Naval History and Heritage Command

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Pittsburgh IV (SSN-720)


The fourth U.S. Navy ship named for the industrial city in western Pennsylvania. The first Pittsburgh (often spelled Pittsburg), a sidewheel, ironclad gunboat, served from 1862–1865. The second Pittsburgh (Armored Cruiser No. 4) was laid down as Pennsylvania on 7 August 1901, renamed Pittsburgh on 27 August 1912 to free the name Pennsylvania for a new battleship, and served from 1905–1931. Heavy cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-70) was renamed Canberra on 12 October 1942, but the name Pittsburgh was assigned to another heavy cruiser (CA-72), that had originally been named Albany. The third Pittsburgh served (with a brief interruption) from 1944–1973.


(SSN-720: displacement 6,193; length 362'; beam 33'; draft 31'; speed 25 knots; complement 110; armament UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, UUM-44 SubRoc antisubmarine missiles, UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Mk 48 torpedoes, four torpedo tubes; class Los Angeles)

The fourth Pittsburgh (SSN-720) was laid down on 15 April 1983 at General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Conn.; launched on 8 December 1984; sponsored by Dr. Carol H. Sawyer, wife of Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Shipbuilding and Logistics) George A. Sawyer; and commissioned on 23 November 1985, Cmdr. Raymond H. Setser in command.

Pittsburgh, Cmdr. Charles H. Griffiths Jr. in command, deployed (8 November 1990–28 February 1991) for Operation Desert Storm (the liberation of the Kuwaitis from the Iraqis) and she fired UGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) against Iraqi military targets.

Pittsburgh IV (SSN-720) 1985-DN-SN-91-08885
A photograph snapped through Pittsburgh’s periscope captures the moment she fires a TLAM against the Iraqi forces, 19 January 1991. (Unattributed Department of Defense Photograph DN-SN-91-08885, Record Group 330 Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921–2008, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

Pittsburgh, Cmdr. Jeffrey S. Currer in command, deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom I (1 October 2002–27 April 2003) and on 21 and 22 March she joined 29 other U.S. and British ships and submarines that fired TLAMs against Iraqi military targets. Currer later received the Bronze Star for his “extraordinary leadership and operational skills” during these battles.

Pittsburgh IV (SSN-720) 1985-120422-N-SK590-861
The attack submarine churns a dramatic bow wave as she prowls the Arabian Sea, published on 27 April 2012. A lookout gazes at the photographer through his binoculars, and the boat’s national colors snap in the wind as Pittsburgh makes speed. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 120422-N-SK590-861, Navy NewsStand)

Pittsburgh, Cmdr. Jason Deicher in command, returned to her home port of Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., from her final deployment on 25 February 2019. The crowd that greeted Pittsburgh upon her return included Dr. Sawyer, the boat’s sponsor. The veteran attack submarine turned her prow northward and passed below the Arctic ice on her final voyage and, on 28 May 2019, slipped into Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Wash., and began her inactivation process. The Navy removed Pittsburgh from its inventory and began her inactivation availability on 6 August 2019.

Detailed history pending.

Mark L. Evans
7 August 2019

Published: Wed Aug 07 10:17:27 EDT 2019