The USS Herring submarine was launched out of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH on January 15, 1942. It was first stationed off the coast of North Africa. On November 8, the Herring made its first attack on an enemy ship, sinking the 5,700 ton cargo ship off the coast of Casablanca.
Action in World War II
The Herring attacked a Nazi submarine, U-163, on March 23 of 1943 during its third patrol mission and sank it. Its fourth patrol took it to Icelandic waters for an antisubmarine sweep and its fifth patrol took it back to the US on July 26, 1943 with no more sunken ships.
On August 9, 1943, the Herring left New England and headed to the Pacific Ocean. It underwent vigorous training at Pearl Harbor and joined other American submarines in an attack on Japanese shipping boats. While stationed there, it sunk two enemy ships. The Herring’s next patrol on March 24, 1944 proved difficult as it set out to stalk a large aircraft carrier. Before an attack could be made, the Herring was detected and forced to submerge into deep waters for self-defense purposes.
Disappearance at Sea
Its eighth patrol, which took place on May 21, 1994, was also its last. It sailed to the Kurile Islands to patrol the waters near Japan. Ten days later, it had an arranged meeting with the USS Barb, the last time the Herring was seen or heard. The submarine failed its last patrol, though Japanese records show that the Herring sank two of their ships, the Ishigaki and the Hokuyo Maru, on the night of May 30 1944. Two more ships sank while anchored on the Matsuwa Island of Kuriles on June 1, 1944. The Japanese fought back with a counter attack which directly ended the Herring’s attack string.
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.