The SS 393 insignia

About 637 Class Submarines

The SSN 651 insignia
This page is full of little known facts about the Sturgeon Class submarines,
 and the USS Queenfish in particular

The graphic below is of USS Queenfish a 637 or Sturgeon class submarine

When the USS Queenfish was commissioned Dec. 6, 1966 she was the first of the new Sturgeon or 637 Class of fast attack submarines to go to sea.

They were the fastest (for their size) and quietest submarines at the time.

They were designed with relatively spacious passageways that allowed easy transit from one end of the sub to the other.

They were the first class of single screw submarines with under ice capability as part of their design.

They were modular in design allowing fairly easy equipment reconfiguration and installation.

For over 20 years they were the best of the best in the cold war.

The last 9 boats in the class were extended in length by 10 feet, setting a new precedent for fast attack length.

In the 80's all of the earlier submarines in the class received a complete replacement of Sonar, Fire Control and Communications electronics, and a streamlining of the sail.

Specifications for 651 at deactivation

Displacement: Surfaced: 3,640 t., Submerged: 4,640 t.
Length: 292' 3"  Beam: 31' 8"  Draft: 28' 8" Speed: Surfaced 15 kts, Submerged 25 kts
Depth limit: 1,300'; Complement 108;

Armament: Four 21" torpedo tubes amidships aft of bow, MK 48 Torpedoes, UUM-44A SUBROC, UGM-84A/C Harpoon, MK 57 deep water mines, MK 60 CAPTOR mines;

Combat Sensors: Radar, BPS-14/15 surface search, Sonars, BQQ-5 multi-function bow mounted, BQR-7 passive in submarines with BQQ-2, BQS-12 active 7, TB-16 or TB-23 towed array, EW Systems, WLQ-4(V), WLR-4(V), WLR-9 ;

Propulsion System: One S5W nuclear reactor, two steam turbines, one propeller, 15,000 shp.

Specifications for all 637 Class boats should be similar.


SSN651 Trivia
  1. The SSN651 Spent the first 2 years in Pearl Harbor with a MK47 torpedo nose sticking out of the sail. We were testing the sonar unit for BUORD. Click Here to see it.

  2. Prior to SUBICEX70 Queenfish became the first sub to get satellite navigation (SATNAV) equipment. As a precaution a back-up was installed in the crew library. It was a prototype from M.I.T. and was so big they had to cut it's cabinet in half to get it through the weapons shipping hatch.
  3. When testing the SATNAV it was discovered that their was an anomaly, Queenfish appeared to be tied up in the channel near Ford Island. When Tautog got their SATNAV and  found the same error, it was decided the charts had been off for many years.
  4. While on our first WestPac, we experienced a periodic droning hum. It occurred when we were at certain speeds, in certain water densities. Not something to be desired when chasing the USSR's best around the ocean. It turned out that the ladder rungs on the sail were vibrating. They were removed and so was the problem. The ladders were later replaced with a tubular style rung, and the ladder was extended to just above the deck, making access to the fairwater positions and bridge a lot easier. Click here to see the as-built and after overhaul differences in the sail.
  5. While on the same WestPac, we started having ventilation fans going out. It go so hot  from lack of air flow, it was almost unbearable. The fans were built with such a close tolerance in the gap between the tip of the fan blades and the blower housing that tar and oil residues were building up enough to bind the fan blades. The blades were trimmed, the fans cleaned, and the problem went away.
  6. When I first got onboard I noticed the sample filter on the front of the Mark IV atmosphere analyzer was black. When I asked the IC division L.P.O. about it, he said "It's a charcoal filter".  Much later, after going to the school on the equipment, I discovered it was not a charcoal filter, it was dirty. I was the first person onboard to attend the school.
  7. When Queenfish was built she was equipped with a new type of battery. The cells had a fiberglass jar instead of hard rubber. Within a year they started leaking, so a conventional battery replaced it.
  8. When the Diesel engine was installed, it was equipped with old style Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTDs) instead of Thermo-couples. We had a couple of them go bad the first year, and found out the Navy supply system no longer carried them. We couldn't pass Diesel inspections. Art Gnepper IC1(SS) discovered a surplus dealer on Sand Point in Honolulu had purchased all the Naval Supply Depot had, as surplus. We got a purchase order from the supply officer and stocked up. They were still in government packaging.
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Submarine Hull Markings

When a submarine is commissioned It has the hull number painted on either side of the sail and the bow, The ship name is on either side of the stern. These look nice but are not practical. As soon as possible the bow and stern markings are painted out. If the sub is not going to be on operations for a while or for special occasions the hull numbers are painted on the sail. When on operations there are no hull markings. The old location on the sail were on the lower aft sides. The new location is the top center of each side.

The modern subs have magnetic hull numbers,  that are removed after getting underway, and prior to submerging.

A grphic depicting the change of hull number location on the sail.
To see other external changes to the  Queenfish and other 637 boats go to this link.

651 call sign:
November Bravo Xray Uniform

Exercise codename: Snowball Mike

The thirty-seven 637 Class Boats Click here for 651 original specifications
SSN-637 Sturgeon
SSN-638 Whale
SSN-639 Tautog
SSN-646 Grayling
SSN-647 Pogy
SSN-648 Aspro
SSN-649 Sunfish
SSN-650 Pargo
SSN-651 Queenfish
SSN-652 Puffer
SSN-653 Ray
SSN-660 Sand Lance
SSN-661 Lapon
SSN-662 Gurnard
SSN-663 Hammerhead
SSN-664 Sea Devil
SSN-665 Guitarro
SSN-666 Hawkbill
SSN-667 Bergall
SSN-668 Spadefish
SSN-669 Seahorse
SSN-670 Finback
SSN-672 Pintado
SSN-673 Flying Fish
SSN-674 Trepang
SSN-675 Bluefish
SSN-676 Billfish
SSN-677 Drum
Extended hull:
SSN-678 Archerfish
SSN-679 Silversides
SSN-680 William H. Bates
SSN-681 Batfish
SSN-682 Tunny
SSN-683 Parche
SSN-684 Cavalla
SSN-686 L. Mendel Rivers
SSN-687 Richard B. Russell

*First boat in class commissioned

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