USS Sand Lance SS-381 (1943-1972)

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The Sand Lance was a submarine that launched on June 25, 1943. The Sand Lance went on five war missions.

Action in World War II

Before she entered the patrol area out of Paramushiro on February 24, the Sand Lance passed through a pair of typhoons and encountered huge slush ice fields and drift ice patches. The first victim of the Sand Lance was Kaika Maru. The sub’s torpedoes brought the ship down to the ocean’s bottom. Even though the periscope was damaged from the drift ice, the Sand Lance was able to press attacks on an enemy convoy on March 3rd and sink the Akashisan Maru, a cargo ship that weighed more than 4500 tons, and damage a variety of other ships.

On the 12th of March, the Sand Lance ran along the water’s surface to Honshu until she was forced to submerge by an airplane’s marauding. At 0200, the Sand Lance rose to periscope level to find that she was amidst a convoy of Japanese vessels. This convoy was made up of three warships and five merchantmen. Since the sub had just six remaining torpedoes, she made every one of them count. All six hit their marks.

The Sand Lance went on three more war patrols.  The second of four saw her sink three Japanese ships, including a 3129 ton cargo ship.  In the third, she sank a converted gunboat, but was damaged by enemy freighter and one of her own malfunctioning torpedoes, necessitating a return to Pearl Harbor and eventually the U.S. west coast.  After repairs, she returned for one last patrol from April to June of 1945, firing on an unidentified freighter before taking up lifeguard duties until the end of the war.

After the War

After the war, she remained inactive for a time until she was loaned to Brazil’s Navy to comply with terms of the military’s Assistance Program.  After she was reconditioned, the Sand Lance was recommissioned to Pearl Harbor.  She departed on the June 24, 1953, to arrive in San Francisco for the 1st of July.  She served in the Brazilian Navy until the first of September in 1972, when she got sold to Brazil’s government for $55,000.

The Sand Lance was one of the most successful submarines in the navy of the United States.  The missions it performed in the second world war are still studied in American military schools.  The Sand Lance is an example of excellence for the new submarines that have been commissioned by the 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.


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