unable to attack, the submarine reported the contact. On Christmas Day 1944, Bashaw made a submerged transit of Lombok Strait while returning to Australia, where she arrived at Fremantle on 31 December.
The submarine began the year 1945 undergoing refit alongside Euryale. She stood out of Fremantle on 26 January and set course for her designated patrol area along the east coast of Hainan Island in the eastern part of the Gulf of Tonkin and off the northeastern coast of Indochina. Bashaw sank one small coastal freighter on 10 February and, then, joined Flasher (SS 249) in pursuing another, which they sank with gunfire. On 25 February, she mounted several unsuccessful attacks against a small freighter. Flasher later finished off the ship. Two days later, Bashaw again worked with Flasher in sinking two "sea trucks" and damaging two others.
On 5 March, a heavy fog hindered Bashaw's patrolling until radar picked up a contact. The submarine approached in daylight, surfaced, and fired at the 10,000 ton tanker. Of six torpedoes, two scored, and Bashaw’s crew cheered as Ryoei Maru sank to her grave. The next day, rhe submarine sank another "sea truck" then sailed for Subic Bay in the Philippines where she moored alongside Griffin (AS-13) on 12 March.
Bashaw got underway on 27 March for her sixth war patrol, which she also conducted off Indochina and Hainan Island. The Japanese forces were stretched thin, and the submarine found no worthy targets. On 79 April, the she stood into Subic Bay where she received orders to continue on to Mare Island, Calif., for overhaul.
Bashaw left the Mare Island Navy Yard on 13 August and immediately got underway to return to duty in the Pacific theater. However, the war ended two days later and, upon her arrival in Pearl Harbor on 22 August, the submarine received orders to return to Mare Island to prepare for inactivation. She was placed in a reserve status on 24 November and remained berthed until 20 June 1949 when she was decommissioned.
During the Korean conflict, Bashaw was recommissioned on 3 April 1951 and operated out of San Diego in local operations and training until 10 May 1952. She was then decommissioned at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, for conversion to a Type IT SSK (antisubmarine submarine). After her conversion was completed, Bashaw was recommissioned as SSK 241 on 28 March 1953. Based at San Diego again, the submarine took part in several major fleet exercises and made one Far East cruise March to August 1954 before beginning overhaul in San Francisco on 28 June 1955.
After five months in the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, Bashaw was ordered to her new home port, Pearl Harbor. There, the submarine commenced a career of providing training services to antisubmarine warfare (ASW) forces, deploying to the Far East as operational needs arose and participating in fleet exercises for readiness training. On 1 September 1962, Bashaw was redesignated an auxiliary submarine, AGSS 241, and ended a lengthy transpacific training cruise in October at the World's Fair in Seattle, Wash.
The submarine returned to Hawaii to enter the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in April 1963 for a four month overhaul. She deployed to the western Pacific in August 1964 after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked two American destroyers, Maddox (DD 731) and Turner Joy (DD 951). Bashaw was one of several submarines alerted for support during retaliatory air strikes by the United States forces, but she ended the cruise in October without incident.
The submarine's home port reverted to San Diego, but she continued to deploy to the western Pacific in 1965. She patrolled in the Gulf of Tonkin as the American involvement in Vietnam escalated. Upon her return to San Diego on 21 December, Bashaw resumed ASW training operations until she entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard on 16 May 1966 for a four month overhaul.
Bashaw continued her routine of western Pacific deployments alternating with ASW training until the results of an operations readiness inspection on 3 July 1969 determined the submarine to be too old to continue naval service. She was decommissioned at San Francisco on 13 September, and her name was struck from the Navy list that same day. Bashaw was sold to the National Metal and Steel Corp. on 4 August 1972 for scrapping.
Bashaw earned five battle stars for her World War II service and three battle stars for service in Vietnam.
Raymond A. Mann
27 February 2006