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The Decommissioning of the USS Francis Scot Key SSBN 657
The Key was decommissioned in Hawaii on September 2nd 1993. There were few former shipmates in attendance and the ceremony was a rather low key affair. The men that served the Key in her last days have submitted information on those final days and you can read their stories below. If you were part of the decommissioning process at any point and would like to add some material to this section, please send it to Russ at ssbn657@ comcast.net.
Pictures of the Key arriving in Hawaii for decommissioning.
The below newspaper article announces the arrival of the Key in Hawaii for decommissioning.
Memories of De-Comm submitted by Ples Reynolds - Missile Tech 90 - 93 (July 8, 2008)
The fun of decomm had to be lived to be appreciated. Iím kind of thinking it was like Precomm. What do I remember about it besides all the junk that kept being pulled out of nooks and crannies. You could tell it had been around for a long time and 30 years of sailors hiding stuff and forgetting about it. Well we found it. The stash of adult magazines from the late 70ís early 80ís we found in the Lower Level Missile Compartment while pulling gas generators (the devices used to launch the missiles from the tube) I think tops the list for me.
My top 20 decomm memories are:
1) MT3 Duprel and others spending hours with a hammer and chisel to break free the screws holding the deck plates down in Middle Level Missile aft so we could offload the gas generators. Of course we could not just break the screws because the plates had to go back down so you had to sit there and hammer the screws around with a chisel until they came out.
2) Once the missiles were offloaded, filling the missile tubes up with potable water so we could be heavy enough to submerge. We got to go swimming in the tubes for a little while. Of course when we got to Hawaii and were tied up at the pier we only had one little dinky pump to get the water back out of those tubes and you had to keep the pump close to the water level so we had a rope tied to it so we could lower the pump down into the tube as the water level decreased. And Sub Pac told us the water was contaminated so we had to pump it into the sewer system on the pier. But after a couple of tubes it backed up and dumped into the harbor anyway. All this hassle over the water and possible eco damage but when I went to get rid of 50 (5 gallon) cans of termaline grease they told me to just throw it in the dumpster. Figure that one out.
3) The trip through the canal, and the Panamanians who kept trying to come onboard to handle lines and the Capt kept kicking them off.
4) The hope by most of the crew that since we were ahead of schedule after the canal transit that the Capt would drop below the equator for a minute. No such luck.
5) The day we pulled in to port and we surfaced miles out, the captain had a working party from all compartments dumping every haz-mat chemical they could find overboard and the OOD screaming because all the bags were not weighted down enough and some were floating.
6) Dumping 30 years of TDU weights over the side while tied up to the pier. Some of those things had not been moved in so long 8 or 9 of them would be rusted together and you had to get the whole thing up the hatch and roll them overboard.
7) I was the Repair Parts Petty Officer and one day I went to visit one of the fast attacks because I was trying to get rid of tools. I told them to come by in a couple of days but they showed up the next day while I was off the boat. They took everything in the missile compartment that looked like a tool even the torque wrenches that I was supposed to send back to SPO. The FTB1 was convinced I had made some kind of deal with the SSN crew and kept trying to find out what they gave me for the tools. Of course somehow I ended up being responsible for all the torque wrenches on the boat and shipped them all back by dumping them in a shipping crate. No wrapping, no packaging just one big pile of wrenches in a box.
While in Hawaii, living in barracks that were built in the 40ís and had bullet
holes in the wall from the Japanese attack (it used to be a hospital back then).
But we had this big porch that went around the whole barracks and the one MT who
got so drunk one night and decided to ride his bike on the breeze way and ran
into the stairs going up to the second floor. He got up and went to bed (he had
the top bunk) the next morning his knee was swollen up like a watermelon. He had
shattered his kneecap the night before and did not feel it. Updated
11/15/2010 From Steve Lawrence: I have just found your site and it is
great. Brings back a lot of old memories. I am the one in the
decom stories that was the MT that shattered his knee at the barracks in Pearl
Harbor, number 8 in the top 20. What a lot of crazy fun we had during that
9) Using a sledgehammer to bust up every locker on the Key. The recreation committee sold the aluminum and used to money to throw parties almost daily and buy all kinds of junk for the crew as souvenirs. They had all this money and the crew was getting smaller almost daily and of course they could not have any money at the end so they just spent it on anything and everything. We had hamburger and beer parties at the barracks almost daily. They paid for us to go to this place called the Royal Hawaiian, it was a great big pig roast, or when they underwrote the cost for anybody who wanted to take scuba lessons.
10) Buying a bike at the navy exchange and going off base for the first time on it and when I came back the guards told me I had to register it before I could ride it back on the base so I had to walk 4 miles back to the barracks to get a receipt and then walk back so I could get my bike back on base.
11) When you were on duty when we were in dry dock they would send somebody to the mess hall to get your food. You told them what you wanted, gave them the money and they got it. But we would always get burritos because you got to make it and it was only like $1.00 for one but after you made it, the thing was the size of loaf of bread.
12) Having to sit through endless hours of safety training for the dry dock and the one seaman who kept failing the tests you had to take at the end.
13) After the missile division went bye-bye I was moved to the supply dept. because I was qualified as a duty storekeeper and there was only 2 SKís onboard and they wanted to go to 1 day on, 2 days off like the rest of the crew, which I liked because it meant I did not have to stand any watches just once every three days spend the night on our barge in case somebody needed a part. But the best part was we had a huge office that nobody to could get into. So we had the stereo system out of the wardroom set up in there and you could listen to music and sleep in the office instead of down in crews berthing.
14) Getting our hard hats, which looked just like everybody elseís onboard the sub. So me and one of the SKís got those little plastic sticky letters and put out names on the back of the hard hat. We got chewed out over that because it was unauthorized but the next day the XO wanted us to order more letters so he could do his hard hat like that, then the chiefs wanted it done.
15) The MT who shall remain nameless who went to get a tattoo and passed out in the chair while getting it (he was sober, not drunk).
16) The A-Ganger who got banned from the topside watch because he had tattoos all down his arms and it did not ďLook MilitaryĒ.
17) The chief who popped positive for opium during a drug test, they kept testing him until he was clean. Told us it was because he had a poppy seed bagel the morning of the first test.
18) Watching the dock workers take everything not welded down as a souvenir, while we kept being told to not take anything, yeah right.
19) The 2 or 3 weeks we had to keep standing MCRP (Missile Compartment Roving Patrol) after we got Hawaii because the Weps would not let us secure it. We just had to walk around the compartment with a guard belt on and our guard orders in our pocket. No logs to take, nothing running in the compartment. Finally the below-decks watch took over the fire watch.
20) Watching them cut huge holes in the Key to get the equipment out. It would take hours for them to cut through the HY-80. I had a piece of the hull but it disappeared out of my sea bag while I was flying back to Atlanta. So somewhere out there an airport worker has a piece of the Key.
I never thought I would - but I do miss those days sometimes. Of course the new Navy has made those the good old days. When I got to my new sub USS Nebraska SSBN 739 (G) I could not believe the differences between the two boats. Not the make of the subs or size but the way the crew acted toward each other. On the Key no matter the personal problems I may have had with any of the other MTís, I always watched their back and they watched mine but the new boats seemed to be all politics and seeing how many times you could screw over the other guys to help you get ahead or look better to the Captain and that was one of the reasons I left when my time was up instead of staying like I wanted to initially.