USS Saury SS-189 (1939-1947)

Commissioned April 1939, this Sargo class, 1450 ton submarine was built in Groton, Connecticut. The USS Saury spent her first year off the east coast of the U.S. performing tests. The initial shakedown cruise to the Panama Canal resulted in an overhaul. The Pacific was home to USS Saury through April 1940, when she participated in Fleet Problem XXI in the Hawaiian waters. Based in Pearl Harbor, the Saury went to the Philippines to reinforce defense.  On December 8, 1941, when the Pacific War began, the USS Saury was north of the Lingayen Gulf performing anti-invasion patrols.

Action in World War II

On December 22, 1941 the Saury attempted to attack an enemy destroyer. She managed to escape from retaliatory depth-charge counter attacks. After a futile attempt at the defense of the East Indies against the Japanese, her second cruise of combat ended in March 1942 in Fremantle, Australia. From April to December of 1942, the USS Saury stayed in Australia. This period covered three war patrols. In July 1942, the Saury performed tests that proved Mark XIV torpedoes ran deeper than thought. This deficiency had proved crippling to the United States Navy during the first one and a half years of the Pacific war. The Saury was successful in sinking a Japanese aircraft ferry September 1942, but premature detonations of torpedoes resulted in failure in other attacks. The Saury was overhauled in May 1943 at Mare Island Navy Yard and was then stationed at Pearl Harbor. Her sixth war patrol proved to be very successful and resulted in the destruction of three Japanese freighters and a tanker. The USS Saury was built with H.O.R. diesels, which caused engine troubles. Bad weather, collision with a Japanese destroyer that caused considerable damage, and a flooding incident prevented success on the next three patrols. A second overhaul in early 1944 included new engines. In spite of the overhaul, her tenth patrol, from June through August, resulted in more machinery casualties. Near Japan, from September to November the Saury damaged an enemy ship and provided rescue for a United States Navy fighter pilot that had gone down at sea in the midst of a carrier raid on Okinawa.

After the War

For the remainder of World War II, the USS Saury was involved in target and training in the Hawaiian waters. Decommissioned June 1946, she was removed from the Navy’s list and sold for scrap in May 1947.

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. References: