A multicolored fish found along the coast of California.
(SS-331: displacement 1,526 (standard), 2,424 (submerged); length 311'9"; beam 27'3"; draft 15'3"; speed 20.25 knots (surfaced), 8.75 (submerged); complement 66; armament 1 5-inch, 1 40 millimeter, 1 20 millimeter, 2 .50 caliber machine guns, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Balao)
Bugara (SS-331) was laid down on 21 October 1943 at Groton, Ct., by the Electric Boat Co.; launched on 2 July 1944, and sponsored by Mrs. Anna A. Perry, wife of Capt. Lyman S. Perry; and commissioned at the U.S. Submarine Base, New London, Conn., on 15 November 1944, Cmdr. Arnold F. Schade – a veteran of eight war patrols and recipient of the Navy Cross and the Silver Star – in command.
Bugara fitted out for service, then conducted her shakedown then sailed on Christmas Day 1945 for Panama. She conducted five days of additional training in the Panama Canal Zone, then pushed on for Pearl Harbor, T.H., where Cmdr. Schade put his crew through two more weeks of intensive training.
Having received orders to conduct her first war patrol in the Southwest Pacific, Bugara cleared Pearl Harbor on 21 February 1945 and steamed directly to Saipan, meeting her escort, the motor minesweeper YMS-151, on 5 March, and proceeding to her destination. Three days later, she sailed in company with Spot (SS-413) and Seafox (SS-402), in company with their escort, the submarine chaser SC-775.
One day out of port, 9 March 1945, the boat’s cook sustained a severe head laceration when the storeroom hatch fell on him. As Schade noted in his war patrol report, “Pharmacist’s Mate [PhM1c John D. Hill, Jr.] sewed him up.” On 25 March, Bugara ended her patrol in the Luzon Strait area of operations and proceeded to her next patrol area, between Hainan and Taiwan.
On 27 March 1945, lookouts spotted a vessel bearing 118° north at 18,000 yards. Bugara closed for the attack but abruptly broke it off upon identifying the markings as that of a Japanese hospital ship. On 4 April, she concluded her patrol of the Hainan and Taiwan area not having encountered any enemy air or surface contacts, and Bugara steamed to her next area of operations in the Java Sea, north of Soemba Island, on 11 April. On 18 April, at 0815, she exchanged recognition signals with Perch (SS-313) and that same day at 1930 with Besugo (SS-321). On 21 April she met her escort and proceeded to Fremantle, Australia, after which she began a regular refit.
Although she made contact with five ships during her entire 59-day patrol (35 of which she had spent in the operations area), four of the vessels proved to be Japanese hospital ships, and the fifth an unidentified submarine that had first been detected by screw noises, but then turned out to be a friendly but unnamed boat.: “Japanese ships are getting scarcer daily,” Cmdr. Schade lamented, “and operate in waters inaccessible to submarines whenever possible.” Of the 76 men on board Bugara for her first war patrol, 36 of the crew were also making their first patrols. And while only 40 members of the crew were qualified at the start of the patrol as submariners, by the end 69 of those 76 were qualified to wear their “Dolphins.”
On 16 May 1945, Bugara – with a second 5-inch/25 “wet” mount installed aft during her refit -- sailed for the South China coast on her second war patrol, which lasted until 20 June. Most of her time was spent on life guard stations looking for downed airmen from bombers or fighter aircraft, but circumstances did not permit them an opportunity to put their training to use and returned to Subic Bay for normal refit alongside the submarine tender Howard W. Gilmore (AS-16).
Bugara stood out on 16 July 1945 for her third war patrol, and rendezvoused with Brill (SS-330) on 19 July before being ordered to conduct a retiring search to her northward position. At 1540, her lookouts sighted a mast on the horizon, and she closed at full speed but lost the contact. However, twenty minutes later, lookouts again sighted masts, as well as an enemy periscope at 800 yards. Schade ordered his submarine to dive in order to reverse course, and then surface at flank speed.
The “enemy” periscope turned out to be Brill, also chasing the convoy. Schade tried to ascertain the attack position of her sister ship, but Brill “would not answer our challenge,” and enemy contact with the convoy began without a set plan of attack. At 2205, “several pips on radar at 18,000 yards,” caused Schade to go ahead full speed at 17 knots. At nearly the same time, Bugara received information from Cmdr. Harry B. Dodge, the commander of the “wolf pack” and Brill’s commanding officer, that Cod (SS-224) and Bumper (SS-333) were on her port flank, with Brill and Bugara on the starboard. Dodge announced he was going in to attack, and Schade radioed back that he would follow him in.
Bugara fired a spread of nine torpedoes into the Japanese convoy, including two at a small engines-aft tanker at a range of 850 yards; two more at a second small engines-aft tanker at a range of 950 yards; two torpedoes were sent towards a small cargo vessel (or sea truck) at a range of 1,500 yards; one was fired at a PC-type escort at a range of 900 yards; and two more headed towards a large trawler (assumed to be an escort), at a range of 700 yards. Schade’s disappointment at not hitting any of the targets became apparent when he later noted in Bugara’s third war patrol report in all capitals, “NO HITS!” The wolfpack waited for a counterattack from the convoy which never came. Brill claimed their fish ran underneath the targets, and Cmdr. Schade concurred that Bugara’s had also, despite running normal.
Later that same day, at 1445, lookouts sighted a junk and closed to get alongside. Taking off the crew of six natives, Bugara sailors boarded the junk for inspection. It was noted the junk was “carrying bags of sugar, apparently from Singapore to Bangkok, but the crew vociferously denied any Jap destination and insisted it was for China. We were not convinced, but kept all their papers and let them go. Perhaps Intelligence can make sense of their credentials.” With the inspection and interrogation of the junk taking well over an hour-and-a-half, Schade noted “Don’t think it’s smart to do this with all Junks in the future.”
At 1630, Bugara boarded another large junk, her cargo hold full of rice and well-bagged. The junk had apparently sailed out of Bangkok and headed “for Chinese, not for Japs.” Bugara’s crew took the junk’s log and released the crew. After a third such junk was inspected at 2030, with a similar story of rice headed for China and not Japanese troops, Schade sent a message to Commander, Task Force 71, and requesting approval of action in letting supplies go through.
