The USS Bluegill was launched in December of 1942 from Groton, Connecticut and went out into shakedown training and then to the Pacific Ocean. In April she went on her first war patrol and met her first contacts, but was unable to fire any shots because she could not find any favorable shooting positions. She would start to have some success on her war patrols when she managed to sink a Japanese light cruiser.
Action in World War II
Her second and third war patrol would be filled with furious action as she would encounter a wide variety of Japanese merchant and warships. However, she managed to sink some of these ships and still evade damage, but during the third war tour she took some casualties during surface action. During her third tour she even fired off all of the torpedoes that she had and still managed to sink a large number of ships before having to head back to port.
She had to remain in port for almost an entire month while repairs were being made. She tried to make a run through the Lombok strait at night, but that would prove to be costly since a shore bombardment struck them and forced them to retreat. While in a wolf pack formation she obtained two Japanese prisoners to take back to Fremantle which she returned to in February of 1945.
During her fifth patrol the Bluegill struck at a ship that was being towed, but was not successful. She patrolled the coast of Borneo and arrived with other submarines to form a picket line. She then took part in conjunction with her partner ships and the Army Air Force to take out the Japanese convoy HI-88J. Her final war patrol did not bring her into contact with any Japanese ships.
After the War
She was decommissioned in 1946 and would remain that way until the Korean conflict brought her back to service. She trained with units in the Seventh Fleet before coming back to the West Coast to patrol until 1955. The Bluegill was removed from service in 1969 and used for training in Pearl Harbor for sailors.
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.