USS G-1 SS-19½ (1912-1921)
Originally laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company as the Seal, the USS G-1 was an early submarine that never saw combat; instead, she was used primarily for training and scientific experimentation. One of four G-class subs, the G-1 was 161 feet long and could travel at 14 knots (16 mph) at the surface and 10 knots (12 mph) while submerged. She was launched in February 1911 and given her first commission on October 28, 1912.
Service in the Atlantic
After commissioning, the G-1 performed various training exercises in Long Island Sound and Narragansett Bay, once diving to a then-record-breaking depth of 256 feet. Despite this, she was placed in reserve until February 6, 1915, when she was give full commission and sent to the coast of Virginia to join the Third Division of the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Flotilla.
Though the G-1 featured improved performance from her predecessors, submarine technology was advancing rapidly, and the G-class boats had been shown to roll and spring leaks in heavy seas. In April of 1915, Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, Jr., announced that the G-class vessels were unsuitable for military combat, and should instead be used for scientific or training purposes.
In this capacity, the G-1 worked as a school ship at Newport, Rhode Island. She ran training cruises and performed practice attack runs. At the beginning of 1917, she and her crew relocated to New London, Connecticut, serving at the new Submarine Base and Submarine School there. As the U.S. entered World War I, the G-1 tested detector equipment and submarine nets for use in combat.
In 1919, after failing an inspection, the USS G-1 was taken out of service. She was decommissioned and stripped of useful parts on March 6, 1920, and a little more than a year later, she was towed to Narragansett Bay and sunk by experimental depth charge attacks.
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.