While the submarine tenders remain relatively unchanged in design since their commissioning in the late 1970s, they have been constantly inspected and maintained and have been given modernization, maintenance, and habitability upgrades over the decades. The tenders carry ship and submarine repair parts, servicing equipment, repair departments, and the staff to conduct sixteen specialized services with 26 repair shops such as welding, carpentry, fabrication, sheet metal work, machining, and 24-hour administrative duties for those ships and submarines docked at anchor or alongside the tender.
The U.S. Navy provided an overview of the two sub tenders.
- Ship statistics:
– Length: 644 feet
– Beam: 85 feet
– Displacement: 23,000 tons
– Draft: 28 feet
– Speed: 20 knots
– Propulsion: Oil-fired steam turbine
– Crew: Emory S. Land: 292 officers and enlisted, 158 CIVMARs; Frank
Cable: 206 officers and enlisted, 158 Civilian Mariners (CIVMARs)
– Bunks: 847
– Compartments: 913
– Small Boats: 7
- Ship has five levels and eight decks.
- Bridge is located on the O-4 level
- One 30-ton crane located on the boat deck, two 5-ton cranes (one on each side).
- Ship can be divided into two sections, “Hull” and “Repair.” “Hull” side
maintains the ship and crew while “Repair” takes care of tended submarines and
- Repair department performs intermediate-level and limited depot-level repairs on
5th/7th Fleet submarines in addition to surface ships. Repair department has 26
repair shops that offer various repair services to the fleet.
- Medical, located on the O-1 level, has 14 patient beds in the medical ward and
one operating room.”
Armament per submarine tender is four 25mm Mk 38 autocannons and various pintle-mounted machine guns such as .50cal M2HBs and M240s.
“The 16 departments are as follows with U.S. Navy (USN) and Military Sealift Command (MSC) crews:
1. Deck (MSC)
2. Engine (MSC)
3. Weapons Repair (USN)
4. Repair (USN)
5. Executive (USN)
6. Operations (USN)
7. USN Supply (USN)
8. MSC Supply (MSC)
9. Communications (MSC)
10. USN Health Services (USN)
11. MSC Health Services (MSC)
12. Training (USN)
13. Legal (USN)
14. Chaplain (USN)
15. Safety (USN)
16. Purser (MSC)”
At West21, held virtually on June 29th, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Naval News asked if the U.S. Navy has any plans to replace the two L.Y. Spear-class submarine tenders. VADM William Galinis, U.S. Navy, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) responded.
“Yeah, that’s an ongoing discussion right now. There are a number of new ship designs coming down the pipe right now. I can’t say a tender is one of the leading designs, but that is something that we can easily take some of the current commercial designs that are out there. We did a study a few years ago to see what might be in the realm of possibility. So the ship design itself is relatively easy to come through. It will be the integration of the nuclear requirements to do the nuclear maintenance, especially for the sub tenders that will be a little more of a challenge.”VADM William Galinis, U.S. Navy, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)