USS Greenling SS-213 (1941-1960)
This Gato-class submarine was the first to be named for this fine-scaled fish found from Kamchatka to California. Laid down by the Electric Boat Company,
she was launched on September 20, 1941 and commissioned on January 21, 1942 with Lt. Commander H. C. Bruton in command.
Action in World War II
Following shakedown, she arrived in the Pacific for her first patrol in the Marshalls and Carolines on April 3, sailing for those locations later that month. Unable to sink her first target due to faulty torpedoes, the submarine recorded her first kill on May 4 when she hit the cargo ship, Kinjosan Maru, breaking it in two. Departing on her second war patrol on July 10, 1942, the Greenling joined the undersea blockade in the Truk area in an attempt to cut the Japanese supply line. She damaged ships on July 26 and 29 before sinking the transport, Brazil Maru, off Truk. She then sank the cargo ship, Palau Maru, on the same night. After steaming to the New Ireland area, she evaded a destroyer and later sank a Japanese trawler with her deck gun. She arrived at Midway on September 1, 1942.
Her third war patrol saw her off the Japanese home islands, sinking the cargo ship, the Kinkai Maru on October 3 and Setsuyo Maru the next day. She then sank the cargo ship, Takusei Maru on October 14. She then evaded escort vessels searching for her before sinking another large freighter, Hakonesan Maru, on October 18. She then destroyed a sampan in the Tokyo-Aleutians shipping lanes on October 21 before returning to Pearl Harbor on November 1.
Arriving in the Solomons-Truk area for her fourth war patrol on December 21, the submarine immediately attacked a tanker and two escorts off Bouganville, sinking Patrol Boat 35 before being driven down by depth charge attacks. She then sank the freighter, Nissho Maru, on December 30 and the cargo ship, Kimpson Maru, and a tug on January 16.
Arriving at Brisbane after that patrol on January 21, 1943, she set off on her fifth war patrol on February 21, steaming to the Solomons-Bismarck area to land a party of intelligence agents on the coast of New Britain on March 2. However, bad weather prevented her from scoring any hits during this patrol. Her sixth war patrol, which took her to the Solomons-New Guinea area, also did not allow her to record the sinking of any enemy ship because of heavy escort activity.
Her July 29, seventh war patrol consisted of mostly special missions, including landing a party of Marine Raiders in the Treasury Islands on August 22 and 23 to select a site for a radar station and prepare for the landings there. She then reconnoitered Tarawa on September 10 and sailed to San Francisco via Pearl Harbor for overhaul. Returning for action and her eighth war patrol on December 5, she sailed to the Caroline Islands on December 20, 1943, ending the year with a late night attack that sank the freighter, Shoho Maru.
Her ninth patrol again involved a special mission as she took photographic reconnaissance of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan in the Marianas Islands, which aided the coming amphibious campaign for the Marianas greatly. Sailing for her tenth patrol on July 9, 1944, she operated of Formosa, forming a coordinated attack with Billfish and Sailflsh. She sank a trawler by gunfire during that patrol, returning to Midway on September 12, 1944.
Departing on October 5, 1944 for her eleventh patrol, she sighted a 5-ship convoy on November 7, sinking the oilers, the Koto and Maru, and the transport Kiri Maru 8. Patrolling off Japan, she sank her last ship on November 10, 1944 after destroying the destroyer, Patrol boat 46. She returned to Pearl Harbor on November 23, 1944. Her final war patrol, the twelfth, took her to the Nansei Shoto Islands. Sailing from Pearl Harbor on December 26, she intercepted a nine-ship convoy on January 24, 1945, though she had to escape after enduring a four-hour depth charge attack. After repairs in Saipan, she was sent back to the United States, and eventually Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for overhaul. She was then decommissioned on October 16, 1946 at new London, Connecticut.
Placed in service for the First Naval District in December 1946, Stationed at Portsmouth, New Hampshire she assisted in the training of reservists there and at Boston. She continued this service until March 18, 1960, when she was placed out of service in Boston, before being sold to Minichiello Brothers of Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 16, 1960 for scrapping. The submarine received ten battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service. Only three of her patrols were designated as unsuccessful.
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.