The Balao-class U.S. submarine USS Sea Robin (SS 407) was commissioned on August 7, 1944, from the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, naval yard and sailed to the Panama Canal on October 12. Oddly enough, the Sea Robin’s service in World War II nearly ended in tragedy before she ever reached the Pacific. Mistaken for a German U-Boat, a Scandinavian vessel wildly fired upon the Sea Robin as she lay on the horizon. But the Sea Robin took no damage in the incident and went on to earn three battle stars during her service in the Pacific Theater.
Action in World War II
On January 6, 1945, the Sea Robin embarked for the Luzon Strait in support of naval forces in the region. It was at Luzon where the Sea Robin sank the Japanese vessel Tarakan Maru. But thereafter, the Sea Robin saw little action on the remainder of her maiden patrol, which concluded on January 29.
On the Sea Robin’s second patrol, she saw considerably more action than her relatively uneventful maiden war patrol. From March 3 to April 29, the Sea Robin managed to engage and successfully sink five Japanese vessels including the Manyo Maru and the cargo ships Shoyu Maru and Nagaru Maru, in addition to two fishing vessels. She also managed to capture several prisoners of war as well during her active second patrol.
The Sea Robin left Pearl Harbor on June 1 on what would become her final patrol of World War II. Although only briefly in action, the Sea Robin sunk the Japanese vessel Sakishima Maru in the Yellow Sea. She continued to sail on patrol until the conclusion of the war. Were it not for damage sustained during a surprise aerial attack, the Sea Robin perhaps would have sunk even more hostiles while in the East China Sea. But damaged torpedo tubes caused the submarine to miss her marks until August 15 when the war came to an end.
After the War
After World War II, the Sea Robin became the first U.S. submarine to travel around the Southern tip of Africa’s Cape Horn in 1947. During the autumn years of her service, the Sea Robin circled the globe traveling as far north as the Arctic Circle on August 30, 1954. On October 1, 1970, the Sea Robin was finally decommissioned and struck after 26 years of service to her country.
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.