The USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617) was a United States Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarine. It was laid down on 26 June 1961 at Groton, Connecticut, by the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation; launched on 18 August 1962; and commissioned on 27 June 1963 with Commander Norman B. Bessac commanding the Blue Crew and Commander Benjamin F. Sherman, Jr., commanding the Gold Crew. The USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617) had two shakedown cruises, one for each of her crews, between June 28 and October 18, 1963. Asbestos-containing materials were utilized in almost all military equipment, including ships, tanks, airplanes, jeeps, and trucks. Between 1964 and 1975, the United States used an estimated 700,000 tons of asbestos yearly, falling only 100,000 tons shy of the all-time high of 803,000 tons in 1973. The Navy chose asbestos because of its resilience to heat and chemical damage, tensile strength, and low cost. The exposure risks faced by members of the United States Coast Guard are similar to those faced by members of the Navy. These service members were aboard ships that were loaded with asbestos-containing materials. Ropes used on board were often braided with asbestos fibers.