USS Argonaut SM-1 (APS-1)

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The Argonaut was a mine laying submarine originally called V-4. It was commissioned at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine in 1928 and weighed 2710 tons. The Argonaut remained in Maine nearly a year before it was taken to the West Coast at San Diego, California.

Upon arrival in San Diego, it began services with a battle fleet known as the “fleet boat” program. This program consisted of nine Navy submarines also referred to as v-boats. In 1931, it was given the name the Argonaut and served with the Bass, Barracuda, Bonita, Cachalot, Cuttlefish, Dolphin, Narwhal, and Nautilus. The Argonaut spent nearly ten years on the West Coast participating in drills and training tasks.

Action in World War II

The Argonaut was near Midway Atoll, a secluded Hawaiian island, when the Japanese ambushed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Two Japanese destroyers were heading to the U.S. station when The Argonaut made its move. Even though it was a mine layer, it attacked the two destroyers. They escaped before it could make its second attack.

The Argonaut and its crew were considering another mission a week later, but the ship was instead taken to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard to undergo changes. It had its diesel engines replaced and its mine laying equipment stripped. It was set to be a transport ship for troops.

In August 1942, the Argonaut, along with the Nautilus, hauled 120 American Marines to Makin where they began their raid. Because of the two v-boats, the Marines were able to take out a Japanese camp of about 80.

Since the Argonaut had become more of a transport vessel, it was renamed APS-1 the following month. In December of 1942, it was assigned a mission in Australia, undergoing special operations in the South Pacific. On its way, it encountered a Japanese convoy near New Britain. Fulfilling its orders to ambush led to its demise; it was sunken by depth charges and destroyers. The Argonaut held a crew of 105 men and officers. All were lost in the struggle.

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.


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