USS Ethan Allen was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named after the American Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen, and the lead ship of her class. Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Corporation of Groton, Connecticut. She was first launched in November of 1960, and was sponsored by Mrs. Robert H. Hopkins who is the great-great-great granddaughter of Ethan Allen. The ship was commissioned on August 8, 1961, Captain Paul L. Lacy, Jr., commanded the Blue Crew and Commander W. W. Behrens, Jr. commanding the Gold Crew.

Ethan Allen was the first submarine designed as a ballistic missile launch platform. She was outfitted with sophisticated navigation systems, as well as ballistic missiles and a torpedo fire control system. She was eventually retrofitted with gas/steam ejection launch gear and various torpedo updates during her operational lifetime.

In May 1962 Ethan Allen launched a nuclear-armed Polaris missile that detonated at 11,000 feet over the South Pacific. The test was known as the Frigate Bird which was part of Operation Dominic I, and was the only complete operational test of the American strategic missile. Eventually, Ethan Allen’s missile tubes were disabled and she was re-designated as an attack submarine in September of 1980.


Ethan Allen was decommissioned on March 31, 1983 and she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on April 2, 1983. The hulk of the Ethan Allen was tied up in Bremerton, Washington until entering the Nuclear Powered Ship-Submarine Recycling Program. The recycling of Ethan Allen was completed in July 1999.

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.

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