In June of 1944 the USS Besugo was commissioned in Groton, Connecticut. She was a Navy submarine of the Balao-class and weighed over 1500 tons. In September she was put right to work.
Action in World War II and Korea
She became the lead submarine in a “wolf pack” team of three. They set out from Pearl Harbor to patrol Japan and her waters. Her adventures around Japan’s islands led her to torpedo the Suzutzuki, a large Japanese destroyer. In November, the USS Besugo then returned to Pearl Harbor and set off for Australia from there. On the way she sank T-151, a Japanese landing ship.
The USS Besugo did not stop at just the destroyer and landing ship. She traveled between Bungo and Makassar Straits and the South China Sea. The ships she sank included the Japanese escort ship Kaibokan; U183, a German Submarine; the Japanese minesweeper known as W12; and even the Nichei Maru, a Japanese oiler ship weighing over 10,000 tons. The USS Besugo was everywhere from Australia to the East Indies and seemed to be nearly unstoppable.
Even after World War II and Japan’s surrender, the USS Besugo served the US for over twelve years. She even served in the Korean War in 1950 and in 1951. She was then moved from her base of almost ten years in Pearl Harbor to San Diego, California, where she served her final years near the West Coast.
After the War
In March 1958 she was put into resignation. She was placed into the Pacific Reserve fleet, also known as the “mothball” fleet. This fleet still kept the ships up to date and sustained while keeping them in a reserve state. In December of 1962, she was put into a new class of submarine and renamed an auxiliary submarine, giving her the title SS-321.
In 1965, talks of the USS Besugo transferring to an Italian faction came into play. She was handed over for training purposes and in March of 1966 she was officially decommissioned from the U.S. Navy and handed over to the Italian Navy. She served for almost a decade as the Fransesco Morosini until 1976 when she was, once again, resigned. Later she would be sold and scrapped there in Italy.
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.