USS Finback (SSN-670)

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USS Finback (SSN-670)
USS Finback (SSN-670) off Norfolk, Virginia, probably during sea trials in 1969-1970.
United States
Name: USS Finback (SSN-670)
Namesake: The finback, a whale
Ordered: 9 March 1965
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia
Laid down: 26 June 1967
Launched: 7 December 1968
Sponsored by: Mrs. Charles F. Bird
Commissioned: 4 February 1970
Decommissioned: 28 March 1997
Struck: 28 March 1997
Motto: All Good Men
Honors and
Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for U.S. Atlantic Fleet 1986
Fate: Scrapping via Ship and Submarine Recycling Program completed 30 October 1997
Badge: Insignia of SSN-670 Finback.PNG
General characteristics
Class and type: Sturgeon-class attack submarine
  • 4,001 long tons (4,065 t) light
  • 4,292 long tons (4,361 t) full
  • 291 long tons (296 t) dead
Length: 292 ft (89 m)
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Installed power: 15,000 shaft horsepower (11.2 megawatts)
Propulsion: One S5W nuclear reactor, two steam turbines, one screw
  • 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) surfaced
  • 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) submerged
Test depth: 1,300 feet (396 meters)
Complement: 109 (14 officers, 95 enlisted men)
Armament: 4 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes

USS Finback (SSN-670), a Sturgeon-class attack submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the finback, the common whale of the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

The contract to build Finback was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia, on 9 March 1965 and her keel was laid down there on 26 June 1967. She was launched on 7 December 1968, sponsored by Mrs. Charles F. Baird, wife of the Under Secretary of the Navy, and commissioned on 4 February 1970 with Commander Robert C. Austin in command.

Service history[edit]

Finback at Port Canaveral, Florida, on 13 February 1994.

Navy Unit Commendation[edit]

The Go Go Dance[edit]

On 10 July 1975, the captain of the Finback permitted a topless farewell dance to be performed on the diving plane of the sail by a local go-go dancer known as Cat Futch (Cathy Susan Futch[1]) as the vessel departed Port Canaveral, Florida. On 1 August 1975, when the Navy brass learned of the incident, the submarine was ordered back to port and the captain was relieved of his command,[2] "pending the investigation of an incident of a non-operational nature."[3] The captain, Cdr. Connelly D. Stevenson, 41, gave permission for the act as a reward for performance by his crew during a major overhaul at the Naval shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, the preceding year which cut two months off of a scheduled 12-month overhaul at considerable savings to the government. Stevenson was seeking to be reinstated in his command and said that he did not know how the incident had leaked to the media. "I'm in the middle of Navy proceedings in my behalf and I'm already concerned that the press just has not done my cause any good and it's certainly my intention not to continue the press activity," he stated in a 9 September 1975 Washington Post report that publicly broke the incident.[4]

Ultimately, Admiral James L. Holloway III, Chief of Naval Operations, on 2 October 1975, found the former commander of Finback "guilty of permitting an action, which could have distracted the attention of those responsible for the safe navigation of the nuclear-powered submarine maneuvering in restricted waters." Holloway agreed with subordinates that Stevenson had failed to exercise good judgement and did not follow regulations governing civilian visitors to naval vessels. Stevenson's next assignment was to the Naval Research Laboratory in London, and although technically still eligible for the promotion list such consideration was unlikely under the circumstances and he subsequently left active duty.[5]

An article in the February 2010 issue of Naval History, published by the United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, categorizes this episode as "one of the most notorious incidents in the history of the Navy's nuclear-powered submarine force."

Cat Futch later joined the United States Marine Corps but received a medical discharge two months into recruit training because of ulcers.[6] She died on June 13, 1998.[7]

In 1986, Finback won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the United States Atlantic Fleet.

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Finback was decommissioned on 28 March 1997 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. Her scrapping via the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, was completed on 30 October 1997.


  1. ^ United Press International, "Topless Submarine Dancer Now Wowing Them In Boston", Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Wednesday 8 October 1975, Volume 30, Number 209, page 10A.
  2. ^ United Press International, "Go-Go Girl Gives Sub Fond Farewell", Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Wednesday 10 September 1975, Volume 30, Number 185, page 3A.
  3. ^ Taylor, Robert A., "Cat on a Cold Steel Dive Plane", Naval History, United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, February 2010, page 41.
  4. ^ United Press International, "Sub Captain Fights Loss of Command", Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Thursday 11 September 1975, Volume 30, Number 186, page 7D.
  5. ^ Taylor, Robert A., "Cat on a Cold Steel Dive Plane", Naval History, United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, February 2010, page 43.
  6. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (26 June 1977). "After dancing topless on a submarine, the bar scene isn't the same". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Obituaries". Orlando Sentinel. 13 June 1998. Retrieved 25 August 2018.