USS Springer SS-414 (1944-1961)
USS Springer was a Balao-class submarine that was commissioned on October 18, 1944 with Commander Russell Kefauver in command. Balao-class submarines were designed specifically for use during World War II and were the largest class of submarines in the United States Navy.
Springer was deployed to the Ryukyu Islands for her first war patrol, where she was able to sink an enemy ship despite first being forced to submerge by enemy planes. The sub returned to Guam for refitting in March 1945, after which she sailed for the Yellow Sea as part of a wolf pack with Trepang SS-412 and Raton SS-270. While a part of this wolf pack Springer was elemental in sinking several enemy ships including Japan’s Submarine Chaser No. 17, Japanese Coast Defense Vessel No. 25, and Frigate Ojika, among others not listed.
On her third war patrol Springer was deployed to Saipan for a combination offensive and life guard patrol in the Tokyo Bay area. During life guard duty she rescued eight men from a downed B-29, as well as an airman from a separate downed crew. Following these rescues Springer’s patrol was relatively uneventful. She was sailing for Guam when the hostilities with Japan ceased, allowing her to head back to the United States.
After World War II
She arrived at Mare island on September 5, 1945 where she attached to the Mare island Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. That status was changed in January of 1947 when she was changed to in reserve, out of commission. Springer was decommissioned on January 23, 1961 when she was transferred to the Republic of Chile and commissioned as CNS Thomson SS-22. In September 1972 she was stricken from the United States Navy Vessel Register and officially sold to the government of Chile. Eventually she was stripped for parts and her hulk was sold as scrapping. USS Springer earned three battle starts for her World War II service.
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.