The Tri-Cities has a vast military history that’s waiting to be explored. Most locals are aware of the Hanford site and its role in World War II’s Manhattan Project and the Cold War or the Nike Missile site atop Rattlesnake Mountain, and the years of science and technology research in the area that has benefited America’s defense. But not many know the story of the USS Triton (SSRN 586) submarine sail and how its superstructure ended up in Richland or that you can schedule a guided tour inside the original conning (raised platform tower) and control room.

A Brief History of the USS Triton

Public domain - USN photo courtesy of csp.navy
Public domain - USN photo courtesy of csp.navy
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The submarine, named after the Greek god Triton (a merman, demigod of the sea, and son of Poseidon), was the first submarine powered by two nuclear reactors. At the time of its construction, it was the most expensive submarine ever built totaling $109 million dollars – in today’s dollars that equates to over $1000 million. The USS Triton is most famous for its completely submerged voyage around the Earth as part of Operation Sandblast. The sub followed the path of well-known explorer, Ferdinand Magellan.

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When Did the USS Triton Conning Arrive in Richland?

ideoScreenshot-YouTube-richlandcityview
YouTube-richlandcityview
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The Triton was only in service for 9 years from 1960 to 1969. In 1993 the Triton came to rest in Puget Sound where it sat for 14 years, and in 2007 the recycling process finally began (photo below). Two years later the Triton was completely recycled, except for the sail superstructure – which ended up in Richland, Washington, and “USS Triton Sail Park” was created in November of 2011.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph/Public Domain
Official U.S. Navy Photograph/Public Domain Puget Sound Dry Dock
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How Does the USS Triton Relate to Richland?

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YouTube-richlandcityview
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The honest answer is, it doesn’t, at least not directly, but when the Port of Benton was searching for ways to highlight our area’s relationship with the Navy, the idea of having a submarine on display seemed logical, especially since the Navy has shipped multiple spent submarine nuclear reactor cores up the Columbia River to be disposed of at Hanford. So, the Port of Benton struck a deal with the Navy to have the conning and sail superstructure sent to Richland (2011) where it sits on display to be viewed by the public at “USS Triton Sail Park” which is located just North of Hanford High School on Richardson Road and Port of Benton Boulevard.

How Can You Tour Inside the USS Triton?

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Youtube-richlandcityview
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Surprisingly, not many locals are aware that you can take a tour inside the USS Triton sail, they’re offered by the Port of Benton by appointment only at their website, and you can also watch a video and learn more about this amazing piece of American military history.

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