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USS Bonita (SS-165)

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Title: USS Bonita (SS-165)  
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Subject: V-boat, Robert H. Smith (naval officer), USS Barracuda (SS-163), USS Bonita, V-boats
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USS Bonita (SS-165)

USS Bonita (SS-165)
United States
Builder: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine[1]
Laid down: 16 November 1921[1]
Launched: 9 June 1925[1]
Commissioned: 22 May 1926[1]
Decommissioned: 4 June 1937[1]
Commissioned: 5 September 1940[1]
Decommissioned: 3 March 1945[1]
Struck: 10 March 1945[1]
Fate: Sold for breaking up, 4 October 1945[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: V-1 (Barracuda)-class composite direct-drive diesel and diesel-electric submarine[2]
Displacement: 2,119 tons (2,153 t) surfaced,[3] 2,506 tons (2,546 t) submerged[3]
Length: 341 ft 6 in (104.09 m)[3]
Beam: 27 ft 6⅝ in (9.4 m)[3]
Draft: 15 ft 2 in (4.62 m)[3]
  • (as built) 2 × Busch-Sulzer direct-drive main diesel engines, 2,250 hp (1,680 kW) each[4][5]
  • 2 × Busch-Sulzer auxiliary diesel engines, 1,000 hp (750 kW) each, diesel-electric drive[4][5]
  • Auxiliary engines replaced with BuEng MAN engines 1940, main engines removed 1942-43 on conversion to a cargo submarine[6]
  • 2 × 60-cell Exide[7] batteries[3]
  • 2 × Elliott electric motors, 1,200 hp (890 kW) each[2][3]
  • 2 shafts
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h) surfaced,[3] 9 knots (17 km/h) submerged[3]
Range: 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) @ 11 knots (20 km/h),[3] 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) @ 11 kn with fuel in main ballast tanks[3]
Endurance: 10 hours @ 5 knots (9 km/h)[3]
Test depth: 200 ft (60 m)[3]
Complement: 7 officers, 11 petty officers, 69 enlisted[3]

USS Bonita (SF-6/SS-165), a Barracuda-class submarine and one of the "V-boats," was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for the bonito. Her keel was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was launched on 9 June 1925 as V-3 (SF-6), sponsored by Mrs. L.R. DeSteiguer, wife of Rear Admiral DeSteiguer, and commissioned on 22 May 1926, Lieutenant Commander Charles A. Lockwood, Jr. in command. Like her sisters, Bonita was designed to meet the fleet submarine requirement of 21 knots (39 km/h) surface speed for operating with contemporary battleships.


  • Engineering 1
  • Service history 2
    • Inter-War Period 2.1
    • World War II 2.2
  • References 3


V-3 was completed with two Busch-Sulzer direct-drive 6-cylinder 2-cycle main diesel engines of 2,250 hp (1,680 kW) each,[4][5] along with two Busch-Sulzer auxiliary diesel engines of 1,000 hp (750 kW) each, driving electrical generators. The latter were primarily for charging batteries, but to reach maximum surfaced speed, they could augment the mechanically coupled main-propulsion engines by driving the 1,200 hp (890 kW) electric motors in parallel via an electric transmission. Although it wasn't until about 1939 that its problems were solved, electric transmission in a pure diesel-electric arrangement became the propulsion system for the successful fleet submarines of World War II, the Tambor-class through the Tench-class. Prior to recommissioning in 1940, the auxiliary diesels were replaced with two BuEng Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nürnberg AG (MAN-designed) 6-cylinder 4-cycle diesel engines of 1,000 hp (750 kW) each.[4][5] In 1942-43 Bonita was converted to a cargo submarine, with the main engines removed to provide cargo space, significantly reducing her speed on the remaining auxiliary diesels.[6]

Service history

Inter-War Period

Assigned to Submarine Division 20 (SubDiv 20), V-3 cruised along the East Coast and in the Caribbean Sea until November 1927. With her division, she then transferred to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at San Diego, California, on 17 December 1927. After service with SubDivs 12 and 20 along the Pacific coast and off Hawaii, she joined SubDiv 15 of the Rotating Reserve at Mare Island Navy Yard on 1 June 1932. During this period her 5 inch (127 mm)/51 caliber deck gun was replaced by a 3 inch (76 mm)/50 caliber weapon.[8] She was renamed Bonita on 9 March 1931 and given hull classification symbol SS-165 on 1 July 1931.

Bonita rejoined SubDiv 12 in September 1933 and cruised in Caribbean Sea, West Coast, and Hawaiian waters through 1936. She departed San Diego, California on 20 January 1937 and arrived at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 18 February. She was placed out of commission in reserve at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 4 June 1937.

World War II

Recommissioned on 5 September 1940, she departed New London, Connecticut on 17 November for Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone. Bonita patrolled in the Pacific, off Panama, until she returned to Philadelphia for overhaul in October 1942. At this time she was converted to a cargo submarine with the removal of her main engines, severely restricting her speed on the auxiliary engines.[9] Patrolling off the Maine coast until mid-1943, she then joined Submarine Squadron 1 (SubRon 1), SubDiv 13, on training duty out of New London. She remained on that duty until February 1945. Arriving at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 17 February, she was decommissioned 3 March and sold 28 October 1945.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History.  
  2. ^ a b Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  4. ^ a b c d U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 111–113
  5. ^ a b c d U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 257–259
  6. ^ a b Alden, John D., Commander, USN (retired). The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1979), p.210.
  7. ^ Alden, p.211.
  8. ^ Gardiner and Chesneau, pp. 141-142
  9. ^ U.S. Submarines Through 1945 p. 114
  • Schlesman, Bruce and Roberts, Stephen S., "Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants" (Greenwood Press, 1991), ISBN 0-313-26202-0
  • Lenton, H. T. American Submarines (Navies of the Second World War) (Doubleday, 1973), ISBN 0-38504-761-4
  • Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War II (Ian Allan, 1965), ISBN 0-87021-773-9
  • Campbell, John Naval Weapons of World War Two (Naval Institute Press, 1985), ISBN 0-87021-459-4
  • , Fall 2003, Issue 20Undersea WarfareWhitman, Edward C. "The Navy's Variegated V-Class: Out of One, Many?"
  • Gardiner, Robert and Chesneau, Roger, Conway's all the world's fighting ships 1922-1946, Conway Maritime Press, 1980. ISBN 0-83170-303-2.
  • Friedman, Norman "US Submarines through 1945: An Illustrated Design History", Naval Institute Press, Annapolis:1995, ISBN 1-55750-263-3.
  • USS Bonita page
  • V-boats page
  • DiGiulian, Tony 5"/51 caliber gun
  • DiGiulian, Tony later 3"/50 caliber gun
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
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