USS Lizardfish SS-373 (1945-1946)

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The keel of the USS Lizardfish, named after a scaly saltwater fish, was laid down on March 24, 1944. Built by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, she was launched on July 14, 1944.  At the beginning of the next year, she left Manitowoc for Lockport, IL where she was loaded onto a floating dry dock and towed down the Mississippi River to Algiers, Louisiana, arriving on February 1.  Put to sea five days later; she traveled through the Panama Canal and on to Pearl Harbor arriving on March 23.

Action in World War II

On April 9, 1945, she left Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol.  After refueling at Saipan, she set sail for the South China Sea.  She painstakingly patrolled the waters off Indochina from April 30 until May 18, and from May 23 to May 28 conducted the same painstaking patrol in the Java Sea. She made no enemy contact in either location. She set sail for Australia and arrived at Fremantle on June 2, 1945.

Later that month, she began her second war patrol in the Java and South China Seas. There were successful contacts with the enemy on this mission. Throughout the patrol, the submarine sought out enemy ships and installations and destroyed them. On July 5, she discovered four landing barges, a 250-ton sea truck and a 100-ton submarine chaser hidden in the bay of Chelukan Bawang, Bali. While submerged, she sank the submarine chaser and then surfaced and used her deck guns to destroy the four landing barges and destroy the hull of the sea truck. She then left the area.

On July 19, she again made contact with the enemy while patrolling near the Sunda Strait and inflicted heavy damage before running out of ammunition and having to submerge. She did not resurface until the following night.

After the War

The Lizardfish met with no additional conflict. She was in the Philippines when Japan surrendered on August 15. She left the Philippines on August 31, arriving in San Francisco on September 22, and was at Eureka, California, for Navy Day celebrations on October 24. She served for some time as a school ship for the Sonar School at San Diego, California. The Navy decommissioned her and placed her in reserve from June 24, 1946, until March 16, 1959, and then refitted and transferred her to the Italian government on January 9, 1960.  The Lizardfish received one battle star for her World War II service.

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.


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