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USS Cincinnati (SSN-693)

The USS Cincinnati (SSN-693) was a fast attack submarine commissioned by the U.S. Navy – its fourth named after the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. Launched in 1977, the Cincinnati went on to serve the Navy for nearly two decades.

Construction

The Cincinnati was ordered in February 1971, and she was laid down three years later in April 1974 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia. She was launched in February 1977, sponsored by Mrs. William Keating, and commissioned in June 1978 with Commander Gilbert V. Wilkes III leading. The 6,151-ton submarine held a complement of 12 officers and 98 enlisted men, with an armament of four 21-inch bow tubes.

Naval History

The USS Cincinnati was a Los Angeles-class submarine that served the U.S. Navy for nearly two decades. She did her alpha sea trials and shakedown cruise off the coast of Virginia in 1978, and her home port for at least part of her service was Norfolk, Virginia. In August 1979, crews aboard the Cincinnati rescued a sailor off the east coast of Florida. The man – a Finnish sailor who had fallen overboard from the freighter Finnbeaver – had been in the water for almost a full day. The following year, the submarine had a notable visitor: President Richard Nixon and Admiral Hyman Rickover made an overnight visit to the Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vehicle Register in July 1996; some people made an effort to have her preserved as a museum, but the attempt proved unsuccessful. She currently remains berthed at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, where she is scheduled to enter the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Cincinnati (SSN-693)

Asbestos is the name given to any of six naturally occurring silicate minerals that were exploited for commercial purposes for much of the 21st century because of their tactile strength, durability, and resistance to heat and fire. Starting in the late 1800s, asbestos became a popular additive in products like insulation, building supplies and protective clothing – frequently with the intention of making these products fireproof, and therefore safer.

But asbestos actually made these products much more dangerous. Researchers have come to learn that miniscule asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can cause enormous damage to the human body, generally by causing lung diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer. A great number of people were regularly exposed to asbestos between the late 1800s and the 1970s – when the federal government finally took steps to significantly restrict its use – but some occupations were far more affected than others because of their constant exposure to the substance.

One of those occupations, unfortunately, is veterans of the U.S. Navy. Men who worked aboard ships and submarines were constantly exposed to asbestos; the mineral was used in virtually all parts of the ship, in insulation that covered steam pipes, in gaskets and tape and in boiler and engine rooms. A 2001 study by the Navy found that more than three-quarters of U.S. Navy veterans reported that they had been exposed to asbestos in the past. And because of the close, airtight quarters aboard a submarine, Navymen were literally trapped with these hazardous materials day in and day out. It was virtually impossible not to be exposed.

Mesothelioma cancer has an unusually long latency period, meaning the disease can lie dormant for decades before symptoms begin to appear in the human body. In some documented cases, as long as 50 years has elapsed between the point of exposure and diagnosis of the disease.

Sources

Sources

Wikipedia – USS Cincinnati (SSN-693)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cincinnati_%28SSN-693%29

Navy Site – USS Cincinnati (SSN-693)
http://navysite.de/ssn/ssn693.htm

NavSource Online – USS Cincinnati (SSN-693)
http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08693.htm

National Institutes of Health – “Navy Asbestos Medical Surveillance Program, 1995-1999: Demographic Characteristics and Smoking Status”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11725325/

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