USS Gar SS-206 (1941-1959)
This Tambor-class submarine was launched on November 7, 1940 by the Electric Boat Company. sponsored by Mrs. George T. Pettingill, wife of Rear Admiral Pettingill, she was commissioned at New London on April 14,1941 and commanded by Lt. D. McGregor.
Service in World War II
Following shakedown, she headed to the west coast, landing in san Diego just three days after the Pearl Harbor attack. After preparing for combat in the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, she left for Pearl Harbor on January 15, 1942. Lasting from February 2 to March 28, the Gar’s maiden patrol was conducted around Nagoya and the KU Channel entrance to the Inland Sea of Japan. On March 13, she sank the 1,520 ton cargo ship, Chichibu Maru, with her torpedoes. Her second war patrol saw her score hits on a freighter off Kwajalein atoll and a submarine decoy “Q-ship” west of the Truk atoll. Lasting from July 3 to August 21, her third patrol took her to the South China Sea and the Gulf of Siam, only making contact with a hospital ship. During her fourth war patrol, lasting from September 17 to November 7, she traveled to the Gulf of Siam’s northernmost waters, laying 32 mines in the entrances to Bangkok, which was in the important Japanese shipping lanes.
The Gar’s fifth, sixth and seventh war patrols largely involved approaches to Manila, Philippine Islands, via Borneo. On her fifth patrol, lasting from November 28 to January 19, 1943, she pushed the freighter, Heinan Maru, on the beach after scoring six torpedo hits. She also hit a seaplane tender. Her sixth patrol, lasting from February 9 to April 2, brought her into contact with many enemy ships, though she could not get within firing range because of enemy aircraft and antisubmarine patrol ships. Her seventh war patrol, which took place from April 23 to may 27, saw her sink five small craft and a 703-ton Japanese tender, the Aso Maru. Attacking a convoy west of Midway six days later, she sank a 3,197-ton passenger-cargo ship, the Meikai Maru, and the 4,361-ton Indus Maru.
Her eight war patrol saw her run a 500-ton motorship ashore after torpedoing it. On her ninth patrol, she scouted off Timor and hit a freighter in the Makassar Straight. After Overhaul at Mare Island, she returned to Pearl Harbor on November 30, 1943 to resume combat operations. During her tenth war patrol, off Palau, she sank the 5,325-ton cargo ship, Koyu Maru, on January 20. She also damaged two other ships and attacked another convoy, sinking the 3,670-ton Taian Maru. During her eleventh war patrol, she performed lifeguard duty for aviators making the first carrier-based air strikes on Palau, saving eight aviators. Her twelfth war patrol was spent in the Bonin Island area, where after making gunfire attacks on a convoy of Japanese sea trucks, she left a small freighter raging in flames and dead in the water. She again performed lifeguard duty during her thirteenth war patrol, supporting efforts to capture the Palaus. In addition, she performed valuable reconnaissance work off Surigao Strait and bombarded installations on Yap before ending her patrol at Brisbane, Australia in October.
Her fourteenth patrol involved the Gar landing 16 men and 25 tons of supplies at Santiago Cove, Luzon, Philippine Islands on November 23. She also picked up intelligence documents and terminated her patrol in Mios Woendi lagoon. Her final war patrol, which was her fifteenth and lasted from December 4 to the 27th, saw her land 35 tons of supplies on the west coast of Luzon, near Duriagaos Inlet on December 11 before returning to Pearl Harbor with urgent intelligence documents, which included maps locating enemy gun positions, beach defenses, troop concentrations, and fuel and ammunition dumps on Luzon.
After the War
Following an overhaul at Pearl Harbor, she put to sea on April 2, 1945 to serve out the remainder of the war as an antisubmarine ship target trainer at Saipan and Guam, Marianas Islands. She then left the area, arriving at Portsmouth, N.H. on October 20 and being decommissioned there on December 11, 1945. After remaining in reserve from September to October 1948, she was overhauled and served as a training submarine until she was stricken from the Navy List on May 29, 1959. She was sold for scrapping on November 18, 1959. For her service in World War II, the Gar received 11 battle stars.
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.