USS George Washington Carver was initially a Benjamin Franklin-class fleet ballistic missile submarine. She was the second ship in the United States Navy to be named for George Washington Carver, an American researcher and inventor. She was later converted into an attack submarine and reclassified as SSN-656. Her launching was on August 1965 after being constructed at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia.Â She was commissioned in June of 1966 with Captain R. D. Donavan in command of the Blue Crew and Lieutenant Commander Carl J. Lidel in command of the Gold Crew.
George Washington Carver’s first strategic deterrent patrol began December 12, 1966, after which she was placed in dry dock at the Naval Station Rota in Spain for an overhaul that began in February of 1977. Deterrent patrols were an integral part of deflecting aggression and preserving peace.Â Her overhaul was completed by a team from the Electric Boat Division out of Groton, Connecticut. It was not until 1991 that George Washington Carver’s ballistic missile tubes were deactivated and she was designated an attack submarine and given the hull classification symbol SSN-656.
On March 18, 1993 George Washington Carver was both decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. She was placed in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington to be scrapped in the U.S. Navy’s Ship and Submarine Recycling Program, which was completed March 12, 1994.
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.