Considered the ultimate in American diesel-engine attack submarine for her time, USS Blueback (SS-581) and her group of three Barbel-class boats operated with the United States Navy during the critical Cold War years. The class was constructed from 1956 to 1959 and operated from 1959 until 1990. Succeeding the Darter-class of fighting boats, the three Barbel boats provided decades of service to the USN for their time at sea.
USS Blueback was awarded on June 29th, 1956 and laid down by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Mississippi on April 15th, 1957. She was launched on May 16th, 1959 and formally commissioned into service on October 15th, 1959. She was serve until decommissioned on October 1st, 1990 and struck from the Naval Register on October 30th of that year.
The boat measured 219.5 feet with a beam of 29 feet and a draught of 25 feet. Displacement included a light weight of 1,775 tons, a full loaded weight of 2,180 tons, and a submerged weight of 2,700 tons. Power was from 3 x Fairbanks-Morse 38 8-1/8 diesel engines developing 3,150 horsepower with 2 x General Electric electric motors generating 3,150 horsepower, all driving a single shaft astern. The boat made headway at 12 knots when surfaced and could manage an excellent speed of 25 knots when submerged. Range was out to 14,000 nautical miles / 16,155 miles and the hull was tested to depths of 700 feet.
Aboard the vessel were eight officers with 69 enlisted personnel. The boat carried both active (BQS-4) and passive (BQR-2) sonar fits as well as the Mk 101 Fire Control System (FCS) for the tasks at hand. Armament was fairly modest, this being 6 x 533mm (21") torpedo tubes all set in the bow with 18 x Torpedo reloads to be had.
Blueback conducted her trials in the Gulf of Mexico and transited the Panama Canal for operations in the Pacific Theater (the Soviet Union being the primary enemy of the day). The boat conducted a series of training exercises and undertook operations in and around Hawaii. In the mid-1960s, the boat supported American operations related to the Vietnam War (1955-1975). This was had in 1965 and 1967 with an overhaul at Bremerton WA in-between. She returned to Vietnam in the early 1970s to help train destroyer crews. In the post-war period, she was part of various trials, joint exercises, and general operations leading up to her decommissioning in 1990.
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USS Barbel (SS-580); USS Blueback (SS-581); USS Bonefish (SS-582)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Traveling under the surface to search, track, and / or engage or reconnoiter areas.
Activities conducted near shorelines in support of allied activities.
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.
219.5 ft 66.90 m
29.0 ft 8.84 m
25.0 ft 7.62 m
3 x Fairbanks-Morse 38 8-1/8 diesel engines developing 3,150 horsepower with 2 x General Electric electric motors generating 4,800 horsepower;1 x Shaft astern.
12.0 kts (13.8 mph)
25.0 kts (28.8 mph)
14,038 nm (16,155 mi | 25,999 km)
kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers
1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
6 x 12" (533mm) torpedo tubes in bow-facing arrangement; 18 torpedo reloads.
(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective naval campaigns / operations / periods.
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