USS Flying Fish SSN-673 (1970-1996)

uss flying fishThe third U.S. Navy ship to be named for that particular marine creature, the USS Flying Fish SSN-673 was a Sturgeon-class attack submarine built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, who won the contract from the Navy on July 15, 1966.  Construction began nearly a year later and lasted until May 17, 1969, when the sub was launched from Groton, Connecticut.

Service in the U.S. Navy

On April 29, 1970, the Flying Fish received her commission, captained by Commander Donald C. Shelton.  In 1976, the submarine won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the United States Atlantic Fleet.  This award, which comes with a small monetary stipend, is awarded each year to one ship in the Atlantic Fleet and one in the Pacific Fleet.  Often, it is given to the ship that scores highest and the Battle Efficiency Awards, but the prize is also rotated between types of ships so that, for example, a submarine does not win every year.  The money must be put into the ship’s recreation fund.

After Service

The Flying Fish served in the Navy until May 16, 1996, when she was decommissioned and her name struck from the Naval Register.  As a nuclear-powered sub, she was eligible for the Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.  In this program, the sub’s nuclear fuel is removed for reprocessing and the parts of the vessel separated and reused.  Recycling of the Flying Fish was completed on October 15, 1996.

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.