USS Barracuda SS-163 (1924-1945)
The USS Barracuda was the lead submarine of the V-boat class and was the second sub to be named after the barracuda. The Barracuda was first launched in 1924 at the Portsmouth Naval Yard. It was commissioned on October 1st, 1924 as V-1 with Lieutenant Commander S. Picking in command.
Between the Wars
The Barracuda was launched first as a surface running vessel to test the diesel-running engines. It was assigned to submarine division 20 and cruised along the New England coast, performing various tests. In January 1925, the Barracuda travelled the Caribbean Sea, returning in May of 1925. The submarine continued to cruise the Atlantic and Caribbean seas until 1927.
In November of 1927, the Barracuda left the Portsmouth Naval Yard en route to San Diego, CA and arrived on December 3rd of the same year. Between December of 1927 and May of 1932, it patrolled the Pacific Ocean and completed several missions with the Unites States naval fleet in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The submarine’s name was changed to Barracuda 9 in March of 1931 and its designation to SS 63 in June of 1931.
In 1932, it went into rotating reserve and served with the 15th submarine division, based at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. In 1933, the Barracuda was assigned to division 12 of the submarine fleet and cruised to Pearl Harbor and the Panama Canal Zone with the fleet. In October of 1936, it participated in the Gravimetric Survey Expedition. In January 1937, it sailed from the Virgin Islands and arrived in Philadelphia, PA, until it was decommissioned on May 14, 1937.
The USS Barracuda SS-63 was re-commissioned on September 5, 1940 at Portsmouth Naval Yard, joining submarine division 9. It set sail for Bermuda on March 2, 1941 and returned in June of the same calendar year, joining the 71st submarine division. Between December 15, 1941 and September 7, 1942, it was attached to submarine division 31 and was involved in six war time patrols in the South Pacific with no enemy contact.
The Barracuda returned to Coco Solo Canal on September 7, 1942 and after receiving voyage repairs, proceeded to Philadelphia, PA for an overhaul. After this overhaul it was assigned to divisions 13 and 31 and completed many training missions with destroyers. The Barracuda was decommissioned on March 3, 1945 and sold for scrap on November 16, 1945.
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.