The USS Gato (SSN-615) was a U.S. Navy submarine belonging to the Thresher/Permit class, serving for more than three decades from her launch in 1964 to her decommissioning in 1996.
The USS Gato – named after a small species of catshark found off the coast of Mexico – was authorized as part of the Navy’s 1960 Shipbuilding Program. The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut, where she was laid down on December 15, 1961. She was launched in May 1964 and sponsored by Mrs. Lawson P. Ramage, the wife of a Medal of Honor-winning U.S. Navy vice admiral. The Gato was commissioned on January 25, 1968.
The USS Gato was originally intended as the twelfth submarine in the Permit class, but that changed when she underwent extensive modifications during the construction process. Following her launch in May 1964, she traveled to Quincy, Massachusetts where she faced further modifications: a lengthened hull, a new mast and other improvements.
The Gato – nicknamed “The Goal Keeper” and “The Black Cat” – is perhaps best remembered for an incident on November 15, 1969, in which the vessel collided with a Soviet submarine about 200 feet underwater in the Barents Sea. The Gato was reportedly hit in the protective area surrounding its nuclear reactor, though no serious damage was sustained.
The Gato was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy Vessel Register on April 25, 1996.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gato (SSN-615)
Decades after serving aboard a U.S. Navy vessel, thousands of veterans are receiving tragic news: Exposure to an unsafe substance aboard their ship had the potential to result in serious health consequences. These diagnoses can range from a non-cancerous asbestos disease known as asbestosis to an asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma.
A naturally occurring mineral called asbestos could be found aboard all naval submarines, in a variety of products including insulation, gaskets and tape to name a few. In fact, the Navy insisted that asbestos be used in ships’ construction because of its durability, strength and ability to withstand heat and prevent fire. This meant that many people were exposed, from the shipyard workers who installed the asbestos-containing materials, to the mechanics who repaired them on board, to the Navy cooks who simply worked in their presence.
Asbestos products become problematic mainly when they began to age and crack, releasing hazardous asbestos dust into the air. When people inhale or swallow this dust, it can become lodged in their lungs or abdomen and can cause asbestos-related diseases like pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. It can take as long as fifty years for symptoms of mesothelioma to begin to show, so individuals who worked aboard the USS Gato may not even be aware yet that they have been affected.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have been exposed to asbestos aboard the USS Gato or another U.S. Navy vessel, read more about asbestos-related diseases and treatment options on our web site.Sources
Wikipedia – USS Gato (SSN-615)
USS Gato (SSN-615)
Navy Site – USS Gato (SSN-615)