On 23 July 1945, after diving to avoid an enemy Kawanishi H8K Type 2 flying boat [Emily] headed out from the beach off the coast of Lem Chong Pra, Schade ordered a commando party ashore “armed to the teeth with demolition equipment.” After six hours, the commandos were picked up at 0400, with Bugara’s commanding officer noting the raiding party was “highly embarrassed…the jungle had been so thick they couldn’t get off the beach!”
On 24 July 1945 at 1335, Bugara examined a schooner “loaded with airplane wheels and tires, plus 15 cases of airplane parts, metal stock and sugar.” Thus with 10 tons of military cargo bound for Singapore, the crew was removed and the schooner sunk by gunfire. At 1425, Hiap Seng Maru, a 120-ton junk was boarded and examined. Registered under the Japanese and bound for Singapore, she was carrying sugar and sewing machines. Bugara sank her with gunfire, but Schade noted “We now had two crews and their boats on deck. We gave them bread and carried them to 5 miles off shore, and sent them on their way unharmed.”
On 25 July at 1405, Bugara’s crew boarded a 75-ton schooner. The cargo contained 50 tons of rice and was sailing for Singapore upon capture. The crew was taken off and the schooner sank by well-placed gunfire. At 1535, Bugara halted a 25-ton junk carrying a Japanese cargo of sugar and matches sailing out of Singapore. Cmdr. Schade noted his men’s belief that “most of the crew were Japs, but since we were not sure, set them off and sank ship by gunfire.” Almost one hour later, at 1624, the raiding party boarded an empty coaster left abandoned by her Japanese crew. “We left it,” Schade noted, “to polish off later.” At 1650, Bugara halted and boarded her ninth contact in just a day, after finding a “spanking new” 51-ton schooner that the enemy had abandoned. This small vessel was loaded with sugar and coffee and sailed from Singapore. Bugara sank her with gunfire, but noted “We were busy, so we let the crew get away.” The next contact was made at 1730 when Bugara’s raiding party boarded the 50-ton junk Kian Huat, carrying sugar and coffee from Singapore to Champon, Thailand. Four Japanese crew members went over the side, and although their fate is unknown, Kian Huat was destroyed and sunk by gunfire. One hour later, the Japanese crew of the 125-ton schooner Joo Lee Maru, flying the Rising Sun flag and loaded with a cargo of sugar and miscellaneous stores from Singapore, abandoned ship. Bugara sank the schooner with gunfire from her deck guns before returning to the 20-ton coaster to ensure the enemy would not be able to re-use the smaller vessel.
On 26 July 1945, lookouts on board Bugara sighted three terengganu’s (junk-rigged schooners) at 0300, and boarded them all. The submariners found one “working for Nippon,” while the other two were Malayan with cargo of no value. The first terengganu, of approximately 20-tons and under Japanese registry, was sunk. It as noted in the war patrol diary that “Natives seemed almost happy to get rid of this one.” At 0845 that morning, the 144-ton junk Chit Ming Ho Maru, loaded with 75 tons of rice for Singapore, was searched and sunk by gunfire after the crew was let go. At 1550 a brand new 50-ton sea truck (powered by Chevrolet), and loaded with drums of aviation gasoline, was boarded. Bugara “blew him up with two 5" hits -- a beautiful fire.” The Japanese crew of the sea truck was last seen jumping over the side and swimming fast away from her. Bugara’s next victim became a 75-ton schooner loaded with 50-tons of rice and headed for Singapore. At 1740, a 150-ton schooner loaded with medical supplies (mostly ten cases of cholera serum), scrap iron and rice, became the next victim of Bugara’s small boat massacre. Cmdr. Schade noted he had to “go in to 7 fathoms for this one.” The next small craft boarded by the Americans, a 50-ton schooner, was empty. Unable to determine her destination, Schade let her pass. At 2030, Bugara went alongside the two terengganus she had passed earlier in the day and “got a big cheer.”
Bugara and crew continued their work of boarding and inspecting small craft coming into and out of Singapore and destroying any suspicious or clearly marked Japanese vessels on 27 July 1945. At 0810 a native Siamese lugger with a “very friendly crew [that] tried to give us their cargo of live chickens,” declared to the crew they should “Go get some Nippon.” At 0950, a 300-ton schooner proved empty, and sailed with a native crew that “denied any Jap connections. It’s hard to believe [Schade wrote] that the Japs would not be using such a large vessel, but let him go.” One hour later, Bugara’s raiding party boarded a 20-ton schooner flying the Japanese flag and carrying a load of miscellaneous gear. The party removed her crew and sank the schooner with gunfire. The friendly crew wanted to stay with Bugara and happily repeated “The Japs are finish-no more work for Jap.” Bugara’s galley fed the crew, and one received medical treatment for an unlisted ailment.
At 1340, Bugara lookouts spotted an Emily, at which time Schade quickly backed full, put the natives and their lifeboat over the side, then went ahead full and dived to ten fathoms. He “last saw natives in boat headed for the beach, apparently ok.” The Japanese flying boat gave no indication that it had spotted either Bugara or the natives headed to shore. However, only fifteen minutes later, Bugara surfaced to chase a loaded schooner, and nearly an hour later, at 1445, she was only 3,000 yards from the schooner at gun action stations when the Emily came “over the hill again,” causing the skipper to dive once more to ten fathoms. At 1505, after an “all clear,” Bugara surfaced alongside the 75-ton schooner loaded with 50-tons of sugar out of Singapore. “This one was loaded so full his decks were almost awash,” Schade noted. The crew was put off, and the schooner sunk by gunfire.
At 2050 that same day, Bugara spotted a mast at about 24,000 yards, but noted it was “getting dark fast; no moon.” The skipper ordered to close at full speed and noted at 8,000 yards the vessel she was attempting to overtake “looked like a schooner.” The crew went to gun action stations. “As we went in close he got bigger. Went alongside and boarded him. He was a 200 ton schooner loaded with at least 150 tons of rice bound for Singapore.” Bugara gunners “shoved off” the crew of the schooner before sinking her with gunfire. Schade exclaimed the “Flashless powder functioned perfectly, but gun sights, telescope, were bad. Will try the position angle indicator next time. Don’t like going alongside in the dark.”
