USS Salmon SS-182 (1938-1945)
The USS Salmon saw action during World War II. The submarine lived out the entire war, going on eleven patrols and taking part in several battles. The Salmon, as was typical of the fleet of submarines used in the Pacific and the Atlantic during World War II, was made by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She first set sail in 1937. The vessel went through a standard test of speed and fleet trial before being assigned to San Diego. Until 1941, she patrolled the waters of the West Coast. Eventually, the vessel was reassigned with the Holland to the Pacific.
Action in World War II
The Salmon and her crew formed Sub Division 21 and patrolled with a fleet to combat growing Japanese militarism in the 1940s. Sub Division 21 and the fleet of which it was a part executed the naval actions during the campaign. The US would end up retreating from the Philippines only to return a few years later.
In December of 1942, the vessel scored a victory against two Japanese destroyers. Outnumbered, the captain ordered a torpedo attack which struck both targets. A rain squall enabled the quick escape of the submarine. The Salmon’s third war patrol resulted in the sinking of two Japanese ships. Orders from Naval command directed her to interfere in Japanese shipping. She sank repair ship the Asahi and the Ganges Maru with torpedoes.
During the war, members of the Salmon would take on the crew of a Sampan only to find that the Japanese sailor had already abandoned the ship and its equipment. The ship went on several more war patrols, damaging freighters, and one reconnaissance mission. Its final mission in the war saw it accompany the Trigger and the Scarlet to go after a tanker. Although the Salmon did hit its target, it was forced to submerge due to imploding depth charges. The Salmon got one third of the credit for the sinking of the Janei Maru after it returned to Saipan for repairs.
After the War
After the last patrol, the ship never again saw combat. After the war, the Salmon was assigned for submarine training purposes until she was decommissioned on September 24, 1945. The Navy scrapped the vessel on August 4, 1946. Overall, she earned nine battle stars for her service in war.
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.