USS Bugara (SS-331)

USS Bugara (SS-331), a Balao-class submarine, was a ship of the United States Navy named for the bugara, a multicolored fish found along the coast of California.

United States
Builder: Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut[1]
Laid down: 21 October 1943[1]
Launched: 2 July 1944[1]
Commissioned: 15 November 1944[1]
Decommissioned: 1 October 1970[1]
Struck: 1 October 1970[1]
Fate: Foundered while under tow off Cape Flattery, Washington, 1 June 1971[2]
General characteristics
Class and type: Balao class diesel-electric submarine[2]
  • 1,526 tons (1,550 t) surfaced[2]
  • 2,424 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: 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m) maximum[2]
  • 20.25 knots (38 km/h) surfaced[6]
  • 8.75 knots (16 km/h) submerged[6]
Range: 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h)[6]
  • 48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h) submerged[6]
  • 75 days on patrol
Test depth: 400 ft (120 m)[6]
Complement: 10 officers, 70–71 enlisted[6]

Bugara (SS-331) was launched 2 July 1944 by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Connecticut; sponsored by Mrs. Anna A. Perry, wife of Captain Lyman S. Perry; and commissioned 15 November 1944, Commander A. F. Schade in command.[7]

World War II

Bugara's war operations extended from 21 February to 17 August 1945 during which she completed three war patrols in the Flores, Java, and South China seas and the Gulf of Siam.

While the first two patrols of Bugara proved uneventful, her third war patrol might be classified as one of the most colorful to be made during the war. This patrol in the Gulf of Siam was highlighted by a series of excellently conducted gun attacks which disposed of 57 small ships totaling 5284 tons. All except two of these vessels were boarded and their native crews put safely ashore with their personal belongings. One of the many interesting incidents of this patrol was an encounter with a Japanese ship manned by a Chinese crew being attacked by Malay pirates. Bugara rescued the Chinese, sank the Japanese ship, and then disposed of the pirates.

On 17 August 1945 Bugara arrived at Fremantle, Australia, from her last war patrol. After a few days, Bugara sailed to Subic Bay, Philippine Islands, and joined the other units of her squadron. For the remainder of 1945, she operated out of Subic Bay. In January 1946, she returned to San Diego via Pearl Harbor. After a rehabilitation period on the west coast, she returned to Pearl Harbor in May 1946.

Post WW2

She was overhauled at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in 1946 and during the fall of that year made a training cruise in the Bering Sea and then returned to Pearl Harbor via Seattle and Portland. In late October 1947 Bugara departed Pearl Harbor for California. She underwent a yard period between 20 November 1947 and 19 March 1948, returning to Pearl Harbor 27 March. In July she proceeded to Yokosuka, Japan, via Guam, Melbourne, Buckner Bay, and Qingdao. She returned to Pearl Harbor 24 August 1948. On 13 August 1949 she departed Pearl Harbor for overhaul at San Francisco, returning 3 January 1950.

Bugara received three battle stars for her World War II service.

Korean War

In Sep. of 1950 she departed for Far East to support United Nations Forces in the Korean Campaign. In 1952 she collided with the destroyer escort USS Whitehurst (DE-634) while on antisubmarine warfare exercises south of Barbers Point, Oahu, Hawaii.[8] After repairs to her conning tower, she then continued operations out of Pearl Harbor until 7 December 1954. Jan. of 1951 she returned to the Far East for active duty. Twice during this period she served in the Far East supporting operations during the Korean War.[9]

Post Korean War

In 1953, the Bugara near Pearl Harbor, was training with the USS Whitehurst, a destroyer escort. Bugara came to periscope depth and saw a bow with painted "634" on it closing fast at 15 knots. The two had a collision that damaged the Bugara's upper sail and periscopes. On 7 December 1954 she departed Pearl Harbor for San Diego, where she arrived 15 December.

Vietnam War

She serviced in the Vietnam war as part of the WestPac that deployed for service in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam joining in Oct. of 1967. On 30 June 1969 she was reclassified as a training sub and no longer was a combat sub.

Post Vietnam War

Bugara then operated along the Pacific coast, participating in type training and fleet exercises until decommissioned and struck from the Naval Register on 1 October 1970. While under tow near Cape Flattery, Washington, after an aborted attempt to use her as a target for USS Trigger (SS-564), the Bugara was swamped and sank accidentally. The tug was at risk of being taken down with her, so she cut the steel hawser tow cable. No crew was aboard the sub when she sank.

Bugara lies under about 800 feet of water in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. A Remotely operated underwater vehicle (The EV Naultilus ROV Hercules) with an under water camera system showed photos of her in 2017 during an archaeological survey.[10]


  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. 275–280. 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. navsource, Bugara (SS-331)
  9. history
  10. Fox News, Stunning pictures reveal the wreck of US World War II-era sub, By James Rogers, August 28, 2017
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