USS Tullibee SSN-597 (1960-1988)
The second submarine named for this fish, the Tullibee was built by the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation. She was launched on April 27, 1960 and commissioned that November with Commander Richard E. Jortberg in command.
After shakedown, in early 1961 she began sonar evaluations and nuclear submarine tactical exercises with Submarine Developmental Group 2, operating out of New London, Connecticut into 1963. She also visited Bermuda and San Juan, Puerto Rico on several occasions during this period.
In July 1964, she took part in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) tactics with NATO units, resuming developmental work into the fall of 1965. She entered the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Naval Shipyard on October 28 for an extensive overhaul, remaining in drydock until January 2, 1968.
In January 1969, she deployed to the Caribbean Sea, following refresher training, and continued developmental work during 1969 and 1970. On August 1, 1970, she made her first Mediterranean deployment with the 6th Fleet. She made port visits to Athens, Greece; Naples, Italy; and Rota, Spain during this deployment, as well as taking part in fleet and NATO exercises. She returned to new London on December 14.
Early 1971 saw the Tullibee return to developmental exercises once more to work on SSN tactics and also make a port visit to Cape Canaveral, Florida. While participating in NATO exercises in the western Atlantic, she visited Halifax, Nova Scotia, before she received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for her contingency operations in the Mediterranean during the previous year. For the rest of 1971, she operated in the western Atlantic on NATO and ASW exercises, also receiving the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for significant improvement in the ship’s battle efficiency and readiness for that fiscal year.
Regular Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force operations continued in 1974. On April 28, he made her second 6th Fleet deployment to the Mediterranean. She returned that fall for an extended period of upkeep. She then participated in Caribbean sonar evaluation tests with HMS Matapan in two separate deployments between April and June 1976. She then underwent another upkeep period. SSN and ASW operations continued into the fall of 1976. Her third Mediterranean deployment then took place in November of that year, continuing into April 24 of the next year.
She spent the rest of that year in upkeep and conducting ASW exercises off the east coast of the United States. Early 1978 saw her prepare for her fourth Mediterranean deployment, which was marred by a propulsion casualty which necessitated a two-month repair period spent at Rota, Spain. She returned to new London on August 30, and operations out of that port lasted into 1979, when she underwent her final overhaul.
When she returned from that overhaul in 1982, she spent the remainder of the year conducting various operations, which provided refresher training for the crew. After a commander change in 1983, the submarine experienced propulsion system difficulties between April 1983 and February 1984, forcing her to return to New London for repairs. Her fifth and final Mediterranean deployment took place in November 1985, during which she conducted several ASW operations for Commander Sixth Fleet and participated in a major NATO ASW exercise. For her freedom of navigation exercises, which involved combat with Libyan forces, she received a Navy Expeditionary Medal as well as her first award of a Navy Unit Commendation. She returned to New London in April 1986.
Commander Charles R. Skolds took over command of the Tullibee in November 1986, though she remained pier side in New London for the rest of 1986 and most of 1987 while preparing for inactivation. September 1987 saw the submarine towed to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to begin a ten month inactivation and decommissioning. She was decommissioned and struck from the Naval vessel Register on June 25, 1988 and she entered the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program on January 5, 1995.
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.