USS Threadfin was a Balao-class submarine which was the largest class of submarines in the United States Navy. This successful design was used primarily for service during World War II, and included a total of 122 units. She was commissioned on August 30, 1944 with Commander John J. Foote in command.
Threadfin completed a total of three war patrols, for which she received three battle stars for her service. During her first war patrol she was assigned to the waters just south of Kyushu which was deemed successful but still discouraging due to the amount of enemy ships she came in to contact with that she was unable to fire upon.
During her second patrol, Threadfin joined a coordinated attack group comprised of herself, Sea Dog SS-401 and Trigger SS-237. This type of coordinated attack group was known as a “wolf pack.” Not long after, Threadfin was reassigned to a new wolf pack and soon joined up with Hackleback SS-295 and Silversides SS-236 near Bungo Suido, which was the primary entrance to the Seto Inland Sea. Their primary assignment was to guard against an undetected raid from the remainder of Japan’s fleet during the Allied assault on Okinawa. While on this patrol, Threadfin was able to spot an enemy task force surrounding Japan’s super battleship, Yamato. Her radio calls and warnings to the Fifth Fleet headquarters allowed for planes of Task Force 58 to ambush and take out the enemy ships.
Threadfin was also elemental in rescuing various survivors during her war patrols. Her third patrol concluded with a coordinated attack alongside Sea Robin SS-407, in which the two subs were able to take down four merchantmen and a patrol craft near the Strait of Tsushima.
Post-War Service and Decommissioning
Following the war, Threadfin reported for duty with the Atlantic Fleet where her activities included serving as a training ship for officers and men enrolled at the Submarine School. She was decommissioned shortly after in order to complete an extended conversion overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She was re-commissioned following her Great Underwater Propulsion Power Program, or GUPPY, conversion, and reported for duty with Submarine Squadron 4. Over the last 19 years of her career, Threadfin mainly operated in summer training cruises for the U.S. Naval Academy and NROTC shipmen, as well as participating in the quarantine of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Threadfin was eventually placed out of commission on August 18, 1972 and transferred to Turkey the same day. She was loaned to the Turkish Navy and renamed TCG 1. Inonu S 346. On August 1, 1973 her name was struck from the American naval Vessel Register, and she was eventually sold to Turkey.
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.