USS Seawolf SS-197 (1939-1944)
The USS Seawolf was constructed in the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. She was a Sargo-class sub that weighed 1450 tons. In December of 1939, she was placed into commission and went to the Caribbean for a shakedown. After this she stayed on the West Coast. Near the end of 1940 she joined the Asiatic Fleet in Manila. In December of 1941, she did her first patrol. This was the beginning of the war with Japan.
Action in World War II
This patrol was located in the eastern waters of the Philippines. The one thing of note that happened during this patrol was that the USS Seawolf made an unsuccessful attack that gave the military an early example of torpedo malfunctions that would repeat through the first part of the war. In late December, she transported important military persons to Australia, where she stocked up on ammunition. She then went back to Manila in January of 1942. She ended up defending the East Indies from February until April of 1942. During this patrol she attacked many ships, but sank none. For her next three patrols she cruised out of Freemantle, Australia. She remained here for the rest of 1942 and managed to sink six Japanese vessels.
After these patrols, she returned to the West Coast for repairs. Going to Pearl Harbor, she completed five more patrols from April of 1943 to January of 1944. She managed to attack and sink thirteen enemy vessels during these five patrols. These thirteen sinkings make her near the top of the list of productive subs in terms of sinking enemies.
After these five patrols, she was in need of more repairs and would stay in the shipyard until June of 1944. From her base in Pearl Harbor, she was sent to the Palau Islands to gather intelligence in preparation for the invasion by the United States. After going back to Freemantle, she shipped out to rescue a military agent in Tawitawi.
Destruction at Samar
Her fifteenth and final patrol took her to the Philippines to take army supplies and personnel to Samar. Because of a communication breakdown during this patrol, United States planes attacked her and forced her to dive, where she was sunk by a depth charge on the third of October, 1944. The U.S. escort ship Richard M. Rowell DE-403 sank the Seawolf, killing all her crew and passengers – about 100 men in all.
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.