USS Atule SS-403 (1943-1973)
The USS Atule (SS-403) was commissioned on June 21, 1944. The ship was named for a bluish-olive colored fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific waters.
Action in World War II
Her first war patrol was as part of a wolf pack. She teamed up with the Pintado and the Jallao to destroy or prevent enemy shipping. The wolf pack had its first kill on October 25 when they tracked and sunk the Tamo. They were unable to locate any further vessels and continued on to their patrol area of Luzon and the South China Sea.
Around midnight of November 1, the Atule encountered a fast moving escorted transport. In high winds and violent seas, they were able to fire six torpedoes and subsequently sunk the Asatna Maru. The Atule continued her patrol to the Hong Kong-Manila traffic lane where she was unable to intercept ships; however, other members of her wolf pack were more successful and were able to attain a kill.
On November 13 the Jallao reported that a ship was located and the Pintado and Atule moved to intercept it. While trying to push the enemy ship toward the Pintado the Atule instead pushed it out of range and the ship escaped. During the next few days the Japanese monitored the wolf pack’s radio transmissions and attempted to lure the pack into range by pretending to be American ships. The ship was able to evade this and stayed out of range.
On November 20 the Atule engaged a slow moving sea vessel. After identifying it as an enemy vessel the Atule stalked it throughout a squall and was eventually able to sink the ship in less than a few minutes. On November 24 the ship had one of her most successful nights. She came in contact with, and engaged, a transport with three escorts. During this engagement the Atule was able to sink two of the five ships and escape to a safe distance before the enemy’s escort ships could locate her and retaliate.
After the War
After several more kills and a very successful career, she was finally decommissioned on April 6, 1970, and was struck from the Naval List on August 15, 1973. The Atule received four battle stars for her service in WWII.
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.