USS La Jolla

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USS La Jolla (SSN-701) departing Pearl Harbor
USS La Jolla (SSN-701) departing Pearl Harbor
United States
Name: USS La Jolla
Namesake: The Community of La Jolla, California
Ordered: 10 December 1973
Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Laid down: 16 October 1976
Launched: 11 August 1979
Sponsored by: Mrs. Bob Wilson
Commissioned: 24 October 1981
Homeport: Norfolk, Virginia
  • Fortes Fortuna Juvat
  • (Latin:"Fortune Favors the Brave")
Status: Inactive; undergoing conversion into a Moored Training Ship (MTS)
Badge: 701insig.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Los Angeles-class submarine
Displacement: 5774 tons light, 6141 tons full, 367 tons dead
Length: 362 ft (110 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Propulsion: 1 × S6G reactor, single screw
Complement: 12 officers, 98 men

USS La Jolla (SSN-701), a Los Angeles-class submarine, is named for La Jolla, California. The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut on 10 December 1973 and her keel was laid down on 16 October 1976. She was launched on 11 August 1979 sponsored by Mrs. Jean Bryant Wilson, wife of Congressman Bob Wilson, and commissioned on 24 October 1981,[1] with Captain James R. Lang in command.

During the sea trials for La Jolla, an incident occurred where there was a loss of ship control and subsequent depth excursion at the hands of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover.[2]

In late 1982, about 30 miles out of San Francisco, La Jolla, while at periscope depth, collided with the submarine USS Permit, operating on the surface. La Jolla suffered minor rudder damage, while putting a 10-by-3-foot (3.05 m × 0.91 m) scrape in the paint on Permit's keel.

La Jolla was the first to successfully test fire a Tomahawk cruise missile while submerged at the Pacific Missile Test Center on 29 April 1983. Her commanding officer at the time was Cdr. Garnet C. "Skip" Beard, who was later promoted to Navy Captain (O6). Capt. Beard appeared in the movie Crimson Tide, and was listed in the credits as a consultant to that film.

The first West Pacific (West-Pac) cruise was between August 1984 and February 1985, in which La Jolla visited ports in Olongapo Philippines, Hong Kong, Chinhae Korea, and Yokosuka, Japan. All crew members participating in the second half of the 1984–85 West-Pac cruise received the Navy Expeditionary Medal for operations in the Sea of Japan.

On 11 February 1998, about 9 miles out of Chinhae, South Korea, La Jolla accidentally ran into and sank a 27-ton fishing trawler. The five crewmembers of the trawler were rescued by the crew of La Jolla.[3]

In 2000, La Jolla was modified to carry a Dry Deck Shelter (DDS).

On 23 August 2004, La Jolla returned to Pearl Harbor after a six-month deployment in the Pacific Ocean. She conducted port visits in Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saipan, and Guam, and participated in five international exercises, including Pacific Reach 2004.

On 30 October 2009 while the sub was undergoing repair at Pearl Harbor, the ship's skipper, Commander Doug Sampson, was relieved of duty by Submarine Squadron 1 Commodore Captain Stanley Robertson. Robertson cited a "loss of confidence in his [Sampson's] ability to command" and that "La Jolla's in-port planning, operations and administrations, which fell short of high Navy standards" as reasons for the relief. Sampson was replaced by Commander Erik Burian,[4] former commanding officer of USS Los Angeles (SSN-688).[5]

La Jolla will be decommissioned and converted to a Moored Training Ship (MTS) in August 2017. The submarine began the conversion to MTS in February 2015. The conversion is expected to take 32 months according to the commanding officer. During that time, the submarine will be cut into three pieces, and a portion of the hull will be taken out. Three new hull sections from General Dynamics Electric Boat will be added to accommodate the sub's new mission. A newly fabricated hull section will be welded in place, and the new space will contain training spaces, office spaces, and an emergency safeguard system. The future MTS-701 will be permanently moored at Nuclear Power Training Unit (NTPU) at Naval Support Activity Charleston in South Carolina.[6]

La Jolla undergoing conversion to a Moored Training Ship at the Norfolk Navy Yard, September 2015.