USS Triton, a United States Navy nuclear submarine, was the first vessel to execute a submerged circumnavigation of the Earth (Operation Sandblast), in early 1960.
Triton accomplished this objective during her shakedown cruise while under the command of Captain Edward L. “Ned” Beach, Jr. The only member of her class, she also had the distinction of being the only Western submarine powered by two nuclear reactors.
Triton was the second submarine and the fifth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the Greek god Triton. At the time of her commissioning in 1959, Triton was the largest, most powerful, and most expensive submarine ever built, at $109 million excluding the cost of nuclear fuel and reactors ($882 million in present-day terms.
After operating for only two years in her designed role, Triton ’s mission as a radar picket submarine was made obsolete by the introduction of the carrier-based Grumman WF-2 Tracer airborne early warning aircraft. Converted to an attack submarine in 1962, she became the flagship for the Commander Submarine Forces U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT) in 1964. She was decommissioned in 1969, the first U.S. nuclear submarine to be taken out of service.
Triton‘s hull was moored at the St. Julien’s Creek Annex of Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia as part of the reserve fleet until 1993, though she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1986. In 1993, she was towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to await the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program. The former Triton landed on the keel resting blocks in the drydock basin on October 1, 2007 to begin this recycling process which was completed effective November 30, 2009.