25 January 1945 to 25 March 1945

After training and testing at Pearl were complete the crew embarked for Bowfin’s seventh war patrol on 25 January 1945. This patrol largely took place in the waters east of the Japanese mainland, and Bowfin’s secondary assignment was lifeguard duties to assist with the many air raids being conducted by our B-29s.

On 17 February, vessels believed to be destroyers were detected. Bowfin set up to attack and fired three torpedoes from the bow tubes. One hit the target and an enormous explosion sent the destroyer high into the sky. The other torpedoes did not hit, and the other destroyer proceeded to drop 26 depth charges on Bowfin. After the charges were dropped Bowfin set up to attack again and fired three more torpedoes at the destroyer. One of the torpedoes fired prematurely, and the other two missed the target. When Bowfin surfaced to check the scene out they had lost contact with the destroyer; smoke was sighted instead and they made a beeline to the source. The sun was rising, and a slightly damaged schooner came into view. Seizing the opportunity, the crew shot at it with their deck guns. The boat was hauling several depth charges, presenting the perfect target for Bowfin. The deck guns turned the depth charges, meant for US submarines, into a catastrophic explosion sending the schooner to the depths. After sinking the schooner Bowfin returned to await the US Army Air Corps airmen in their upcoming raids.

On 19 February Bowfin was stationed at the assigned lifeguard position while B-29s performed a raid on the Japanese mainland, this duty was given to many submarines during the war saving countless American lives. On 4 March while in their patrol area, Bowfin encountered two picket boats of about 300 tons. Bowfin took the opportunity to save some torpedoes and fired at them with their deck guns. Soon the enemy was returning effective fire and one of the crew members was hit. He was the only Bowfin crew member to ever be injured while on patrol; Torpedoman’s Mate, Second class R.E. Lee was hit by in the leg by shrapnel. The two picket boats proved to be more difficult to sink than anticipated, so the Captain submerged and maintained contact with the boats using sonar, but continued on with their lifeguard duties.

On 18 March Bowfin sighted a large object falling out of the sky towards the water. Upon closer inspection, they saw that it was a strange balloon about 30 feet in diameter. They shot at it to deflate it, and grabbed it out of the water. These types of balloons were used by the Japanese for intelligence gathering information. The next day Bowfin received information concerning a plane going down near their position. They were very close to the position and saw the plane go down with the tail destroyed. It made a water landing near the submarine and the crew rescued the two airmen of a torpedo bomber. Lieutenant R.U. Platt and Aviation Machinist Mate, third class J. Papazoglavis of Torpedo Squadron 83 were welcomed aboard Bowfin with open arms.

With the rescue complete, Bowfin finished her seventh war patrol on a high note in Guam.


USS Bowfin was underway for 14,325 miles during her seventh patrol. CDR Tyree and higher authorities believed Bowfin sank 2,950 tons (two vessels). JANAC credited USS Bowfin with sinking 750 tons (one vessel of that tonnage plus one small craft). CDR Tyree was awarded the Navy Cross.

Bowfin crew members manning one of the 50 caliber machine guns.


Bowfin after a major overhaul.



On 15 December 1941, eight days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Portsmouth Navy Yard was given the order to start construction on the new Balao class fleet submarines. The third boat of the class was to bear the name USS Bowfin (SS-287). Her keel was laid on…Read More


PATROL 1 – SECRET MISSION 25 August 1943 to 10 October 1943 After the launching of Bowfin she headed west towards Australia from Portsmouth via the Panama Canal, which she passed through on 15 July 1943. Then on 10 August 1943 Bowfin sailed into Fremantle. From Fremantle, Bowfin traveled over…Read More


PATROL 2 – PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION 1 November 1943 to 9 December 1943 On USS Bowfin’s second war patrol they sailed from Fremantle towards the South China Sea with a new commanding officer, LCDR Walter Thomas Griffith. This was LCDR Griffith’s first war patrol as commanding officer, before he had…Read More


PATROL 3 – AN ADMIRAL ABOARD 8 January 1944 to 5 February 1944 On 8 January 1944 Bowfin and crew steamed away from Fremantle and set course for the Celebes Sea, yet again. The valiant crew was departing for their third war patrol and their second patrol with LCDR Griffith.…Read More


PATROL 4 – THE HUNTER AND THE HUNTED 28 February 1944 to 1 April 1944 USS Bowfin left Fremantle for Darwin on 28 February 1944 as she started her fourth war patrol. This time she would be patrolling in the Celebes Sea, in between the Philippines and Indonesia, rather than…Read More


PATROL 5 – TOUGH LUCK 25 April 1944 to 21 June 1944 USS Bowfin set off from Fremantle for her fifth war patrol on 25 April 1944 and this time she and her crew started the 4,000-mile journey to Palau and the surrounding areas. Unbeknownst to the crew, this war…Read More


PATROL 6 – SIGHTED BUS, SANK CRANE 16 July 1944 to 13 September 1944 Once Bowfin had received a refit at Pearl Harbor she and her crew were headed out for their sixth war patrol on 16 July 1944. First stop, Midway, where Bowfin rendezvoused with USS Fulton (AS-11), the…Read More


PATROL 7 – ZOOMIES WITH SQUIDS 25 January 1945 to 25 March 1945 After training and testing at Pearl were complete the crew embarked for Bowfin’s seventh war patrol on 25 January 1945. This patrol largely took place in the waters east of the Japanese mainland, and Bowfin’s secondary assignment…Read More


PATROL 8 – HELL’S BELLS 23 April 1945 to 15 May 1945 Bowfin’s eighth war patrol took the crew to the northeastern part of the Japanese mainland between the main island of Honshu and the island of Hokkaido. Bowfin had originally received orders to proceed alone and without a coding…Read More


PATROL 9 – OPERATION BARNEY 24 May 1945 to 4 July 1945 Upon their return to Guam, the crew of Bowfin got as much rest and relaxation as possible in the short time allocated before their final war patrol. This patrol consisted of a secret mission designated Operation Barney that…Read More


POST-WAR SUMMARY Bowfin’s four World War II commanding officers believed that she sank 179,646 tons (34 large vessels, plus 10 more under 500 tons) and damaged 33,934 tons (five large vessels plus two smaller ones) for a total of 213,580 tons sunk or damaged. The Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee (JANAC)…Read More