USS Silversides SSN-679 (1972-1994)
The USS Silversides was the second ship to be named for the silverside, a small fish named for a silver stripe on the side of its body. She was launched on June 4, 1971 and commissioned on the 5th of May, 1972. Silversides was sponsored by Mrs. John H. Chafee, wife of then- Secretary of the Navy, John H. Chafee, and commanded by Commander John E. Allen.
After shakedown in the Atlantic, she started operations in the Atlantic with her home port at Naval Station Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. Her home port was changed in January of 1977 to Norfolk, Virginia at Naval Station Norfolk.
She surfaced at the North Pole for the first time in October of 1981 and then spent the autumn of 1984 in Washington at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a scheduled refueling overhaul. After its completion in August of 1986 she returned to Norfolk.
Three years later, in autumn of 1989 she departed for her voyage to the North Pole. There she partook in United States Pacific Fleet exercises, made port calls in Hawaii and California and then headed back to Norfolk via the Panama Canal. This trip made her the second submarine to circumnavigate North America.
She was decommissioned in Pearl Harbor on July 21, 1994 and simultaneously stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. She was turned into the Nuclear- Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on October 1, 2001.
Asbestos and 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.