USS Hunley (AS-31)

USS Hunley (AS-31)

USS "Hunley" (AS-31) was a submarine tender of the United States Navy launched on 28 September 1961 and commissioned 16 June 1962. The "Hunley" was designed to tend most of the long-term requirements of the Polaris Class of submarines. The ship achieved several records and milestones in its long service. The "Hunley" was decommisioned from the regular navy, in 1995 transferred to the US Maritime Commission, and in 2007 sold as scrap to a metal recycling company in Louisiana. The ship was involved in an incident in the Industrial Canal of New Orleans in September of 2008.

Design and Construction

"Hunley" had the distinction of being the first ship designed and built up from the keel to service and maintain the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered Ballistic Missile Submarine Fleet. She had complete facilities for servicing the complex Polaris Weapons Systems and for accomplishing any submarine repair other than a major shipyard overhaul. The hull was laid down in by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia and sponsored by Mrs. J. Palmer Gaillard, wife of the Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina;


With Captain Douglas N. Syverson in command, "Hunley" sailed 25 July 1962 for shakedown training off Cuba until 6 September 1962. She visited several Gulf and Atlantic ports and returned to Norfolk 28 September for post-shakedown alterations until 8 December, 1962. After which the "Hunley" paid a 3-day visit to New York City to host the Naval Reserve Officers Seminar "New Ships for the Modern Navy". She departed from the Norfolk Operating Base 29 December 1962 for Holy Loch, Scotland, arriving 9 January 1963. Almost immediately she began taking the load off USS "Proteus", whom she officially relieved 15 March 1963 as tender to Submarine Squadron 14 at Holy Loch. This duty continued until 12 April, 1964 when "Hunley" sailed for conversion that provided capability of handling the new A3 Polaris Missile. She resumed her duties at Holy Loch on 15 June 1964.

A Polaris milestone was reached in December 1965 when USS "Thomas A. Edison" came alongside to commence the 100th refit of a nuclear ballistic submarine (SSBN) by the "Hunley". This signified that one hundred SSBN submarines had gone out on time from "Hunley" and not one of them had to make an early return from patrol. This represented some 200 months of Polaris on station or 16½ years of submerged strategic deterrent since "Hunley's" arrival in Holy Loch 9 January 1963. "Hunley's" motto was "We Serve to Preserve Peace". "Hunley" returned to the United States late in 1966 and in 1967 operated out of Charleston, South Carolina.

"Hunley" was decommissioned on 30 September 1994 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 3 May 1995 and turned over to the Maritime Commission on 1 May 1999. "Hunley" was subsequently sold to the Southern Scrap Materials Company on 5 January 2007 for scrapping.

Advanced capabilities

Among jobs carried out by "Hunley" was welding on SSBN pressure hulls or reactor plant fluid systems. Once unheard of in submarine tending, these jobs were only a few of many carried out by "Hunley's" crew. These and many other alterations were carried out as a matter of routine to keep SSBN's on the line with the newest possible technical improvements and safety devices. For example, an auxiliary "Sub-Safe" package was accomplished on the USS "Theodore Roosevelt" in which over 40 fittings and more than 100 feet of new piping in a major system were installed. A battery replacement for the USS "Ethan Allen" was completed in only 11 days. "Hunley" met demands from making water-borne propeller replacements to encapsulation of AC induction motors; delicate repairs to navigation and fire control, and many other varied tasks to insure that each SSBN had the finest of care on each refit.

Adrift during Gustav

During the night of August 31, 2008 or early morning of September 1, 2008, as Gustav approached the coast of Louisiana, at least two clusters of barges and ships were dislodged from their moorings and broke free. The "American Explorer" was shown in video coverage to be one of two military vessels along with USS Hunley (AS-31) that ran into the Florida Avenue Bridge. [ [ Coast Guard trying to secure a barge and two vessels in the Industrial Canal] by Michelle Krupa, The Times-Picayune Monday September 01, 2008, 10:10 AM -] After hitting the bridge the ships then ran into two concrete pile-barriers that protect pump station #19 that serves the 9th ward of New Orleans. [ [ Derelict vessels pinned down in Industrial Canal] -- Willie J. Allen Jr., Times staff writer - Posted by Times Editor at 5:29:56 PM on September 1, 2008 - Storm Watch -] A US Coast Guard tug eventually pinned the ships into position so that they would not move. Joel Dupree of Southern Scrap Metal Corporation claims the Core of Engineers were testing docks on the Industrial canal that prevented moving the ships prior to Gustav entering the Mississippi River, and that the "American Explorer" was properly anchored during the storm. [ [ Mooring plan under fire following Industrial Canal wreckage episode] Hurricane Gustav News and Storm Tracking -] However, the level of the surge and winds were sufficient to break their moorings. [ Joel Dupre from Southern Scrap updates on the barges and ship that ran aground in the Industrial] New Orleans - Update on barges in Industrial Canal - Yahoo-local news] The USCG however said that it had recommended that ships double-up mooring lines prior to the storm. [ [ Hurricane Gustav News and Storm Tracking] Nola.Com] Shortly after the peak of the storm reporters for a local radio station went to the Florida Avenue bridge and reported the damage as being minor.

Another naval ship, the Courier and two barges were involved in separate incidences at the Almonaster rail bridge and a pump station. As a consequence of these events "all vessels to be removed from the Industrial Canal in advance of gale-force wind conditions", and Southern Scrap Metal Corperation was told to remove all floating vessels for the duration of the 2008 season. [ [ Ships and barges ordered from Industrial Canal for rest of 2008 Atlantic hurricane season] "Industrial Canal would have been safe if Ike had approached, Coast Guard commander says" by Sheila Grissett, The Times-PicayuneThursday September 18, 2008, 5:57 PM] A US Coast Guard Investigation has been launched into the corporations activities prior to Gustav. [ Loose storm barges in New Orleans from one company] The Associated Press - Sept 16th 2008] [ [ 70 abandoned vessels pound flood walls during Gustav] by DrMarty September 9, 2008 at 09:13 pm, "Now Public"]


External links

* [ USS HUNLEY (AS-31) Reunion Info]
* [ images, history and tour at Southern Scrap]
* [ USS Hunley at flicker dot come]


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