Commissioned in 1935, the USS Pike was a 1,310-ton Porpoise class submarine. The Porpoise class boats were a style of submarine built for the United States Navy in the late 1930’s which were powered by diesel engines. These ships had a top speed of 19 knots on the surface and 8 knots when fully submerged, and had a top range of 22,000 nautical miles. They carried a crew of five officers, nine chief petty officers, and 42 enlisted personnel. Armed with torpedoes, 50-caliber deck guns, and machine guns, they were formidable opponents.
Originally based on the East Coast, the USS Pike was built by the Portsmouth Navy Yard and was the first all-welded submarine. The welded hull allowed her to submerge to greater depths, thus providing greater protection against depth charge attacks. She operated in the Atlantic for little more than a year before being sent to the Pacific.
In 1937, the ship was sent to the Pacific where she participated in maneuvers in the Hawaiian area. In 1939, the USS Pike was stationed in the Philippines, later cruising to China. After World War II broke out, she conducted her first patrol off the coast of Hong Kong.
Action in World War II
Throughout World War II, the ship made numerous war patrols and was transferred to Pearl Harbor in 1942. During her time there, she saw considerable action, including two serious depth charge attacks by Japanese anti-submarine forces. She was also credited with sinking the 2,022-ton Japanese cargo ship Shoju Maru. She ultimately received four battle stars for her valiant service during World War II.
After Pearl Harbor, she was retired from active combat service and spent the remainder of World War II functioning as a training vessel at the Naval Submarine Base New London in New London, Connecticut.
After the War
After being decommissioned in November of 1945, the USS Pike was given one final mission. She began serving as a stationary Naval Reserve training vessel at Baltimore, Maryland. In 1956, the USS Pike was stricken from the Navy list and then sold for scrap to A.G Schoonmaker and Company out of New York.
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.