USS Queenfish (SSN-651)

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USS Queenfish (SSN-651) at North Pole.jpg
USS Queenfish (SSN-651) at the North Pole on 6 August 1970.
United States
Name: USS Queenfish
Namesake: The queenfish
Ordered: 26 March 1963
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia
Laid down: 11 May 1964
Launched: 25 February 1966
Sponsored by: Julia Butler Hansen (1907–1988)
Commissioned: 6 December 1966
Decommissioned: 8 November 1991
Out of service: 21 September 1990
Struck: 14 April 1992
Identification: SSN-651
  • La Reine de la Mer
  • (French for "Queen of the Sea")
Fate: Scrapping via Ship and Submarine Recycling Program begun 1 May 1992, completed 7 April 1993
General characteristics
Class and type: Sturgeon-class submarine
Displacement: 4,060 long tons (4,125 t) light
Length: 292 ft (89 m)
Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Draft: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Installed power: 15,000 shp (11,000 kW)
Propulsion: One S5W nuclear reactor, two steam turbines, one screw
Speed: Over 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Test depth: 1,300 ft (400 m)
Complement: 113 (14 officers, 99 enlisted men)

USS Queenfish (SSN-651), a Sturgeon-class attack submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the queenfish, a small food fish found off the Pacific coast of North America.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

The contract to build Queenfish was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia, on 26 March 1963 and her keel was laid down there on 11 May 1964. She was launched on 25 February 1966, sponsored by Julia Butler Hansen (1907–1988), U.S. Representative from Washington's 3rd Congressional District (1960–1974), and commissioned on 6 December 1966 with Commander Jackson B. Richard in command.[1]

Queenfish was launched one day ahead of the lead ship of her class, the Sturgeon, despite being laid down 18 months later, and as a result of a multimillion-dollar bonus offered by the Navy to the Newport News shipyard.[1] She was also commissioned in December 1966, three months ahead of Sturgeon.

Service history[edit]

Queenfish spent the early months of 1967 practicing under-ice operations in the Davis Strait. She was assigned Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as her home port and arrived there in late spring 1967 via Guantanamo Bay, the Panama Canal, and the Pacific Northwest.[1]

In 1968, escorted by the Australian minehunter HMAS Curlew, USS Queenfish was the first nuclear-powered warship to visit Australia. Queenfish berthed at Station Pier, Melbourne, on 5 March 1968. The visit was a success, despite anti-nuclear protests.

In mid-1970, Queenfish operated below the polar ice pack in the Arctic, mapping the Arctic Ocean's seabed for potential military purposes in the event of a war between the Soviet Union and the United States.[2] She also surfaced at the North Pole and spent 20 days exploring the Siberian Shelf across the Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi seas.[1]

From 1970 to 1973 Queenfish completed two Pacific deployments, two Vietnam excursions, and six cold war missions. She then entered the Bremerton Navy Yard for overhaul. Queenfish revisited the North Pole in 1985 and 1988.[1]

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Queenfish underway near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 1 June 1989.

Queenfish was deactivated on 21 September 1990, decommissioned on 8 November 1991 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 14 April 1992. Her scrapping via the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, began on 1 May 1992 and was completed on 7 April 1993.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Unknown Waters" by Captain Alfred S. McLaren
  2. ^ William J. Broad (18 March 2008). "Queenfish: A Cold War Tale". The New York Times.