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USS Jacksonville makes final voyage before next year’s decommissioning

The final voyage is over for the only Navy vessel ever to be named after the city of Jacksonville. Now it will be defueled and dismantled before it is decommissioned sometime next year.

The crew of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Jacksonville left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii on Dec. 4 to change home ports for the final time, according to the Navy. Last week they arrived at Kitsap-Bremerton Naval Base in Washington where the inactivation and decommissioning process will take place.

“I want to welcome USS Jacksonville to the beautiful Pacific Northwest,” said Capt. Michael Lewis, the commander of Submarine Squadron 19. “We look forward to working with her over the next several months as they prepare to decommission.”

The Jacksonville returned to Hawaii from its final deployment Aug. 10. That deployment included 209 days out to sea and took the crew to port calls in Bahrain, Guam, Oman and Singapore, according to the Navy.

The Los Angeles submarines have the capabilities for undersea warfare, surface warfare, strike warfare, mining operations, special forces delivery, reconnaissance, intelligence collection and carrier battle group support and escort.

The Jacksonville had the ability to be armed with sophisticated MK48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Many of its missions are still considered classified, but one of its proudest moments came after one of the country’s most vulnerable times.

The Jacksonville was in the Mediterranean Sea during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York as part of the Enterprise Battle Group, according to the Navy. It was the only submarine deployed in the area and was used to gather intelligence as the nation moved to retaliate.

Built in Groton, Conn., the Jacksonville’s keel was laid in 1976 and was christened in 1978.

A fire broke out while the Jacksonville was getting a refueling overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 2004, according to the Navy, but the nuclear reactor was not involved.

In 1982 the Jacksonville experienced its first collision when it struck the Turkish vessel General Z. Dogan near Norfolk, Va., as the merchant ship was headed out to sea.

The submarine also hit a barge in 1984 and the container ship Saudi Makkah in 1996 — both collisions in the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Navy. A periscope on the Jacksonville struck a fishing vessel in the Persian Gulf in 2013, knocking one of the submarine’s’s two viewing devices off.

It was never damaged in combat.

The submarine has called Hawaii home since transitioning from Norfolk in 2009 where it was home-ported since its commissioning in 1981. During that transition from Virginia to Hawaii the submarine made its final stop in Jacksonville.

It often visited Jacksonville when it trained in the Atlantic Ocean out of Norfolk, but it has not been back since moving to the Pacific Ocean.

The Jacksonville’s crest features a modified version of the city’s seal with Andrew Jackson on a horse in front of the rising sun, with a submarine and the hull number SSN 699 below.

The submarine’s nickname, “The Bold One,” is a play off the city’s longtime slogan of “The Bold New City of the South.” Members of the crew wear patches with the crest.

Those crew members will start the decommissioning process by removing supplies and unused food provisions from the vessel while docked in Washington. The 360-foot submarine will then be defueled at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

The hull will remain in storage until the ship is decommissioned.

There are currently no plans to name a future Navy vessel after the city of Jacksonville.

Joe Daraskevich: (904) 359-4308


© 2017 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.