USS Finback SS-230 (1942-1958)
The Gato-class submarine USS Finback SS-230 was constructed at Portsmouth Navy Yard in New Hampshire and launched on August 25, 1941. On January 31, 1942, the Finback received her commission under the command of Lieutenant Commander Jesse L. Hull.
Action in World War II
The Finback proceeded to Pearl Harbor to join the Pacific front of the war. Two days after arriving, she was sent to patrol at the Battle of Midway, though her first official war patrol did not begin until June 9, 1942. At that time, she was sent north to the Aleutian Islands where she survived a depth charge attack, reconnoitered Vega Bay, and surveyed Tanaga Bay. Her second patrol took her to Taiwan, where she sank one enemy freighter and damaged another.
Subsequent patrols would take the Finback to Rabaul, the Japanese home islands, Wake Island, Java, the South China Sea, the Caroline Islands, the Palaus and Marianas, the Bonins, and the East China Sea. In all, she performed twelve war patrols, sinking a total of 69,383 tons of enemy shipping. In addition to engaging in combat, she also performed escort and lifeguard duty for Allied boats and planes. She was at Pearl Harbor when the war ended and was sent back to the East Coast.
After the War
Now stationed at New London, Connecticut, the USS Finback was given the task of training student submariners, though she did twice visit the Caribbean with the 2ndfleet. On April 21, 1950, she was decommissioned and placed in reserve. Her name was removed from the Naval Register in 1958 and she was sold for scrap the next year.
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.