USS Spinax SS-489 (SSR-489)

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USS Spinax SS-489 was a Tench-class submarine that was commissioned on September 20, 1946 with Commander A. R. Faust in command. During the 1940s she was moved to New London, Connecticut and assigned to Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet.


In November of 1947 a fleet exercise took her north of the Arctic Circle near Labrador. The following January she was designated a radar picket submarine and her hull classification was changed from SS to SSR. Toward the end of the ‘40s Spinax underwent major changes to her structure and equipment, emerging with radar picket destroyer capabilities; after which she was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as the first postwar submarine unit of the Sixth Fleet. After this deployment she returned to New London where she was assigned to Submarine Squadron 6 and conducted operations along the east coast until she was deployed to the Sixth Fleet for a second time.

Throughout the 1950s Spinax made several tours across the waters off the west coast, as well as an extended tour in the Far East. She operated with the Seventh Fleet for a time, visiting the Philippines, Hong Kong, Formosa, and Japan before returning to San Diego May 7, 1955. Spinax underwent more changes resulting from an emphasis on antisubmarine warfare, thus converting her to a Fleet Snorkel submarine. These modifications included changes to her sonar and hull, as well as instillation of fire control equipment.

Final Tours and Decommissioning

During the 1960s USS Spinax completed a tour in the western pacific with the Seventh Fleet, along with four deployments in the Far East. She returned to Mare Island in August 1969 and a month later was declared unfit for further service. She was decommissioned and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on October 11, 1969, after which her hulk was sold to Zidell Explorations, Incorporated, and scrapped on June 13, 1972.

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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