On 28 July 1945, Bugara began the day at 0945 boarding a 50-ton coaster loaded with rice for Singapore. The crew was ordered off before Bugara’s gunners made short work of the coaster and sank her. At 1044, the boat made her 25th contact of the patrol, when a second 50-ton coaster made for the edge of a mine field with Bugara in pursuit. While alongside, a Mitsubishi F1M Type 0 observation seaplane [Pete] floatplane approached from the beach. With the crew of the coaster clear, Bugara’s gunners opened fire as it pulled away, sinking the small vessel just as the Pete “turned around and ran for the beach!” Three hours later, lookouts spotted a large schooner in close to the beach. Schade decided the craft was worth the risk, and ordered his ship in at flank speed. The Japanese crew apparently had abandoned ship early, so the skipper did not order the boarding party to determine her cargo. Instead, he ordered Bugara to sink the 300-ton schooner, which settled on the bottom in 24 feet of water with all three masts sticking straight out of the water. Cmdr. Schade later exclaimed, “We got out of there in a tremendous hurry.”
At 1635, a boarding party from Bugara descended upon the 75-ton schooner Kiat Ann. Papers found on board listed cargo of sugar from Singapore to Bangkok, but an adamant crew claimed the cargo was rice, bound for Singapore. Although Kiat Ann was registered to the Japanese, the skipper put the crew off, even four men “of which we felt sure were Japs,” before sinking her with gunfire.
Almost a full five hours later, at 2125, Bugara went alongside a Chusan-type junk displacing 25 tons. The crew seemed friendly, but freely admitted they had just returned from carrying a load of rice to Singapore, and had returned for a second load. The crew of the junk was brought on board before their craft was destroyed by gunfire. Bugara’s “problems only started” after Cmdr. Schade agreed to keep “one intelligent volunteer as interpreter.” The man was cleaned up, given a physical examination, and dressed up in dungarees. The rest of the junk crew complained that their boat was no longer seaworthy, so the skipper ordered a long haul around the mine field, approached four fathoms and put them over. He then decided, since it was now late, that “all we could do was bed them down. They were all (7 total) clean intelligent Canton Chinese, We cleaned them up and put them in the empty torpedo skids. Will put them in the first sailboat we find.”
On 29 July 1945, Cmdr. Schade noted the toll that the continuous operations had taken on his men: “The crew is thoroughly tired, the guns need cleaning, the engines have been going at full speed most of the time chasing targets and need routining.” The skipper’s solution was obvious to him: get away from the beach, “hold rope yard sunday (sic), and have our first movie since getting underway.” At 0905, however, a large 200-ton schooner carrying 200 barrels of sorghum molasses and flying Japanese colors was sunk by gunfire. At 1325, a 400-ton Imperial Japanese Naval Auxiliary with a certificate stating her cargo – cocoa beans -- was for the Imperial Navy, bound for Shonan and flying a Chinese flag, became yet another vessel in the long line of targets for Bugara gunners after the crew abandoned ship.
Then, at 1410, the 112-ton junk Ayame, loaded with rice and headed toward Singapore, ran into a common problem the crew of Bugara was encountering more and more. Ayame’s cargo did not agree with her Japanese manifest, which in this case, listed “machinery” as the cargo. Sunk by gunfire, Ayame rested on the bottom in 60 feet of water with 20 feet of mast showing.
At 1442, Bugara halted and searched a 50-ton schooner flying Thai colors and loaded with rice bound for Singapore, then sank her by gunfire. At 1600, lookouts sighted an Emily flying “very low over the water,” but the big flying boat’s crew did not seem to spot Bugara. Cmdr. Schade decided to put the native crew of the schooner ashore at dark, and looked over the coast of Koh Tan in order to find a safe looking place to do so. Upon spotting a “smart looking village which we thought looked like Jap barracks,” Schade consulted with the interpreter and approved the site. Bugara put a four-man sized rubber boat into the sea with one officer and all seven natives with some food and clothing for them. At 2220, the men “were very sorry to go and shook hands with almost everyone.” Closing within 400 yards of the beach and in only five fathoms of water, the Thai sailors were dropped off at the agreed-upon site, and by 2340, the officer and the rubber boat was back on board. “And this,” Schade exclaimed later, “we planned as a quiet day!”
On 30 July 1945, at 0940, Bugara examined a 30-ton coaster on her maiden voyage out of Singapore carrying sugar. Manned by a Chinese crew, the American submariners noted their delight in having been boarded, explaining they had hoped a U.S. ship would find them, and then begged to stay on board. One of the coaster’s crew even “made a special trip back to get a Jap flag for us.” Schade made one of the Chinese, an English university graduate, his interpreter. All of the Chinese sailors cheered when their ship was sunk by gunfire from Bugara’s gunners. Suddenly at 1040, a plane was sighted flying towards them, and with eight foreign sailors still on deck, the skipper quickly sent them below and dived. At 1105, Bugara surfaced, and her crew recovered the Chinese sailors’ lifeboat and lashed it to the deck. Nearly two hours later, at 1300, Bugara’s boarding party raided the 29-ton schooner Twako, flying the Rising Sun and carrying sugar out of Singapore. In an action that became standard procedure at this late stage in the war, Bugara’s gunfire sank Twako. Sinking so many smaller vessels by gunfire had a downside, though, as her commanding officer noted “We are now being very economical with our ammunition-allowing each gun only 2 rounds to sink their targets.”
Several hours later, at 1840, Bugara went alongside a seaworthy fishing boat and transferred her passengers with all of their gear to the smaller craft. The fishermen “were completely bewildered, but all seemed happy.” Their Chinese interpreter, named “Charlie Wong” by the crew, performed introductions between the foreign crews and the American submariners. At 2030, Bugara went alongside a 50-ton sea truck “who had led us a merry chase and almost got into the mine field.” The sea truck was loaded with rice bound for Singapore, as well as ten men with a strange story. When questioned by Charlie Wong, the crew claimed that “pirates had taken their clothes and papers and, to our perplexity, their life boat.” The skipper and his crew “didn’t like their looks,” and rigged a canvas from the aft gun to “leave them for the night.” Schade stationed a guard and had the sea truck sunk.
