The USS Guitarro was a Gato-class submarine that was launched in 1943 by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was sponsored by Mrs. Ross T. McIntire and commissioned on January 26, 1944 with Lieutenant Commander Enrique Haskins in command.
Guitarro completed a total of five war patrols between May 1944 and May 1945. She sunk her first cargo vessel during her maiden war patrol and also managed to evade counter-attacks by the screen ships located in the same convoy. Afterward, on the night of June 2nd Guitarro made a moonlight periscope approach and effectively sunk the frigate Awaii. Guitarro’s second war patrol took her to the South China Sea just off the coast of Luzon where she sunk another frigate, where again the enemy responded and Guitarro managed to elude them. During this same patrol, Guitarro targeted and defeated the tanker Shinei Maru, passenger-cargo ship Uga Maru, and the coastal tanker Nanshin Maru.
Guitarro’s subsequent patrols had similar results and the sub was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. During her fifth patrol the vessel was placed in charge of laying mines off Berhala Island, as well as patrolling the shipping lanes between Borneo and Singapore. She finally arrived at San Francisco, California on June 18, 1945 and was decommissioned at Mare Island on December 6th of the same year, where she was placed in reserve.
Guitarro was re-commissioned February 6, 1952 and given an overhaul in order to engage in a series of exercises conducted off the coast of San Diego. After this she was once again decommissioned in 1953 and underwent a Fleet Snorkel conversion. Guitarro was awarded four battle stars for her service in World War II with all but her fourth war patrol being deemed “successful.”
Transfer to Turkey
Prior to a transfer to Turkey under the Military Defense Assistance Program Guitarro was re-commissioned yet again and utilized for the training of Turkish soldiers. She was officially transferred to Turkey in August of 1954 where she was renamed TCG Preveze S 22, and eventually TCG Preveze S 340. She was formally sold to Turkey in 1972, after which the vessel was 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.