USS Grayling SS-209 (1941-1943)

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The USS Grayling SS-209 was a Tambor-class submarine, and the fourth ship of the United States Navy of that namesake. Her keel was laid down at the Portsmouth Navy Yard located in Kittery, Maine in December 1939. Sponsored by Mrs. Herbert F. Leary, she was launched on September 4, 1940 and commissioned on March 1, 1941, Lieutenant Commander Elliot Olson in commanding.


Prior to her service in World War II, Grayling was called upon to assist in the search for submarine O-9 (SS-70) that was subsequently found at the bottom, however rescue attempts failed. On December 31, 1941 the Grayling, as part of the Pacific Fleet, began the U.S. Navy’s long road back to the Pacific. Her first war patrol was in January of 1942 where the Grayling sailed the Northern Gilbert Islands. On her second patrol Grayling sank her first ship, a cargo freighter, Ryujin Maru.

Grayling went on a total of eight war patrols and was credited with five major kills that totaled 20,575 tons. Seven of those eight patrols were deemed “successful” by the United States Navy and she received six battle stars for her service in World War II.

Lost at Sea

During Grayling’s eighth and final war patrol out of Fremantle, Australia she recorded her last kill on August 27th in the Tablas Strait. After September 9, 1943 she was never heard from again. Grayling was officially reported as “lost with all hands” on Sept 30, 1943. It is assumed that her loss was either operational or the result of an unreported attack. The Navy has recorded her loss as occurring between September 9th and 12th in 1943, either in the Lingayen Gulf or along the approaches to Manila.

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.


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