USS Grampus SS-523 (1944-1972)
USS Grampus was a Tench-class submarine whose keel was laid down on February 8, 1944 at the Boston Navy Yard. Grampus was launched on December 16, 1944, however, World War II ended prior to her completion. The sub remained idle until her construction was resumed in 1948. On October, 26, 1949 Grampus was commissioned with Commander George F. Sharp in command.
Snorkeling equipment on board the Grampus allowed her to remain submerged for periods of time longer than any previous World War II sleet submarines. This vessel also served as a prototype for the GUPPY line of submarines, as well as incorporating several features which would appear on later models of nuclear submarines. Exercises executed by Grampus included torpedo and attack exercises, snorkeling tests and demonstrations, as well as anti-submarine training along the East Coast and in the Caribbean Sea. The ship was also involved in early HUK (Hunter-Killer) anti-submarine patrols which have become a vital part of American defenses.
At the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Grampus underwent an overhaul in April 1965. Refresher training and shakedown occurred in the fall following her overhaul and from then on Grampus operated along the East Coast, engaging mostly in ASW exercises. She departed Norfolk, Virginia on May 13, 1966 and headed for the eastern Atlantic and northern European countries as a participant in NATO ASW exercises. Afterward she returned to Norfolk and resumed operations in the Virginia Capes and the Caribbean Sea before sailing to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for repair work.
USS Grampus SS-523 was both decommissioned and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on May 13, 1972. Afterward, she was sold under the Security Assistance Program to Brazil where she was renamed Rio Grande do Sul (S-11). After completing six years of service in Brazil she was decommissioned and scrapped.
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.