The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Dallas transits the Puget Sound on its way to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton to commence its inactivation process. (Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy)
BREMERTON ( Kitsap Sun ) – The submarine that hunted for the Red October is now under pursuit – by a museum.
The USS Dallas, made famous in the Tom Clancy 1984 novel “The Hunt For Red October” and the 1990 movie based on the book, completed its final trip Monday morning when it arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard . In its real life of 36 years, it made 14 deployments, the final to the Middle East covering seven months and 37,000 miles.
It returned to its home base in Groton, Connecticut on Nov. 22. It left Groton for Bremerton on March 24, via the Panama Canal.
The Dallas joined the fleet in 1981 and is the second-oldest Los Angeles-class sub still in service. The oldest is the USS Bremerton.
It’s now in line for inactivation and decommissioning at the shipyard, the only place that dismantles the Navy’s nuclear-powered ships. During the year-long inactivation, it will be de-fueled. The crew is then released and the hull scheduled for recycling.
Los Angeles-class subs are being scrapped as new Virginia-class replacements enter service. Thirty-six Los Angeles-class subs are still in commission and 26 have been retired. The shipyard has recycled 11, said spokesman J.C. Mathews.
De-fueled, inactivated ships are stored at the shipyard’s Mooring A. There now are the ex-USS Philadelphia, ex-USS Memphis, ex-USS Portsmouth, ex-USS Minneapolis-St. Paul, ex-USS Hyman G. Rickover, ex-USS Augusta, ex-USS Salt Lake City, Ex-USS Miami, ex-USS Norfolk, ex-USS Albuquerque and ex-USS Long Beach. The USS Houston and USS City of Corpus Christi are currently being inactivated and will join the inactive fleet at Mooring A in November. At Pier 7, where the recycling process is begun before a sub moves to dry dock, are Ex-USS Indianapolis and ex-USS Atlanta.
Two subs at PSNS not of the Los Angeles class are ex-USS Narwahl and ex-Naval Research Vessel (NR-1).
Before shipyard workers aim cutting torches at the Dallas, a group wants to try to obtain it as a museum centerpiece.
Naval Sea Systems Command has been in contact with the city of Dallas and the Dallas Navy League since 2008 regarding the transfer of items from the USS Dallas to support a planned memorial, said Navy spokeswoman Christianne Witten. The artifacts would become available during recycling, scheduled for the 2023 timeframe, she said.
The Dallas Maritime Museum Foundation seeks to acquire the 362-loot-long submarine – as much of it as possible – as a centerpiece of a 30,000-square-foot museum on 3.5 acres near downtown. It’s not unusual for submarine sails to be obtained. Two complement Kitsap Navy museums. But an entire submarine would be rare.
Museum board president Ron Natinsky, a former Dallas city councilman, said he realizes parts of the sub would have to be removed for safety and security purposes, but those areas could be recreated. The effort was set back in 2014, when the USS Dallas was originally supposed to be decommissioned. A dry-dock fire on another submarine, the USS Miami, in 2012 prompted the Navy to keep the Dallas on active duty until now.
“There have been a lot of zigs and zags since 2007 when we started on this, but we’re continuing to push forward,” Natinsky said. “It’s a large undertaking. It’s going to be years before the boat goes through the process of being cut to pieces and the reactor removed. This is one more little tick on the time line.”