Though she only participated in two war patrols before being sunk by enemy mines, the USS Flier SS-250 is credited with sinking 10,380 tons of Japanese shipping. This submarine was first launched on July 11, 1943, from Groton, Connecticut, and commissioned on October 18 under the command of Lieutenant Commander John D. Crowley.
Action in World War II
After commissioning, the USS Flier traveled to Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol, which began on January 12, 1944. Four days later, the sub had run aground near Midway Island. The first rescue ship, the USS Macaw, ran aground and sank trying to pull the Flier free, but the submarine was ultimately rescued by the USS Florikan and taken back to Pearl Harbor for repairs. She was able to return to patrol in May and sink a Japanese transport in June. Later that month, she chased down a convoy and scored several hits on a cargo ship.
After this patrol, the Flier received a refit at Fremantle, Australia, sailing back on August 2, 1944, to begin her second war patrol, which would have taken her to Indochina. However, she was unable to complete this patrol.
Destruction at Balabac Strait
While traveling through Balabac Strait between the Philippines and Borneo in the South China Sea, the USS Flier struck a naval mine and sank in about a minute. Of her crew, 13 officers and men escaped the wreckage, but only eight reached the beaches of nearby Mantagula Island. The remains of the Flier were not found until 2009, when a film crew gathered information from a survivor and went looking for the wreck. For her single complete war patrol, the Flier was awarded one battle star.
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.