On 31 July 1945, Bugara sighted and made radar contact with an unknown ship. She tailed the vessel until dawn and then closed in for the kill. The ship they stalked turned out to be a 32-ton coaster, bound for Singapore. At 0811, after taking the crew and their life boat on deck, the coaster was sunk. At 0905, five enemy fighter planes, identified as Mitsubishi J2M Navy interceptor fighter Raiden [Thunderbolt] flew in low at Bugara. “You have never seen complete confusion without seeing us clear from gun action stations with 17 natives and all their worldly chattel on deck. We got them all below and dived -- losing the life boat.” Twenty minutes later, she surfaced, the crew still at gun stations. Three enemy twin-engine aircraft were sighted, but Bugara did not dive and the Japanese planes drew away.
At 0946, the raiding party overtook a 40-ton schooner flying the Imperial Japanese Naval flag. Her crew was brought on board Bugara, and the schooner was sunk with the now-standard two rounds of gunfire. Another contact popped up on radar, and the submarine gave chase. At 1020 a single-engine fighter was recorded being twelve miles out, so an order to dive never came. The fighter flew down Bugara’s starboard side but did not engage, when fifteen minutes later a second twin-engined plane, this time a floatplane, also flew past her starboard side. Cmdr. Schade ordered the race to overtake the vessel resumed, and the raiding party boarded a 100-ton schooner carrying a cargo of rice and salt for Bali. The captured crew admitted the cargo was intended for Japanese use, but all papers were lost. Two rounds were put into the schooner, and she quickly sank beneath the waves.
At 1110, lookouts spotted two Aichi E13A Type 0 reconnaissance seaplanes [Jake], that closed fast, just as Bugara dived. The presence of enemy aircraft in that sector of the Gulf of Siam annoyed Schade, who noted: “Planes are giving us hell today, and we now have 3 crews -- 25 men -- on board with no life boat. With the planes around we may have trouble getting rid of them.”
At 1410, Bugara sank a 37-ton “brand new” coaster carrying sugar out of Singapore to Champon, Thailand. The crew had abandoned the vessel, flying the Rising Sun. The boarding party then moved onto contact number 40, a 33-ton coaster also flying the Imperial Japanese ensign. As with all the others, the smaller craft was sunk by Bugara’s expert shooters. At 1432, the boat closed the beach where lookouts spotted a number of fishing boats. Stopping alongside one of the larger fishing boats, the skipper “put our 3 crews of 25 men on board. It was quite a sight, and we were very relieved.”
Steaming away at 1500, Bugara received word of a downed Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 125 miles to the north, and set off at full speed. Schade hoped a coordinated search would be conducted if “other subs can join us.” Joined by Lamprey (SS-372) at 2200, the search would have to wait until dawn as it would have been too dangerous to conduct a rescue in hostile waters at night.
At 0315 on 1 August 1945, Cobia (SS-245) joined Lamprey and Bugara and at dawn formed a scouting line and began a coordinated search for the missing B-24. At 1530, Cmdr. Schade received word to halt the search. Word was passed to the skippers of Lamprey and Cobia and a half hour later, Bugara returned to her patrol station.
On 2 August 1945, after a large schooner had been sighted, Bugara closed and boarded her. The 211-ton schooner carried “miscellaneous gear,” out of Singapore, but the boarding party was unable to “make a good search” in the dark and so they took off the crew and two lifeboats and sank the schooner with gunfire. Soon after, the first lifeboat sank and the other was too heavy to haul on deck, and so Bugara towed it behind her. At 0400, this lifeboat sank when it became caught in the port screw, damaging it.
At 0809 that day [2 August 1945], Bugara boarded a 20-ton Malaccan coaster, finding her carrying coffee. Because the coaster was flying Japanese colors, the crew was put off and the coaster sunk with gunfire. Contact number 43 proved to be a new 180-ton schooner out of Singapore that also flew the Rising Sun. The schooner was also searched and sunk. Three more vessels were boarded, examined, and sunk by Bugara’s crew, including an 18-ton coaster, a 117-ton schooner, and a new 150-ton schooner. The latter caused some excitement when “6 large Malay canoes” filled with a Chinese crew carrying rice and being chased by pirates were brought on board while Bugara gunners sank the Japanese schooner. The pirates tried to flee, but the submariners turned their guns on them. “We sank the Jap ship, then shot up all the pirates and their boats. Put the Chinese ashore -- and they love us still, inasmuch as the pirates already killed two of the crew.”
Two more vessels were boarded and sunk by Bugara on 3 August, including a 56-ton sea truck loaded with rice, and the 100-ton Japanese Navy Junk No. 2218. A Bugara boarding party removed the crews from both craft before the standard two shots sent both to the bottom. On 4 August, a further three vessels were sunk, including a 50-ton coaster, a 300-ton junk and a 450-ton schooner carrying copra and coconut oil. Later that day, lookouts noted two Emilys, the first at 8 miles distance, and the second, searching in the area where all three vessels were sunk. This second Japanese plane ‘Flew very close so that we could see his markings closely.”
On 5 August 1945, at 0740, a 200-ton schooner “heavily loaded” with coffee, sugar, sewing machines, and other gear, was boarded, searched, and sunk. After sinking a 75-ton junk, Bugara then chased a small 20-ton coaster onto the beach at Lem Chong Pra. The crew ran for the hills before they could be overtaken, so the gun crews dropped one 5-inch shell amidships and left the junk to sink. At 1710 Ray (SS-271) surfaced, and Bugara went alongside to exchange information. Later that evening, at 1930, two vessels were spotted behind the island of Koh Khai. Bugara allowed herself to be seen patrolling the seaward side as both vessels hid behind the island. “At sunset we went in to get them.” The first, a 64-ton schooner, was at anchor and quickly abandoned as Bugara closed in. She was sunk by gunfire, while Schade acknowledged it “was now too dark to find our second target….so cleared out.”
The skipper made the decision on 6 August 1945 to take station in the narrows of Samui Strait, in the hopes of “getting some targets.” Having misjudged the fathom curve by a few miles, she headed back to safe water and soon found her first target of the day, a 125-ton junk out of Singapore bound for Bangkok with rice. The captain of the junk proved reluctant to part with his Japanese flag, but was eventually persuaded. As usual, the crew was taken off before she was sunk. After also sinking a brand new coaster with an estimated gross of 30 tons (papers gave the ship’s weight at 16.6 tons), and four junks, Bugara sighted a submarine at 2003, that turned out to be HMS Sleuth (P.261), a British boat also operating in the Gulf of Siam, and investigating the four junks. Bugara decided to lend a hand in the search and destroy efforts, boarded a 26-ton junk flying the Japanese flag, and sank her. The second, a 75-ton schooner, was loaded with aviation gas and likewise sunk by gunfire that created “a lovely blaze.”
