USS Sea Dog SS-401 (1943-1956)

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USS Sea Dog was a Balao-class submarine in the U.S. Navy. Named after the dogfish, a small shark of the North Atlantic, she was laid down on November 1, 1943 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard and commissioned in June of the following year.

Action in World War II

After rigorous training off the eastern coast, USS Sea Dog set sail for Pearl Harbor to engage in her first war patrol. The journey would take her from Hawaii to Midway and Nansei Shoto on September 28, monitoring the islands south of Japan. That winter, USS Sea Dog saw a bevy of action, sinking a number of gun boats and convoy ships.

On January 3, 1945, USS Sea Dog was forced to interrupt operations in order to repair her port reduction gear. Two nights later, she and USS Sea Robin made contact with an enemy convoy. While the Sea Robin managed to land two hits, the escort managed to escape. The submarine would eventually return to Pearl Harbor to have its main engines overhauled, as well as seeing the installation of radar equipment and a new 40 millimeter gun placed in a high position forward.

In addition to combat operations, USS Sea Dog was also involved in providing critical lifeguard services for downed aircraft. Patrolling the coast of Kyushu and south of the Osumi Islands, she rescued a number of grateful aircraft pilots, all while engaging and eluding enemy I-boats. On April 16, she sank the cargo ship, Toko Man, between the Hachijo and Mikura Islands. A week later a typhoon would halt all rescue and combat missions and USS Sea Dog would head toward Guam.

Following a refitting, the USS Sea Dog would begin her fourth and last foray into Japanese waters. Part of a trio of submarines departing Guam, she would eventually proceed on a separate course until pneumonia had stricken one of the crew, forcing the Sea Dog to rendezvous with USS Lamson before continuing on to the Sea of Japan. She traversed the western coast of Japan and sunk several freighters, cargo and merchant ships before returning to Pearl Harbor in July of 1945. The following month she embarked on her fifth war patrol, but as the war ended, she returned to the Hawaiian Islands shortly thereafter.

After the War

For the next ten years, USS Sea Dog participated in a variety of training exercises before receiving orders for inactivation. She was decommissioned on June 27, 1956 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She remaining there as a Naval Reserve training ship until she was stricken from the list in 1968. For the next five years, she served as a floating museum before being sent for scrapping in 1973. She earned two battle stars for her service in World War II.

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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