USS Bluegill (SS242)


In the spring of 1954 I arranged a trade with the senior ET on the Bluegill when it pulled into Pearl Harbor for a week after returning from a tour in WesPac. The other guy wanted to go back to Japan, he liked it there, and I didn't. I knew the Caiman was scheduled to head back to WesPac in a few months. The Bluegill was returning to its home port in San Diego.

Bluegill in port at Pearl harbor.

The Bluegill had a snorkel, as did most active boats by that time, but it also had the new highly sensitive sonar. The same large sonar dome array that had been first mounted on the "K" boats was now mounted on the bow, which was now called the "nose." To accommodate the special sonar station the pump room had been reorganized. The air compressors had been relocated to the engine room, tucked below deck between the engines like the auxiliary engine was. A special sound-insulated "quiet" room with a door had been constructed so the sonar operator would have peace and quiet while listening. The sonar man was a prima donna with his fancy gear.

The Bluegill was configured similarly to the USS Bashaw(SS241) with a huge sonar dome on the bow.


The Bluegill arrived in San Diego and moored alongside the submarine tender USS Sperry(AS12) which itself was moored in the middle of the bay. Access to the beach was through the tender and down a ladder to a platform where the water taxis served to transport the crews to the Fleet Landing at the base of the main street in San Diego. See "Other Places."


Bluegill alongside Sperry in San Diego harbor.

Two Submarine tenders were permanently moored to buoys in the middle of the San Diego harbor. That's NAS North Island in the background.

Sub tenders moored in San Diego harbor.

A later revision lowered the deck and reshaped the sonar dome to better streamline the bow section. It still pushed up a lot of bow wake, looking like a snow plow.

The later Bluegill plowing up the ocean.

The Bluegill was later sunk off the coast of Oahu in shallow water and used by the ASRs for rescue operation practice. When the scuba divers discovered its position and made it a feature of the dive tours it was declared a safety hazard and raised and towed to deep water and sunk.

Photo copyrighted by Ed Robinson