The USS Mackerel was the lead ship in her class of submarines. The USS Mackerel was the first submarine to be named after a common food and sport fish by the United States Navy. She was built on October 6, 1939, at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. The ship was commissioned on March 31st 1941 and was commanded by Lieutenant John F. Davidson.
The submarine was equipped with a very impressive armament. six 21-inch torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes, one 3-inch/50 dual purpose deck gun, two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns completed the ships impressive array of weaponry. Although the submarine was never directly involved in combat, the ship and her armament proved very effective in training crew members on the maneuvers of operations of a submarine during combat situations.
Action in World War II
During World War II the ship mainly cruised in and around the harbor of New London, Connecticut, and was assigned to the Submarine Squadron 1. She participated in many training exercises and was responsible for the readiness of the submarine fleet of the United States Navy during the war. She was first designed as an experimental submarine and often lent support services to the Underwater Sound Laboratory and training services to the Submarine and the Prospective Commanding Officers Schools at New London.
Most of the submarines duties were in and around Connecticut, but on occasion she would journey as far north as Casco Bay and as far south as Chesapeake Bay. During one such journey outside of the New London harbor area, she encountered an enemy sub and had to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid two torpedoes. The USS Mackerel returned fire with two torpedoes of her own but the enemy ship was out of range. The following morning, the enemy submarine was spotted but again was out of range of the ship’s guns.
After the War
At the end of the war the USS Mackerel was ordered to Boston. The submarine was decommissioned on November 9, 1945, and was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 28, 1945. She was sold for scrapping to the North American Smelting Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 24, 1947.
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.