USS Barbero SS-317 (1943-1964)
The USS Barbero (SS-317, SSG-317) was launched on December 12, 1943. After shakedown training, the Barbero sailed to Key West, Florida in early June. There, she served as the object of the training searches conducted by students of the Fleet Sonar School. She joined the Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet in July for the war against Japan. The Barbero set off on her very first war patrol on August 9.
Action in World War II
After reaching the patrol area off San Bernardino Strait on August 24, she lobbed 25 rounds toward a radar station located on Batag Island, using her 5-inch deck gun. Though she did not obtain definite results, the absence of any detected radar activity the next night led her to claim she had neutralized the station. The Barbero left the area on September 24, 1944 for Australia.
The Barbero headed for her next war patrol on October 26. After being fired at on November 2, she sank her first ship, which weighed 2,700 tons. She sank a 7,500-ton tanker on November 8. The second phase of the patrol was carried out in the South China Sea. Here, she sank a 4,000-ton cargo ship on Christmas Day. After being damaged by aerial bomb fragments on December 27, she had to complete the distance to Fremantle on only one screw. During the patrol, the Barbero sank four ships, for a total of 21,700 tons.
The Barbero underwent repairs in March of 1945 in New Jersey. Afterwards, she left to join the Pacific Fleet. During her voyage back to the war, hostilities ceased. She returned to the West Coast for deactivation in September of 1945. After arriving in Mare Island Navy Yard and undergoing preinactivation overhaul, she was placed in reserve, out of commission in October 1946.
After the War
On February 1, 1955, Barbero underwent a conversion to enable her to carry, launch, and control two Regulus missiles. She was reclassified as a guided-missle submarine and redesignated SSG-317. She joined the Atlantic Fleet as part of Submarine Squadron 6.
In 1959, she was reassigned to SubRon 1 of the Pacific Fleet, based at Pearl Harbor. Here, she carried out deterrent patrols that later would be used regularly by the submarine Navy after fleet ballistic missile submarines were introduced. After completing three deterrent missions, she was placed out of commission on July 1, 1964, and sunk on October 24, 1964, as a target. For her service in World War II, Barbero received two battle stars.
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.