USS Jack—the second ship of the U.S. Navy to bear this title—was named for the jack, any of a variety of fish such as young pike, green pike, California rockfish, or pickerel. She was preceded by Jack (SS259), a submarine who carried out nine war patrols in the Pacific and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and seven battle stars for her outstanding service during World War II.
Ordered on March 13, 1959, the keel of the USS Jack was laid down on September 16, 1960 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Mrs. Grace Groves, wife of Lieutenant General Leslie R. Groves who supervised the construction of the Pentagon and served as director of the Manhattan project that created the first atomic bomb during World War II, served as sponsor at her launch on April 24, 1963. USS Jack was commissioned nearly four years later on March 31, 1967. Upon her commissioning, Commander Louis T. Urbanczyk, Jr. led a complement of 10 officers and 85 enlisted men.
Equipped with four 21 inch torpedo tubes, MK 48 Torpedoes, UUM-44A SUBROC, UGM-84A/C Harpoon, MK57 deep water mines, and MK60 CAPTOR mines, the USS Jack displaced 4,200 tons (submerged) and reached speeds in excess of 28 knots. Although she was a member of the Permit class, she possessed two distinct features that varied from her counterparts: 1) She measured 296 feet in length—20 feet longer than others vessels in her class; and 2) She employed an experimental direct-drive plant with counter-rotating propellers mounted on a single shaft.
The USS Jack, once commissioned, became a member of the Atlantic Fleet with her base of operations out of New London, Connecticut. During her over 23 years of service, USS Jack was deployed to locations including the coast of New England (1967), La Spezia, Italy (1972), and Norway (1988).
The 130th submarine constructed by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the seventh submarine of the Permit class, USS Jack bore the motto “We Try Harder!” as she successfully pursued her primary objective of assuring that the United States maintained control over the seas.
The USS Jack, a fast attack submarine credited with testing an experimental propulsion system as well as the ejection of polymers aimed at reducing noise flow that interrupted sonar performance, was simultaneously decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on July 11, 1990. Her dismantling was completed by June 30, 1992 via the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program located in Bremerton, Washington.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Jack (SSN-605)
Veterans who served aboard submarines such as the USS Jack once placed their lives in peril as they journeyed the seas in a crusade to defend America’s freedom and preserve peace. Today, these same veterans may find themselves as crusaders for their own health, making every effort to preserve their quality of life. Unfortunately for many of these veterans, their lives remain in danger even after their time of service in the US Navy has come to an end. This danger presents itself in the form of a variety of lung ailments, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, all attributed to a common factor—exposure to asbestos.
The use of asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral and a resource obtained at a low cost, was mandated by the US Navy who employed this substance in more than 300 materials utilized in the construction and maintenance of ships from the 1930s through the mid-1970s. Referred to as a “wonder product,” asbestos was most valued for its resilience in conjunction with its heat and fire-resistant properties. Aboard a submarine, there was a vast array of applications for this substance. Asbestos could be found in heating and communication systems, ducts, cement board, pipes, and insulation. It was also a key component in such supplies as oils, paints, gaskets, and lubricants. Thus, within the tight confines of a ship with limited ventilation, the occupants of that ship were potentially heavily exposed to asbestos.
The greatest danger of asbestos is present when the material becomes disturbed and its fibers become airborne. When this occurs, these fibers can be inhaled by individuals in the surrounding area which results in potential health risks as the fibers become embedded in lung tissue over a period of time. Since there is an extended latency period with asbestos-related diseases—ranging anywhere from 15 to 50 years—symptoms do not usually become evident until years after exposure has occurred, and often times, not soon enough for an effective course of treatment to be implemented.
Identified today as a human carcinogen, asbestos is responsible for diseases that are the cause of approximately 10,000 deaths each year in the United States. Deemed a crisis in public health, asbestos-related diseases are making their way to the forefront in both medical and legal arenas as millions of individuals employed in the shipbuilding industry face the possibility that they too will fall victim to the effects of this hazardous substance.
If you served aboard the USS Jack or a similar vessel, or were involved in the shipbuilding industry, it is highly likely that you were exposed to asbestos during some point in your career. It is imperative that you seek the counsel of an experienced medical doctor to assess your risk and perform a thorough examination to identify possible symptoms. This course of action will not guarantee you longevity, as there is unfortunately no known cure for mesothelioma at this time; however, it will allow you to obtain the best treatment currently available with the goal of maintaining the highest level of quality of life.Sources
Wikipedia – USS Jack (SSN-605)
NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive
Naval History and Heritage Command
USS Jack Homepage
Wikipedia –Thresher/Permit class submarine
Environmental Protection Agency