USS Thresher SS-200 (1940-1946)
USS Thresher was a Tambor-class submarine, which was a design used primarily during World War II and was the United States Navy’s first practical fleet submarine. She was commissioned on August 27, 1940 with Lieutenant Commander William Lovett Anderson in command.
Due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Thresher started her war patrol service leery of even entering Pearl Harbor. She had made her way from New London, Connecticut, but remained in waters off the Hawaiian Islands until she could be safely escorted into the harbor by Thornton AVD-11. Once in the harbor Thresher began her World War II service which included a total of 15 war patrols, for which she received 15 battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation for her efforts.
Throughout these numerous patrols, Thresher was engaged in various elements of warfare, enabling her to score several hits against enemy ships. She is credited with a 5,274-ton passenger freighter, a large trawler, and a 6,960-ton freighter just to name a few. Other types of operations she participated in included the exchange of ammunition and stores for intelligence documents, submerged and surfaced attacks, running a wolf pack formation with other submarines, air-sea guard patrols, and the shore bombardment of Basco Harbor.
Inactive Duty and Decommissioning
Following her war patrols, Thresher conducted target training services out of Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok; she was operating out of Eniwetok on August 15, 1945 when the war in the Pacific concluded. She was decommissioned on December 13, 1945 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She was re-commissioned in February 1946 in order to be used as a target during atomic bomb testing at Bikini Atoll. Before she could undergo such testing it was determined that she had deteriorated beyond the repair necessary for her to undergo such testing. Subsequently, she was decommissioned for the final time on July 12, 1946 and stricken from Naval Vessel Register on December 23, 1947. She was eventually sold for scrap to max Siegel of Everett, Massachusetts.
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.