Commander F.W. Fenno, Jr. was put in command of the USS Runner SS-275 when it was commissioned in July 1942. The attack submarine left the east coast on its way to Pearl Harbor.
Action in World War II
The Runner’s first patrol started the following year and ended in March. During the first patrol the Runner torpedoed five Japanese cargo ships; however, there was no confirmation that any of them were sunk. During this patrol the submarine was hit by a bomb that had been dropped by a patrol bomber. This managed to knock out the sound gear as well as the power supply for both of the periscope hoists. The submarine made a deep dive in order to escape, during which time the crew made emergency repairs.
The second patrol began in April 1943, in order to lay a minefield off Pedro Blanco Rock. After successfully completing this mission, she headed for the Hainan Straits. During this journey she torpedoed a freighter. Although the freighter was presumed to have been hit, it was not confirmed whether it was downed. The Runner then returned to Midway that May.
Disappearance at Sea
Under the command of Lieutenant Commander Joseph H. Bourland, the Runner left the Midway later that month and headed for the Kurile Island chain. She was never heard from again. Although it was not unusual for submarines to go for extended periods of time with little contact, they were to report in on their return to base. Following the end of her patrol date, there was no contact with the base from the Runner. This caused grave concern.
After records were captured from the Japanese, there was indication that the Runner had sunk a cargo ship, as well as a passenger cargo ship. The Japanese records report that there was a submarine lost after striking a mine; however, another report indicated it had been struck by an air and sea attack. What happened to the Runner has never been officially determined. The submarine had 78 men aboard when she disappeared. She was declared overdue while being presumed lost in July 1943. She was removed from the Navy list three months later. The USS Runner SS-275 was awarded one battle star for her service in World War II.
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, includingÂ 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.