USS Searaven SS-196 (1939-1948)

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The USS Searaven was built at the Portsmouth Navy Yard located in Kittery, Maine, in 1939. The Searaven was Sargo Class submarine which weighed in at 1450 tons. Early in the month of October 1939, the USS Searaven was commissioned. The next year she traveled to the Far East. She began her first of thirteen patrols in December of 1941, soon after the war with Japan began.

Action in World War II

Her first tours helped defend the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies and took her to where she the waters off of Indochina and Formosa. Though she did not report sinking any ships, a Japanese destroyer was sunk in that area. While on her third patrol in April 1942 she rescued more than thirty Australian Air Force men from the island of Timor. After the rescue she caught on fire and was towed back to port.

In June of 1942 she began the first of her next three patrols from Australian ports. On January 1943 she sank a Japanese freighter. This happened during her sixth patrol which ended in Pearl Harbor in February. During the next three months she was completely overhauled and modified on the West Coast. During her seventh through eleventh war patrols she spent her time in the waters of the central and western Pacific. During this time she saved aviators that went down; she also sank a tanker and gathered information on islands held by the Japanese.

She wound up in the northern Pacific in the early fall of 1944 for her twelfth patrol. During this time she sank smaller watercraft along with another freighter. The Searaven spent time in the South China Sea in November. Although she initiated several attacks, she was not credited with sinking any ships. That was her thirteenth and final war patrol. Her time was spent after that tour doing special training and target practice.

After the War

After the war ended, the fate of the Searaven included being used as an atomic bomb target at Bikini Atoll during Operation Crossroads testing. In July 1946 two nuclear bombs were launched at her, but the Searaven was not damaged. Later in 1946 the submarine was taken out of commission. In September 1948 the USS Searaven was then laid to rest and sunk as a target.

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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