USS Barb was a Gato class submarine that was built in Groton and launched in July of 1942. That year she would be sent into European waters and help with the Morocco invasion in November. She completed another four patrols in Europe in 1943, but those attacks would not produce any of the damage that she was hoping to obtain.
Action in World War II
In the middle of 1943 the Barb was sent to the Pacific Ocean. However, her sixth patrol allowed her to damage two of the enemy ships off the coast of China. She ended up having a West Coast overhaul and then patrolled the western and central regions of the Pacific Ocean, sinking a ship and bombarding a shore facility. After that she received the skipper that would lead her to become one of the most successful ships in the war. During her eighth patrol she had great success in sinking five ships and participating in the sinking of more than twenty vessels.
During her ninth patrol she worked with a couple of other submarines and ended up sinking three ships, one of which was the escort carrier Unyo. She also rescued fourteen POWs. She had two more cruises into the East China Sea and managed to sink a few additional ships on each of those cruises. She had a daring late attack on an inshore anchorage and received her fourth Presidential Unit Citation.
She ended up having another overhaul that gave her a bigger gun and a rocket launcher. She would return for her 12th patrol and all of her weapons were used to sink the ships that she encountered. She even managed to sink an escort and a freighter and her crew engaged in a raid ashore that destroyed some of the railroad trains on this island.
After the War
She would return to the East Coast in 1945 and would remain inactive for the most part until she was decommissioned in 1947. She would be brought back to active duty when the Cold War started and was sent into trails for the streamlined “GUPPY” configuration. She was then loaned to Italy and renamed where she remained active with the Italian Navy until 1972. She was then sold for scrapping in 1975.
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.