Originally designated V-2, Bass was launched on 27 December 1924 at Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was commissioned on 26 September 1925, with Lieutenant Commander G.A. Rood in command.
Assigned to SubDiv 20, V-2 operated along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean through November 1927, when the division was shifted to San Diego. V-2 continued to operate with her division on the west coast, in the Hawaiian Islands, and in the Caribbean.
On 9 March 1931, V-2 was renamed Bass, and in the following month was assigned to SubDiv 12. On 1 July her designation was changed from SF-5 to SS-164.
Bass was assigned to Rotating Reserve SubDiv 15 at San Diego at the beginning of 1933. She rejoined the active fleet again in July 1933, cruising on the west coast, in the Canal Zone, and in the Hawaiian Islands until January 1937. At that time she was sent to Philadelphia, arriving on 18 February 1937, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 9 June.
Bass was recommissioned at Portsmouth on 5 September 1940 and assigned to SubDiv 9, Atlantic Fleet. Between February and November 1941 she operated along the New England coast, with two trips to St. Georges, Bermuda. Moving to Coco Solo, on the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal on 24 November, she was there when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the war.
Bass was attached to SubDiv 31, SubRon 3, Atlantic Fleet during 1942, continuing to be stationed at Coco Solo. Between March and August she made four relatively brief war patrols in the Pacific off Balboa. The last of these was marred by a fire in the after battery room on 17 August 1942. The fire spread to the after torpedo room and starboard main motor, with the resultant smoke and fumes killing 25 enlisted men.
The following day the tender Antaeus (AS-21) arrived on the scene to assist the stricken submarine, and proceeded to escort her into the Gulf of Dulce, Costa Rica. Both vessels then proceeded to Balboa.
Bass remained in the Canal Zone until October 1942, at which time she sailed for Philadelphia, where she arrived on the 19th. Following repairs at the Navy Yard, Bass moved to New London, where she conducted secret experiments of Block Island in December 1943.
Re-entering the Philadelphia Navy Yard in January 1944, she remained there until March. The rest of the year was spent assigned to SubRon 1, Atlantic Fleet, operating in the area between Long Island and Block Island while stationed at the Submarine Base, New London. She was decommissioned there on 3 March 1945, and scuttled to serve as a sonar target on the 12th.
Bass and her two sisters were among the more unusual submarine designs of the interwar years. As originally built, the design included a divided power plant, with one engine room located aft in the usual place and another forward of the control room. The aft engines were coupled directly to the motor-generators and shafts, while the forward engines, which could not practically be clutched to the propeller shafts, drove generators. The boats also had an unusual profile, with a bulbous, shark-like bow which was intended to add reserve buoyancy—a design which proved a miserable failure, as the “B” class submarines proved to be very poor sea keepers.
Following Bass‘ fire, these large boats were converted to cargo submarine on Presidential order. This was accomplished by removing the after engines, leaving the former after engine room for cargo. The forward engines and generators were retained for propulsion. All torpedo tubes and the deck gun were also removed. In the event, the cargo conversions were unsuccessful, with the entire class taken out of service before the end of the war.
Sponsor: Mrs. Douglas Dismukes
First Captain: LCDR G.A. Rood
Stricken/Lost: Target 3/12/45