There are two categories of sonar technicians. The first operates on the surface, on Navy ships, whereas the second performs their job underwater, on submarines. Nevertheless, their duties are similar. Sonar technicians were in charge of operating sonar sensors for detection and classification of contacts, as well as underwater fire control systems, identifying underwater sounds, such as those stemming from torpedoes, submarines, evasion devices or surface ships, collecting and interpreting data, detecting important equipment malfunctions and, last but not least, performing preventive and corrective maintenance on sonar equipment.
However, it was the environment they would perform their work in that was detrimental to the health of sonar technicians. Since Navy ships and submarines were laden with asbestos, particularly insulation, sonar technicians, who were not wearing any protective equipment, would constantly breathe in carcinogenic fibers. Today, approximately 30% of veterans suffer from terrible diseases as a consequence of military asbestos exposure, including numerous sonar technicians.
Relevant job titles
- sonar technician (submarine)
- sonar technician (surface)
- sonarman (harbor defense)