Sunday, October 05, 2008

Submarine Mystery Questions Answered

Last Friday's Submarine Mystery Questions of the Week are answered below.

1- Was the hull number 655 ever assigned to a real nuclear sub, and if so, which one?

[Rhetorical question: Why did Dunham use the hull number of a boomer to represent Viperfish?]

2- Photos of a real submarine are shown in Dunham's book identified as a Regulus missile firing sub, USS Viperfish. Assuming the Viperfish photos resemble Regulus missile subs, how many were there and what were their names? There were 5 Regulus subs a) - e):

a) USS Tunny (SSG-282) was the first submarine to carry Regulus. Originally a World War II fleet submarine of the Gato class. Decommissioned in December 1945, she was briefly recommissioned in reserve for the Korean War, decommissioned again, but then brought out in early 1953 for conversion to a guided missile submarine (SSG).

b) In October 1955, USS Barbero, originally SS-317 and also a World War II fleet boat, was commissioned as the Navy’s second SSG, having been brought out of mothballs and provided by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard with a cylindrical hangar identical to Tunny’s.

c), d) The Navy laid down two large diesel-electric submarines specifically to carry Regulus, launching USS Grayback (SSG-574) in March 1958 and USS Growler (SSG-577) five months later.

e) A new SSG was included in the FY 1956 budget. Moreover, by late 1955, Navy long-range planners were anticipating that as many as 23 Regulus II submarines would eventually be required. The first planned Regulus II SSG was laid down at Mare Island in April 1957, and commissioned as USS Halibut in January 1960. Halibut could carry four Regulus II or five Regulus I missiles in her hangar, which also served as a forward torpedo room.

3- Dunham claimed he was a reactor operator on board the Regulus sub. How many of the subs identified in the answer to number 2, if any, required ROs? Only one: USS Halibut (SSGN-587).

4- In which ocean did Regulus subs patrol? Both the Atlantic and Pacific:

After the Soviet Union and United States successfully tested ICBMs in 1957, the nuclear arms race entered a more serious phase. In late 1958, with four SSGs and four Regulus cruisers in commission, the Navy organized Submarine Squadron ONE at Pearl Harbor with all 4 SSGs.

A readiness posture was adopted that placed at least four missiles on station in the Western Pacific at all times, to complement existing carrier-based aircraft armed with nuclear weapons. This required deploying either the two converted fleet boats together or one of the two Graybacks.

Previously, Tunny had operated out of Point Mugu, California, and Barbero had transited the Panama Canal in April 1956 to join the Atlantic Fleet. Grayback’s and Growler’s first patrols commenced in early 1960. And Halibut eventually entered active service with the Pacific Fleet in November 1960, making her first official patrol the next year.

5- BONUS QUESTION - Among various naval officers and other people the author acknowledges by name is one Sue Lemmon. What was her capacity or general connection to the book? The author identifies Sue Lemmon as Historian, Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

Lemmon, who started as a stenography clerk and became the shipyard's public information officer, made sure she got to serve Ronald Reagan coffee when he visited as govenor in 1974.
Lemmon is also an author. Chapomatic should have one of her books, Sidewheelers to Nuclear Power, in his personal library.



Post a Comment

<< Home