The USS Bluefish, a 311′ 9″ Gato-class submarine, the second US Navy ship to be named for the Atlantic fish of the same name, was laid down on June 5, 1942 in Groton, Connecticut. It was launched on February 21, 1943 by the Electric Boat Company. The Bluefish was sponsored by Mrs. Robert Y. Menzie, wife to the Superintendent in charge of Hull Construction, and was commissioned on May 24, 1943. Lt. Commander George E. Porter was its commander.
Action in World War II
Departing New London, Connecticut on July 21, the Bluefish reported to TF 72 on August 21, 1943 in Brisbane, Australia. During the time between September 9, 1943, and July 29, 1945, the submarine completed nine war patrols, covering an operating area extending from the Netherlands to south of Honshu, the largest island of Japan.
On November 18, 1943, the Bluefish engaged and sank 12 Japanese ships with a combined weight of 50,839 tons, which included the destroyer, the Sanae. Later engagements saw the Bluefish victorious over the submarine I-351 on July 15, 1945, and a submarine chaser in July 1945. The USS Puffer (SS-268), also a Gato-class submarine, was able to sink a 5135-ton tanker with assistance from the Bluefish.
After the War
When hostilities ceased, the Bluefish returned to the United States Navy Yard in Philadelphia, arriving on October 9, 1945. It was assigned to the 16th Fleet, then was moved to the Submarine Base at New London on October 21. The Bluefish was then towed to the Electric Boat Company in Groton to undergo repairs. It was returned to New London where it was taken out of commission and placed in reserve on February 12, 1947.
On February 7, 1952, the Bluefish was re-commissioned at the Submarine Base at New London, reporting to the Atlantic Fleet, Submarine Division 82. It proceeded on April 7 to Key West, Florida, and on April 11 reported to Submarine Division 41. Operating along the Florida coast and in the Caribbean until May 1953, the Bluefish engaged in training exercises and local operations.
The following month, on June 7, 1953, the Bluefish was sent to the Naval Base at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It underwent a pre-inactivation overhaul at the Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth. It was then placed out of commission, reserve status, at New London on November 20, 1953. On June 1, 1959, Bluefish was stricken from the Navy List.
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.