USS Bass SS-164 (1924-1945)
The USS Bass, a Barracuda-class submarine, was originally launched as the V-2 (SF-5) on December 27, 1924. Constructed by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, she was sponsored by Mrs. Douglas E. Dismukes, wife of Captain Dismukes, and commanded by Lieutenant Commander G.A. Rood.
As the V-2, she was initially assigned to Submarine Division 20 (SubDiv 20), cruising the Atlantic coast and Caribbean Sea until November 1927, when she and her division headed for San Diego, California. After arriving in December 1927, she operated with her fleet along the West Coast, Hawaiian Islands and Caribbean Sea until December 1932.
However, she was renamed Bass on March 9, 1931, seeing re-assignment with SubDiv 12 in April of that year. Her hull classification symbol was then changed to SS-164 and on January 2, 1933, she joined the Rotating Reserve SubDiv 15, San Diego. She resumed her West Coast, Hawaiian and Canal Zone cruises with the fleet until January 1937, when she sailed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was put in reserve there on June 9.
Action in World War II
Recommissioned on September 5, 1940, she was assigned to Submarine Division 9, Atlantic Fleet, operating along the New England coast and making two trips to St. Georges, Bermuda between February and November 1941. She arrived at Coco Solo, a United States Navy submarine base on the Atlantic side of Panama, on November 24, 1941, and was on duty there during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
1942 saw the Bass attach to Submarine Division 31, Squadron 3, Atlantic Fleet. She made four war patrols in the Pacific, off Balboa, while stationed at Coco Solo between March and August of that year. However, an August 17 fire beginning in the after battery room resulted in the death of 25 enlisted men by asphyxiation while she was at sea. The next day, the Antaeuc arrived to escort her to the Gulf of Dulce, Costa Rica, and from there the two ships sailed to Balboa.
She remained in the Canal Zone until October 1942, when she sailed for the Philadelphia Navy Yard for repairs. Following those repairs, she sailed to New London, Connecticut to conduct secret experiments off Block Island in December 1943. She then returned to Philadelphia for more repairs, which lasted from January to March 1944. She spent the remainder of the year with Submarine Squadron 1, Atlantic Fleet, operating out of New London in the area between Long Island and Block Island. She was decommissioned on March 3, 1945 at the Submarine Base, New London and sunk as a target on March 12, 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.