USS Simon Lake
Simon Lake at Kings Bay in 1981
|Name:||USS Simon Lake|
|Builder:||Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington|
|Laid down:||7 January 1963|
|Launched:||8 February 1964|
|Commissioned:||7 November 1964|
|Decommissioned:||31 July 1999|
|Fate:||Moored at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia|
|Class and type:||Simon Lake-class submarine tender|
|Displacement:||12,686 long tons (12,890 t)|
|Length:||644 ft (196 m)|
|Beam:||85 ft (26 m)|
|Draft:||30 ft (9.1 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 boilers, steam turbine, single shaft|
|Speed:||20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
|Armament:||4 x 25mm Mk38 cannons, 2 x 40mm grenade launchers, 2 x .50 caliber guns|
The ship was laid down on 7 January 1963 by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington; launched on 8 February 1964; sponsored by Mrs. Cecil Ford and Mrs. Herbert Diamond; and commissioned on 7 November 1964, Captain James B. Osborn in command.
Simon Lake sailed from Bremerton on 16 January 1965 for Pearl Harbor on her shakedown cruise and returned to Bremerton on 17 February for a six-week yard availability period. The Polaris submarine tender stood out of Bremerton on 16 April and proceeded to Charleston, South Carolina, via the Panama Canal.
Simon Lake arrived at Charleston on 1 May and tended submarines there until 11 July 1966. On that date, she sailed for Holy Loch, Scotland, where she relieved Hunley (AS-31) as tender for Submarine Squadron 14. She operated from there until 24 May 1970 when she got underway for Charleston. In June, she sailed for Bremerton for her first overhaul since commissioning. The tender was in the yard from 6 July 1970 to March 1971 and, while there, was also converted to Poseidon missile capability.
The Simon Lake arrived at the Charleston Naval Shipyard in North Charleston, South Carolina, January 1977 for extensive overhaul in one of the three drydocks. Over a year later, the drydock was flooded, the heavy ICBM missile cranes were weight tested, and the ship sent out on a "shakedown" cruise.
The Simon Lake was the first submarine tender to be stationed at Kings Bay Georgia in 1979 when the base first opened and was the first tender on the east coast that women served on in the U.S. Navy.
After Refresher Training (REFTRA) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Simon Lake assumed duties tending submarines at the Naval Weapons Station, Goose Creek, South Carolina (a short drive north of Charleston). In June 1979, the USS Canopus, AS-34, relieved Simon Lake at the Naval Weapons Station Charleston, South Carolina.
From 1979-1985 Simon Lake serviced submarines in Kings Bay Georgia, where she also won two Battle Efficiency 'E' awards. In September 1985 she was driven to Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula Mississippi where she received a stem to stern, inside and out, grind to bare metal and repaint; a replacement of the Helo Deck; repair of the two 3"/50 rear-facing guns that had become unreliable; and the addition of a brand new, state of the art (at the time), 25mm Mk38 Chain Gun weapons system. She was relaunched in September 1986 at which time she did a short shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay until December 1986 when she returned to Charleston South Carolina for a brief stop over to take on supplies before heading off to Holy Loch Scotland in May 1987.
In May 1987 Simon Lake returned to Scotland to again relieve USS Hunley in the Holy Loch where in 1988 and 1991, she won the coveted Battle Efficiency 'E' award. She remained on station there until the base was closed and all assets withdrawn in 1992. Sailing for Norfolk, Virginia, in March of that year, Simon Lake drew to a close thirty years of US Navy presence in Holy Loch, Scotland.also during her time in Scotland she served as a backdrop, & background story for a BBC Scotland production called Down Where The Buffalo Go in 1988 the film starred Peter McDougall, Harvey Keitel, Andrew Byatt, Stella Gonet and Katherine Stark, it was released on 19 January 1988, 90 min long, United Kingdom.
In March 1992, Simon Lake returned to Norfolk to conduct an extensive overhaul. After completion of the overhaul and a regrettable visit to Palma, Spain in March 1993, she arrived at her new homeport of La Maddalena, Italy where she relieved the Orion (AS-18). Because of the remote location(*) (surpassed only by places like Guam), the entirely male crew of the Orion was more than happy to welcome the 30% female crew of the Simon Lake. For superior service to the fleet, she received the Battle Efficiency 'E' award, Weapons Black "W" and Meritorious Unit Commendation awards for the period 7 July 1993 - 31 August 1994.
In March 1998, the ship transited the Suez Canal to the United Arab Emirates where she supported Operation Southern Watch in the Persian Gulf. Her outstanding performance during 47 availabilities led to her receiving the Navy Unit Commendation and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. In June 1998, she returned to La Maddalena, Italy.
Simon Lake's performance during her last two years of service was particularly noteworthy. Not only did she receive the awards associated with the Persian Gulf but she was nominated for the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award, received the 1997 and 1998 Battle Efficiency 'E' award the 1998 Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award, the 1998 Golden Anchor award, and she became the first surface ship to receive both the Enlisted Surface Warfare and the Surface Warfare Officer pennants.
During her 36 years of dedicated service, Simon Lake provided all aspects of logistical and repair support for an average of 45 submarine and surface ship availabilities, consisting of over 5,000 vital repair jobs annually. Serving over 20 years as a forward-deployed tender, she acted as an ambassador for the United States, showing the flag and entertaining foreign dignitaries during nearly 100 port visits in foreign countries.
Simon Lake was decommissioned on 31 July 1999 and, into 2008 was in the mothball fleet in Philadelphia. As of April 2009[update] Simon Lake is in storage at Norfolk Naval Shipyards in Portsmouth, VA as part of the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility's inventory.
The ex-USS Simon Lake departed Norfolk Naval Shipyard Feb. 5 2015. Since September 2011, Simon Lake has been going through the deactivation process in preparation for dismantling. The ship was placed in the James River Reserve Fleet on December 3, 2015 in the care of the U. S. Maritime Administration to await recycling.