Construction began on the USS Peto SS 265 on June 18, 1941, by the Manitowoc Ship Building Company located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was completed and subsequently launched on April 30, 1942. Her first commander was Lt. Comdr. William T. Nelson, commissioned on November 21, 1942. On December, 1942, the Peto was put on a barge from the Manitowoc shipping yard and earned the singular honor of being the first submarine to get to New Orleans from the building company yards. In New Orleans, she was fitted out and sailed for Brisbane, Australia, through the Panama Canal.
Action in World War II
The Peto went on her first war patrol in April from Brisbane, Australia. She monitored Greenwich Island looking for enemy ships beginning on April 13. Not finding any enemy targets, she headed for the equator. She arrived at the Truk-Kavieng route on April 14. There she spotted a Truk-Rabaul convoy consisting of two destroyers, two freighters and a small ship. When the Peto made to attack the enemy convoy, their destroyer attacked the Peto forcing her to dive. The Peto was attacked with nine depth charges and survived without damaged. The Peto returned fire on May 5 using only her sound and radar systems.
The Peto scouted Cape Oxford before returning to Brisbane on May 20. She left Brisbane on June 10 and later attacked a small ship, smashing it in two with a torpedo. Later, she damaged two destroyers accompanying tankers that looked like the Nippon Maru. On September 1, the Peto went out on her third war patrol in the Bismarck Archipelago. She scouted the sea route in Truk and Nauru. Failing to make contact with the enemy, she sailed to the Truk-Kavieng-Rabaul sea route on September 20 and after two days saw five enemy ships being escorted to Rabaul. Again, the Peto lost her chance to attack when she was again spotted by the enemy, forcing her to dive.
From September 24 to September 26, the Peto scouted the Admiralty Islands, not making any contacts with enemy ships. Finally, on October 1, the Peto could see three fairly large freighters and quickly fired six torpedoes, hitting two of the three ships. Following the war, investigations reported that the two ships were the Tonei Maru and the Kinkasan Maru.
After the War
The Peto was awarded eight battle stars for her ten war patrol service missions during World War II. She served admirably, saving Allied airmen and marines along with clearing the sea routes of enemy ships. She was taken off the list of Navy Ships on August 1, 1960, ending her career, and sold for scrap metal on November 10, 1960.
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.