USS Tautog (SSN-639): Wikis


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USS Tautog SSN 639.jpg
USS Tautog (SSN-639) off the Hawaiian Islands.
Career (United States)
Name: USS Tautog (SSN-639)
Namesake: The tautog, a fish found off the United States East Coast
Ordered: 30 November 1961
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Laid down: 27 January 1964
Launched: 15 April 1967
Sponsored by: Pauline Lafon Gore
Commissioned: 17 August 1968
Decommissioned: 31 March 1997
Struck: 31 March 1997
Motto: Silent Vigilance
Nickname: "The Terrible T"
Fate: Scrapping via Ship and Submarine Recycling Program completed 30 November 2004
General characteristics
Class and type: Sturgeon-class attack submarine
  • 4010 tons (light)
  • 4309 tons (full)
  • 299 tons (dead)
Length: 89 m (292 ft)
Beam: 9.7 m (32 ft)
Draft: 8.8 m (29 ft)
Propulsion: S5W nuclear reactor
  • 14 officers
  • 95 men

USS Tautog (SSN-639), a Sturgeon-class attack submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tautog, a small, edible, sport fish, also called blackfish or oysterfish, found on the Atlantic coast of the United States.


Construction and commissioning

The contract to build Tautog was awarded to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on 30 November 1961 and her keel was laid down there on 27 January 1964. She was launched on 15 April 1967, sponsored by Pauline Lafon Gore, wife of United States Senator Albert Gore, Sr. (1907-1998) of Tennessee, and commissioned on 17 August 1968 with Commander Buele G. Balderston in command.

Service history



On 30 August 1968, Tautog departed Pascagoula on her way to join the United States Pacific Fleet. She transited the Panama Canal on 8 September 1968 and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 23 September 1968. There, she joined Submarine Division 12 as its flagship. During the next 12 months, Tautog completed her round of post-commissioning tests and sea trials as well as her shakedown training. She conducted the majority of these operations in waters around the Hawaiian Islands, although in January and February 1969 she visited Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, for trials and repairs. She completed her shakedown training in September 1969 and, on 15 September 1969, began post-shakedown repairs and alterations which were protracted by the necessity of replacing her entire diesel generator. Tautog's repairs finally were completed on 19 February 1970, and she began normal operations out of Pearl Harbor, consisting mostly of torpedo and sonar tracking exercises.

Collision with K-108, 1970

On 20 June 1970, Tautog was in the North Pacific Ocean off Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a major base for Soviet Navy missile-armed submarines located near Rybachiy on the Soviet Union's Kamchatka Peninsula, attempting to trail K-108, a Soviet Navy Echo II-class guided missile submarine nicknamed "Black Lila" when the submarines collided violently while K-108 apparently was conducting a maneuver known in the U.S. Navy as a Crazy Ivan. Tautog suffered damage to her sail. As Tautog departed the scene, her crew heard what they thought was K-108 breaking up and sinking. When Tautog arrived in Pearl Harbor, a large portion of one of K-108's screws was found embedded in her sail. Over thirty years later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was discovered that K-108 in reality had limped back to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The collision caused no personnel casualties aboard either submarine.[1]


On 9 October 1970, Tautog departed Pearl Harbor for her first East Asian deployment. She reached Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on 23 October 1970 and joined the United States Seventh Fleet. During her stay in the Western Pacific, she spent all of her sea time engaged in antisubmarine warfare training, usually with units of the Seventh Fleet but, on one occasion, with the British Royal Navy frigate HMS Aurora (F10). When not at sea, she made port calls for liberty and repairs at such places as U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines; Hong Kong; Yokosuka, Japan; and the South Korean port of Pusan. She concluded her first tour of duty in the Western Pacific on 28 March 1971 when she departed Yokosuka bound for Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 5 April 1971 and resumed her routine of upkeep in port alternated with periods at sea engaged in antisubmarine warfare training for the remainder of 1971 and during the first three months of 1972.

On 21 March 1972, Tautog put to sea for a special operation. During that mission, she called briefly at Guam and at Subic Bay. At the conclusion of the assignment, Tautog made a liberty visit to Hong Kong before returning via Guam to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 31 August 1972. She conducted operations in the Hawaiian Islands for the remainder of 1972.

