USS Ronquil SS-396 (1944-1971)
The USS Ronquil was a submarine built by the Navy Yard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and launched in January of 1944. It was commissioned on April 22 under the command of Lieutenant Commander H.S. Monroe.
Action in World War II
After an initial voyage along the coast of New England, the ship headed to Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor in July of 1944. She went through training exercises and then began her first patrol in the Formosa-Sakishima Gunto area where she sank two cargo ships. Her next patrol began when she joined a submarine attack group in the Bungo Suido area and then patrolled near the Bonin Islands.
Her third patrol, in 1945, included rescuing downed crew from Army bombers that were attacking the Japan. The next patrol saw her rescue a crew of ten from a downed B-29 bomber between Japan and the Bonin Islands. Her final patrol lasted from May to July of that same year, during which she sailed into the Yellow Sea and East China Sea.
After the War
After the end of the Pacific war, the Ronquil was sent to Pearl Harbor to train for more war patrols. She sailed to San Diego in late 1945 and participated in training exercises off the coast of California. In early 1947, the USS Ronquil left San Diego for the western Pacific. Her peacetime patrol included stops in Tahiti, Japan, the Carolines, the Yellow Sea and the Marianas. When she returned to San Diego, she began three years of training in antisubmarine warfare.
The Ronquil was decommissioned and sent to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in mid 1952 to be updated. The modernized Ronquil was recommissioned at the beginning of 1953; five months later she left for Japan, arriving in Tokyo to participate in the “Black Ship Festival.” At the end of year she was sent back to San Diego to be overhauled and receive crew training. Then she sailed to the western Pacific in 1955 and when she returned, she spent two years patrolling the California coast.
In 1959, she was once again sent to the Western Pacific and then onto the Far East, returning to San Diego in March of 1962. She was sent to Southeast Asia in 1965 due to the Vietnam War. Upon her return, she was used to film the movie “Ice Station Zebra.” After two more tours in the Far East she returned to the U.S. in 1969. After one final overhaul in 1970 she went to the eastern Pacific. The Ronquil was decommissioned on July 1, 1971, and sold to the Spanish Navy.
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.