The third Navy ship named after a riverfront town in Connecticut, the USS Groton (SSN-694) was the seventh of the Navy’s Los Angeles-class of nuclear-powered attack submarines.
On January 31, 1971, the U.S. Navy ordered the USS Groton from the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut – the city for which she was named. Her keel was laid down there on August 3, 1973. More than three years later, on October 9, 1976, the Groton was launched; she was sponsored by Mrs. Elliott L. Richardson, the wife of a former U.S. Secretary of Defense. The 361-foot, 6,000-plus-ton submarine was commissioned on July 8, 1978 under Commander R. William Vogel III.
Nearly two years after her commissioning, in March 1980, the Groton left her home port of Groton, Connecticut for her first overseas deployment to the Indian Ocean. The voyage was overseen by Vice Admiral George W. Emery, who served as Commanding Officer of the Groton from December 1979 to December 1982. On her return trip to her home port, the vessel traveled through the Panama Canal. Later that year, the Groton successfully circumnavigated the globe; the “Around-the-World-Cruise” was completed in October 1980.
The USS Groton suffered a cracked sonar dome in July 1996 off the coast of the southern United States. The rupture was caused by an air pocket that failed to fully vent upon submerging near Kings Bay, Georgia.
The Groton was decommissioned a year later, on November 7, 1997, and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. She was berthed at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Navy documents state that she remains berthed there today, awaiting disposal through the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Bremerton, Washington.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Groton (SSN-694)
By orders of the U.S. Navy, military submarines built between the 1920s and the 1970s contained asbestos. The mineral was most prevalent in pipe insulation, a product that used large amounts of amosite asbestos, but it was also used in other places throughout the ship, including asbestos board, gaskets, and heating and communications systems.
Asbestos made these items fireproof, but unfortunately, it also made them highly toxic. Asbestos-containing products, we know today, cast off large amounts of dust when they are cut, torn or filed. This happened frequently on submarines – especially in shipyards, where the majority of the construction, repair and demolition work was conducted; some workers reported toiling in asbestos dust so think that it was difficult to see through. But asbestos dust was also released when products, such as insulation, simply began to age and deteriorate. When this occurred during a submarine’s service, sailors on board had no way of escaping the hazardous substance. Therefore, anyone who worked aboard a Navy vessel during the decades when asbestos was used was likely exposed.
We know today that exposure to asbestos can cause several asbestos-related diseases, including emphysema, lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma – a rare type of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. It is a sad fact that thousands of veterans and shipyard workers are being diagnosed with these diseases today. Even more tragically, there is evidence that the U.S. Navy suspected that asbestos could be harmful to people’s health, but continued using it aboard its ships for decades.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma cancer. But treatment options do exist; cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy have shown promise in many patients. And the earlier the disease is detected, the more effective treatment can be. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, request a mesothelioma information packet today to obtain more information about the disease, its risk factors and treatment options.Sources
Wikipedia – USS Groton (SSN-694)
NavSource Online – USS Groton (SSN-694)
Navy Site – USS Groton (SSN-694)