USS Cisco SS-290 (1942-1943)

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The USS Cisco (SS-290) is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the cisco, a whitefish of the Great Lakes. Cisco is a Balao-class submarine, which is a successful design used during World War II, theses are also the largest class of submarines in the United States Navy. The keel of the Cisco was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard located in Kittery, Maine. Sponsored by Mrs. A.C. Bennett through her proxy, Mrs. N. Robertson, the USS Cisco launched on December 24, 1942. The submarine was commissioned on May 10, 1943; she reported to the Pacific Fleet, and had Commander James W. Coe in command.

First War Patrol

The USS Cisco departed from Port Darwin, Australia on September 18, 1943 on her first war patrol. However, a derangement of the submarine’s main hydraulic system occurred during that day’s operation, and the submarine was forced back to report so repairs could be made. After being repaired to the satisfactions of the commanding officer the USS Cisco departed once again on September 19th. Unfortunately, the USS Cisco never returned or made radio contact after that day.

Presumed Attack

The United States Navy Department Library notes that a recurrence of issues with her main hydraulic system is unlikely. Most assume the submarine was lost at sea, as there were reports of a Japanese plane reported over Darwin on the morning of the vessel’s second departure. There are also reports of a Japanese antisubmarine attack on September 28th near the coordinates of Cisco’s expected position that day. The Cisco is presumed to have been lost in action, survived only by Chief Radioman Howell B. Rice who had been sent to the Navy hospital prior to the sub’s final voyage out of Darwin.

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.


The Navy Department Library

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