USS Dace SSN-607 (1964-1988)
Constructed by Ingalls Shipbuilding, work began on the USS Dace SSN-607 on June 6, 1960. As a Permit-class submarine, the Dace – the second submarine for this freshwater fish in the carp family – could accommodate 14 officers and 105 enlisted men. She could travel at 15 knots (28 km/h) when surfaced and 28 knots (52 km/h) under water. She was tested to a depth of 2,000 feet and displaced 3,500 tons of water when submerged.
Service in the U.S. Navy
The Dace was launched from Pascagoula, Mississippi, on August 18, 1962, and sponsored by Betty Ford, wife of future President Gerald Ford. The nuclear-powered submarine received her commission on April 4, 1964, under the auspices of Commander John A. Walsh.
Admiral Kinnaird R. McKee commanded the Dace from 1966 to 1969, during which time the sub was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation twice and the Battle Efficiency Pennant three times. McKee would go on to serve as the Superintendant of the U.S. Navy from 1975 to 1978.
The USS Dace was decommissioned on December 2, 1988, and stricken from the Naval Register on the same day. The sub’s hulk became part of the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington; its recycling was complete by January 1, 1997.
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.