USS Blackfin SS-322 (1944-1972)
The Blackfin was launched on March 12, 1944 and commissioned on July 4, 1944. During its war operations it completed five war missions. The Blackfin operated in the South China and the Yellow Seas territories.
Action in World War II
On September 11, 1944 the Blackfin arrived at Pearl Harbor, departing on the 30th and heading for the Philippines. It docked in Saipan until October, 1944 and a month later torpedoed and sank the Japanese troop vessel, the Unkai Maru, and an auxiliary vessel, the Caroline Maru, which was carrying Japanese ciphering papers and code books.
The Blackfin ended its first war patrol at Fremantle, Australia, departing on January 2, 1945 to patrol the South China Seas. Later that month, it torpedoed and sank the Japanese destroyer Shigure by diverting an attack on another destroyer.
The sub ended its second war patrol in the Philippines, departing on March 6th to continue to patrol the South China Seas. While on patrol off the French Indo-China coast, pursuing Japanese convoys, the Blackfin was damaged by depth charges, but stayed on the bottom for several hours to shake the attack. The submarine received orders to return to Australia for repairs, ending a third patrol on April 9th.
The Blackfin departed that month for its fourth patrol to Singapore and in June, having encountered defects, the Blackfin ended its fourth war patrol at Pearl Harbor. After repairs it departed on July 17th for Midway. It arrived at Midway and departed for Saipan on July 29th, arriving on August 7th and departing for its fifth war patrol in the Yellow Sea. Soon, it received the cease-fire order that signaled the end of WWII. Albeit, the Blackfin continued in the Yellow Sea sinking 61 floating mines before being ordered on August 29th to Guam.
After the War
Following WWII, the USS Blackfin was docked in San Diego, California, but also operated near Hawaii and the Marianas and even became part of the Arctic Ocean operations in 1946. The USS Blackfin was decommissioned from the Naval registry on September 15, 1972. The Blackfin submarine was featured in two Hollywood films, having earned three battle stars for its service during World War II.
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.