Guam-based sub tender saw new roles in deployment
The submarine tender USS Frank Cable returned Friday to Apra Harbor on Guam after a five-week deployment in the Western Pacific that its commander said turned a page in the 28-year-old ship’s history.
The Frank Cable, in its third decade of service, soon will be the only remaining sub tender staffed by active-duty Navy personnel. Its normal mission is to provide repair, weapons and logistical support to submarines. But with sub tenders’ role undergoing transition, the ship in recent months has undertaken additional duties. This three-port deployment, for instance, also turned the Frank Cable into a diplomatic venue, the Navy stated in a news release.
In Port Klang, Malaysia, in September, the Frank Cable served as host to the first submarine talks held among members of the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy and Commander, Submarine Group 7. Discussions were aimed at helping Malaysia prepare for the arrival of its first two Scorpene-class submarines beginning in 2009, the Navy said.
After the ship left Malaysia, it acted as a “sea shield” for USS Houston through the Straits of Malacca, from Port Klang to Singapore. Submarines navigating the straits are safer on the surface due to underwater obstacles, so shielding is critical in case of confrontation from an enemy, the Navy said.
In Singapore, the Cable offered medical and dental services to the U.S. Navy’s only high-speed vessel, Swift, moored nearby. The tender also served as a mooring point for submarines USS Honolulu and USS La Jolla while in Hong Kong harbor, only the second time this has been done, the Navy said. U.S. submarines cannot moor to the mainland, but the tender’s presence as a “sea base” is making the harbor a viable port call for subs.
Frank Cable commanding officer Capt. Leo Goff told Stars and Stripes in August that although “there have been no plans for us yet” as the Navy’s sub-tender force evolves, changes in the service make this time “an opportunity for growth.”
As this deployment ended, Goff said it showed the Cable is ready for a different future as the Navy plans to increase the number of submarines deployed in the Pacific. “Not only did this underway period demonstrate that this tender can steam anywhere in the Pacific region and provide logistics and repair support to submarines,” Goff was quoted in the release as saying, “more importantly it reaffirmed the multiple roles this crew is capable of performing.”