After exchanging information with Sleuth and her crew, a radar contact at 2246 came into sight. Bugara closed in on a 60-ton junk, firing a burst of 20 millimeter fire to grab her attention. The crew abandoned ship, leaving the ship with her sails up. “We had a tough time going alongside in the dark with a stiff wind blowing,” noted Bugara’s war diarist. Despite the setback, her crew was taken off and ferried to the beach after the requisite two shots sent the junk to the bottom.
Bugara added two coasters to her bag on 7 August 1945. The first, a new 26.5-ton coaster flying a Japanese naval ensign was destroyed at 0750. A slightly larger 28-ton vessel loaded with rice bound for Singapore became Bugara’s last victim of the war. At 1550, the boat “passed through wreckage -- many large cases and gas drums. Salvaged a case; found it full of Jap Army mess kits.” Bugara’s gunners opened up with .50 and .30-caliber machine guns, and in a matter of minutes, “we had many gasoline fires all around us.” After two enemy aircraft were sighted, Bugara dived and surfaced, and at 1940 sighted four possible medium junks and two sailing vessels close to the beach between Hilly Cape and Patani Roads. Suddenly, a periscope was sighted at a distance of only 4,000 yards. “It was so large and steady we did not believe it was a scope and passed it close aboard.” Schade decided to ignore the periscope and close with the other vessels. The sailboats were native-owned, carrying tapioca, and so Bugara let them go on their way. The remaining vessels were beached, and the skipper decided not to close any further as darkness prevented him from determining what was in close ashore. Sleuth suddenly surfaced four miles astern. Cmdr. Schade noted it had been Sleuth’s periscope Bugara sighted earlier. At 2400, Bugara departed the area in accordance with her operation order.
Bugara started her transit of Lombok Strait at 1900 on 12 August 1945, clearing the passage three hours later. She then set course for Fremantle, Australia, after Japanese acceptance of surrender terms, Bugara arrived on 17 August to join the other units of her squadron. She operated out of Subic Bay for the remainder of 1945 until January 1946, when word came to return to San Diego via Pearl Harbor. “Break out the homeward bound pennant,” the skipper declared to a joyous crew. After thirteen months in the western Pacific, Bugara finally received orders for rehabilitation leave stateside. The trip from Subic Bay via Pearl Harbor proved uneventful but happy.
Awarded a Bronze Star for his command of Bugara during her highly successful third patrol, one he remembered as “one of the most colorful to be made during the war,” Cmdr. Schade’s boat disposed of 57 small ships with an aggregate tonnage of 5,284 tons. The methodical search and destroy of these mainly smaller vessels included 12 junks (1,162 tons), 24 schooners (3,057 tons), 16 coasters (489 tons), 3 sea trucks (156 tons), 1 naval auxiliary (400 tons), and 1 terengganu (20 tons). Bugara and her crew were awarded the Submarine Combat Insignia for this patrol, the last of the war.
After Bugara reached San Diego, Calif., in February 1946, the crew took leave by groups and returned ready for duty by the middle of March. From that time on, the boat held intensive training underway daily. Early in May 1946, Bugara proceeded to Pearl Harbor, the home of Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 5.
On 28 May 1946, Bugara took part in training off Oahu when she sank captured Japanese submarine I-14 with torpedo fire in tests captured on film by Chief Charles Alger, who had been among the raiding party that had boarded I-14 with Thompson submachine guns and pistols after the Japanese surrender, and stayed on board while she and four other captured enemy boats proceeded to Hawaii to keep their technology out of Soviet hands. A Type AM (also called the I-13-class), at 375 feet long and carrying two Aichi M6A1 Special Attack Bomber Seiran [Mountain Haze] with folding wing and tail sections, I-14 and her sisters were the largest submarines ever built until the U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarines of the 1960s.
Seiran floatplanes, designed to carry a 1,870-lb. torpedo or equivalent weight in bombs, were designed to quickly launch from the submarine’s catapult while at sea and deliver aerial attacks against U.S. coastal cities. With their wings and tails folded and put into the hanger on board the carrier-like submarine for transport at sea, the Japanese hoped the Seiran could strike major U.S. cities, like Los Angeles. As the war turned increasingly disastrous for Japan, the missions for the secretive submarines were downgraded from attacks on American cities to a damaging strike upon the Panama Canal, to lashing out at the American fleet gathered at the Philippines near the end of the war for the final attack upon Japan’s home islands. On 21 June, with I-14 nothing but a distant memory and her training complete, Bugara entered Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for her first complete overhaul since commissioning.
During the fall of 1946, Bugara made a training cruise into the Bering Sea, with port visits to Seattle and Portland before returning to Pearl Harbor. Through all of the next year, Bugara pursued an intensive training and operations schedule and participated in Navy Day exercises at Stockton, Calif., in October 1947. In November, she took part in the fleet exercises off Southern California under Commander First Task Fleet. On 14 November 1947, during a submerged practice attack against Orleck (DD-886), Bugara collided with the destroyer, the boat reporting periscope and radar jammed, but able to proceed without assistance. Investigation of the damage soon thereafter revealed the periscope shears bent 10 degrees, with the lower ‘scope jammed in the lower position.
Bugara entered San Francisco Naval Shipyard on 20 November 1947 for her second major overhaul, as well as for repairs to the collision damage suffered less than a week before. With the work completed on 19 March 1948, Bugara cleared San Francisco on 27 March, and set course to return to Pearl Harbor. On 7 April, she reported to Commander SubRon 5 for duty and over the next six weeks engaged in training, often rendering services to other Navy units, as well as conducting a short Naval Reserve training cruise to the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands (30 April – 2 May).
