The Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, located in Quincy, Massachusetts, laid down the keel of the the USS S-20 SS 125 on August 15, 1918. The USS S-20 was then launched on June 9, 1920, but not commissioned for another two years.
Between the Wars
In March of 1923, she was ordered to travel to Coco Solo in the Panama Canal Zone. In February of 1924, the USS S-20 reported to Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. From there, she was ordered to the Panama Canal to perform its duties between January and April 1926. Between March 20, 1927 and March 28, 1927, the sub traveled to Kingston, Jamaica and then returned to the Panama Canal in April of 1929.
On November 7, 1930, the USS S-20 left Coco Solo to report to Pearl Harbor, taking a month to get there. She continued her duties at Pearl Harbor until February 20, 1932. At that point, the she headed for Mare Island, where she would stay from March of 1932 and April of 1933. After completing service at Mare Island, she received orders to report to San Diego, California. The ship remained in San Diego until March of 1934. At that point, the USS S-20 headed towards New London and arrived on October 28, 1934. She became involved in the test and evaluation department while still performing other duties.
During the months of February and March of 1938, the USS S-20 traveled to Guantanamo. Then in January of 1939, the ship traveled to the Panama Canal. She remained in the area until March of 1939. In February of 1940, Guantanamo got another visit from the USS S-20. She remained in service in New London, continuing operations off of New England and engaging in training activities while in Casco Bay, Maine, through most of the Second World War
On July 2, 1945, the USS S-20 left New London and headed towards Pennsylvania. On July 16, , the submarine was decommissioned in Philadelphia and removed from the Naval Vessel Register soon after. The next January, the USS S-20 was sold for scrap metal to the North American Smelting Company located in Philadelphia.
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.