USS Diablo SS-479 (1945-1964)

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Named for a member of the batfish family, the USS Diablo SS-479 was launched on December 1, 1944, from the Portsmouth Navy Yard in New Hampshire.  Sponsored by Mrs. V.D. Chapline and commanded by Lieutenant Commander G.G. Matherson, this submarine received her commission on March 31, 1945, and soon thereafter set out for Hawaii.

Service in the U.S. Navy

Arriving at Pearl Harbor on July 21, the Diablo was sent out on her first war patrol on August 10.  However, the war ended before she could arrive at Saipan for further instructions, so she was rerouted to Guam.  From there, she returned to Pearl Harbor and then the East Coast, porting at New York City on October 11, where she remained for several months.

After this, the Diablo traveled to the Panama Canal Zone for fleet exercises and simulated war patrols with other submarines, including the USS Cutlass and the USS Conger.  She continued antisubmarine warfare exercises at Key West toward the end of 1947 and participated in training activities in Marcy 1948.  At her new home port of Norfolk, Virginia, she assisted with Operation Convex in 1951, but was sent the next year to a new home port of New London, Connecticut, with the Submarine School.

In 1954, the Diablo returned to Key West to test new weapons and other equipment and participate in Operation Springboard.  For the next several years, she rotated between the Submarine School, the Fleet Submarine School in Key West, and fleet exercises in the Caribbean.  In early 1959, she took a cruise to South America to perform exercises with the navies there.  In 1960, the Diablo was overhauled at the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard and her designation changed to AGSS-479 in 1962.

Service in the Pakistani Navy

In 1963, the submarine was transferred to the Pakistani Navy and stricken from the U.S. Naval Register the next year.  Though originally under a four-year lease, she was commissioned into permanent service for Pakistan, bearing the name PNS Ghazi.  Here, she served through Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and into the War of 1971.  While near a buoy at Vishakapatnam, she exploded and sank on December 4, 1971, taking all her crew with her.  Though Pakistan maintains that she was destroyed by a naval mine, India claims one of its destroyers was responsible for the sinking.

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.


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