Sunday, March 18, 2007
Tour of Ex-Triton SS(R)N 586
Since I first began working in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a Test Engineer for the Electric Boat Corporation (and now as I work for the Shipyard) I have been interested in getting onboard ex-Triton SS(R)N 586 to look at that great ship. She is of unique design, having twin propulsion plants and a nuclear reactor for each. She was designed as a radar picket ship and, when that function became obsolete, served as an SSN. Her maiden voyage was a submerged circumnavigation, a feat never before accomplished.
I finally had the opportunity and spent two hours inspecting all areas of the ship. There is a rumor that the reason that she has been moored for so long before recycling because she is hot (lots of radioactivity). That rumor is not true. I was able to walk through the entire ship including both reactor compartments. I stood on top of both reactor containment canisters and had my hands on both steam generators. And no, I was not wearing a TLD.
During my tour I noted that parts of the ship look as if the crew just parked her at the pier and walked away. Of course, that is not true for the entire ship, but I noted the occasional "new" part left in an open box in a work area as if it were about to be used. There are Danger tags still hanging here and there dated on various days in January of 1969. A couple of racks till had pillows on them. The teak decking in the bridge is still intact. There are even two seats for lookouts up there with teak on them. Wow. After 22 years in submarines, it was still one of the most interesting two hours of my life.
She is scheduled for a 15 year hull inspection in October and will probably be recycled then. Sad indeed, she was a beautiful ship.
An article on the history of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Radar Picket program, Radar Picket program SSR AND SSRN
Some excellent photographs and historical information is available at these sites.
USS TRITON SS(R)N 586 Home Page
NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive
USS Triton (SSN 586)