The second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name, the USS Pollack was in commission for 25 years (1964-1989). Originally ordered as a guided-missile submarine (SSGN), she was later reordered as Thresher class—an advanced attack submarine designed to locate and destroy enemy ships.
Awarded on March 3, 1959, USS Pollack was the sixth submarine of the Thresher class (later renamed Permit class). The first submarine of this class to be built by New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey, Pollack’s keel was laid down on the 14th of March 1960 with her launch occurring two years later on the 17th of March 1962. Sponsored by Mrs. John Pastore, the wife of a Rhode Island senator, Pollack was commissioned on May 26, 1964.
Equipped with four 21 inch torpedo tubes, UUM-44A SUBROC, UGM-84A/C Harpoon, MK57 deep water mines, and MK60 CAPTOR mines, Pollack measured 278 feet, 6 inches in length and when submerged, displaced 4,300 tons and reached speeds of up to 30 knots. Led by Commander Harvey Lyon, her complement included 116 men (officers and enlisted).
Once commissioned, Pollack reported to Charleston, South Carolina where she became a unit of Submarine Squadron Four. Her initial voyage was to the Caribbean for shakedown training in conjunction with acoustic trials.
In September of 1964, with shakedown training completed, Pollack initiated a six-month evaluation period as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) weapon with ports of call in New London, Connecticut, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Pollack spent the majority of the year 1965 at sea conducting further evaluations of ASW strategies. During a brief return to Charleston in September, Commander Lyon was replaced by Commander Robert P. McDonald.
Charleston Naval Shipyard was the site of a post-shakedown availability for Pollack from January through March of 1966. A series of ASW operations were conducted throughout the remainder of the year with a mid-year Navy Unit Commendation awarded to Pollack in June by the Secretary of the Navy, Paul H. Nitz, for her “exceptionally meritorious service.”
The year 1967 witnessed Pollack voyaging to St. Croix, Virgin Islands and Fort Lauderdale, Florida to participate in research and development projects and weapons trials. The year concluded with yet another changeover of the vessel’s commanding officer with Commander D.D. Boyle relieving Commander McDonald of his duties on December 11th. On this same date, Pollack received her second Navy Unit Commendation acknowledging her “inspiring performance of duty.”
Norfolk Naval Shipyard was the site of an overhaul for Pollack which took place from March 1, 1968-June 12, 1969. Upon completion of the overhaul, Pollack joined New London-based Submarine Squadron Ten—the Navy’s first all nuclear attack submarine squadron.
Intensive training, weapons trials, and independent operations filled the years from mid-1969 through mid-1972 and took Pollack on return trips to St. Croix, New London, and Fort Lauderdale, with new ventures into Rota, Spain, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas.
An extensive three-year overhaul was initiated for Pollack in April of 1972 at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. On April 3, 1975, with overhaul complete, Pollack arrived at her new homeport in San Diego, California where she became a unit of Submarine Squadron Three.
Six-weeks in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for local operations in August and September of 1975 gave way to trips to Yokosuka, Guam, Pusan, Chin Hae, Subic Bay, Hong Kong, Bremerton, Washington, and Nanoose, British, Columbia over the course of subsequent years through 1979.
Directed to a new homeport in early 1979, Pollack endured yet another overhaul. She spent the next three years at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California where she was outfitted with new sonar and fire control systems.
Upon completion of her overhaul on August 19, 1982, Pollack traveled to San Diego, California—her new homeport which for the most part would serve as her base of operations well throughout 1987. From this base, Pollack would launch both local and international maneuvers aimed at refining her skills in the areas of daily operations, weaponry, and engineering.
USS Pollack entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard on November 21, 1988 in preparation for inactivation. She was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on March 1, 1989. Entered into the Navy’s Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Bremerton, Washington, Pollack’s existence came to an end upon completion of her dismantling on the 17th of February 1995.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Pollack (SSN-603)
Medical science has verified that asbestos exposure is the one and only distinct cause of mesothelioma—a debilitating and fatal cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Navy veterans and those individuals that worked aboard submarines, or in close proximity to them, are among those individuals whose occupation has placed them in an at-risk group for the development of this deadly disease. With an extended latency period of up to 50 years, victims of asbestos exposure are often unable to establish the connection between their contact with asbestos and the development of the symptoms that frequently lead up to an unfavorable diagnosis. In addition to mesothelioma, other diseases such as asbestosis and lung cancer are also attributed to asbestos exposure.
A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos was not only cheap and easily accessible, but its durability and heat resistant properties made it an attractive material for use by the US Navy. Asbestos was so valued, in fact, that its use was mandated by the Navy in more than 300 materials used in the construction and maintenance of ships. Therefore, from adhesives to gaskets, from boiler rooms to sleeping quarters, asbestos was likely to be found in every crevice of every naval ship constructed prior to the 1970s. Within the tight confines of a submarine, navy veterans were encircled by asbestos fibers—fibers that could be easily inhaled and serve as the root of serious illness in the years ahead.
It is believed that Navy officials became aware of the perils of asbestos exposure to humans as early as 1939. The question is what did they do with this information? The answer is they continued to use this harmful material for nearly four more decades. The benefits of the industrial applications of asbestos were placed above and beyond the value of human health and safety. As a result of this action, numerous navy veterans today are suffering the overwhelming effects of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
Navy veterans made sacrifices in the past during their time of service to our country. They should not have to make sacrifices in the present day with regard to their health, well-being, and quality of life. Unfortunately, their probable exposure to asbestos does not allow for a carefree future. Those who have already been diagnosed with an illness attributed to asbestos exposure are in the battle for their lives, and those who have not yet experienced any symptoms must live with the fear of what may lie ahead. If you or someone you know served aboard the USS Pollack or a similar Navy vessel, you may have been exposed to asbestos and could be at risk for developing mesothelioma. It is also important to be aware that if you have been diagnosed with this asbestos cancer, you have legal rights. To request more information please fill out the form on this page.Sources
USS Pollack SSN 603
Wikipedia – USS Pollack (SSN-603)
NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive