USS Sea Owl SS-405 (1944-1969)
The Sea Owl’s construction started in the Navy Yard by Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in February of 1944, when her keel was first laid down. She was commissioned on July 17. After her unsteady shakedown start off New London, Connecticut, and Portsmouth, the Sea Owl arrived at Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal on October 23, 1944.
Action in World War II
As part of a co-ordinated group attack with the Piranha and Sea Poacher, the Sea Owl’s first war patrol started on November 19 in the East China Sea. She sank her first victim after searching three weeks for a worthwhile target, a Japanese escort destroyer. She returned to port at Guam on January 15, 1945.
In concert with the Tirante and the Puffer, the Sea Owl started out on her third and final war patrol on May 20. This patrol was devoted to offensive tactics and lifeguard duties, and concentrated in the East China and Yellow Seas. Nineteen days later, the three subs contacted two Japanese destroyers and fired six torpedoes, hitting the magazine of one destroyer and blowing it up in the water.
Just four days later, the Sea Owl destroyed a large four-mast, rice-laden schooner in a gun attack and captured prisoners of war. On July 2, she rescued six aviators that were downed in the near darkness. They were all wounded and received treatment aboard the Sea Owl, becoming part of the crew for the rest of the patrol’s assignment. The Sea Owl was in Pearl Harbor making preparations for her fourth war patrol when the Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945. In September, she returned to the United States and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet.
After the War
In the years after World War II, the Sea Owl engaged in various assignments, including exercises and training, and was given an overhaul from September 1947 to January 1948 at the Naval Yard in Philadelphia, followed up with refresher training in the Caribbean. The Sea Owl participated in many tours of duty and exercises, including Operation Keystone, and visited Turkey, Greece, Spain and Italy. On November 15, 1969, after over 25 years of dedicated and honorable service, the Sea Owl was struck from the Naval list and decommissioned.
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.