USS S-1 SS-105 (1920-1944)

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The USS S-1 SS-105, one of the first S class submarines, was built by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy Massachusetts. It was launched on October 26, 1918, but not commissioned until June of 1920 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Thomas G. Berrien. This was one of the first “S” class submarines with a Holland-type design.

Between the Wars

Her first voyage was to Bermuda in July of 1920, and then she participated in operations along the New England coast for the next two years. At the beginning of 1923 she joined a division for experimental work, the Sub Div Zero, where she was involved in winter maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea.

Later in 1923 she was updated to be able to launch aircrafts for scouting missions. Once the submarine surfaced a scouting plane, made of wood and fabric, could be quickly assembled, launched, retrieved, and then disassembled, allowing the submarine to submerge. This was tested at New London on July 26 of 1926.

After the aircraft experiments were completed, the S-1 was assigned to be the flagship for SubDiv 2 until mid 1927, when she was sent to SubDiv 4. With this division she cruised to the Panama Canal Zone during the spring of the next three years. In the other months she operated out of New London doing operations along the New England coast. In January of 1931 she arrived in Pearl Harbor where she was stationed until 1937. In May of 1937 she went to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned and overhauled in October of that year.

After Service

After the S-1 was recommissioned on 16 October, 1940, she made two cruises to Bermuda to train the submarine’s crew. She returned Philadelphia at the end of 1941. The following year she was decommissioned and leased to the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy where she served under the name of HMS P. 552. The S-1 was returned to the U.S. Navy on October 16 of 1944 in South Africa. There her vital parts and machinery were removed. The hull was sold in July of 1945 and then she was scrapped in September of 1944.

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.


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