The USS Grampus’ keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company out of Groton, Connecticut. She was first launched on December 23, 1940, and was commissioned on May 23, 1941 at New London, Connecticut; Lieutenant Commander Edward S. Hutchinson was in command.
Following a shakedown in Long Island Sound the Grampus sailed to the Caribbean Sea along with the Grayback SS-208 in order to conduct a modified war patrol. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor caused Grampus’ post-shakedown overhaul location to be moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The vessel was ready for war on December 22nd and subsequently sailed for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor on February 1, 1942.
During Grampus’ first war patrol she was able to sink an 8,636-ton tanker which would be the only kill of her career. Grampus’ second and third patrols were interrupted by numerous anti-submarine patrol craft off Chuuk, as well as poor visibility due to heavy rains along the Luzon and Mindoro coasts. Grampus’ fourth war patrol was executed during the height of the Guadalcanal campaign, which involved sailing in waters occupied by several Japanese men-of-war. The vessel sighted four enemy cruisers and 79 destroyers among five different convoys. Despite conducting a series of aggressive attacks against the Japanese ships Grampus was not credited with the sinking of any ships.
Lost at Sea
Again, in the company of Grayback, Grampus departed Brisbane on February 11, 1943 for her sixth war patrol from which she would never return. The reasons for the loss of Grampus still remains a mystery, it is assumed, due to the sighting of a heavy oil slick following Japanese attacks near Kolombangara Island, that Grampus was lost in either a night attack or gun battle against destroyers. After repeated attempts to contact Grampus failed the submarine was declared missing and presumed lost with all hands. On June 21, 1943 USS Grampus SS-207 was struck from the Naval Vessel Register.
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.