USS Tecumseh SSBN-628 (1964-1993)
USS Tecumseh was a James-Madison ballistic missile submarine, which comprised a total of 10 boats that were in commission from 1964 to 1995. Tecumseh, specifically, was commissioned on May 24, 1964 with Commander Arnett B. Taylor in command of the Blue Crew and Commander Charles S. Carlisle in command of the Gold Crew.
Tecumseh was based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii when she was deployed to the Mariana Islands in December 1964 to commence deterrent patrols. By the year 1969, the vessel had completed a total of 21 strategic deterrent patrols throughout the Pacific before being transferred to the United States Atlantic Fleet. She arrived in Newport News, Virginia in November for renovations at the shipyard. Tecumseh underwent a conversion that replaced her Polaris ballistic missile system with the new Poseidon ballistic missile system. She emerged from dry dock in May of 1970 and was immediately put through an overhaul that lasted the fall and winter, before being reassigned to her new home port of Charleston, South Carolina.
From Charleston she completed two deterrent patrols, as well as sea trials and a shakedown. She was subsequently deployed to Holy Loch, Scotland, arriving in February 1972. Through 1976 she carried out 18 more deterrent patrols out of Holy Loch. Upon completion of those patrols Tecumseh was home ported out of Charleston once again before entering the Newport news shipyard to undergo a refueling overhaul in 1983. Post overhaul, Tecumseh successfully completed sea trials, shakedown, and a missile launch before returning to Charleston.
Tecumseh was decommissioned and stricken from the United States Naval Vessel Register on the same day, July 23, 1993. Her scrapping, conducted as part of the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington, was completed less than a year later.
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.