USS Stingray SS-186 (1938-1945)
The USS Stingray was a Salmon-class submarine, a developmental step in the design of the Navy’s 1930s concept “Fleet Submarine.” This particular class were instrumental in providing yeomen service during World War II. Stingray was commissioned on March 15, 1938 with Lieutenant L. N. Blair in command.
Prior to her services in World War II, Stingray endured a rigorous schedule of training and maneuvers as a unit of Submarine Squadron 6. After an overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California, Stingray returned to Hawaiian waters where she joined the Asiatic Fleet at Cavite, Philippine Islands, on October 23, 1941.
Immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Stingray was deployed to the Lingayen Gulf on her first war patrol. While at this location the sub witnessed the Japanese invasion of Lingayen, however, due to material deficiencies, was unable to attack. During her second war patrol in Sama Bay, Stingray scored her first kill; torpedoing and sinking the transport Harbin Maru. After this Stingray patrolled the Davao Gulf, and Surabaja, Java, before heading to Fremantle, Australia in an attempt to avoid the Japanese, who were closing in on the Dutch base.
Stingray participated in a total of sixteen war patrols; the current record for number of war patrols completed by an American submarine. Stingray’s service during World War II earned her twelve battle stars. Stingray’s patrols were varied and included offensive and defensive assignments, as well as lifeguard duties. Patrols 12 through 16 were deemed special missions, where she was charged with activities such as landing officers, other men, and their supplies in various locations without detection.
Following her 16th patrol, Stingray returned to the United States, arriving at New London, Connecticut on April 29, 1945, where she operated until being decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Yard on October 17, 1945. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on July 3, 1946 and subsequently sold for scrap.
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.