USS Bullhead SS-332 (1944-1945)

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The USS Bullhead was constructed at Groton, Connecticut. It was a 1526-ton Balao class submarine. The Balao class was the largest class of subs in the Navy, with 122 built. They were created to be an improvement of the earlier Gato class of subs, and had much thicker, higher-yield strength steel in the pressure hull skins and frames; this increased their test depth to 400 feet. The Balao class of submarine, overall, was one of the most successful classes of submarines the United States Navy has ever produced.

Action in World War II

The Bullhead was put into commission in December 1944. It then left for the Pacific and made its way to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In March of 1945, it started its first war patrol in the South China Sea. The Bullhead rescued three air crewmen from a downed U.S. Army bomber and used its deck gun to fire on an island held by enemies.

Later on that year, the Bullhead was faced with friendly fire when a U.S. bomber mistakenly thought it was the enemy. Luckily for the Bullhead, the bombers missed their target completely. At the end of April 1945, the Bullhead’s second patrol began at its home base in Freemantle, Australia. It patrolled the South China Sea and the Gulf of Siam, where it attacked and destroyed several small Japanese vessels.

In Late July, the Bullhead headed for the Java Sea to start its third patrol. It announced its arrival by radio on August 6th. Strangely, there was never any contact with the Bullhead after that, and it was deemed sunken along with 84 men and officers. This was the final submarine lost during the war.

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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