The Parche (SS-384) was an American submarine commissioned on November 20, 1943, under the command of Comdr. L.P. Ramage.
Action in World War II
Her first war patrol began on March 29, 1944, as part of a wolf pack with the Tinosa and the Bang. They were able to destroy five Japanese ships during the patrol, two of which were sunk by the Parche. During this operation, the Parche surveyed the island Ishi Gaki Jima to determine the extent of its military installations.
The Parche formed another wolf pack for her second war patrol, this time with the Hammerhead and Steelhead. In a month and a half, this highly successful group sunk six ships during the patrol. For her efforts, the Parche received a Presidential Unit Citation. Her third patrol, a three month stint from September to December, was completed without encountering a single enemy vessel. The hunting was more propitious on her fourth patrol, a patrol in the Nansei Shoto which began on December 30, 1944. On this mission, she damaged two anchored ships as well as sinking the Okinoyama Maru.
In 1945, with targets become increasingly sparse as the Japanese grew increasingly weak in the latter stages of the war, the Parche was sent to the water off the coast of Japan itself for her fifth patrol. The Parche found many targets, several of which she was able to sink, including a minesweeper and a small freighter.
For her last patrol, the Parche joined the “Lifeguard League,” a group of ships assigned the task of picking up the survivors of any downed planes. After being relieved of that mission, she was sent to the Tsugara Strait on patrol. She was able to sink several enemy ships including a freighter, two luggers, and several trawlers. On June 25, 1945, the Parche spotted a nine ship convoy, an exceptionally large target so late in the war. She attacked the group, sinking one ship and damaging another, although she had to endure a four hour depth charge attack once spotted.
After the War
After another round of lifeguard duty, the Parche left for Pearl Harbor. The war would end while the ship was being overhauled. After the war, the Parche was used as a target for an atomic bomb test at Bikini. Having survived the episode, the ship was decontaminated and assigned to training duty in California. She would be decommissioned in March of 1947 and stricken from the register in 1969.
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.