USS Dolphin SS-169 (1932-1945)
The sixth U.S. Navy vessel to bear the name, the USS Dolphin SS-169 was launched from Portsmouth Navy Yard on March 6, 1932. She was one of nine V-boats – naval submarines built between World War I and II – and originally bore the designation V-7. Commissioned on June 1, the Dolphin was originally commanded by Lieutenant John B. Griggs, Jr.
Between the Wars
From New Hampshire, the Dolphin set out for San Diego, where she performed tactical exercises and torpedo tests. After briefly returning to Portsmouth for final trials, she rejoined Submarine Division 12 in San Diego. At that time, she was fitted with a motor boat stored in a waterproof chamber inside the sub for boarding and inspecting other ships.
During the remainder of peace time, she cruised the West Coast, sometimes traveling to Hawaii, Alaska, or the Panama Canal. On December 1, 1937, her home port was changed from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, but she continued her West Coast operations. She was present in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked in 1941 and fired on enemy planes before leaving to patrol for enemy subs.
Service in World War II
The Dolphin took her first official war patrol on December 24, traveling through the Marshall Islands as the U.S. prepared for air strikes on the area. Her second patrol took her to Midway Island, where she remained during the Battle of Midway in June of 1942. Later in this patrol, she fired on a destroyer and a tanker, though the results of this attack are unknown. Her third and final war patrol was spent near the Kurile Islands.
After the War
With newer, more advanced submarine technology available, the USS Dolphin was taken off war patrol and sent to Pearl Harbor once more to perform training duties. There she remained until January 29, 1944, when she set out for Connecticut by way of the Canal Zone. After more training duties on the East Coast, she was decommissioned on October 12, 1945 and sold for scrap the following summer.
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.