USS Spot SS-413 (1944-1962)
USS Spot SS-413 was a Balao-class submarine that was first commissioned on August 3, 1944 with Commander William S. Post, Jr., in command. The Balao-class subs were the largest class of submarines in the United States Navy whose design was used during World War II.
USS Spot first arrived in Saipan, accompanied by Balao SS-285 and Icefish SS-367, on December 15, 1944. The trio was designated a hunter-killer group, working in the Yellow Sea. While in this group Spot was credited with sinking two small trawlers, a small freighter, four trawlers by shell fire, and torpedoing a cargo ship and a tanker. She also managed to remove one Japanese prisoner from an enemy ship she had fired upon, causing it to be dead in the water. Upon being low on ammunition the submarine returned to Midway at the end of January 1945 in order to be refitted and complete further training.
In February 1945 Spot began her second war patrol, traveling with Queenfish SS-393 and Sea Fox SS-402 to the East China Sea. During the second night in her assigned patrol area Spot attacked a Japanese convoy, expending all of her torpedoes. She successfully sank the passenger-cargo ship, Nanking Maru, as well as damaging a freighter. One of the convoy’s escorts closed in on Spot and the two ships exchanged fire. Spot was able to take out the ship’s forward gun and was able to submerge, avoiding depth charges and returning to Saipan to reload. Four days later Spot ended up in a friendly fire incident with the Destroyer Case DD-370 but sustained no damages.
Final Patrols and Decommissioning
Spot’s third and fourth patrols also resulted in sinking enemy ships, as well as performing life guard duties off the coast of Honshu. She was in Pearl Harbor when the hostilities ceased so she sailed for San Diego in order to provide services for antisubmarine warfare units from September 1945 to March 1946. Spot was decommissioned at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on June 19, 1946 and attached to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She received four battle stars for her services during World War II. She was eventually loaned to the Chilean government under the Military Assistance Loan Program and renamed CNS Simpson SS-21. On August 1, 1975 she was officially sold to Chile and struck from the Naval Vessel Register.
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.