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Bonita IV (SSK-3)

(SSK-3: dp. 765 (surf.), 1,160 (subm.); l. 196'; b. 24'7"; dr. 14'5"; s. 13 k. (surf.), 8.5 k. (subm.); cpl. 37; a. 4 21" tt.; cl. K-1)


In Spanish, the feminine diminuitive for bueno (good). Also a misspelling of bonito, the name given to various medium-sized tunas intermediate between the smaller mackerels and the larger tunas. Bonito (q.v.), a schooner acquired by the Navy for the Mexican War, has often been referred to erroneously as Bonita. Undoubtedly, the repeated misrepresentattion of the name of the Mexican War schooner played a part in the subsequent assignment of Bonita to the two submarines that bore the name, Submarine No. 15 and SS-165.

Bonito (q.v.), one of three schooners under construction for the Mexican Navy at New York City at the outbreak of the Mexican War but acquired by the United States Navy instead, has often been incorrectly called Bonita.

San Jacinto captured a brig engaged in the African slave trade on 10 October 1860 that has been identified both as Bonita and Bonito. In spite of the fact that her Navy prize crew kept a log covering the period 10 October 1860 to 5 January 1861 that reposes in Record Group 24, National Archives, under the name Bonito, the former slaver was never part of the Navy.


The fourth Bonita (SSK-3) was laid down as K 3 on 17 March 1950 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard; launched on 21 June 1951; sponsored by Mrs. James Clark; and commissioned on 11 January 1952, Lt. Comdr. Eric E. Hopley in command.

K-3 carried out shakedown training out of San Diego until April, at which time, she returned to Mare Island for a month of post-shakedown availability. Early in May, the new hunter killer submarine headed for her new home port, Pearl Harbor, and reported for duty there on the 15th. Smaller than conventional submarines, K-3 was one of a class of three designed as antisubmarine submarines. The latest electronic devices were housed in the ship's bulging box like bow, enabling her to detect and destroy other submarines while remaining undetected herself. K-3's first year was devoted to the evaluation and testing of her material and operational capabilities as well as to the determination of her limitations.

On 8 December 1952, the submarine entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for a restricted availability during which all of her equipment installations were completed. In June, K-3 returned to sea to develop warfare tactics during coordinated operations with other ships and submarines of the fleet. In February 1955, the submarine reentered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to begin her first regular overhaul since commissioning. K-3 departed the shipyard in September and resumed her schedule of type training and developmental submarine services. On 15 December 1955, the submarine was assigned the name Bonita. Normal operations in the Hawaiian Islands occupied her time through the first eight months of 1956. At the end of August, Bonita began a 49-day training cruise to the Aleutian Islands, returning to Oahu in mid-October. The submarine then resumed duty providing submarine services and helping to develop antisubmarine warfare (ASW) techniques.

Bonita departed Pearl Harbor on 11 June 1957 for her new home port of San Diego for an assignment with Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 5 involving ASW training for west coast ships and submarines. On 30 October, the hunter killer submarine entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for repairs and the installation of much new instrumentation. On 31 October 1957, Bonita was placed out of commission, in service. After almost three months of modifications, the submarine left the yard on 26 January 1958 and then returned to San Diego three days later. There, she began preparations to participate in the nuclear test, Operation "Hardtack," to be conducted later that spring at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. In the interim, she carried out routine operations out of San Diego. Bonita finally set sail for the central Pacific on 15 March. She spent the period between 15 April and 21 June at Eniwetok supporting the weapons test by submerging to observe and record the effects of the underwater shock during the execution of Operation "Hardtack."

On 22 June, Bonita left the Marshall Islands to return to the west coast for inactivation. She made a brief stop at Pearl Harbor before arriving back at San Diego on 22 July. Three weeks later, the submarine departed San Diego for the last time on 12 August and headed up the coast to Mare Island where she reported to the Pacific Reserve Fleet for inactivation. Bonita was placed out of commission, in reserve, on 7 November 1958 and was berthed at Mare Island. She was redesignated SS 552 in August 1959, but never saw any further service. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 April 1965, and she was sold to the National Metal and Steel Corp. on 17 November 1966 for scrapping.

6 January 2006 

Published: Fri Jun 26 08:42:11 EDT 2015