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Navy Submarine USS Louisville completes final deployment, to be decommissioned in Pearl Harbor

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The fourth U.S. Navy ship to be named after Kentucky’s largest city has returned to Pearl Harbor from the final deployment before being decommissioned.

The USS Louisville, a Los Angeles-class fast attack nuclear submarine, is ending an historic 33-year career, which included participation in Operation Desert Storm.

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following a six-month deployment to the western Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lee/Released)

Commissioned in 1986 at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut, the Louisville was first home-ported in San Diego, and conducted several deployments to the western Pacific, visiting Korea, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Guam.

In 1991, during Desert Storm, the Louisville conducted the first war patrol of a U. S. Navy submarines since World War II, which included a 14,000-mile high speed submerged trip across the Pacific and Indian oceans, into the Red Sea. She launched Tomahawk land attack missiles at targets in Iraq, becoming the first submarine to launch Tomahawks in combat. She won the Navy Unit Commendation for the patrol.

Louisville conducted a similar deployment in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she again launched Tomahawk missiles against Iraq from the Red Sea. She spent eight-and-a-half months on patrol during that time and was again awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her role in the operation.

The first USS Louisville was an ironclad gunboat used along inland rivers such as the Mississippi, during the Civil War.

The second was a steamship converted to use as a troop transport during World War I. In private use it was the St. Louis, but the Navy already had a ship by that name, so it was changed to Louisville.

The third USS Louisville was a heavy cruiser built in 1931 and spent World War II in the Pacific Ocean, earning 13 battle stars. A bell from that ship is on display at the Navy Operational Support Center in Louisville, formerly known as the Louisville Naval Ordnance Station.

All of the Los Angeles-class submarines like the Louisville are being gradually taken out of service and replaced by the new Virginia class subs.

While many historic Navy ships become museum ships, the U. S. Navy has been hesitant in allowing nuclear submarines to me used in that fashion, due to the advanced technology on board, so it is very likely the Louisville will be scrapped.

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