The USS Drum was commissioned in November of 1941, sponsored by Mrs. Thomas Holcomb, setting off with Lieutenant Commander R. H. Rice in command.
World War II Service
In April of 1942 Drum was bound for the coast of Japan for her first war patrol. She sank the seaplane tender Mizuho along with three cargo ships during the month of May, returning to Pearl Harbor in June to be refitted. Drum’s second war patrol took her to the waters between Truk and Kavieng, where poor torpedo performance caused her to only damage one freighter before returning to Midway to refit.
Drum’s third war patrol was in waters off the east coast of Kyushu. In October 1942 she made contact with a convoy of four freighters, defying the convoy’s air cover, and sinking one of the cargo ships before being pushed deep by bombing. The following day she sank another freighter, and later in the patrol she sank one of three air-escorted cargo ships, as well as damaging at least two other ships before completing her patrol.
The submarine’s fourth war patrol occurred between November 1942 and January 1943, where Drum carried out the task of planting mines in the heavily traveled area of Bungo Suido. Several depth charges and emergency repairs required Drum to undergo a major overhaul following this patrol and she did not undergo her fifth war patrol until May of 1943.
Drum completed 13 war patrols overall, of which nine total were designated successful. Between her fifth and seventh war patrols, Drum sank two freighters, a cargo-passenger ship, and another cargo ship. For her eighth patrol she coordinated with the landings at Cape Torokina, patrolling between the Carolines and New Ireland where she sank a cargo ship and a convoy of four freighters. Her tenth war patrol included lifeguard service for raids on Yap and Palau, sinking a 25-ton sampan in July 1944. Her 11th war patrol was notable as it occurred during the Leyte landings and the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf, where she sank three cargo ships in route to reinforce Japanese fighting for the Philippines.
Drum proceeded to Saipan at the end of the hostilities and from there sailed for Pearly Harbor, the Canal Zone, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Drum was decommissioned in February of 1946 and began service in 1947 in Washington, D.C. for members of the Naval Reserve in the Potomac River Naval Command through 1962. The USS Drum received a total of 12 battle stars for services during World War II, and is credited with sinking 15 ships.
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.