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Bigger than big: Huge ship to haul sub from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to Puget Sound
By Geoff Cunningham Jr.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
KITTERY — A ship long enough to hold two football fields has made its way to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in anticipation of a mission that will see it transporting a deactivated research submarine to a Navy facility in Washington State.
The mammoth 609-foot-long USS Carter Hall motored into Portsmouth Harbor at around noon on Monday carrying 24 officers, 328 enlisted sailors and plenty of room to haul Submarine NR-1 to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
The USS Carter Hall is a landing ship dock whose routine mission is to transport Marine personnel, landing craft, vehicles and cargo and launch them using landing craft and helicopters in support of military or humanitarian assistance operations.
The massive ship has a well deck capable of holding two air-cushioned landing craft and a variety of amphibious tracked vehicles.
The ship's two-spot flight deck can land and service any Navy or Marine helicopter.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard officials say the USS Carter Hall traveled to the Portsmouth to pick up the NR-1 submarine — a nuclear-powered research and ocean engineering submarine that arrived at the Kittery yard in December of 2008 for "inactivation."
An official deactivation ceremony was held for NR-1 in Groton, Conn., on Nov. 21, 2008.
The crew of the USS Carter Hall will be tasked with taking the submarine to Puget Sound.
The NR-1 has been configured to a barge as part of the transport process and will be loaded into the USS Carter Hall, which has the ability to lower the well deck into the water to allow the submarine and barge to be loaded inside.
The barge and NR-1 will be guided into the well deck of Carter Hall utilizing a combination of tugs and the ship's capstan system — a rotating machine that is used to lift or pull heavy objects with the assistance of lines or cables.
The Navy's website indicates the USS Carter Hall is an armed vessel that can cruise at maximum speeds of up to 23 mph being powered by four 16-cylinder diesels that produce 33,000 "shaft" horsepower.