USS Bream SS-243 (1944-1946)

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The USS Bream was an American submarine under the command of Comdr. Wreford G. Chapple.

Action in World War II

Its first patrol on June 1, 1944 was an eventful one; the Bream was forced to battle poor weather conditions, enemy depth charges, and mechanical problems as it tracked convoys in the Morotai Strait. Despite the difficulties, the Bream did record one confirmed kill, the Japanese freighter Yuki Maru.

The second patrol was cut short by a fire in the maneuvering room and by two bombs dropped by a Japanese plane. After repairs, the Bream went back out on patrol near the Philippines where, despite numerous opportunities, it was unable to sink any enemy ships, although it did inflict considerable damage to a heavy cruiser and a transport.

The Bream was nearly sunken by enemy depth charges on its fifth patrol, having been spotted as it prepared an attack on an enemy destroyer escort. The charges drove the submarine to the bottom where it remained for five hours until the Japanese gave up the attack. The damage was extensive and repairs were made to the periscopes, screws, starboard shaft, and torpedo tubes once it reached port in Australia.

On its final mission, the Bream managed to sink an enemy oiler while also saving five downed American aviators along the southern tip of Formosa. The ship was being overhauled in San Francisco when the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II.

After the War

For its service during the war, the Bream received four battle stars. Although decommissioned in 1946, the Bream had a considerable history after the war. It was re-commissioned once the Korean War broke out, after which it was converted into an anti-submarine “killer” sub. The Bream continued to patrol the waters of the Pacific until 1969, when it was finally decommissioned for good. Later that same year, it was used as a target and sunken.

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.

Naval Historical Center


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