|Ordered:||25 June 1968|
|Laid down:||4 August 1969|
|Launched:||11 December 1971|
|Commissioned:||5 May 1973|
|Decommissioned:||11 February 2000|
|Stricken:||11 February 2000|
|Displacement:||4155 tons light, 4450 tons full, 295 tons dead|
|Length:||90.8 m (298 ft)|
|Beam:||9.7 m (32 ft)|
|Draft:||8.8 m (29 ft)|
|Complement:||14 officers, 112 men|
|Armament:||4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes|
|Motto:||A Spirit Un'quelled|
William H. Bates was homeported in New London, Connecticut, after shakedown. She was deployed to the eastern Atlantic between July and October 1974 and conducted her first patrol mission before visiting Holy Loch, Scotland, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, en route home. However, her respite was brief, for the nuclear attack submarine was again underway on patrol over the Christmas holidays and into January 1975. After voyage repairs at Holy Loch, the boat shifted to Faslane, Scotland, for a port visit.
Sailing for home in late January, the submarine was refitted at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia, before conducting local operations off Fort Lauderdale, Florida, into the summer of 1975. She was deployed to European waters again soon thereafter, taking part in antisubmarine warfare exercises. In November, the submarine took part in NATO exercises "Moby Dick" and "Ocean Safari '75," before she returned to New London in December.
William H. Bates conducted her first Mediterranean deployment the following year, departing New London on 5 May 1976. During this tour, she honed her skills in exercises with other ships of the U.S. Navy and other NATO naval units. During the deployment, she visited Bizerte, Tunisia; Augusta Bay, Sicily; and La Spezia and Naples, Italy. After departing the Mediterranean Sea on 6 September 1976, the submarine took part in exercise "Ocean Safari '76" in mid-month. On 14 October, the boat returned to Groton, Connecticut.
William H. Bates underwent voyage repairs and later prepared for another overseas deployment. She departed Groton during the summer of 1977 and completed her assigned mission on 3 October, mooring alongside the tender Holland (AS-32) on that day. She subsequently transited the North Sea for a port visit to Bremerhaven, Germany, where she spent five days. The boat then took part in exercise "Ocean Safari '77" with NATO units while returning from European waters to Groton.
From there, William H. Bates operated in the Atlantic until moving to San Diego, California, in May 1978 for service in the Pacific Fleet into 1980.
William H. Bates was decommissioned on 11 February 2000 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 11 February 2000. Ex-William H. Bates entered the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Bremerton, Washington, on 1 October 2002 and on 30 October 2002 ceased to exist.