On 15 January 1973, Tautog entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for her first regular overhaul. It was completed on 15 April 1974, when she resumed local operations out of Pearl Harbor which — except for a voyage to the Pacific Northwest which lasted from late July to early September 1974 — occupied her time until the beginning of May 1975. On 3 May 1975, she departed Pearl Harbor for another series of special operations in the Central Pacific and Western Pacific. That voyage included a period in drydock at Guam during the first week in June 1975 as well as exercises in the Philippines near Subic Bay. Ports of call once again included Subic Bay and Hong Kong but no South Korean or Japanese ports. Tautog returned to Pearl Harbor on 18 October 1975 and resumed her schedule of training and upkeep.

Attack submarine training, independent ship's exercises, inspections, and evaluations, all conducted in the Hawaiian Islands operating area, consumed Tautog's energies through the end of 1976. She did not deploy overseas again until the beginning of 1977, when she got underway for a goodwill visit to Mombasa, Kenya. Departing Pearl Harbor on 3 January 1977, she reached Mombasa on 24 January 1977 and remained there for a month while her crew saw the sights and she received visitors on board.

Uganda crisis, 1977

Tautog departed Mombasa on 24 February 1977 and started east toward Pearl Harbor. On the way, however, President of Uganda Idi Amin had precipitated a crisis by rounding up all Americans resident in Uganda in response to President of the United States Jimmy Carter's condemnation of the murders of two of Amin's Ugandan political opponents, and Tautog received orders to join a hastily organized task force built around the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and return to the East African coast. While the United States waited for Amin to make his mind up about whether or not to release the American hostages, Tautog cruised the coast of Kenya, which stands between landlocked Uganda and the Indian Ocean, with the Enterprise task force both as a show of American resolve to protect U.S. citizens in Uganda and as a scratch force to try for a hostage rescue if one became necessary.


Amin eventually freed the hostages, and Tautog was released from the special task force and resumed her voyage east, arriving at Guam on 19 March 1977. Tautog visited Chinhae, South Korea, in April and, on 20 April 1977, arrived in Subic Bay for a series of special operations in the Philippines.

Early in May 1977, Tautog made a liberty call at Hong Kong and then returned to Subic Bay on the 18 May. Special operations occupied her time in late May and in June. On 3 July 1977, she arrived back at Pearl Harbor and began a customary post-deployment standdown to allow the crew to rest and recuperate.

Following completion of the standdown on 8 August 1977, Tautog conducted local operations in the Hawaiian area until she departed Pearl Harbor on 2 December 1977 to proceed to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo, California, for an overhaul. This overhaul, which included the refueling of her nuclear core, lasted into 1980.


Tautog completed a Western Pacific deployment in November 1984 upon her return to Pearl Harbor. After completing a standdown and a post-deployment upkeep period, she hosted prospective commanding officer operations in February 1985 and spent a three-day liberty period at Lahaina, Hawaii, on Maui. In the summer of 1985 Tautog joined the attack submarine USS New York City (SSN-696) in hosting prospective commanding officer]] operations.

In October 1985, Tautog left Pearl Harbor for a Western Pacific and Indian Ocean deployment, visiting Guam; Singapore; Diego Garcia twice; Perth, Australia; the Philippines: and Chinhae, South Korea. On her return to Pearl Harbor Tautog picked up an Operational Reactor Safeguard Examination team.

Once back in Pearl Harbor in April 1986, Tautog had a change of command ceremony in which Commander Walter P. Stuermann relieved Commander T. R. Kent as commanding officer.

Tautog left Pearl Harbor in August 1986 when her home port was changed to Bremerton, Washington. Upon arriving there, she entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a non-refueling overhaul.

Decommissioning and disposal

Tautog was decommissioned on 31 March 1997 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. Her scrapping via the U.S. Navy's Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton began on 15 March 2003 and was completed on 30 November 2004.


Tautog's preserved sail has tipped over in this view of damage at Seawolf Park in Galveston, Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008. It is visible just to the left of the preserved submarine USS Cavalla (SS-244), which in turn is to the left of the preserved destroyer escort USS Stewart (DE-238).

Tautog's sail was preserved and is now on display at Seawolf Park in Galveston, Texas. (29°20′03″N 94°46′42″W / 29.3342°N 94.7782°W / 29.3342; -94.7782Coordinates: 29°20′03″N 94°46′42″W / 29.3342°N 94.7782°W / 29.3342; -94.7782). It suffered damage when Hurricane Ike struck the area in 2008.


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