The USS Pompon was built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company and was commissioned on March 17, 1943. Her first voyage began in April of 1943 as she made her way down the Mississippi River to dock in New Orleans. From there she sailed to the Pacific.
Action in World War II
Pompon left Brisbane, Australia, in July for her first war patrol off of Truk. Pompon joined with other submarines to support 7th Fleet operations. On 25 July she torpedoed the cargo ship Thames Maru. Only two transports were damaged during the action and she returned to Australia on August 22. In mid-September she left Brisbane for the South China Sea, north of Singapore. Despite being fired upon by a liberty ship and a Japanese submarine she returned undamaged to Fremantle in Australia in November to be resupplied.
At the end of November she was sent out on her third patrol. She sailed to the China Sea off the coast of French Indo-China. After clearing the Balabac Strait, she mined the waters off of Cochin China and then went to the Celebes Sea. She returned to Darwin to be fueled at the beginning of 1944. The next month, her fourth patrol sent her near Halmahera Island where she attempted unsuccessfully to torpedo three Japanese vessels. Then she steamed to Pearl Harbor for a refit, arriving in April.
In May she patrolled the coasts of Kyushu, Shikoku, and Honshu, where she sank the cargo ship Shiga Maru. She managed to escape the area by diving deeper to avoid Japanese retaliation. She returned to Midway at the end of June. In July, the Pompon left for her sixth patrol. Off the coast of Russian Sakhalin she sank an armed trawler, torpedoed a tanker, and sank the Mikage Maru escort vessel. She narrowly escaped damaged and returned to Pearl Harbor in September for an overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard.
In mid December she went to Majuro and then on to the Yellow Sea where she saw action off of Kokuzan. Due to a hatch failure, the next morning the submarine took on water and struggled to return to Midway. After repairs were made she made her eighth patrol along the China and Formosa coasts. Her last patrol in June and July took place in the Truk performing lifeguard duties. When the war ended she came home to New Orleans on September 19. The Pompon earned four battle stars for World War II service.
After the War
She was decommissioned in 1946 and joined the U.S, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was converted to a radar picket submarine and recommissioned at the end of 1951. The Pompon sailed to the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet in 1954. She operated in the Caribbean and Atlantic until 1958, but was decommissioned in 1960 and scrapped later that year.
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.