Nuclear Submarines Undergoing SRP
(Ship/Submarine Recycling Program)
at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard,
Bremerton Washington.

(Photographs may be "clicked" for larger view)

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) in Bremerton Washington is the only shipyard in the US that recycles Nuclear Ships and Submarines.

Some arrive under their own power, others are defueled and decommissioned at other sites, then towed to PSNS. East coast ships/subs transit the Panama Canal under tow.   

(Click [HERE] to See ex USS Narwhal SSN-671 being towed (dead boat tow) through the Panama Canal in April 2001.) Photo is published with permission...

When a ship/sub is selected for recycling, it is first "Inactivated". This means the process of scrapping is started. It is placed in dry dock and fuel is removed from the Nuclear Reactor. The ship/sub is still in commission (even though inactivated) and is referred to as USS (Name). Once the fuel is removed, the ship is decommissioned and referred to there after by name only, or ex-name. (i.e. Ex Ray, Ex James Madison)

Presently, submarines are completely scrapped once they enter the dry-dock. They are no longer refloated. Once a submarine enters the dry dock, their fate is sealed. Only scrap metal leaves the dry-dock. No surface craft have been recycled yet, but four are waiting in line with everything above the main deck removed.

Submarines are scrapped from the inside out. Large holes are cut in the sides so dumpsters can be inserted. Inside the submarine, like materials are placed in dumpsters. When full, the dumpsters are removed and replaced. At the same time, the outer hull is removed in large sections. Once the outer hull is gone, the pressure hull is cut up and removed. The submarine is cut into just forward and aft of the reactor compartment. The ends are sealed thus making the reactor compartment completely intact and sealed including the pressure hull and outer skin. This sealed section is removed from the dry-dock and placed on a barge for transfer to Hanford Washington for burial.

During my harbor tour I was able to spot the following submarines. George Washington (598), Skipjack (585), Drum (677), Ray (653) [my old boat], Lapon (661), Richard B. Russell (687), Nathanael Greene (636), Andrew Jackson (619), Von Steuben (632), Omaha (692), Cincinnati (693), Woodrow Wilson (624), Silversides (679), Sea Devil (664), Aspro (648), Ethan Allen (608), Haddock (621), Sculpin (590), and Triton (586).

These once proud submarines lay rusting as they await final disposition. It appears their hull numbers have been hand painted with a spray paint can. The surface craft Truxton, Virginia, Long Beach, and Texas wait at Mooring Alpha with the submarines. USS Arkansas is aboard, it will be inactivated and decommissioned later this year.

"They shall beat their swords into plow-shares
and their spears into pruning hooks"

123 4
56 7 8

Submarines awaiting SRP at mooring Alpha. Some are Fast Attack Submarines, others are Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines (FBM) whose reactor compartments and missile compartments were previously removed, the halves were rejoined and the hull refloated. During the cold war, some FBM's were actually converted to SSN's (Fast Attack) by removing the missile compartments. Some had shelters installed on the missile deck for carrying SEAL Teams. (It is still hard for me to imagine the USS Sam Houston SSBN-609 as being decommissioned as SSN-609!) Note the "Slick Deck" CGN's. There will be a page dedicated to surface craft later.

Who are they?
1. L to R 693, 692, 632, 619, 636
2. 624
3. 586 Triton
4.R to L 677, 675, 653( my boat!), 661, 687
5.Top down, 687, 661, 653, 675, 677
6. Top down, 621, 608, 648, 664, 679
7. All of the above plus (L to R) CGN-38, CGN-39, CGN-9)
8. Top down, 586, 590

At this point you may want to have the women and children leave the room. The photographs from here on are pretty dramatic, and distressing to those of us who rode the boats.. You will see submarines in all phases of SRP, from the beginning (USS Grayling) to the final stages where the pieces left are about the size of a large truck. (DryDock 6) All photographs were taken from the air. We chartered a Cessna 172 and pilot from Pegasus Air at the Bremerton Airport. Our pilot, Brian Landburg, was great about getting us into position to see into all the dry-docks. There are photographs of inactivated surface craft on other pages of this website. (Missouri, New Jersey, Ranger, Midway, Sperry, Proteus (now a barracks ship IX-518), Arkansas, Mine Sweepers, FF's, Oilers, Ammunition Ships, and the submarines at Mooring Alpha)

DryDock 1
USS Grayling is the only Commissioned Submarine in this series. She was deactivated December 10, 1996. The house on her deck covers an area above the Reactor Compartment. Her fuel rods will be removed through the top of this house, then transferred to M140 rail cars. When the fuel is removed, she will be decommissioned and scrapping will be completed in place.(bow end of DD)Thomas Jefferson (618) and USS Grayling SSN-646

Dry Dock 2
(Bow end of DD) Edison (610), middle Bancroft (643), bottom, Lipscomb (685)

Dry Dock 4
Top Left Sunfish (649), top right James Madison (627), bottom left Spadefish (668), bottom right Finback (670)
(sorry John) (John Curley RMC(SS), LT, ret..., plank owner Madison)

Dry Dock 6
(Bow end of Drydock is Top) Top Left Baton Rouge (689), top right Snook (592), middle Henry Clay (625), bottom left Seawolf (575), bottom right Patrick Henry (599)

UPDATE: All scrapping is complete in Dry Dock 6. These five boats are completely gone now... (July 97) DD-6 will be prepared for the next load now...