On 21 May 1948, Bugara sailed for Australia. While en route, the presence of a sick sailor on board resulted in the submarine being diverted on 29 May to Tutuila, Samoa, where she transferred CSSN Ivan J. Berry ashore on 30 May for treatment at the U.S. Naval Dispensary, Pago Pago. On 31 May, Bugara departed Pago Pago, resuming her voyage to Melbourne, arriving on 9 June. She pushed on for Perth on 11 June, arriving there on the 18th. After four days of “royal treatment and hospitality,” the crew put to sea once again on 22 June bound for Guam.
Bugara arrived in Guam on 4 July 1948, where she received two weeks’ availability for voyage repairs. From the 16 – 22 June, she rendered services to surface ships and aircraft in the area, then departed for Pagan Island where she conducted short bombardment and landed stores and passengers for the marines stationed there. Her next port of call was Yokosuka, Japan, where she arrived on 27 July.
Bugara was conducting anti-submarine exercises off Okinawa on 9 August 1948 when Tropical Storm Chris struck with winds as high as 95 kilometers per hour. In company with ships of Destroyer Squadron 1, which formed an evasion group, the boat proceeded south to avoid the storm. On 10 August, having gotten off the track of the tempest, Bugara set course for Midway Island, arriving there on 19 August. After a brief stay, she set course for Pearl Harbor, where the crew received a typical Royal Hawaiian welcome on 24 August. Throughout the remainder of 1948 and until the end of 1949, Bugara engaged in local operations out of Pearl where she provided services to many ships and aircraft in the area, as well as training her crew to perform the important tasks ahead.
During the latter part of 1949 and into the spring of 1950, Bugara received her third Navy Yard overhaul, this time at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, Calif. In the spring of 1950, she returned once more to Pearl Harbor, where she engaged in local operations until September. The opening of hostilities with the beginning of the Korean War did not permit Bugara to remain at Pearl Harbor for long, and in September 1950, she set course for the Far East where she supported United Nations (UN) forces. Her stay was cut short due to damages suffered in Japan, and she had to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs. After the crew spent Christmas at home, taking leave in the usual shifts for the holiday season, Bugara once more departed for the Far East where she continued her interrupted support of UN forces from January – June 1951. On 27 June 1951, Bugara returned to Pearl Harbor to enter the shipyard for her fourth overhaul.
During this overhaul, Bugara was converted for snorkel operations and a new, streamlined conning tower fairwater was installed. This was the first such task undertaken by the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Bugara completed her overhaul on 15 November and resumed local operations in the Pearl Harbor area. In May 1952, she departed for a cruise to Port Angeles, Wash., visiting Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore., and Esquimalt, British Columbia. On 28 June 1952, she returned to Pearl Harbor and resumed operations off Oahu.
During an anti-submarine exercise south of Barbers Point, Oahu, on 3 August 1952, Bugara collided with Whitehurst (DE-634) and returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs to her conning tower before resuming work-ups off Hawaii. According to Rick Farris, a former crewmember on motor watch on board Bugara during the collision, “The impact caused the boat to roll severely, take a steep down angle, and plunge deeper --giving every indication a forward compartment had flooded and we were headed to the bottom.” Damage control efforts stopped the flooding and Bugara managed to surface. “Damage was fairly serious,” Farris claimed. “The small pump room flooded, both scopes required replacement, the upper half of the sail and shears needed extensive repairs…We were in the yard several weeks and the cost was, I’m sure, substantial.”
After local operations out of Pearl, Bugara visited Hilo once more entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for regular overhaul on 22 June 1953, after which she then steamed for Puget Sound on 23 October, where she remained for the next two months. She then returned to Pearl Harbor before the holidays, arriving there on 23 December 1953.
Bugara departed on 6 April 1954, for the western Pacific for her fifth deployment into that area. She returned to her homeport of Pearl Harbor on 8 October 1954, and resumed the routine of rendering services to other types of naval units in those waters.
On 26 May 1955, Bugara entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for her sixth regular overhaul since 1944. During this particular refurbishment, extensive changes were made in the ship to provide improved habitability for the crew. On 1 August, following the overhaul, her home port was changed to San Diego and she reported for duty as a unit of SubRon 3. Throughout 1956, Bugara rendered many services in the area and participated in several special fleet exercises along the coast.
Bugara departed on 1 February 1957 for her sixth cruise to the western Pacific and took part in various exercises with the Seventh Fleet before returning to San Diego. After getting underway to San Francisco, she entered the yards there to begin her seventh overhaul from 5 September – 19 March 1958. Upon completion of the yard period, she returned to her home port in San Diego and resumed local operations. In August she took another cruise to the Puget Sound area for Naval Torpedo Station, Keyport, Wash., and an enjoyable weekend in Seattle during the local Seafair celebration. By the end of the year, Bugara prepared for another deployment westward.
On 7 January 1959, Bugara departed San Diego for her seventh WestPac cruise. During this deployment, the crew visited several ports including Buckner Bay and Naha, Okinawa; Subic Bay and Manila, P. I.; Hong Kong; and Yokosuka, Japan. Upon completion of that six-month deployment, Bugara returned to San Diego on 2 July 1959. On 14 – 16 August 1959, Bugara visited Long Beach for submarine Reserve Training cruises and San Francisco 24 – 25 October, after operations.
On 11 April 1960, she sailed to Puget Sound for a two month deployment and operated with units from Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian forces as well as provided training services to Submarine Reserve Units from Portland, Ore., and Tacoma and Seattle, Wash. She also visited the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett, Wash.; and Victoria and Vancouver, B. C., and steamed back to San Diego in June.
On 25 May 1960, Bugara departed Puget Sound enroute San Diego with a two day visit to San Francisco. By 12 June, she arrived back in San Diego to commence local operations. During most of July, Bugara participated in exercises Meadowlark and Uppercut. On 24 September, she steamed to San Francisco Naval Shipyard for a scheduled routine overhaul.
With her overhaul complete, Bugara made for Naval Torpedo Station, Keyport, Wash., on 2 February 1961for a shakedown cruise and fire control checks. While in the Puget Sound area, recreational visits were made to Port Angeles, Wash., and Vancouver, B.C. On 13 February, she departed Vancouver enroute to San Diego to commence refresher training upon arrival there on 17 February. After the completion of refresher training in early March, Bugara began preparations for a Far East cruise and operations with the Seventh Fleet. During her WestPac deployment, she took part in three hunter-killer exercises, two fleet exercises, one antisubmarine warfare exercise with Chinese Nationalist units, and one Chinese Nationalist marine landing exercise. She also visited the ports of Yokosuka, Sasebo, and Hakodate, Japan; Kaohsiung, Formosa; Manila and Subic Bay, P. I., Naha, Okinawa; Hong Kong; Midway Island; and Pearl Harbor. Bugara was awarded the Battle Efficiency “E” award, as the outstanding ship in Submarine Division Thirty-One (SubDiv 31), for fiscal year 1961, and on 17 December returned to San Diego for holiday leave.
