The USS Kingfish (SS-234) was commissioned on May 20, 1942, with Lt. Commander V.L. Lowrance in command. The USS Kingfish was a Gato class submarine.
Action in World War II
The Kingfish arrived in Pearl Harbor on August 31, 1942. She sailed her first war patrol the next month, patrolling close to Japan’s coast. During this cruise she spotted a three ship-convoy and fired three torpedoes at the last freighter. She scored one hit, but was unable to determine the extent of the damage due to a series of depth charges that lasted eighteen hours. The Kingfish successfully cleared the area and continued her cruise.
Upon sighting freighter Yomei Maru she fired three torpedoes and sunk the ship. Anticipating retaliatory depth charges, the Kingfish lowered her depth and continued on. A short time later she sighted and fired upon another freighter, but was unable to confirm the kill. Another two weeks passed before she sighted and sunk the Seiko Maru. This concluded her first war patrol.
After a refit she sailed to Chichi Jima in November to begin her second patrol. Two days later she sank the Hino Maru No. 3. One month later she sunk the Choyo Maru. In January, after sinking an enemy trawler, she returned to Pearl Harbor. After an overhaul she began her third war patrol. While en route to Formosa she sank another enemy trawler and torpedoed a passenger freighter. In March she sank a transport while the troops were seen fleeing the boat. Later that same month she was severely injured in an enemy depth charge attack. The crew burned secret material in case the order was given to abandon ship. Fortunately the enemy vessel believed they sunk the Kingfish and she was able to escape and return to Mare Island Naval Yard to be rebuilt.
While her fourth war patrol was uneventful, she was able to accomplish two special missions while on her fifth. On her ninth patrol she sank the Tokai Maru No. 4. She sank two more on her eleventh tour and two Sampan boats on her twelfth.
After the War
The Kingfish was decommissioned in 1946 and struck from the Naval Lists in 1960, after a very successful career. In all she made twelve war patrols, sank fourteen ships, and was awarded nine battle stars.
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.