USS Seadragon SS-194 (1939-1948)
The USS Seadragon was built in Groton, Connecticut, and commissioned in October 1939. The 1450-ton Sargo class submarine was sent to the Philippines in the 1940’s.
Action in World War II
During an overhaul process, Japanese bombs destroyed the USS Sealion, making the USS Seadragon a primary ship available. The USS Seadragon was damaged during the attack and one officer was killed, but the damage to the boat was not severe. After repairs, the boat was utilized as a transport for Asiatic Fleet staff members to the East Indies. The sub began a combat cruise near Indochina and Luzon in late December of 1941. Although the sub was plagued with weapon malfunctions, she did manage to sink one enemy ship and damage another. A few months later she carried supplies to Corregidor while also picking up more packages. Although the sub continued to make cruises to sink enemy ships, malfunctioning weaponry ruined further attacks on Japanese ships.
The USS Seadragon operated primarily from Australia for most of the 1942 and during her time there, she eliminated four cargo ships during two different patrols. During her fifth war patrol in November of 1942, the USS Seadragon sank a Japanese submarine, but at the same time damaged herself when one of her own torpedoes exploded soon after being fired. After this, an overhaul docked the USS Seadragon until April of 1943. USS Seadragon made four more cruises into the Pacific but did little damage to enemy ships.
After another overhaul the USS Seadragon entered active duty again in April of 1944 where she patrolled Japan. During this patrol the Seadragon sank a freighter and a patrol boat. After being fit with new engines, she teamed up with two other submarines. During their time together, the “wolf pack” successfully destroyed a convoy, sinking three cargo ships.
After the War
The USS Seadragon ended her combat career at the end of 1944 and into early 1945 during her twelfth patrol. Once finished with this cruise, the Seadragon was transferred to training duty. Initially starting training off the coast of California, the sub then moved to the waters of Florida and Cuba. When World War II ended in 1945, the Seadragon was scheduled to be retired. Though initially decommissioned in November of 1945, she was then returned to active duty in February of 1946. Active for another eight months, the submarine was then again placed on reserve and sold for scraps at the end of July in 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.