USS Plaice SS-390 (1943-1973)

The USS Plaice (SS-390), a Balao class submarine, was launched November 15, 1943, and commissioned February 12, 1944.

Action in World War II

The Plaice left for the Panama Canal Zone on April 15, 1944, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on May 13th. The Plaice began its first war patrol in the Bonin Islands on June 3rd. She torpedoed and sank the Japanese gunboat Hyakufuku Maru on June 30th, the Kogi Maru on July 5th, and a Japanese submarine Chaser No. 50 on July 18th before returning to Midway on July 26, 1944. On August 17, 1944, the USS Plaice departed Midway for her second war patrol off the Ryukyu Islands. On September 7th, the Plaice torpedoed the cruiser Kongo Maru and later that month sank the Coast Defense Vessel #10 with three torpedoes. The second patrol ended as the Plaice pulled into Midway on October 7th and departed for Pearl Harbor with the nuclear submarine USS Thresher. The Plaice departed Pearl Harbor for its third patrol on November 9th to patrol in Kyusyu and Sikoku. After fueling at Midway on November 13, 1944, she departed to patrol the east of the Van Diemen Strait. On December 9th, she torpedoed and damaged an escort destroyer, Maki. Plaice pulled into Guam on December 20th.  In January, she left Guam on her fourth patrol in the Luzon Straits-Formosa areas. Her group torpedoed a convoy of small and medium freighters as well as three escorts. Her fifth patrol from Midway Island on April 26, 1945, took her to the Kurile Islands-Okhotsk Sea area. May 13, 1945, the Plaice trailed and sank four sea trucks and four small luggers. When she exhausted her ammunition, she drove two more luggers toward the beach, disabling them. On May 18th, she fired on seven 250 ton fishing boats and severely damaged them. The sixth patrol on July 18th involved patrolling the East China Sea areas, but she made no enemy contacts. However, the Plaice picked up five survivors from an Army B-25 and transferred them to a Navy bomber.

After the War

After the war, the Plaice operated in the Pacific until November 1947 when she was decommissioned at Mare Island, California. Plaice was reactived on May 18, 1963, in preparation for a transfer to Brazil on September 7, 1963, under the Military Assistance Program.  Overall, she received six battle stars for her WWII service.

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. References:
Naval Historical Center