USS Tarpon was second ship of this name, and began serving during World War II just days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She was commissioned on March 12, 1936 with Lieutenant Leo L. Pace in command.
Tarpon’s first war patrol was commanded by Lt. Commander Lewis Wallace, as part of 18 total submarines that departed for the Philippines two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her first patrol off southeastern Luzon remained uneventful and the sub made her way to Darwin, Australia without firing a single torpedo. Her second patrol took her to Moluccas where she made hits but never confirmed a kill. It was also during this war patrol that Tarpon suffered attack by depth charges, causing damages, as well as running aground while attempting to navigate the Boling Strait. She was able to float off with the high tide among uneasiness over Japanese planes being spotted overhead the four days prior.
During 1943, Tarpon saw more success in battle and was able to make more direct hits, leading to the sinking of enemy ships. Her ninth war patrol included a triumphant attack on the German raider Michel (Schiff 28), which turned out to be the only German raider sunk by a United States submarine in the Pacific. Other duties during her patrols in ’43 involved photographing various atolls, as well as patrolling. Duties during 1944 involved lifeguard duty in the Truk area where she also engaged in deck gunfire with a small convoy. USS Tarpon received a total of seven battle stars for World War II service.
After World War II
Tarpon was decommissioned at Boston on November 15, 1945. In early 1947 she left Boston under tow in route to New Orleans where she was scheduled for duty as a Naval Reserve training ship. She served as a training sub in the 8th Naval District until she was placed out of service and stricken from the Navy Vessel Register. Ultimately, while under tow to the scrap yard, Tarpon foundered in deep water and remains in waters south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina as wreckage.
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.