The USS E-2 was originally named Sturgeon during her construction, but renamed E-2 in November 1911. She was a 287-ton E-1 class coastal submarine that was built in Quincy, Massachusetts, and commissioned in February 1912.
E-2’s early service duties included experimental and training employment, serving in the Atlantic Submarine Flotilla. From there, E-2 operated in the waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico from January to April of 1914, and in Florida waters for part of 1915. In January 1916 a hydrogen explosion occurred on board, killing four men and injuring seven others. The explosion led to an onboard fire and was the result of hydrogen gas igniting during conditions of heavy battery testing. The explosion occurred after the vessel had been docked in the New York Navy Yard.
Following this event, E-2 was decommissioned and used solely as a laboratory for battery tests concerning the Edison storage battery. In March of 1918 E-2 was called back into service as a means of conducting anti-U Boat patrols up and down the East Coast for the remainder of World War I. She made a total of six war patrols during her career, and was commended by the Chief of Naval Operations. Two of her six war patrols were noted as being exceptionally long for a submarine of her size.
Following hostilities, E-2 was again used for training, specifically of student officers and aiding in qualifying men for duty in submarines. After use as a training station E-2 was placed in commission in ordinary before being decommissioned October 1921, and eventually sold in April 1922.
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.