The Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, laid down the keel of the submarine USS Redfin SS 272 on September 3, 1942. On April 4, 1943, the Redfin was launched and then put into service on August 31. On October 15, she left New Orleans and headed towards Fremantle, Australia, beginning her first war patrol on January 4, 1944.
Action in World War II
While in the South China Sea, the Redfin came into contact with a convoy of enemy ships. The Amatsukaze, a Japanese destroyer, intercepted and engaged in an attack. The submarine managed to escape the situation by damaging the destroyer and fleeing. Between March 19 and May 1, the Redfin did a second war patrol near Zamboanga, Mindanao. During that time period, she attacked and sank the Akigumo, a Japanese destroyer, as well as the Shinyu Maru and the Yamagata, Japanese passenger cargo ships.
The Redfin’s third war patrol lasted between May 26 and July 1, 1944. She began her journey by first stopping an island off the Balabac Strait and then continuing to Tawi Tawi, an enemy naval base. On June 11, the Redfin attacked and sank the Asanagi Maru, a Japanese tanker, and sank a passenger cargo ship not long afterwards.
During her fourth and final patrol, the Redfin reported to Borneo to engage in lifeguard duty. On November 8, she attacked and sank the Nichinan Maru, a Japanese tanker. The Redfin returned to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in San Francisco on January 7, 1945. For its service in World War II, the submarine earned six battle stars.
After the War
On November 1, 1946, the Redfin was decommissioned in New London, Connecticut. In April of 1951, the ship was taken to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to be converted and reclassified. On January 9, 1953, it was then recommissioned and spent six years occupied with radar picket duty. Afterwards, the ship was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard as a training ship.
On May 15, 1967, the Redfin was decommissioned and sent to Baltimore, where it was used as a Naval Reserve Training Ship. On July 1, 1970, she was removed from the US Naval Register. She was sold on March 3, 1971 to the North American Smelting Company located in Wilmington, Delaware.
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.