This sturgeon-class attack submarine was built at Pascagoula, Mississippi, by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries. She was launched June 10, 1972 with sponsorship by Mrs. Lola Aiken. Her commissioning took place on January 26, 1974 and Commander Dennis Y. Sloan was put in command of the vessel.
After remaining in her home port of Charleston until March, she traveled to Groton, Connecticut for in-port training at the submarine base. The nuclear-powered submarine then conducted shakedown training in the West Indies and along the east coast until June 1974. Normal operations out of Charleston continued until August, followed by a post-shakedown overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on August 12. Her repairs completed, on October 5 she returned to Charleston for normal training operations.
She joined the 6th Fleet for her first Mediterranean deployment in March 1975, after making preparations in February. The first part of this tour saw her participate in antisubmarine (ASW) exercises with Task Force (TF) 60. After refit and upkeep at Santo Stefano, Sardinia in June and early July, she rejoined the 6th Fleet as a member of TF 69 and resumed ASW training. Major exercises in July and August preceded the Tunny’s return to Charleston in late August. She again resumed normal operations out of Charleston on November 20.
After training and inspections in the first two months of 1976, she participated in two special operations to help develop and evaluate submarine tactics. After beginning preparations more than two months earlier, the Tunny again set out for the Mediterranean in late July, joining the 6th Fleet on August 11. ASW training and exercise”National Week XXI” consumed her first month, while she spent the next in upkeep at Santo Stefano. She returned to ASW training operations, punctuated periodically with a visit to Naples or upkeep at Santo Stefano, in October. This continued until December 11, when she returned to Charleston for a combination of holiday leave and up keep and post-deployment stand down.
Tunny spent January 1977 in extensive upkeep, followed by operations off the east coast which extended through the spring and summer months. A two-month Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard began in mid-September and ended in late November. A short sea trial and refresher training followed, before the Tunny returned to Charleston for the Christmas holidays. After preparations for, commencement of and return from a North Atlantic deployment, she traveled to her new home port of Pearl Harbor that August. She spent the rest of that year preparing for a western pacific deployment.
That deployment saw her dock at numerous Pacific ports, even making her way into the Indian Ocean, as she visited the U.S. naval base at Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory. That six month deployment ended in June, with her return to Pearl Harbor.
The Tunny was deactivated on October 1, 1997. She was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on March 13, 1998, with her scrapping beginning on October 1, 1997 with the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program. This recycling was completed on October 27, 1998.
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.