USS Sargo SS-188 (1939-1947)
The USS Sargo was in the top-notch of 1450-ton submarines during the late 30’s and throughout the 40’s. The submarine was built in Groton, Connecticut. In February 1939 she was commissioned and made her first cruise to South America. Once ready for battle, the submarine made its way over to the Pacific near the Hawaiian coast. After spending two years off the coast of Hawaii and in the fall of 1941, the Sargo trudged its way across the Pacific to the Philippines where, shortly after, the Pacific war began.
Action in World War II
At the beginning of the war the Sargo made patrols targeting Japanese shipping off the coast of Indochina. Although the Sargo initiated several attacks, none were successful. The ineffectiveness of the attacks was an indication of the issues with the Navy’s newest torpedoes. This would be a recurring situation for the Americans for the next year and a half. Near the end of the patrol, the Sargo assisted the stranded submarine S-36.
The next patrol for the Sargo was a transport mission. During this mission the submarine carried ammunition to the Philippines while also carrying Army passengers back to Java and bringing submarine force staff to Australia on the way back. Friendly fire temporarily crippled the Sargo on the return trip. The submarine was ineffective in taking any enemy ships during her third and fourth cruise, but on the fifth cruise in 1942, she took down a freighter. On her sixth cruise, the Sargo made the return trip home from Australia to Pearl Harbor and from there to the West Coast for renovations.
The Sargo returned to combat in May of 1943 and sank one ship during the first patrol of the year. During the ninth and tenth patrols, she sank two enemy ships and another during the eleventh patrol. A year passed and the Sargo had become a veteran war ship. During October and December of 1944, sje made a final patrol, sinking two enemy ships.
After the War
At the end of this cruise the Sargo was retired because of both age of the ship and the sharp decline in enemy shipping boats. Once retired, the submarine was used as a training boat for target duties in the Pacific. Her active duty ended in August of 1945 and the sub was officially decommissioned until June of 1946. Finally in May of 1947 she was sold for scrap.
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.