USS Aspro SS-309 (1942-1962)
On December 27, 1942 the Aspro was constructed in Kittery, Maine at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. This diesel-electric submarine completed extensive training in the waters off of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On October 18, 1943 the USS Aspro reached Pearl Harbor, where it immediately prepared for its first war patrol, taking it straight into the waters of Taiwan and Sakishima Gunto.
Action in World War II
On November 24, 1943, the Aspro departed from Hawaii, and on December 15th spotted a Japanese convoy carrying one tanker, two escorts, and two freighters. Torpedoes were fired but failed to cause any serious infliction. On December 17th and 18th of 1943, the USS Aspro spotted 15 Japanese ships and opened fire, witnessing the sinking of three of the ships and leaving one severely damaged. The Aspro was able to dodge the attacks of the Japanese destroyer, the Shiokaze, and on January 1, 1944, the patrol was finally terminated.
On January 15, 1944, Lt. Commander William A. Stevenson was approved to replace his brother Lt. Commander Harry Clinton Stevenson. The Aspro departed from the Midway fuel yard on route to its second patrol, just north of Truk. On February 15, 1944, a large Japanese submarine, later identified as a 1-43, was sunken by the Aspro. After 54 days at sea on March 28th, the vessel retired at Pearl Harbor.
The third patrol was near the waters of the Palau Islands. On June 16th, the Aspro reached Australia, where it was officially credited for sinking a ship and assisting in the destruction of another, creating a total loss of 8,650 tons of Japanese shipping. The fourth and fifth patrols were spent attacking Japanese ships near the South China Sea. The Aspro returned to Fremantle, Australia on August 18th. On October 25th, it terminated patrol at Saipan and headed back to Pearl Harbor.
After the War
During the sixth patrol, on August 3rd, the Aspro was assigned to rescue a downed American aviator. The pilot was rescued six miles from the Japanese mainland in Sagami Wan. Finally on November 16, 1962 it was sunk as a target by the USS Pomodon. The USS Aspro received seven battle stars for its service in World War II.
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.