SS / SSG / APSS / LPSS 282 Tunny
The USS TUNNY SS-282 was the first Regulus-firing submarine in the US Navy. TUNNY and USS BARBERO (SSG-317) were the first US nuclear deterrent patrol submarines.
USS TUNNY SS-282 was laid down 10 November 1941, at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA. as a Gato-class submarine. The TUNNY was commissioned on 01 September 1942. Following shakedown training out of California ports, USS TUNNY (SS-282) arrived in the Hawaiian Islands on 12 December 1942. After an additional week of training and two weeks of availability, she got underway from Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, on 12 January 1943 for her first war patrol; the TUNNY was engaged in significant action in the Pacific during WWII. Following Japan's surrender, the submarine then made her way back to the west coast. TUNNY was decommissioned on 13 December 1945 and placed in the Mare Island Group, 19th Fleet. Communist aggression in Korea placed new demands on the resources of the Navy and led to TUNNY's being placed in commission, in reserve, on 28 February 1952. TUNNY saw no service at this time, however, and was decommissioned in April 1952.
USS BARBERO (SS-317) was laid down by the Electric Boat Company, Groton, CT on 25 March 1943 as a BALAO-class submarine. USS BARBERO's (SS-317) war operations span the period from 9 August 1944 until 2 January 1945, during which time she completed two war patrols. In September 1945 she was ordered to Mare Island Navy Yard where she underwent pre-inactivation overhaul and was placed in commission in reserve 25 April 1946.
Following conversion to a cargo submarine (reclassified SSA-317, 31 March 1948) at Mare Island, BARBERO was recommissioned and assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Between October 1948 and March 1950 she took part in an experimental program to evaluate her capabilities as a cargo carrier. Experimentation was discontinued in early 1950 and she went out of commission in reserve 30 June 1955.
On 6 March 1953, TUNNY was placed in commission for the third time. Converted to carry guided missiles, she was reclassified SSG-282 and served as a Regulus-missile submarine for nearly 12 years. Regulus I was first launched at sea in March 1953 by the converted USS Tunny (SSG-282), which could house two of them in a pressurized hangar. The missile boasted a range of about 500 nm.
Conversion to a guided missile submarine (SSG) consisted of deck-mounting a large, pressurized, cylindrical hangars, some 15 feet in diameter, just abaft the sail, with a collapsible ramp extending aft. The hangar could accommodate two Regulus I missiles in a rotating ring arrangement. The weapons could be checked out while the submarine was still submerged by entering the hangar through an access trunk, but actual launching required the submarine to surface and manhandle the weapon onto the rails before it could be fired. Then, the boat would have to remain at least at periscope depth to guide the missile to the radar horizon.
On 1 February 1955 BARBERO entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard for her second conversion. Her designation was changed to SSG-317 (Guided Missile Submarine) 28 October 1955. She operated off the coast of California until April 1956 when she transited the Panama Canal and joined the Atlantic Fleet.
In mid-1956, it became Navy policy to keep one SSG in each ocean, and Tunny shifted her base of operations to Pearl Harbor in 1957. Meanwhile, the Navy had laid down two large diesel-electric submarines specifically to carry Regulus, launching USS Grayback (SSG-574) in March 1958 and USS Growler (SSG-577) in August of that same year. BARBERO returned to the Pacific until decomissioning 30 June 1964. She was struck 1 July 1964 prior to being used as a target and sunk by USS GREENFISH (SS-351) 7 October 1964 off Pearl Harbor.
For the first four years, TUNNY operated out of Point Mugu, contributing to the development of the Regulus missile system. Except for a short period of type training, TUNNY engaged entirely in the launching and guidance of Regulus missiles for purposes of missile evaluation in the development of the system. In 1957, TUNNY shifted her base of operations to Hawaii where she conducted deterrent patrols and fired exercise missiles. While service with Squadron One, which was comprised on five guided missile submarines and five missile guidance submarines, TUNNY made ten Nuclear Missile deterrent patrols and successfully launched one hundred REGULAS exercise missiles, the only submarine in history to accomplish such a record feat. In May 1965, the Regulus missile system was phased out, and TUNNY was redesignated SS-282.
TUNNY'S missile hanger was converted into a troop berthing compartment, and 01 October 1966 was re-designated a troop transport submarine (APSS). The Tunny was modified to specifically support water borne unconventional warfare. One of the many modifications was to the Sea Suction (water inlet to cool the equipment) which was modified to allow either either bottom or top inlet depending on the situation. Switching to upper inlet was necessary as the Tunny typically "bottomed" before lockouts commenced. USS TUNNY (APSS 282) relieved USS PERCH (APSS 313) in Aug 66 at Subic Bay. TUNNY spent the next two years operating in South China Sea and elsewhere conducting unconventional warfare operations. TUNNY carried UDT, SEALs, Special Forces, UK SBS, CHINAT troops, Marine Force Recon and others. TUNNY conducted reconnaissance in preparation for amphibious assault operations and gathered navigational and oceanographic information. Ideally suited for transporting small teams for specialized operations as well as for gathering information, TUNNY participated in Operation "Deckhouse VI."
On 01 January 1968, TUNNY was reclassified LPSS-282. She served in other capacities until she was decommissioned on 28 June 1969.
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