United States Navy

Submarine Tenders

USS Bushnell AS 15

USS Bushnell AS 15 in 1944-46
Photo Courtesy Mike Ricard, in Memory of his Father D. L. "Rick" Ricard, TM3 - who served aboard from 1944 - 1946
USS Bushnell AS 15 in 1961

USS Bushnell Patch
USS Bushnell Patch
Courtesy Bruce Paxon

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9,834Built / Launched1942
Length530' 6"Built ByMare Island Navy Yard
Beam73' 4"ClassFulton
Draft25' 6"Commisioned1943
Speed (rated)18.5ktsDecommissioned1980
Compliment444DispositionSunk 1983 as a torpedo target.

The second US Navy ship named for David Bushnell. See the short biography with AS-2.

USS Bushnell launching
The second Bushnell (AS-15) was Launched 14 September 1942 by Mare Island Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. Luther Gibson; and commissioned 10 April 1943, Commander C. T. Bonney in command.

On 27 June she departed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 3 July. While at the Submarine Base, Submarine Squadron 14 was assembled with Bushnell serving as tender and staff headquarters for the Squadron and Division Staff. Bushnell remained at Pearl Harbor until September 1943 when she sailed for Midway Island to deliver provisions and structural materials. Upon returning to Pearl Harbor in December she resumed her task of re-fitting submarines until April 1944.

Bushnell weighed anchor for Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, 27 April laden with provisions, fuel, and materiel. Majuro Atoll soon became a regular submarine operating base, although entirely dependent upon the tender.[Supplemental: submarines serviced at the Atoll included Trepang, Snapper and Tilefish]. On 5 February 1945 Bushnell returned to Pearl Harbor. On 29 May the tender steamed to Midway to refit sub-marines arriving there from war patrols. She was thus engaged until the cessation of hostilities.

From September to December 1945 Bushnell continued to act as a repair vessel for submarines throughout the period of demobilization and peacetime reorganization of the submarine force in the San Diego area. In January 1946 she sailed to Guam to tend submarines engaged in the occupation of Japan. This tour of duty continued until April, at which time she was recalled to Pearl Harbor for duty with Submarine Squadron 1.

Bushnell operated with Submarine Squadron 1 until 24 May 1947. At that time she sailed to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul. Returning to Pearl Harbor 10 September she resumed her duties with Squadron 1.

In December 1947 Bushnell returned to Mare Island and reported for inactivation. She was placed out of commission in reserve 30 April 1948. Bushnell was recommissioned 21 February 1952. After intensive training along the west coast Bushnell departed for the Atlantic 7 May 1952. She transited the Panama Canal 21 May and proceeded to Key West, Fla., for duty with Submarine Squadron 12. Since that time Bushnell has operated at Key West tending the boats of Squadron 12 and conducting brief periods of service at Norfolk and short cruises in the Caribbean.
History from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.

The Bushnell just after re-commissioning in 1952
Photo courtesy Donald Oke
With the revolution breaking out in Cuba - the Bushnell stood off the coast of Cuba from 2 - 6 January, 1959. Now in need of serious repairs and upgrades - the Bushnell put into Portmouth for a much needed overhaul in July 1959. Completing sea trials and training out of Guantanamo Bay on October 23, 1959 - she returned to her duties servicing subs out of Key West and the area. On July 1, 1961 the Bushnell was awarded the Navy "E" for battle efficiency.
The Bushnell underway 1963
Photo courtesy Donald Oke
For the remainder of 1961 and into early 1962 Bushnell continued to service submarines in the Key West and Caribbean area.
The Bushnell underway 1963
Photo courtesy Donald Oke
The Bushnell inport at New Orleans, 1963
Photo courtesy Donald Oke
In mid 1962 - Bushnell again went through an overhaul - receiving a FRAM conversion in the process. Completing the overhaul on 4 January, 1963 the ship returned to Key West providing services to the submarines of Squadron 12.
The Bushnell"25th Year" Certificate
Photo courtesy Thomas L. Heritier
In 1965 she suffered a serious fire in some electrical generation equipment - and earned the nick-name "the buring Bush". There was only one minor injury in that incident, and it didn't effect operations for long. She returned to Key West in 1967 to continue her service to the submarine fleet.
In 1968 the Bushnell celebrated her 25th year of service. She continued to supply services to the 12th Submarine Squadron - as well as support services to other ships in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast regions. She made regular visits to New Orleans, Mobile, Fort Lauderdale and Kingston, Jamacia.

In 1969 the Bushnell was the Navy response ship for hurricane Camile andshe and her crew rebuilt Pilottown so that river traffic could again move on theMississippi.

However - unfortunately - her nick-name came to haunt her - when in early 1970 a high pressure airline ruptured in the bilge - atomizing the oil and other liquids resulting in an explosion and fire that damaged the ship beyond repair. Bushnell's own crew did all of her own decommissioning work (not in a shipyard) inearly 1970. Bushnell was placed out of commission on 20 June 1970 and was towed to Norfolk where she was turned over to Reserve Fleet who used her as their new headquarters.

On 31 May, 1983 the USS Edenton (ATS 1) towed the Bushnell out to sea approximately 175 miles to 35° 34.7 North, 73° 18.6 West. Then on June 3, 1983 she was sunk by MK-48 torpedoes fired by USS Atlanta (SSN 712), with the Finback (SSN 670) in company (more details on Bushnell's Page Two).
Webmaster's Note: While this may seem a harsh end to a ship that served the submarine fleet so well for 28 years - what more fitting end could a submarine Tender come to - than providing one last service for that same submarine fleet than the ultimate gift of herself?

(History from 1959 - 1983 provided by Chief Petty Officer Bruce Paxon, Ret. and supplemented by Robert Petrick CWO-4 USN (ret)- to whom we are very grateful)

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