Launched on September 10, 1945, from Groton, Connecticut, the USS Diodon SS-349 was a Balao-class submarine propelled by diesel-electric power. With Lieutenant Commander J.M. Hingson in command, the Diodon received her commission on March 18, 1946, and set out for San Diego, California.
Service in the Pacific
For the next four years, the Diodon remained in the Pacific, participating in training exercises off of the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii. In August 1947, she ported at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California, to receive GUPPY II modernization. Among other things, the sub was given three new masts and a snorkel, which allows the sub to draw air from the surface while remaining underwater. Before this, submarines were forced to operate above water most of the time, only diving to avoid airborne attacks or complete missions in daylight.
In late 1950, the Diodon patrolled the Far East, rescuing six pilots from Guam and training Korean frigates for antisubmarine warfare. She returned to the U.S. in early 1951 for an overhaul, after which she resumed operations on the West Coast. For the next few years, she alternated between exercises on the West Coast and patrols of the Far East, once visiting Brisbane, Australia, for a commemorative celebration of the Battle of the Coral Sea.
These Far East patrols continued until 1960. In 1971, the USS Diodon was taken out of commission and her name removed from the Naval Register. A little over a year later, she was sold for scrap.
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.