The third ship of the US Navy’s Fleet to be named in honor of the capital city of Tennessee, the USS Nashville was the tenth vessel out of 12 to be constructed as a unit of the Austin-class of amphibious transport docks. In commission for over 39 years, the USS Nashville was guided by the motto “Liberty and Country.”
Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company (Seattle, Washington) laid down the keel of the USS Nashville on March 14, 1966. She was the fifth ship within the Austin-class to be constructed at this site. Mrs. Roy L. Johnson—wife of the Navy Admiral who served as Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet from 1965 through 1967—served as Nashville’s sponsor as she was launched on October 7, 1967. Upon her commissioning on February 14, 1970 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (Bremerton, Washington), Nashville’s initial crew of 59 officers and 430 enlisted men was led by Captain Frank R. Fahland.
Measuring 570 feet in length, the USS Nashville achieved speeds of up to 21 knots and displaced 17,479 tons at full capacity. Her propulsion system consisted of two Foster-Wheeler boilers in conjunction with two DeLaval steam turbines and two shafts. Nashville’s mechanisms of defense included two MK 38 25 mm guns, two Phalanx CIWS (radar-guided Gatling guns mounted on swiveling bases), and eight .50 caliber machine guns. With regard to aircraft onboard, she was capable of transporting up to six CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.
Homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, the USS Nashville, as other ships from the Austin-class, functioned primarily as a vessel whose role was to transport a landing force—troops, vehicles, and cargo—from sea to shore.
Throughout the duration of her career, Nashville successfully completed a vast array of assignments: Caribbean Amphibious Ready Groups (four), Mediterranean Groups (eight), Persian Gulf Groups (two), a Mine Countermeasure Task Group, operations in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and operations with the Atlantic Fleet Marine Force. These assignments brought the USS Nashville to locations such as Italy, Lebanon, Spain, Tunisia, and Sardinia.
Nashville left her mark on history when in January of 2006 she earned recognition as being the first vessel to ever host the landing of an unmanned helicopter operated robotically (RQ-8A Fire Scout).
Years of distinguished service earned the USS Nashville a series of awards and ribbons. Among these were a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, a Navy Unit Commendation, three Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations, three Navy Battle “E” Ribbons, two Navy Expeditionary Medals, a National Defense Service Medal, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, an Armed Forces Service Medal, and a Humanitarian Service Medal.
The Norfolk Naval Station was the site of the USS Nashville’s decommissioning on September 30, 2009. Deemed as being cost-prohibitive by the US Navy, the USS Nashville was transferred to the maintenance office of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She remains at this site on reserve—at the ready should the need arise for her to return to active duty.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Nashville (LPD-13)
Ranging from the fire and boiler rooms that housed the Foster-Wheeler boilers and DeLaval steam turbines to the living quarters where crew members ate and slept, the naturally-occurring mineral asbestos was ever-present and in abundance within the confines of ships such as the USS Nashville.
Asbestos was employed by the US Navy to a great extent for its resilience, ability to withstand fire and high temperatures, and from a financial perspective, for its relatively low cost. As mandated by the US Navy, asbestos was a component in gaskets, adhesives, valves, pipe-coverings, and a wide-range of insulation products and other building materials utilized in the construction and maintenance of her ships. The USS Nashville—from aft to bow—was a site of exposure to the toxic effects of asbestos for numerous members of the US military as well as for shipyard workers and any civilians who were at one time or another transported aboard this ship. Although safety precautions are anticipated to be in place with the hazards of asbestos now widely known, Nashville—while still on reserve—remains a threat to humans in terms of asbestos exposure as she looms with the potential to return to active duty or ultimately be scrapped.
Individuals exposed to asbestos are at risk of developing one of several diseases medically proven to result from inhalation and/or ingestion of airborne asbestos fibers. These diseases—asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma - commonly possess extended latency periods (the span of time from exposure to the development of symptoms) of anywhere from 20 to 50 years. This extended latency period often proves to be an obstacle in the early diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases due to the fact that by the time symptoms present and warrant a visit to the doctor, the cancer has usually progressed to a stage that allows for a limited life expectancy.
The onset of a fatal disease after years of serving one’s country is a harsh reality that many individuals must face. Current mortality trends with regard to asbestos-related illnesses exhibit a rate of nearly 10,000 deaths per year—a number that is expected to remain steady until an anticipated peak in the year 2020.
Please consult our website and/or contact us for an information packet for further details on how we can support you as a victim of asbestos exposure—both from a medical and legal standpoint. We have compiled a comprehensive directory of our nation’s leading physicians who specialize in diseases directly linked to asbestos exposure. We can also help you explore your legal rights. Fill out the form on this page to request a free information kit.
Wikipedia–USS Nashville (LPD-13)
NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive