USS Bang SS-385 (1943-1972)
The USS Bang (SS-385) was commissioned in December of 1943. She was a 1526-ton Balao class submarine that was constructed at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. After being commissioned, she travelled in February of 1944 to the Pacific. Here she participated in war efforts against Japan. She did six war patrols here, the first in March.
Action in World War II
During the first patrol into the Luzon Strait area, she helped sink three of Japan’s ships. Her second patrol took place in June of 1944. She supported the Saipan invasion during this patrol, and then continued to the Formosa area. She reportedly attacked, but did not sink, many boats during this patrol.
The next two patrols took place from August to September and October to December of 1944. These patrols were also near Japan and the Formosa area, and were very fruitful. She ended up sinking five ships during these two patrols. In the last two of the six cruises, she sank no enemy ships, but did manage to help save a Navy aviator who was stranded in the ocean. These patrols took place in January through February and March through May of 1945.
After the War
The USS Bang was sent back to the United States in May of 1945 for repairs and upgrades. She then took part in the occupation efforts after Japan surrendered. She was then placed out-of-commission in February of 1947. She stayed in storage until she was needed during the Korean War in February of 1951. She received further upgrades during 1952, when she got “Guppy IIA” status. This process made for much improved underwater performance and improved her appearance.
Her assignment after this was to continue helping with the Korean War as part of the Atlantic Fleet. From time to time through the rest of the 1950s and 1960s, she would be deployed to northern European areas and occasionally to the Mediterranean Sea. She was eventually, in October of 1972, given on loan to the Spanish Navy. Two years later, in November of 1974, Spain ended up buying the USS Bang. Spain renamed her Cosme Garcia, and she served their navy for almost ten years. In June of 1982 she was finally stricken from the Register.
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.