USS Dace SS-247 (1943-1955)
A Gato-class submarine, the USS Dace SS-247 was built by the Electric Boat Company beginning on July 22, 1942. She was launched in April of the next year and received her commission on July 23, 1943, under Lieutenant Commander Joseph F. Enright. From there, she was sent to Pearl Harbor, arriving there on October 3.
Action in World War II
The Dace’s first war patrol took her to the Japanese island of Honshu. Within days, she encountered an enemy freighter, which she damaged with torpedoes. After a refit at Midway, she began another war patrol in January of 1944, this time in the shipping lanes south of Truk. During this patrol, she fired on an enemy tanker and two escort ship, but though her crew reported hearing five explosions, Japanese records do not indicate that any ships were damaged at that time.
During her fourth patrol, the Dace gave chase to an enemy convoy, eventually sinking a tanker and a smaller freighter after several days of evading aircraft attacks. However, her fifth patrol won her the Navy Unit Commendation. Along with the submarine USS Darter, she encountered a Japanese force amassing for the attack on Leyte, and radioed this important information back to base. While attacking the convoy, the Darter ran aground, and the Dace was able to take on her crew.
During her next two war patrols, the sub was able to sink the Nozaki, at least two freighters, and an enemy escort, after which she returned to Midway on July 25, 1945. On August 13, she traveled to Saipan in preparation for her next patrol, but two days later, the war ended with Japan’s surrender.
After the War
The Dace soon returned to Pearl Harbor, and then back to New London, Connecticut, where she was placed in reserve. She was decommissioned in February of 1947, but received a new commission in August of 1951 to patrol the East Coast and Caribbean Sea. After another period in reserve and modernization, she was once again decommissioned in 1955 and transferred to the Italian Navy.
In Italy, the sub served as the Leonardo da Vinci for a series of five-year installments lasting until 1972, at which point she was returned to the United States, stricken from the Naval Register, and sold for scrap in 1975. The USS Dace ultimately received seven battle stars for her service in addition to the Navy Unit Commendation.
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.