M140 Rail Cars
These rail cars contain the fuel rods that were removed from the shipboard nuclear reactors.  Each car will hold the fuel rods from one nuclear reactor.

Scrap aboard rail cars on the way to be recycled.

This scrap was seen through the fence. MSW *** valve, escape trunk, sail about three feet high, rudder in train car, pieces of hull sections, diesel engines. CLICK on image to see larger version. Sections were loaded on trailers, and train cars. One train car was marked "250,000 lbs.".

***  I received the following email from Steve Massie regarding the large sea valves.  I bet Steve is right!

"hey don take it from an old a-ganger, im pretty sure those are not msw
valves but rather tdu muzzle ball valves from a 616 era boat, in the
pictures of parts on rail cars from scrapped boats.
                          steve massie ssbn 628,ssbn740

Two reactor compartments can be seen on barges. These barges will take the sealed reactor compartments to Hanford Washington where they will be buried.

This is the pit at Hanford where the sealed reactor compartments are being buried. As you can see, a large number of submarine reactor compartments are already there.

Photograph provided by Ron Martini. Check out his webpage at: 
Approximately 1000 Submarine Links.

Submarines during SRP at PSNS.

Three photographs taken from "Salute", the PSNS newspaper. These are black and white photographs taken inside the drydock sometime in 95/96. The FBM's are unidentified.

Submarine History is being preserved
at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport Washington!

The sail from Sturgeon (SSN-637) has been placed in the parking lot.
Harry!, how did they surface in the parking lot without having the planes in the under ice position? ;-)

The control room from Greenling (SSN-614) is being reassembled.
As you can see the display is still under construction, but it is a first class display!!!

Torpedo Tubes, Torpedoes, DSRV, Subroc, Trident Missile, Regulas Missile, models, lots of interesting submarine history, and a library on the third deck that can be used for research.

The torpedo tubes, impulse tanks, and section of pressure hull in the first photograph were taken from USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628). This is the heaviest display in the museum.

This info provided by Sid Mouser IC1(SS) who serverd on the "Teacup" (SSBN 628)

And one other interesting site.
"The Fin Project; From Swords Into Plowshares"
A Monument to World Peace and Recycling 1996

"Twenty-two diving plane fins from United States Navy nuclear attack submarines will be used in a public artwork to simulate the dorsal fins of a pod of Orca whales or a school of salmon. The first part of the work will be located in a Seattle park and should be completed in 1997. The fins will be a maximum of twelve feet high and the pod configuration will be about 500 feet in length." (quoted directly from John T. Youngs opening paragraph.)

The Fin Project; From Swords Into Plowshares

Sources used to gather information for this page

Signalman/Quartermaster Chief (SS) Jack Rhoten (USN ret.)
Chief Rhoten has the distinction of being the last Signalman to serve aboard submarines. In fact he reported aboard his first boat (USS Cobbler SS-344) as Chief Signalman (SU) and filled a Quartermaster billet. (imagine, a non-qual chief!) He also served aboard USS Cutlass SS-478. Jack gave us a tour of the harbor in his boat and let me use his telephoto lens to get some of the close shots. A great story teller and most gracious host, Jack's contribution made the surface shots possible for this page. Chief Rhoten retired in 1967.

Pegasus Air, Inc
Bremerton National Airport, 8850 State Hwy 3 SW, Port Orchard, WA 98367, 800- 294-2542. They Have Floatplane Charters as well as custom sight seeing tours. (very reasonable rates!) We toured the shipyard, Bremerton Submarine Base, Delta Pier where the Tridents are parked, plus a very scenic tour of the area. (1 hour total) Our pilot was Brian Landburg.

Kitsap Harbor Tours.
This tour includes access to the restored Turner Joy (DD-951) and a boat tour of the Bremerton Harbor. This is your source for photographs of the fleet. 290 Washington Ave, Bremerton, WA. (360) 377-8924

PSNS Armed Forces Day Open House
No Photographs allowed, but I did get to see a lot and gather information to add text to this page.

Naval Undersea Museum
Garnett Way, Keyport, WA, 98345-7610 (360) 396-4148. This is where the Sturgeon sail, and Greenling control room are along with lots of torpedoes and a very extensive library on the third deck you can use for research, large theatre. 1000 - 1600 daily, May - Sept, Closed Tuesdays, Oct - April.

Bremerton Naval Museum
130 Washington Ave. Bremerton, WA, 98337 (360) 479-7447. Photographs plaques, artifacts from the Navy.

The Author of this page
Don Shelton fmr ET1(SS)
This does not classify as a concealed weapon under the Texas Carry Laws!

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ver: 02 Dec 2006