USS Tautog was a Tambor-class submarine that is listed as one of the most successful submarines of World War II. She has been credited with sinking 26 Japanese ships, for a total of 72,606 tons. She was commissioned on July 3, 1940 with Lieutenant Joseph H. Willingham in command.
Tautog was involved in 13 war patrols that spanned from December 1941 to February 1945. Tautog was in port at the Submarine Base when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Tautog was positioned within minutes after the first explosions on Ford Island, and her gun crews, with the aid of Narwhall SS-167 and a destroyer, were able to shoot down a Japanese torpedo bomber as it came over Merry Point.
Tautog’s many patrols involved several aspects of wartime deployment including both defensive and offensive tactics. She performed reconnaissance work, as well as mine laying in addition to anti-submarine warfare. She was often successful in both submerged and surfaced battle, so far as being credited for her “extreme aggressiveness,” upon pulling into Fremantle, Australia, post patrol.
Final Patrol and Post War Patrol Service
Her 13th and final war patrol took place in the East China Sea between December 1944 and February 1945, during which she was credited with sinking three ships. Upon completion of this patrol she was assigned to training duty and returned to Pearl Harbor to assist aircraft in anti-submarine warfare before returning to San Diego. While in San Diego, Tautog operated in conjunction with the University of California’s Department of War research in experimenting with new equipment developed with the intent of improving submarine safety. Upon completion of the testing Tautog sailed for Portsmouth, New Hampshire where she was decommissioned on December 8, 1945. She was subsequently assigned to the Ninth Naval District as a reserve training ship, after which she provided immobile service at the Great Lakes Naval Reserve Training Center. She was placed out of service and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on September 11, 1959. In November of that same year she was sold to the Bultema Dock and Dredge Company of Manistee, Michigan 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.