The Muskallunge (SS-262), a 311′ 9″ Gato-class submarine, was laid down by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut, on April 7, 1942, and launched December 13. She received her commission on March 15, 1943, with Comdr. Willard A. Saunders in command.
Action in World War II
Departing New London for Pearl Harbor on August 7, her first war patrol began on September 7, off the Palau Islands. The Muskallunge was the first American submarine to carry electric torpedoes. She attacked Japanese convoys, damaging a passenger freighter and a cargo ship, in spite of malfunctioning torpedoes. She returned to Pearl Harbor October 25.
Her second war patrol began on November 27, near Guam in the Western Carolines. The Muskallunge attacked two freighters and a tanker, also sinking a Noroto Maru class vessel, then returned to Pearl Harbor January 21, 1944.
In June during her third war patrol beginning April 30, she joined operations with eight submarines near the Marianas, intercepting approaching enemy forces, protecting our Navy while they invaded the islands. In the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Japanese carriers sustained fatal hits from two of these US submarines. The Japanese Fleet’s air arm was taken out by American naval aircraft in what was later called “the Marianas Turkey Shoot.” The Muskallunge’s patrol ended July 4 at Fremantle, Australia.
The Muskallunge and the Flier (SS-250) departed August 1 for her fourth war patrol to the South China Sea. Along the coast of French Indochina on August 21, she sank the Durban Maru, then sustained damage from a depth charge, returning to Fremantle for repairs September 22. Her fifth war patrol was west of Palawan Passage, October 19 to December 14, returning to Pearl Harbor on December 16.
For her sixth patrol off Formosa, she departed April 26, 1945, acting as lifeguard for Philippine-based airstrikes on Formosa and China, then sailing to Midway, arriving June 15. During her last patrol, the Muskallunge headed north of Japan to the Kurile Island Chain. On August 8 she engaged several small ships in dense fog, damaging two. Five battle stars were awarded to Muskallunge for service in World War II.
After the War
On September 2, hostilities ended, surrender ceremonies were held on Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay. The next day, the Muskallunge departed for New London. Decommissioned January 29, 1947, she joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, was recommissioned on August 31, 1956, and then transferred to Brazil. She was decommissioned for good on January 18, 1957, then loaned to Brazil under the Military Assistance Program, serving as Humaita (S-14) in the Brazilian Navy until she was returned and sunk in March, 1968.
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.