From 1 January – 26 April 1962, Bugara participated in operations off the San Diego coast. On 30 April she arrived in Seattle for a five day stay to participate in the Century 21 Exposition, at the Seattle World’s Fair. She remained in Seattle so the crew could enjoy liberty until 5 May, when she returned to San Diego for local operations until 29 May. From 30 May – 18 June, Bugara stayed in interim dry docking in San Diego, and for the remainder of 1962 operated just off San Diego except for a three week trip to Pearl Harbor during November. For the second consecutive year Bugara was awarded the Battle “E” as the outstanding submarine in SubDiv 31 during the fiscal year 1962. She was also twice awarded the Fire Control Efficiency Award, presented for excellence in fire control and weapon performance during the same period.
On 29 December 1962, Bugara departed for a seven week operation in the Puget Sound area and returned to San Diego on 20 February 1963. Following three weeks of upkeep, her crew painted a white hash mark on her sail signifying her third consecutive Battle “E” award, and she continued workups and other duties in the San Diego area. Her next overhaul period began on 22 July 1963 and lasted until 11 February 1964, in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash.
After a brief workup and training period in the Pacific, Bugara was assigned duty with the Seventh Fleet for another WestPac deployment on 16 April 1964. She stopped in Pearl Harbor to have main generators 1 and 2 replaced and reported back for duty with the Seventh Fleet on 26 May. Deployed operations consisted of services to aircraft and surface units of the U.S., Nationalist Chinese, and Philippine Navies. During the period 8 August – 4 September 1964, Bugara was assigned to Task Force 77 for operations in the South China Sea as a result of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. During her underway period, she visited the ports of Cebu City, P. I.; Hong Kong, Subic Bay, and Yokosuka, Japan, and steamed a total of 24,000 miles.
Bugara returned from deployment on 22 October 1964, and commenced local operations until she entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard, Hunter’s Point, for a battery renewal in June 1965. While en route to the Far East, Bugara stopped at Pearl Harbor, where she was completely outfitted with the Steinke Hood device for escape from a disabled submarine. Designed, developed, and tested by Lt. Harris Steinke in a training escape from Balao (AGSS-285), the Steinke Hood was an inflatable life jacket with a hood that completely enclosed the wearer’s head, trapping a bubble of air for the submariner’s ascent to the surface. A slight advancement over its predecessor, the Momsen Lung, the Steinke Hood became standard equipment in all US Navy submarines throughout the Cold War. Bugara then returned to her homeport of San Diego.
Bugara left San Diego on 18 October 1965 to support Seventh Fleet operations in Vietnam and visited ports in Pearl Harbor; Yokosuka, Japan; Buckner Bay, Okinawa; and Subic Bay, P. I. On 15 November, Bugara celebrated her twenty-first birthday by making her 6,000th dive on the same day to mark the event. By the end of the year, she was in Subic Bay with the Seventh Fleet and conducted operations and training with units of the US, Philippine, Japanese, and Taiwanese Navies.
On 1 May 1966, while transiting the Lombok Straits to the Indian Ocean, Bugara honored her sister Bullhead (SS-332), lost during World War II, with a wreath laying ceremony. Bugara made her first port visit to Fremantle in over twenty years, returning as the Pacific Submarine Force representative for the annual commemoration of Australia’s celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, which had occurred from 4 – 8 May 1942.
During the voyage home, Bugara’s crew became “Golden Shellbacks” on 17 May 1966 when they crossed the junction of the Equator and International Dateline, forever binding the four hemispheres together with the “Bugarian Knot.” She entered San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard from October 1966 – April 1967 for an overhaul. Bugara had traveled 29,000 miles and become a veteran of her third war, being awarded the Vietnam Service Medal. After successful sea trials, she was once again awarded the Battle “E”, and prepared for another WestPac deployment with the Seventh Fleet.
Bugara underwent a regular overhaul at San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard, Hunter’s Point Division (1 January–25 April 1967), then accomplished her post-overhaul shakedown and crew training (25 April–20 May). Immediately after shakedown until 15 June, Bugara visited the Daybob Bay Torpedo Testing Facility for fire control systems checks and calibrations. On 15 June-1 October, she provided services to Eastern Pacific units assigned to Commander, First Fleet, and then immediately began preparations for her own deployment westward. During this training, Bugara fired a Mk. 14, Mod. 5 torpedo at ex-Currier (DE-700) in a war shot testing. From 17 October-31 December, the submarine was assigned to the Seventh Fleet and cleared San Diego for a WestPac deployment, during the course of which she visited Pearl Harbor; Midway Island; Buckner Bay, Okinawa; Keelung, Taiwan; Manila and Subic Bay, P. I. She rendered services to the Japanese Self-Defense Force, the Nationalist Chinese Navy, and U.S. Anti-Submarine aircraft.
The beginning of 1968 found Bugara halfway through her eleventh WestPac deployment in Subic Bay. Along with Subic Bay, other ports visited included Bangkok, Thailand; Keelung, Taiwan; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Hong Kong; and Yokosuka, Japan. During January, the crew hosted several newsmen while operating in the Gulf of Tonkin and was featured in an NBC Huntley-Brinkley news show. On 1 February 1968, the crew participated in a people-to-people program with the inhabitants of the island of Ko Samui, Thailand. During the visit the submariners distributed books, toys, vitamins, and athletic equipment and, in conjunction with the Royal Thai Navy, constructed basketball backboards and ping pong tables, and concluded the one-day goodwill visit with a joint picnic and Hollywood movies for the islanders.
