USS Trepang SSN-674 (1969-1999)
The second submarine named for this marine animal, the Trepang SSN-674 was launched on September 27, 1969 and sponsored by Mrs. Melvin R. Laird, the wife of the Secretary of Defense. She was commissioned on August 14, 1970, with Comdr. Dean Sackett, Jr. in command.
After undertaking local operations in New London, in early 1971 the Trepang sailed to the Arctic, operating beneath the northern ice cap. From February 22 until March 22, she conducted extensive tests to provide data for her weapons systems, and carried out scientific experiments concerning the movement, composition, and geological history of the cap itself. Following her return to New London, she sailed to the Caribbean, making port at Frederiksted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, for weapons systems acceptance and evaluation trials. She later headed back south for further tests, returning in November of that year to conduct independent operations in the North Atlantic.
In February 1972, she returned to her homeport, undergoing upkeep, type training and equipment grooming in local operating areas. She then made a second deployment to the Northern Atlantic in the summer of 1972, returning in September to finish out the year operating off the east coast.
Before beginning her 1973 deployment, she spent four weeks in drydock at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Naval Shipyard. She then underwent weapons training, completed a four-week upkeep period and completed a Nuclear Technical Proficiency Inspection before returning to New London for an Operational Reactor Safeguards examination on May 4.
She departed New London on June 8 for a six-month deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, where she participated in special operations in response to Middle Eastern tensions brought on by the Yom Kippur War in October. She returned to her home port in November 1973 for upkeep and a standdown leave period.
In February 1974, she left for a special operation, which lasted until April, then spent three days at Holy Loch Scotland before returning to new London. Local operations and training continued until October 1, when she was assigned to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for drydock in annual overhaul. March 1975 saw her reassignment to the Submarine Squadron 10, spending April to August completing the overhaul and carrying out crew training and recertification. Following late October sea trials, she returned to New London for post-overhaul upkeep.
With a December 1 departure, the Trepang conducted post-overhaul weapons systems acceptance testing at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, along with acoustic trials off Frederiksted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands before returning to New London just before Christmas. Spending early 1976 preparing for a cruise, she deployed to the Mediterranean for operations with the 6th Fleet, which lasted from June to November. Her post-deployment standdown at New London lasted into 1977.
Mid-January 1977 saw her participation in Exercise “CARIBEX 77” in the Caribbean. She then underwent individual ship exercises which included a Nuclear Technical Proficiency Inspection, a Mk-48 Torpedo Proficiency Inspection, and an Operational Readiness Inspection for the majority of that spring. May and early June saw another refit, followed by Midshipmen orientation cruises. Training in the Atlantic lasted until December 1977, and she returned to New London for post-deployment standdown. Early 1978 saw her participation in the North Atlnatic Treaty Oragnization (NATO) Exercise “Safepass.” She then undertook a Mediterranean deployment, then spent the rest of that year evaluating equipment, spending time at sea and returning to port for equipment maintenance.
In 1991, she moved to a new home port in Charleston, South Carolina. The remainder of her career was spent conduction “fast-attack submarine” drill missions, a Mediterranean cruise and a long stay in La Maddalena, Italy and Haifa, Israel. Her Mediterranean deployment saw her participate in NATO exercises, peacetime operations with a German submarine, a mission tailing a drug smuggling ship and training with SEAL Team 6.
Her final Mediterranean deployment took place from June to December 1997 and in late 1998, she sailed around the globe to use up as much of her remaining nuclear fuel as possible before being decommissioned. Trepang was decommissioned on June 1, 1999 at Bremerton, Washington and struck from the Naval Vessel Register that same day. She was completely scrapped by April 7, 2000.
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.