The USS Seal SS-183 was constructed in Groton, Connecticut. The 1450-ton Salmon-class sub was put into commission near the end of April in 1938. Her first twelve months were spent in Panama and the Caribbean. After this, she was deployed to the Pacific to serve in Hawaiian waters. Her next deployment was to the Philippines for two months, in October-November of 1941. She was in the Philippines in December when the Pacific phase of World War II began.
Action in World War II
The first war patrol for the USS Seal started in the middle of December in Soerabaja, Java. At the beginning of February she sank a small ship and finished the cruise. During her next patrol she damaged and enemy vessel and participated in attacks on three Japanese convoys. This patrol ended as the Japanese finished conquering the Indies. Her next stop was at Freemantle, Australia from April to October of 1942. At Freemantle, the USS Seal completed three more patrols, one of them on the way to Pearl Harbor. During this patrol Japan lost two freighters to her torpedoes. She then sustained minor damage to her periscopes when running into an enemy ship.
After getting repaired, she sank an enemy tanker in May. She then started her next campaign, but had to stop after sustaining damage from a depth charge. In August of 1943 she again was damaged while diving because one of her hatches would not close, but was not taken out of combat. She took part in the invasions of the Marshall and Gilbert Islands between November of 1943 and March of 1944 as a reconnaissance and lifeguard sub. When this tenth patrol was over, she went in for repairs and to have her always unreliable engines repaired.
After her overhaul, she was sent back out to the northern Pacific and managed to sink two ships owned by the Japanese. She was to make one more patrol in Japan where she attacked and sank her seventh Japanese Maru. After this final patrol, she was used as a training submarine at Pearl Harbor in November of 1944. She then started being used as a training sub in New London, Connecticut.
After the War
In November of 1945, the Seal was finally put out-of-commission and into the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. The Naval Reserve took her out of reserve in June of 1947 to use as a stationary training sub. She was used in two places for this purpose, in Boston, Massachussetts, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She was finally stricken from the Naval Register in May of 1956. In 1957 she was sold for scrap.
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.