From 10 – 20 April 1968, while in Yokosuka, Japan, Bugara hosted the crew of British submarine HMS Rorqual. On 27 April, the submarine departed Yokosuka for her home port of San Diego, via Pearl Harbor. After a half-day stopover in Hawaii, the transit continued with arrival in San Diego on 16 May. From 16 May – 18 June the crew enjoyed an upkeep of the ship in their homeport. From 19 June – 1 August she provided services to Commander Naval Air Forces, Pacific, and Commander Training Command, Pacific, and conducted individual ship exercises and additional underway training.
On 2 August 1968, a Dependents Cruise was conducted for families and friends. A demonstration cruise followed for PACNARMID on 12 – 13 August. From 14 – 21 August, Bugara participated in Strike Ex-68, a major fleet exercise off the Southern California coast. She was commended by Commander First Fleet and Commander Submarine Flotilla 1 for her performance during this exercise. The period 22 August – 16 September consisted of in-port time, type training, and services for Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. From 17 September – 10 October, Bugara underwent a restricted availability at Campbell Machine Co., San Diego, with post interim drydocking sea trials conducted on 10 October. During 22 – 25 October, she provided services for Gurnard (SSN-662) off San Francisco, followed by a one day visit to the famed city.
On 30 October 1968, a demonstration cruise was conducted for Pacific Southwest Airline employees at San Diego. Once again on 6 – 7 November, Bugara again provided services for Gurnard off San Francisco. The remainder of the year was spent in port except for seven days of training and individual ship’s exercises at sea.
From 1 January – 26 January 1969, Bugara conducted workups off Southern California, in preparation for a WestPac deployment. Underway from 27 January – 26 February, en route from San Diego, Bugara steamed to Pearl Harbor before sailing through San Bernardino Straits for a port visit at Subic Bay. Other ports visited on this cruise included Manila; Hong Kong; Bangkok, Thailand; as well as Sattahip and Kaoshiung, Taiwan. From 19 February-20 July she was assigned as a unit of the Seventh Fleet in the western Pacific. This period was highlighted by 33 days of services on Yankee Station, including participation in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) exercise Sea Spirit with the navies of six other nations, including New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Philippines, Thailand, and the U.S. Bugara also provided services for the Seventh Fleet off the coast of Vietnam, and on 1 July, Bugara’s identification number was changed to AGSS-331 (it reverted back to SS-331 on 1 October) for the period she served on Yankee Station.
On 20 July 1969, Bugara was relieved and ordered underway to Yokosuka, Japan, and on to San Diego, where she arrived on 4 August. From 5 August – 14 November, she proceeded to participate in Fleet Exercise StrikeEx 4-69, as well as provided services to various units of the First Fleet. On 2 October, Bugara departed San Diego for the Puget Sound area to render services to Blueback (SS-581). While in the vicinity, she also provided assistance to Canadian air and surface units from 7-9 October. Bugara celebrated her 25th Anniversary of Commissioning while preparing for interim drydocking, and then entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard from 14 November-December 3, accomplished a battery renewal, and returned to San Diego for holiday leave and upkeep.
The first message between Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Commander Submarine Force Pacific on the subject of the disposal of “five remaining fleet snorkel hulls at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (InactShipFac) for ultimate use as mobile targets for Mk. 48 torpedo service weapon tests” is dated 2 January 1970. CNO concurred with this decision and responded in a message from July. Along with Bugara, the four other fleet snorkel submarines slated for decommissioning were Medregal (SS-480), Segundo (SS-398), Carbonero (SS-337), and Sabalo (SS-302).
On 18 August 1970, a letter from the Chief of Naval Operations to the Secretary of the Navy on the subject of Bugara’s fitness for duty found the fleet snorkel type submarine “far below the standards of a Guppy III submarine,” and the cost to modernize her considered excessive. The Board of Inspection and Survey found Bugara unfit for further Naval service and recommended she be stricken from the Naval Vessel Register (NVR) on 1 October 1970. A second endorsement dated 31 August followed and concurred with the first finding.
Bugara was stricken from the NVR on 1 October 1970 and transferred to the custody of Commander, Submarine Group, San Francisco Bay Area, to Commanding Officer, InactShipFac, Mare Island Naval Shipyard. As an “indispensable part of high priority Mk. 48 torpedo evaluations, live war shot tests against large surface ships and a submarine are scheduled to be conducted off the coast of Washington State during the week of 23 May 1971.” Ex-Warwick (LKA-89) and ex-Whiteside (LKA-90) were chosen as the two “large surface ships” to be used as targets in the torpedo test. Bugara would serve one last time, as the submarine target, for the torpedo test.
On 1 June 1971, however, while being towed by the fleet tug Cree (ATF-84) to Bangor Naval Ammunition Depot to serve as a target for Trigger (SS-534), the tug’s crew noticed ex-Bugara’s trim change rapidly. Cree slowed to heave a tow line at a distance of 1,750 feet, and although her towing detail was fully manned at the time, the wire towing ex-Bugara slipped out of the brake. Suddenly, ex-Bugara’s bow rose sharply at 1358 and she sank rapidly, disappearing beneath the surface at 1400 in 165 fathoms of water.
Bugara received three battle stars for her service in World War II, two Korean War battle stars, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and seven battle stars for her service in Vietnam War.
|Date Assumed Command
|Cmdr. Arnold F. Schade
|15 November 1944
|Cmdr. Francis A. Greenup
|8 February 1946
|Cmdr. Charles R. Gebhardt
|6 October 1947
|Lt. Cmdr. Frank J. Coulter
|6 July 1949
|Lt. Cmdr. Harvey J. Smith
|15 June 1950
|Lt. Cmdr. Martin Godek
|5 September 1952
|Lt. Cmdr. Leon H. Rathbun
|25 February 1953
|Lt. Cmdr. George O. Bennett
|16 February 1955
|Lt. Edward R. Ettner
|3 March 1957
|Lt. Cmdr. Quinley R. Schulz
|10 December 1958
|Lt. Cmdr. Lawrence D. Marsolais
|11 May 1960
|Lt. Cmdr. Henry B. Johnson
|23 June 1962
|Lt. Cmdr. Leonard A. Stoehr
|13 July 1964
|Lt. Cmdr. Grafton S. Platt
|14 May 1966
|Lt. Cmdr. Ebert F. Shrader
|15 April 1968
|Lt. Cmdr. Samuel W. Adams, Jr.
|16 May 1970
Guy J. Nasuti
23 August 2017