USS San Juan, once cutting-edge attack sub, ends final voyage in Washington
Stars and Stripes September 22, 2023
The USS San Juan, the first advanced version of the Los Angeles-class nuclear fast attack submarine built in 1988, arrived in Washington state this week concluding its final voyage.
The 35-year-old submarine will be decommissioned and deactivated at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, near Seattle, the Navy said.
The Navy reported in 2022 that it had 50 nuclear attack submarines in service — 26 Los Angeles-class boats, three Seawolf-class boats, and 21 Virginia-class boats.
The Navy is requesting up to 41 more Virginia-class subs to be built by 2053.
The San Juan, named for the capital of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, was the first of the final 23 Los Angeles-class submarines built with changes that included quieter operations and upgrades for laying mines, improved torpedo tubes and a redesign to launch cruise missiles. The San Juan also had the ability to break through ice.
The San Juan was involved in at least one high-profile incident during its service. On March 19, 1998, the submerged San Juan collided off Long Island, N.Y., with the submarine USS Kentucky, which was surfaced. There were no reported injuries.
The San Juan’s deployments have included the Navy’s first joint exercises with the South African Navy in 2019. The submarine received an overhaul in 2010 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine.
USS San Juan returned in June from a six-month deployment with U.S. European Command, steaming more than 37,500 nautical miles and making port calls in Cypress and Spain.
The San Juan began is final voyage on Aug. 21, when it left Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., with 110 crew, sailing through the Northwest Passage to Puget Sound. The submarine took part in Operation Nanook 2023, a joint exercise of the U.S., Canadian and French navies, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
In finishing its career in Bremerton, the submarine is following the path of its namesake, the Atlanta-class World War II light cruiser USS San Juan. Launched in September 1941 at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation’s Fore River Shipyard, Mass., it was commissioned in February 1942. The cruiser earned 13 battle stars in combat across the Pacific and was just outside of Tokyo Harbor for the Sept. 2, 1945, surrender of Japan.
In the rapid force reduction immediately after the war, the ship was sent to Bremerton, Wash., in January 1946 and placed in inactive status. Decommissioned in November 1946, it was struck from the Navy list in March 1959 and sold for scrap in October 1961.
The submarine USS San Juan has a submerged displacement of 6,927 tons — slightly more than the 6,718 tons displacement of the cruiser USS San Juan.