USS Dentuda SS-335 (1944-1967)
Originally named the Capidoli, the USS Dentuda SS-335 was launched from Groton, Connecticut, on September 10, 1944, and commissioned on December 30. Commander John S. McCain, Jr. – father of Arizona Senator John McCain – was the first to command the submarine.
Action in World War II
The Balao-class diesel-electric submarine was first put through an extended shakedown cruise that included experimental duty for the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force. On April 5, 1945, she set out for Pearl Harbor, arriving on May 10. From there, she was deployed on her first patrol to the Taiwan Straits and East China Sea. On this cruise, she damaged a large freighter and sank two enemy patrol vessels, the Reiko Maru and the Heiwa Maru, on June 18. The war ended less than a month later, and the Dentuda was sent back to the United States in the first days of 1946.
After the War
However, the Dentuda did return to Pearl Harbor as part of Operation Crossroads in February. She survived atomic weapons tests at Bikini Atoll and returned to Pearl Harbor on September 5. There she remained for a month before steaming to Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California.
The USS Dentuda was decommissioned on December 11, 1946, and remained in the Mare Island area for training purposes as part of the 12thNaval District Reserve Fleet. She was eventually sold for scrap in 1969. However, her single war patrol was considered successful, and she earned a battle star for her contribution to the Okinawa invasion.
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.