USS Bashaw SS-241 (1943-1972)
The USS Bashaw was an American Naval submarine that operated during World War II and the Vietnam War. She was a Gato class submarine that served in many capacities before being used as a target and sunk in 1972.
Construction of the Bashaw commenced at the end of 1942 in Groton, Connecticut. She was formally commissioned in October of 1943. After transiting the Panama Canal the Bashaw proceeded to New Guinea to join the Pacific Fleet.
Action in World War II
After traveling to Brisbane for repairs and refueling the ship began the first of six World War 2 war patrols. During the first patrol the Bashaw managed to damage four Japanese ships, however failed to sink any during this foray. After refitting in Australia, the Bashaw once more set out on patrol, this time sinking a 6,440 ton military cargo ship. At the end of this war patrol the Bashaw traveled to Seeadler Harbor for another refitting, and to participate in training exercises before her third war patrol.
Departing Seeadler Harbor the Bashaw embarked on its third war patrol. During this trip the Bashaw attacked and sank the Japanese cargo ship Yanagigawa Maru before moving to support carrier strikes against Mindanao. She played a role in sinking a 225 ton fuel ship and rescued one of the crew members, who was later turned over to Australian authorities.
The Bashaw journeyed to Fremantle, Australia for refitting and repairs in 1945. After the refit the Bashaw moved to patrol the waters in the Gulf of Tonkin, where it assisted the submarine Flasher in sinking two ships. This would be the final action that the Bashaw would see during World War II.
After the War
The Bashaw was decommissioned in 1951 and converted into an antisubmarine vessel. Once the conversion was finished, she was recommissioned and based in San Diego. Shortly thereafter she was reassigned to Pearl Harbor as a training vessel.
When the Vietnam War broke out, the Bashaw helped patrol waters in the Gulf of Tonkin following the Gulf of Tonkin incident. She would continue to serve as a support craft as the conflict in Vietnam increased in intensity. She was finally decommissioned in 1969 after being labeled too old for naval service.
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.