USS Guardfish SSN-612 (1966-1992)
Though construction began on the second USS Guardfish in 1961, she was not ready to be launched until May 15, 1965, when she was sponsored by the wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Mrs. Kenneth E. Belieu. Built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation out of Camden, New Jersey, the Guardfish received her commission on December 20, 1966, under the command of Commander Gulmer A. Hines, Jr.
Service in the U.S. Navy
As a Thresher-class submarine, the Guardfish had a large sonar system mounted on her bow and featured new, angled torpedo tubes. Her pressure hull represented an improvement over the previous classes of submarines, one that allowed her to dive to a depth of 1,300 feet. Though a little slower than the preceding Skipjack class, the Thresher-class subs had room for a powerful new low-frequency sensor sonar system.
The Guardfish herself measured in at 279 feet long and displaced 3,7,59 tones of water. She was powered by a nuclear reactor and could reach a top speed of 16 knots, or 18 miles per hour. She featured four 21-inch torpedo tubes and, fully armed, could carry 23 missiles, torpedoes, or mines. Her complement was 99 officers and men.
After 26 years in the Navy, the Guardfish was taken out of commission on February 9, 1992. At that point, she became part of the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Bremerton, Washington. Her recycling was completed after a relatively short period of five months.
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.