A Balao-class submarine, the Bumper was named after a fish located in the West Indian Ocean. The vessel was launched on August 6th of 1944 by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut, and sponsored by the wife of a prospective commanding officer, Joseph W. Williams. The vessel was officially commissioned on December 9th of 1944 with Joseph Williams in command.
Action in World War II
Between April 22nd and August 15th of 1945, the Bumper completed multiple war patrols in the Pacific theater in the Java Sea, the Gulf of Siani, and the South China Sea. During these missions, it sank a 1,189 ton tanker and demolished another small tanker anchored at port. Using gunfire, the Bumper also managed to drop four miscellaneous aircraft.
The Bumper’s final war patrol came on August 15th of 1945, at Fremantle, Australia. Later that month it departed Fremantle for Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands. Arriving on September 9th, the Bumper served as part of an exclusive unit of submarines called the Philippine Sea Frontier.
In February of 1946, it was forced to return to the California coastline for maintenance and repairs. Once the repairs were complete, it was sent to continue active duty at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Joining the Submarine Squadron 5, the Bumper patrolled the Hawaiian Islands for the better part of that year.
After the War
On December 16th, 1946, the Bumper left Pearl Harbor for a war patrol simulation. It docked at a number of stops, traveling from Hawaii to Truk, Caroline Islands, Subic Bay in the Philippines, Yokosuka, Japan, the Midway Atoll, and Tsingtao, China, where it spent a month and a half with the Northern Training Group. It did not return to Hawaii until March 29th, 1947.
In January of 1948, the Bumper departed for California and underwent yard overhaul. It returned to Pearl Harbor in the summer and proceeded to a second simulated war patrol, arriving back at Pearl Harbor in the autumn of 1949. It operated out of there until February 7th, 1950 when it returned to the United States. The Bumper was decommissioned on September 16th, 1950, and transferred to a Turkish fleet two months later. It received a battle star for its World War II service.
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.