USS Gurnard SSN-662 (1968-1995)
The second Gurnard was a Sturgeon-class nuclear submarine that was laid down December 22, 1964 by the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard located in Vallejo, California. She was launched May 20, 1967 and sponsored by Mrs. George P. Miller. Her construction was completed in the fall of 1968.
Upon her commission command was given to Commander William S. Cole, Jr. Gurnard was considered a key element in the underwater deterrent force of the Navy and will contributing to the vital task of “keeping the peace” over the vast reaches of global waters. This particular sub was designed to attack and destroy all types of enemy ships, with an ability to operate for long periods at great depths. She also maintained a high submerged speed, making her a potent and effective challenge to enemy submarines. Gurnard operated under nuclear power, and was able to conduct long-range reconnaissance patrols and surveillance missions with little risk of detection by surface ships. This submarine was also proficient in carrying out extensive ASW operations, either alone or with other fleet submarines or with destroyer-type surface ships.
Missions of Note
Gurnard operated in the waters of the Arctic Ocean under the polar ice cap from September to November in 1984. Together, with her sister ship, the attack submarine USS Pintado, on November 12, 1984 they became the third pair of submarines to surface together at the North Pole.
Gurnard was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on April 28, 1995. She was scrapped as part of the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program which is located at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, on October 15, 1997.
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.