USS Trout SS-202 (1940-1944)

This 1,475-ton Tambor-class submarine was built by the Portsmouth Navy Yard and commissioned in November 1940. She was the first ship in the United States Navy to be named for this fish. Sponsored by Mrs. Walter B. Woodson, she was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Frank Wesley "Mike" Fenno, Jr. Following the completing of shakedown, mid-1941 saw her arrival in the Pacific at her new home base, Pearl Harbor.

Action in World War II

Japan’s December 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor occurred when the Trout was on patrol near Midway Island. That morning she witnessed the island’s bombardment by two enemy destroyers, although she was too distant to take action. However, her second war patrol took her to the Philippines with a cargo of ammunition.

In early February 1942, at Corregidor, she collected twenty tons of gold and silver to transport to Pearl Harbor. On her return through the Formosa Strait and near the Bonin Islands, the Trout got her first chance to avenge the December 7 attacks, as she sank a Japanese freighter and patrol vessel. Her next combat cruise took her off the Japanese coast.

During that cruise, she was credited with five sinkings, when in actuality she sank only two. This was due to her unreliable torpedoes, which had not yet been recognized as faulty. Along with many submarines, June of 1942 saw the vessel’s participation in the Battle of Midway, though she only was only able to help recover surviving Japanese soldiers days later.

Her fifth war patrol brought her to the waters off Truk, which lasted from August to October. This patrol saw her sink a small net tender, damage an aircraft carrier and receive damage of her own. The Trout’s sixth through tenth war patrols saw her operate out of Australian ports. These patrols saw her undertake an unsuccessful attack, though she did sink seven ships in the first nine months of 1943. In addition, she laid mines, landed and recovered agents in the Philippines, captured Japanese prisoners, and endured problems with her torpedoes, undoubtedly allowing several enemy vessels to escape.

She underwent overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard before her January 1944 return to Pearl Harbor. Early February saw her begin her eleventh war patrol. At the end of this patrol, she came upon a troopship convoy sailing to the Marianas. Of that convoy, she sank a transport and damaged another. However, she was never heard from again and presumably was sunk by Japanese destroyers during this attack, taking over 80 crew members with her.

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.

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