A SPECIAL USS SEAWOLF (SSN 575) "PLANKOWNER" HISTORY LOG
FROM MAY 26, 1958
This special 1958 history log was originated by SEAWOLF Executive Officer LCDR R. F. (Yogi) Kaufman, now retired VADM, and the final couple of paragraphs by LCDR C. S. Carlisle who was the first Chief Engineering Officer and the second Executive Officer. Feel free to use the info as you see fit. Joe E. Aycock, LCDR, USN (Ret).
Commissioning Ceremonies at The Electric Boat Division, Groton, Connecticut on 30 March 1957 marked the beginning of USS SEAWOLFs first operational year. A noteworthy item at the commissioning was a special tribute paid to USS SEAWOLF (SS197), of World War II fame, by the official party presence of three who had served as her commanding officers. They were the present Commander Submarine Force, U. S. Atlantic Fleet Rear Admiral F. B. WARDER, Rear Admiral R. L. GROSS, USN, (Retired), and Captain R. B. LYNCH, USN.
Following commissioning SEAWOLF, under command of CDR R. B. LANING, USN, SEAWOLF began a series of shakedown operations on 2 April 1957, extending to 8 May 1957. During this 5 week period operations included SSK exercises and operations with units of Submarine Development Group TWO followed by participation in LANTDESEX 1-57 with USS NORFOLK, MITSCHER, FORREST SHERMAN, and CROMWELL. On 18 April SEAWOLF embarked from New London with a group of distinguished senior naval officers including Vice Admiral Thomas S. COMBS, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operational Research and Development, Rear Admiral James S. RUSSELL, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, and Rear Admiral John QUINN, Deputy Chief Bureau of Ordnance. The party remained aboard for an overnight operation in local waters. Near the end of this shakedown period SEAWOLF operated with USS NAUTILUS in an interesting SSN versus SSN duel in waters off Bermuda.
Shakedown thus provided the first of SEAWOLFs impressive pioneering efforts in the field of anti-submarine warfare. Also, a remarkable feature of the shakedown was the demonstration of her long submergence capability. More than 90% of her time at sea in this period was spent fully submerged. Full submergence was in this case absolute independence of the atmosphere with no snorkeling.
After she returned to New London on 8 May for a routine upkeep period SEAWOLF was at sea again by 16 May. This time she was enroute to the Key West operating areas to render services and participate in exercises for OpDevFor and the David Taylor Model Basin. Returning to New London on 14 June 1957, SEAWOLF played host to the Committee on Commercial Uses of Atomic Power of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They were embarked on 18 June for an overnight local operation and returned to New London the next day.
Heading south for the Key West operating areas on 9 July SEAWOLF again participated in exercises for OpDevFor and the David Taylor Model Basin. During this period the ship was moored at the Naval Base, Key West, Florida and on weekends allowed general visiting on board for the area naval personnel and their families. This program met with an enthusiastic response. When possible, interested naval personnel at the Key West Station were embarked for daily operations in order to familiarize them with nuclear shipboard life and to promote interest in the nuclear training program. The Key West evaluations and exercises continued through July. By 3 August SEAWOLF returned to New London. In the following week she participated in "Operation Petticoat", a series of short local cruises for SEAWOLF and other Navy wives. Altogether over 220 dependants were introduced to nuclear submarine propulsion. This again was a great morale success story.
A routine upkeep occupied SEAWOLF until 3 September when she left New London on a northerly course for the Fishplay portion of the 1957 fall NATO Exercises. During this period SEAWOLF transited the North Atlantic to her assigned area, participated in the exercise, and returned non-stop for a total distance of 6331 nautical miles. During this period SEAWOLF remained totally submerged for a record period of 16 days without any external communication. In a public address President EISENHOWER was later to refer to this feat as an example of our tremendous strides in nuclear submarine technology.
Upon returning from Fishplay on 25 September, SEAWOLF surfaced off Newport, R. I. On the next day she embarked the President of the United States, Dwight D. EISENHOWER and his official party for a short cruise, in the Narragansett Bay operating areas. President EISENHOWER became the first Chief Executive to be transported by nuclear propulsion. SEAWOLF returned to New London on 27 September.
On 10 October the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Mr. J. Sinclair ARMSTRONG rode SEAWOLF overnight on a local operation. This was followed on 11 November by a visit and overnight cruise for Secretary of Defense, Mr. Neil MC ELROY and his official party which included the Secretary of the Navy Mr. Thomas GATES.
On 12 November SEAWOLF got underway for WolfEx 1-57 with units of SubDevGru TWO in Bermuda waters. This exercise lasted until 22 November and included a weekend stop in Bermuda where CincLantFlt, Admiral Jerauld WRIGHT and official party were embarked for an overnight demonstration on 18 November 1957.
After a week in port in New London following WolfEx, SEAWOLF took part in VP/SSK exercises the week of 2 December. On 8 December the ship was off Provincetown, MS. where a live telecast was made on board for the NBC program "Wide Wide World". On 13 December SEAWOLF was back in New London where she embarked Vice Admiral DE WOLFE, Chief of Naval Operations, Royal Canadian Navy and official party for a daylight local cruise. Upon returning to New London on 13 December SEAWOLF began a repair period which was to last through 6 February 1958.
On 7 February 1958 SEAWOLF sailed from New London for AsWex 1-58 with combined units of the U. S. and Royal Canadian Navies. During the exercise SEAWOLF embarked Congressional members of the Combined USNR-USMCR Reserve Unit of Washington, D. C. from Mayport, Florida on 14 February 1958 for a daylight indoctrination cruise.
After completion of AsWex, SEAWOLF continued on to the Naval Base, Key West, FL. where she participated in weapons evaluations with units of SurAsDevDet. On 3 March, Representatives Chet HOLIFIELD, Chairman of the Military Operations Sub-Committee of the House Committee on Government Operations, with twelve members of his committee were on board for a local daylight operation.
During the week of 7 March while enroute from Key West to New London, SEAWOLF was diverted to investigate the presence of a possible foreign submarine off our Atlantic Coast - the first operation of this type conducted by a nuclear submarine. SEAWOLF returned to New London on 15 March and completed her first operational year in a routine upkeep period on 30 March 1958.
Apart for her important pioneering contributions to anti-submarine warfare tactics, contributions which are vital efforts in view of the submarine capability posed by our potential enemies, SEAWOLF compiled impressive statistics during her first year of duty with the Fleet. SEAWOLF traveled over 38,000 miles on nuclear power at an average speed of 11 knots with more than 70% of this distance submerged. All of this was done in here initial reactor fuel supply which was only slightly over one-half depleted by the end of the year.
On 16 April 1958, SEAWOLF departed New London to participate in exercise AsDevEx. She returned from AsDevEx on 25 May 1958. She was underway on nuclear power continuously 39 days. During this exercise she logged 10,400 miles, including 10,000 miles submerged. Her previous submerged record was bettered during this period. SEAWOLF remained submerged continuously for a period of 36 days, of which 30 consecutive days were spent completely submerged without snorkeling. These operations have further proven that the SEAWOLF sodium cooled intermediate reactor plant to be the most reliable, trouble free nuclear power plant thus far produced.