USS Sea Devil SS-400 (1944-1964)
The Sea Devil (SS-400) departed on July 11, 1944, for its home port, Pearl Harbor. On August 9th, she joined Submarine Division 281 for her first war patrol. On September 16th, the Sea Devil was off the coast of Honshu, torpedoed and sank two sampan patrol vessels.
Action in World War II
The Sea Devil commenced patrol close to Japan, using the month of October to be refitted at Majuro. In November, she headed toward the Kyushu coast where, from December 1 through 9, the Sea Devil torpedoed and sank the Akigawa Maru and Hawaii Maru, encountered and torpedoed enemy contacts. From the middle of December to the end of the month, the Sea Devil patrolled off Okinawa and returned to Pearl Harbor.
From February 7, 1945 to March 29, 1945, the Sea Devil trained in wolf pack tactics, patrolled the Yellow Seas with three U.S. submarines, searched and rescued downed pilots, and sank mines. In April, she attacked and destroyed seven vessels, performed search and rescue, was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation at Midway. In May, the Sea Devil patrolled the East China and Yellow Seas with two other subs.
For the month of June, Sea Devil patrolled the Shantung peninsula and Korea and destroyed a cargo ship, sank one trawler and disabled others, and conducted search and rescue operations. In July, she headed to Guam for refit. After Japan’s surrender, she continued searching for mines and joined seven other submarines operating out of Subic Bay on training operations.
After the War
From April 1946-October 1947, she was involved in anti-submarine warfare training, operated in Hawaii, then toured in the Far East. Beginning in January 1948, Sea Devil was scheduled for inactivation and was decommissioned September. In March 1951, she was recommissioned and operated in Hawaii due to hostilities in Korea. In September she returned to the west coast and provided ASW training for Fleet Air Wing 4 in the Puget Sound.
In July 1960, the Sea Devil was re-designated AGSS-400. From 1961 to 1963, she performed training operations off the west coast and made two deployments to the western Pacific. In February 1964, she was finally decommissioned and her name was removed from the Navy Register in July. The Sea Devil earned five battle stars for her WWII service.
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.