USS Queenfish SSN651

"Rest well, pretty lady; you have earned your peace."
CAPT Philip Boyer at Deactivation, 9/21/90.
Sea trials 1966 North Pole, Summer of 1970
Home Port
La Reine De La Mer - Queen Of The Sea Home Port - Pearl Harbor - 1968

This History of SSN651 and the history of SS393 are reprinted with permission, from "Subs In The Spotlight",
the Spring 1996 edition of "The Klaxon", Submarine Force Library and Museum, Groton, CT.


Ship Specifications Commanding Officers
  USS Queenfish (SSN651)

The second ship to bear the name, a STURGEON (SSN637) class attack Submarine, garnered many firsts right from her birth. Authorized in FY 1963, a year later than the class namesake, she was launched one day earlier and commissioned three months earlier than STURGEON on 6 December 1966. The Navy's 64th nuclear sub was built by the Newport News Ship-building and Drydock Co. QUEENFISH was the first 637 to join PACFLT and the first single-screw submarine specifically designed for under-ice missions.

Just two months after commissioning, QUEENFISH exercised her under-ice capability, surfacing in the Arctic Winter marginal ice zone in the Davis strait. Her Atlantic test completed, QUEENFISH headed for the Pacific, having proved the ability under ice of the all-purpose STURGEONs.

QUEENFISH entered Pearl Harbor in mid-April 1967. Except for shipyard overhauls, 'Pearl' remained the home port for the rest of her days.

Before the year was over, QUEENFISH began the first of 10 deployments to the Western Pacific, a region in which she would spend almost a quarter of her nearly 24-year operational life. In addition to the usual stops in Japan, Okinawa and Guam, she also worked the Vietnam War Zone, a not very historic mission in that pre-TOMAHAWK-missile era. But there were plenty of special missions for SSNs in executing the vital Cold War sub marine role. QUEENFISH commenced to pick up more than her share of these important tasks, as attested by the unit commendations cited below.

In her first full fiscal year, QUEENFISH earned the Battle Efficiency "E," the first of a rare "hat trick" three in a row. There were many others as well as awards of the Engineering "E," the ASW "Q" the Medical "M," and the Supply "E" over the years. Despite the heavy schedule of operations, she invariably enjoyed an extremely high reenlistment rate, exemplified by the "Golden Anchor" for best retention in SUBPAC during the first year such an award was made.

Over three years elapsed between the first QUEENFISH Arctic voyage and her second trip under the polar ice cap in 1970. Following the precise track of NAUTILUS in 1958, she surfaced at the North Pole two days after the 12th anniversary of "NAUTILUS 90 North." Ice thickness and shallow ocean depth frequently provided a clearance of only 25 feet above and below the ship. Her third trip to the Pole in 1985 included a joint surfacing with ASPRO (SSN648). The fourth and final QUEENFISH run to the top of the world included a surfacing with two other boats on the 30th anniversary of the pioneer NAUTILUS crossing under the ice at the pole. This last trip became a 3-ocean deployment as she entered the Atlantic and visited Holy Loch, Scotland before returning home.

Not all her operations were happy or adventurous. In 1981, QUEENFISH performed the sad duty of burying at sea her fourth CO, CDR Milo P. Daughters II, who had been relieved the previous year after more than three years in command.

QUEENFISH recorded so many "firsts" that they are hard to catalogue.

  • first single screw submarine to surface at the North Pole.
  • first 637-class SSN to go seven years until her first overhaul.
  • first submarine to be awarded 9 unit commendations in a 16 year period (6 Navy Unit Commendations and 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations).
  • first submarine to record periscope photography of cavorting, swimming polar bears.
  • first nuclear submarine to visit Melbourne, Australia.

QUEENFISH became one of the early casualties of the Cold War victory. A victory in which she had played a key role. The twin factors of reduced naval requirements and intensified economic needs accomplished what no enemy could. On 21 September 1990, QUEENFISH was deactivated, 10 weeks short of the 24th anniversary of her commissioning.

 

CAPT John Donlon, USN (Ret)

"-- To those of us who have served on you, you remain the love of our lives, you will always be our lady."     CAPT Philip Boyer

Footnote from John Munroe:
Just a quick note concerning the Queenfish Page. In the command history, Capt Donolon mentions that in 88, Q-Fish surfaced with two other submarines on her last arctic deployment. This isn't quite correct. It was her last deployment North, but while re-creating the Nautilus mission 30 years later, we did it solo, no other boats. I believe he confused it with ICEX 86, where in fact, the Queenfish did surface with two other boats. Sorry to be so picky, just wanted to set things straight.

Footnote From James McNamee 12/30/2009
John Monroe wants to be picky and set things straight...He is incorrect in saying that Q-fish surfaced with two other boats during ICEX 86. Queenfish surfaced at the pole on August 19, 1986 in company with the USS Aspro. I was on the Aspro at the time, having been re-assigned to that vessel after serving on Queenfish. There was no third boat there. 

Captain James McNamee, U.S. Merchant Marine




Footnote, from Grant Youngman:
"You may know this, but Queenfish is cut up in two parts -- the reactor compartment is in Hanford (WA) and the rest is "resting" peacefully in Bremerton (WA) -- waiting for whatever. I was happy to know at least that she hadn't been turned into razor blades. (I wonder if Gillette can make blades out of HY-80 steel :-) ) "

Received 5/22/1997:

"Donald J. Shelton"  djs@onramp.net
    To: applebys@bellsouth.net
Thanks for stopping by.  I just got back from the ultimate naval tour to Puget Sound and a visit to the yard for Armed Forces Day.
Got to see a ton of boats in the process of being "recycled" I am sorry to report that Queenfish was finished 7 Apr 1993, and now there are a bunch of 688's standing in line.   Watch for BIG updates after I get my 20 rolls of film processed and scanned. don
 

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