USS Bluegill

USS Bluegill (SS-242), a Gato-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the bluegill.

United States
Builder: Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut[1]
Laid down: 7 December 1942[1]
Launched: 8 August 1943[1]
Sponsored by: Mrs. W. Sterling Cole
Commissioned: 11 November 1943[1]
Decommissioned: 1 March 1946[1]
Recommissioned: 3 May 1951[1]
Decommissioned: 7 July 1952[1]
Recommissioned: 2 May 1953[1]
Decommissioned: 28 June 1969[1]
Struck: 28 June 1969[1]
Fate: Scuttled as a trainer off Hawaii, 3 December 1970
General characteristics
Class and type: Gato-class diesel-electric submarine[2]
  • 1,525 long tons (1,549 t) surfaced[2]
  • 2,424 long tons (2,463 t) submerged[2]
Length: 311 ft 9 in (95.02 m)[2]
Beam: 27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[2]
Draft: 17 ft (5.2 m) maximum[2]
  • 21 knots (39 km/h) surfaced[6]
  • 9 kn (17 km/h) submerged[6]
Range: 11,000 nmi (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 kn (19 km/h)[6]
  • 48 hours at 2 knots (4 km/h) submerged[6]
  • 75 days on patrol
Test depth: 300 ft (90 m)[6]
Complement: 6 officers, 54 enlisted[6]

Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut, on 17 December 1942. She was launched on 8 August 1943 (sponsored by Mrs. Cole, wife of Congressman W. Sterling Cole of New York) and commissioned on 11 November 1943, with Lieutenant Commander Eric L. Barr, Jr. (Class of 1934) in command, and reported to the Pacific Fleet.

Bluegill’s war operations cover the period between 1 April 1944 and 21 June 1945, during which time she completed six war patrols in an area extending from New Guinea to Formosa and through the South China Sea and Java Sea. Bluegill sank ten Japanese vessels, totaling 46,212 tons, including the light cruiser Yubari (on 27 April 1944) and a submarine chaser.

During January 1945, Bluegill made reconnaissances in support of American liberation of the Philippines. On 28 May, she conducted a reconnaissance and bombardment of Pratas Island. Twelve men were landed and discovered that the island had recently been evacuated by the Japanese naval garrison. In a fitting ceremony on 29 May, Bluegill raised the American flag on Pratas Island and proclaimed it to be "Bluegill Island."

Bluegill arrived at Pearl Harbor on 21 June 1945 from her last war patrol. She continued to serve with the Pacific Fleet until 1 March 1946 when she was placed out of commission in reserve at Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

Bluegill was recommissioned on 3 May 1951 and reported to the Pacific Fleet for training duty. On 7 July 1952 she was placed out of commission in reserve and redesignated a "hunter-killer submarine" (SSK-242) and recommissioned 2 May 1953.

Bluegill again saw wartime service during the Vietnam War. In 1965, she spent time in the Gulf of Tonkin, conducting reconnaissance and pilot rescue.

Bluegill was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 28 June 1969. In 1971, she was sunk and moored to the bottom as a salvage trainer about two kilometers off Lahaina in 40 metres (130 ft) of water. For the next thirteen years, her hull was used for underwater rescue training.

In November 1983, after a month of preparatory work, the twin Edenton-class salvage and rescue ships Beaufort (ATS-2) and Brunswick (ATS-3) raised ex-Bluegill and towed her to deep water where she was sunk with military honors.[7]

Bluegill received the Navy Unit Commendation for her first war patrol during which she sank Yubari. In addition, she was awarded four battle stars for World War II service.


  1. Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3.
  2. Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 271–273. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  3. Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 275–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9.
  4. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 p. 261
  5. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  6. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311
  7. USS Bluegill (SS-242) at, retrieved 7 December 2017


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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