The USS Hammerhead, commanded by Comdr. J.C. Martin, was an American submarine which successfully partook in seven war patrols in the Pacific Theatre during World War II in the years of 1944 and 1945.
Action in World War II
After undergoing training in Lake Michigan and Balboa, Canal Zone, the Hammerhead was sent to Pearl Harbor where it began her first patrol on June 6, 1944 while accompanied by the Steelhead and the Parche. During this mission, the Hammerhead sank one sampan and damaged several other vessels in the seas south of Formosa, escaping a surprise aerial attack in the process.
The Hammerhead’s second patrol, beginning on September 9, was far more successful, sinking five cargo ships during the operation in the Java and South China Seas and earning the Navy Unit Commendation as a result. After an uneventful third war patrol in which the Hammerhead joined with the Lapon and the Paddle in several attacks without sinking any enemy ships, the Hammerhead succeeded in sinking the Japanese frigate Yaku with four torpedoes on its fourth war patrol before prematurely returning home due to the illness of the commanding officer.
The Hammerhead’s fifth war patrol, which began on March 10, 1945, sent her to the coast of Indochina where she intercepted a large convoy, breaking the escort ship in two with a single shot and proceeding to damage several others. The sixth patrol sent the Hammerhead to the Gulf of Siam where she sank a ship on May 6 and another on May 14, although she did see resistance in the form of a depth charge attack during the operation. On June 21, the Hammerhead began its last war patrol, during which she sunk yet two more cargo ships before retiring to Pearl Harbor to end the mission. This would be the Hammerhead’s last operation in World War II, receiving seven battle stars for her efforts.
After the War
Although the Hammerhead was decommissioned after the war, she would continue to see service in later years, first during the Korean War as a training vessel.Â She was later transferred to Turkey to serve in her navy as the Cebre (S-341).
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, includingÂ 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.