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USS Halibut (SSGN-587)
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USS Halibut (SSGN-587)

Overview

USS "Halibut" (SSGN/SSN-587), a unique guided missile submarine turned special operations platform, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the halibut. Her keel was laid down by Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, California.

Operational History

"Halibut" was launched on 9 January 1959 sponsored by Mrs. Chet Holifield, wife of Congressman Chet Holifield of California and commissioned on 4 January 1960 with Lieutenant Commander Walter Dedrick in command.

Regulus Deterence Patrols, 1960 - 1965

Begun as a diesel-electric but completed with nuclear power, "Halibut" was the first submarine designed to launch guided missiles. Intended to carry the Regulus missile, her main deck was high above the waterline to provide a dry "flight deck." Her missile system was completely automated, with hydraulic machinery controlled from a central control station.

"Halibut" departed on her shakedown cruise 11 March 1960. On 25 March, underway to Australia, she became the first nuclear-powered submarine to successfully launch a guided missile. She returned to Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 18 June 1960, and after short training cruises sailed 7 November for Pearl Harbor to join the Pacific Fleet. During her first deployment she successfully launched her seventh consecutive Regulus I missile during a major Southeast Asia Treaty Organization weapons demonstration. Returning to Pearl Harbor on 9 April 1961, "Halibut" began her second deployment 1 May. During subsequent, she participated in several missile firing exercises and underwent intensive training.

"Halibut" deployed for the third time to the Western Pacific in late 1961, establishing a pattern of training and readiness operations followed through 1964. On 4 May 1964 "Halibut" departed Pearl Harbor for the last Regulus missile patrol to be made by a submarine in the Pacific. Then, from September through December, "Halibut" joined eight other submarines in testing and evaluating the attack capabilities of the "Permit"-class submarine.

Special Operation Missions, 1965 - 1976

In February 1965 "Halibut" entered Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for a major overhaul, and on 15 August was redesignated an attack submarine and given the hull classification symbol SSN-587. She sailed from Pearl Harbor on 6 September for the West Coast, arriving at Keyport, Washington, on 20 September. On 5 October she departed Keyport for Pearl Harbor and, after an eight-day stop over at Mare Island, California, arrived 21 October. "Halibut" then began ASW operations in the area, continuing until August 1968 when she transferred to Mare Island for overhaul and installation of: side thrusters; hangar section sea lock; anchoring winches and fore and aft mushroom anchors (2); saturation diving (mixed gas) habitat; long and short range side look sonar; video and photographic equipment; main frame computer; induction tapping and recording equipment; port and starboard fore and aft seabed skids ("sneakers"); towed underwater search vehicle ("fish") and winch; and other specialized oceanographic equipment. She returned to Pearl Harbor in 1970 and operated with the Pacific fleet and Submarine Development Group One (SubDevGruOne) out of San Diego with attachment offices at Mare Island until decommissioning in 1976.

"Halibut" was also used on secret underwater espionage missions by the United States against the Soviet Union. Her most notable accomplishments include:

• The underwater tapping of a Soviet communication line running from the Kamchatka peninsula west to the Soviet mainland in the Sea of Okhotsk (Operation Ivy Bells)
• Photogaphy of and assistance in the recovery of a sunken Soviet submarine "K-129" in the CIA's Project Jennifer.

Specifications:

Builder:
General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division
Groton, Connecticut
Displacement:
3655 tons surfaced
5000 tons submerged
Length:
350 feet (103 m)
Beam:
29 feet (8.8 m)
Draft:
28 feet (8.5m)
Speed:
15 knots (28 km/h) surfaced,
20 knots (37 km/h) submerged
Propulsion:
S3W reactor,
7300 shp,
Two shafts,
Two turbines
Complement:
9 Officers 88 men
Armament:
1 Regulus missile launcher
(five missiles)
6 x 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
(Four forward, two aft)