This Benjamin Franklin-class fleet ballistic missile submarine, was the fourth vessel in the United States Navy to be named in honor of George Bancroft , the United States Secretary of the Navy from 1845 to 1846 and founder of the United States Naval Academy. The 425-foot submarine’s contract to be built was awarded to the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut on November 1, 1962. Sponsored by Mrs. Anita Irvine, she was launched on March 20, 1965. Captain Joseph Williams was in command of the Blue Crew, while Commander Walter M. Douglas commanded the Gold Crew. The vessel was commissioned on January 22, 1966.
Assigned to the Submarine Squadron 14 of Submarine Flotilla 6, New London, Connecticut was the George Bancroft’s home port. Her first deployment began on July 26, 1966 with deterrent patrol that was manned by the Blue Crew. Completing her patrol with her arrival at Holy Loch, Scotland, the Blue Crew was relieved by the Gold Crew. Her next deterrent patrol, manned by the Gold Crew, ended at the end of 1966. She began her third patrol in 1967, manned by the Blue Crew.
The George Bancroft was decommissioned on September 21, 1993 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry on the same day. She was scrapped by the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington on March 30, 1998. Her sail is on display at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Camden County, Georgia.
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.