USS Cero SS-225 (1943-1967)
The USS Cero SS-225, a 1,526-ton Gato-class submarine built by the Electric Boat Company, was launched on April 4, 1943 and commissioned on July 4 of that same year. The 311-foot submarine had a complement of six officers and 54 enlisted men. Her propulsion was achieved through diesel-electric motors.
Service in World War II
After a brief shakedown period, the USS Cero was sent to the Pacific. During her eight war patrols, which lasted from September 1943 to July 1945, the Cero sank several Japanese ships, rescued downed U.S. pilots and transported essential personnel and supplies to Philippines guerillas. During her first, successful, war patrol, the Cero damaged three freighters and a small patrol boat, which she engaged at the surface.
She underwent a refitting at Midway on November 16, which lasted until December 13, 1943, before making an unsuccessful second patrol along the Truk-New Ireland route. During her third patrol she attacked a freighter, which was later sunk by a sister submarine, and damaged another merchantman in that same stretch of the Truk-New Ireland shipping lanes. During her fourth war patrol she experienced one of her most successful missions, sinking a cargo ship and damaging a tanker.
Before embarking on her third war patrol she underwent another refitting at Seeadler Harbor, Manus, which lasted from June 2 to June 26, 1944. She then sailed to the dangerous waters off Mindanao, sinking another tanker in August 5. Her sixth patrol saw the vessel take on 17 short tons of supplies for Philippine guerillas, in addition to 16 soldiers headed for behind-the-lines combat in Luzon. Despite orders barring the Cero from using her guns in this patrol, on October 27 she encountered two small crafts, engaged them in gun battle and sent both damaged crafts ashore. She successfully delivered the supplies and soldiers, taking on four evacuees as well. Although attacked by a Japanese submarine, her disciplined bridge crew helped the vessel evade the torpedo.
After a west coast overhaul, the Cero left for her seventh war patrol on March 31, 1945. Now commanded by Raymond Berthrong, she cruised off Honshu and Hokkaido, providing lifeguard services for air strikes on Japan. In addition, this proved her most successful war patrol, as she sank two picket boats, damaged a third, and sank three freighters and a large trawler. After a refitting at Guam and Saipan, which lasted from May 27 to June 27, 1945, the Cero shoved off for her eighth and final war patrol. She again had lifeguard duty off of Honshu, rescuing three downed bomber survivors, bombarding a Japanese lighthouse and radio station and ensuring severe bomb damage that cut the submarine’s patrol short. Extensively wounded by a bomb which landed close to the vessel, she arrived at Pearl Harbor on July 30.
After the War
Following her successful service in World War II, the USS Cero visited Louisiana ports for victory celebrations in October 1945. Although the Cero was placed on the inactive list in June 1946, she was later recommissioned in February 1952 for service in the Korean War. Until her final decommissioning in December 1953, the Cero was involved in training and experimental duties out of Key west, Florida. Laid up in the Atlantic reserve Fleet, in June 1967, the USS Cero was stricken from the Navy List and in October 1970, she was sold. The USS Cero received seven battle stars for her service in World War II and all war patrols but her second were designated successful. She is credited with sinking 18,159 tons of enemy shipping.
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.