The USS Angler was a storied member of the submarine fleet of the US Navy, seeing action during World War II and serving well in support and training capacities for many years after the conclusion of that war. Construction on the Angler began on November 9th, 1942, and she was launched on July 4th, 1943. She was officially commissioned into the United States Navy on October 1, 1943.
Action in World War II
After a brief shakedown period, the Angler was assigned to Fremantle, Australia. During her journey to Fremantle, during which she was in combat patrol status, she saw her first taste of combat on January 29th when she encountered a Japanese convoy to the north of the Marianas Islands. The Angler attacked the convoy with torpedoes, sinking one ship and possibly damaging two others. Shortly thereafter, she developed problems that prevented the silent running that submarines are famous for and was required to return to Midway Island for repair.
The Angler began a second combat patrol on February 15th off the coast of the Philippines. During this time, she was assigned a mission of mercy, to rescue civilians from the island of Panay who were being massacred by the Japanese. In all, 58 civilians were rescued and meals were rationed to two a day to stretch the food supply onboard. During this time, gastrointestinal illness struck the crew and passengers of the Angler twice. The exact cause of these illnesses was never fully determined but it is believed that they were due to poorly cleaned onboard fresh water tanks.
Another combat patrol for the Angler began on May 3rd as she was assigned to a submarine force charged with protecting and supporting an aircraft carrier strike on Java. This strike was a complete success and during the operation, the Angler sank a Japanese cargo vessel on May 20th. The next combat patrol for the Angler commenced on June 21st. Working with two other navy ships, she conducted “wolf pack” patrols. The wolf pack approach worked, sinking a number of Japanese ships.
After the War
The remainder of her combat duty saw the Angler continuing to get her share of sunken ships, help to protect a damaged submarine, and rescue Japanese soldiers stranded in a lifeboat. Following World War II, the Angler was recommissioned various times and spent the remainder of her career mostly as a support and training vessel before her final decommissioning on April 1, 1967.
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.