The USS Cincinnati (SSN-693) was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a Los Angeles-class submarine. Sometimes referred to as the LA class or 688 class, vessels in this class are nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, forming the backbone of the United States submarine fleet. The Los Angeles class is the most numerous nuclear powered submarine class in the world. The United States government has notes that this class of submarines can reach a top speed of over 25 knots.
Cincinnati’s contract was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, located in Newport News, Virginia on February 4, 1971. Cincinnati’s keel was laid down on April 6, 1974, and her first launch, sponsored by Mrs. William Keating, was on February 19, 1977. With Commander Gilbert V. Wilkes, III in command, the USS Cincinnati was commissioned on June 10, 1978.
The USS Cincinnati has a few missions of note. In August of 1979 the submarine rescued a Finnish sailor who had been in the waters off the coast of Florida for 22 hours after he had gone overboard from a Finnish freighter. Also, in 1980 after patrolling the Mediterranean Sea the Cincinnati was paid a visit by former U.S. president Richard M. Nixon and Admiral Hymen Rickover, so the two men could attend a “familiarization and orientation cruise.”
On July 29, 1996 the USS Cincinnati was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. Currently the ex-Cincinnati is scheduled to enter the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program. This program is located in Bremerton, Washington, at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which is the only location the United States Navy utilizes in order to dispose of decommissioned nuclear vessels.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially throughout conflicts of the last century, submarines also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. However, these risks extend beyond the inherent dangers that existed while operating the vessels during military conflicts. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were also common aboard submarines because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Furthermore, the enclosed environment of submarines put servicemen at an even higher risk of exposure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with or served on submarines should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.