USS Bonita SS-165 (1926-1945)

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The USS V-3 was constructed at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. This 2000-ton V-1 class fleet submarine was commissioned in May of 1926. She was deployed and took part in exercises in the Caribbean area, and along the Atlantic coast. She then, in December of 1927, made her way to the Pacific. At this point her new hull number became SS-165 and she took on the name Bonita. She participated in operations and exercises on the West Coast until she entered the Rotating Reserve in June of 1932.

She was put back into action in September of 1933, and for the next three years stayed in the Caribbean area and the eastern Pacific, doing exercises and patrols. She also visited Hawaii and Alaska during this time. After this, the Bonita’s design was deemed unsatisfactory, so she was laid up in the Atlantic in January of 1937. The Bonita was put out of commission in June of 1937 and put in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Action in World War II

When World War II started in Europe, the President declared a state of National Emergency, which necessitated the utilization of all available subs and ships, so the Bonita was re-commissioned in September of 1940 to join the U.S. military’s forces. From the end of 1940 to October of 1942, she was in Panama, participating in defensive patrols. She patrolled mostly near Central America’s Pacific coast. After receiving a major overhaul at the end of 1942, she was utilized as a specialized cargo-carrying submarine, starting in the middle of 1943. Although she received the major overhaul to become a cargo-carrying submarine, after a short period of time she was deemed unsuitable for this important task, although this was to be the Bonita’s final configuration.

After the War

Based out of New London, Connecticut, for the rest of her career, the Bonita acted as a training submarine. With more and more new, modern submarines available for training, the Bonita was finally de-commissioned and stricken in March of 1945. In October of that year, the Bonita was sold for scrap.

Asbestos in Navy Ships

Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially throughout conflicts of the last century, submarines also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. However, these risks extend beyond the inherent dangers that existed while operating the vessels during military conflicts. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were also common aboard submarines because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Furthermore, the enclosed environment of submarines put servicemen at an even higher risk of exposure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with or served on submarines should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.


Naval Historical Center


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