This James Madison-class fleet ballistic missile submarine was built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut. Launched on November 2, 1963, she was sponsored by Mrs. David W. Griffiths, the great-granddaughter of President Grant. She was commissioned on July 17, 1964, with Captain J. L. From, Jr., in command. That September, Commander C.A.K. McDonald took command of the Gold Crew, leaving the Blue Crew to Captain From.
She left Groton, after shakedown, for the Pacific in December 1964. She arrived at Pearl Harbor in January 1965, then seeing deployment to Guam. She operated in the Marianas into late 1970, conducting 18 deterrent patrols before returning home. Upon her arrival at the east coast, she underwent overhaul at Charleston, South Carolina. She was then deployed to Holy Loch Haven, Scotland, operating in the European area until September 1975.
She returned to the United States in 1975, continuing her deterrent patrols with the Atlantic Fleet into 1980. In the mid-1980s, she underwent a refueling overhaul, then completing a shakedown operation by the Blue Crew which concluded on July 31, 1987 with the firing of a missile. After returning to the Naval Submarine Base New London, Connecticut, the Gold Crew took her through a non-firing second-half shakedown operation. These shakedowns were referred to as Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO).
In 1989, the Gold Crew took her again to Holy Loch Haven, where she served out the remainder of her career making deterrent patrols. She was decommissioned and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on June 12, 1992. On October 23, 1993, her scrapping by the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton was completed. Her bell is stored at the submarine base at Bremerton, where it is sometimes used in retirement ceremonies.
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.