PATROL 8 - HELL’S BELLS
23 April 1945 to 15 May 1945
Bowfin’s eighth war patrol took the crew to the north eastern 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 machine, via the heavily mined Tsushima Strait, to the Sea of Japan. Upon successful arrival, they were to radio COMSUBPAC to report the track they had used through the mined area, the number of mines detected, and then to patrol the Sea of Japan. However, two days out of Guam, Bowfin received a message canceling those orders and instructing her to rendezvous with USS Sea Dog (SS-401) to get her coding machine and classified publications for a brief patrol off the northeast coast of Honshu before returning to Guam in preparation for her ninth patrol.
With the coding machine in their possession, Bowfin left USS Sea Dog and headed for the assigned area. On 1 May, just off the south eastern coast of Hokkaido, Bowfin sighted smoke on the horizon, and as the sun rose several targets emerged. The main target was a small freighter with an escort; Bowfin aimed at the freighter and launched two torpedoes, one of which hit and sank the vessel. The escort came to life and dropped 21 depth charges over Bowfin, but luckily did no damage to the boat. The waiting game ended, and eventually the escort left Bowfin alone.
This patrol also consisted of Bowfin gathering intelligence on the mines that were in this area. Several boats had been lost and it was Bowfin’s job to map out where the mines were. Bowfin had been outfitted with special mine detecting equipment that would pinpoint their locations. Using her special FM sonar, called "Hell's Bells" by the crew because of the chilling gong like sound it gave off when a mine was detected, Bowfin probed the minefields near the eastern entrance to Tsugaru Strait for about two weeks before receiving orders to return to Guam and prepare for a special mission.
PATROL 8 SUMMARY
USS Bowfin was underway for 5,649 miles during her eighth patrol. CDR Tyree and higher authorities believed Bowfin sank 9,300 tons (two large vessels) and damaged 4,000 tons (one large vessel). JANAC credited USS Bowfin with sinking 3,399 tons (two large vessels). CDR Tyree was awarded the Legion of Merit with valor.