The USS Permit (SSN-594), a nuclear-powered attack submarine, started her career as the second vessel in the U.S. Navy’s Thresher class, but she became the lead ship and namesake of her Permit class after the Thresher (SSN-593) was lost in April 1963. The Permit was the second Navy ship to be named after a type of game fish that dwells in the western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Brazil. The submarine can be spotted in the film “The Hunt for Red October.”
The contract to build the USS Permit was awarded in January 1958 to Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California, where her keel was laid down in May 1959. She was launched on July 1, 1961; Mrs. John A. McCone, the wife of a businessman and politician who served as director of the CIA at the height of the Cold War, served as her sponsor. The Permit was commissioned on May 29, 1962 under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Robert H. Bount.
After she was commissioned, the USS Permit conducted trials for five weeks off the coast of Washington state, then spent three week at Mare Island so her SUBROC (SUBmarine ROCket) missile system could be checked. She then underwent shakedown near San Diego, California. Her final acceptance trials were conducted in January 1963, and she then participated in further evaluations of the SUBROC missile; on March 28, 1963, the Permit became the first submarine to successfully fire one. More testing and training consumed the submarine’s time in 1964 and 1965.
In the winter of 1966, the Permit returned to Mare Island for an overhaul; the following May, she deployed to the Western Pacific. After a stopover at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the submarine returned to San Diego on August 13, 1966. After another overhaul at Mare Island in early 1967, the Permit’s home port was changed to Vallejo, California. (She would later serve out of Pearl Harbor and Vallejo again before her home port was returned to San Diego.)
The Permit operated in the waters near San Diego for the early part of 1968. Later that year, she took part in two special operations in the Pacific Ocean, and then resumed local operations near San Diego.
The Permit was briefly in the media spotlight in April 1969, when she conducted a demonstration cruise for Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith and a group of nine Navy and Air Force officers. In 1970, the Permit conducted operations in support of the Vietnam War, and in 1974 she became the first submarine to launch a Harpoon missile.
In March 1989, the Permit was once again in the public eye; she was featured in drydock in a scene of the film “The Hunt for Red October.”
The USS Permit was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on July 23, 1991. She was recycled as part of the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Bremerton, Washington, and her recycling was completed on May 20, 1993.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Permit (SSN-594)
Many people would logically think the health hazards involved with military service would be in combat. But thousands of U.S. Navy veterans are today experiencing a different sort of danger related to their service. The culprit is asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used aboard ships and submarines starting in the 1920s to help safeguard against fire.
Before its dangers were fully understand, asbestos was used in a long list of industries, including the armed forces, beginning in the late 1800s. For a nation whose industries and factories were growing at an incredible rate, asbestos was the answer to many problems. Its fibers were strong, durable, versatile, resistant to heat, and could even help prevent fire from spreading. Before long, the mineral was being shipped in massive quantities to the U.S. from mines around the world, for use in everything from paint to lawn chairs to brake pads – and in submarines.
The mechanical portions of a submarine tend to get very hot, so asbestos-laden insulation was used to cover pipes, boilers and engine parts on all the ships; the mineral was also present in gaskets, tape and fireproof cloth. Unfortunately, when these products aged, they emitted a highly toxic dust that could eventually cause diseases like emphysema, asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.
If you worked aboard a U.S. Navy submarine between the 1920s and the 1980s, it is extremely likely that you were exposed to asbestos. It can take as long as 50 years for symptoms of some of these diseases to appear, so some people whose health was damaged decades ago may just be presenting symptoms today. If you would like more information about asbestos and asbestos-related diseases, request a mesothelioma information packet today.Sources
Wikipedia – USS Permit (SSN-594)
Navy Site – USS Permit (SSN-594)
Highlights of USS Permit (SSN-594)