USS Kraken SS-370 (1944-1958)
The USS Kraken (SS-370) was a US submarine that was active through the last years of World War II. The sub was sponsored by the wife of California Congressman John Anderson, built by the Manitowoc Ship Building Company in Wisconsin, and commissioned in September 1944. After being commissioned, the Kraken made a journey down the Mississippi River in a floating dry dock before heading to the Gulf of Panama for training exercises. After completing the training the ship headed for Pearl Harbor Hawaii to await orders.
Action in World War II
The Kraken participated in four war patrols during World War II. The first patrol began in early December of 1944. The Kraken reached Saipan on the 23rd day of the patrol, then set a course for Indochina, where she was to hold lifeguard duty over the 3rd Fleet during carrier strikes. During this tour she rescued a downed pilot during a period of rough seas and avoided an enemy plane by diving. Finding no targets in the area, the Kraken headed for Australia, reaching its destination in February of 1945.
The second war patrol for the Kraken was a month long sojourn into the South China Sea to act as support for Carrier strikes against Saigon, and Singapore, as well as to maintain lifeguard duties. After completing this patrol, the Kraken docked at Subic Bay in the Philippines.
The third and most active war patrol for the Kraken began in May of 1945 when she set sail for the Gulf of Siam. After finding no enemy targets the Kraken traveled to the Java Sea, and in June bombarded Merak. She sank a coaster and left a small ship ablaze before completing a clearing of the harbor. Just days later, the Kraken sailed in pursuit of an eight-ship convoy. The sub sank two ships from the convoy, a coastal steamer, and an oil tanker, and inflicted heavy damage against a Japanese submarine chaser. Following this patrol, the Kraken returned to Australia.
The fourth and final war patrol began in July of 1945. The Kraken traveled once more into the Java Sea; however, the patrol ended abruptly with the news of Japan’s surrender. After Japanese capitulation the Kraken returned once more to the Philippines before heading back to American waters, reaching San Francisco in September.
After the War
The Kraken became part of the reserve fleet until 1958, when she was sold to the Spanish Navy after a major overhaul in Pearl Harbor. After serving for a number of years as the SPS Almirante Garcia, she was finally scrapped in 1982.
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.