The USS Drum SSN-677 is a sturgeon-class attack submarine, whose contract was awarded to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California in 1967. She was launched on May 23, 1970, and sponsored by Mrs. William F. Bringle, the wife of Vice Admiral William F. Bringle, commander of the United States Seventh Fleet. The Drum was commissioned in April of 1972 with Commander James L. Willis in command.
Drum conducted initial testing in the Puget Sound before arriving at her home port in San Diego in 1972. In order to become a unit of the United States Pacific Fleet Submarine Force Drum then went through six months of operational tests and training exercises in Puget Sound, the Hawaiian Islands, and the waters off San Diego.
The Drum’s first Western Pacific deployment was in March 1973, and was also the longest of her career. Her second deployment was at the end of 1974 where Drum visited Japan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines prior to returning to San Diego in May 1975, receiving her first Navy unit Commendation for her successes during this deployment. In 1976 she was awarded her first Meritorious Unit Commendation, and in 1977 Drum changed her home port to Bremerton, Washington, changing home ports back to San Diego again in 1978. Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s Drum was a part of several deployments earning her various other awards.
After logging a total of 1300 hours, an inactivation ceremony was held for Drum on May 20, 1995 in San Diego. Drum was then destined for Pearl Harbor where she underwent deactivation. On October 30, 1995 Drum was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel register, where she has since been stored at the Puget Sound naval yard, awaiting scrapping in the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program.
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.