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USS Halibut (SSGN-587)

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Laid down:
Launched:9 January 1959
Commissioned:4 January 1960
Fate:submarine recycling
Stricken:30 April 1986
General Characteristics
Displacement:3655 tons surfaced, 5000 tons submerged
Length:350 feet
Beam:29 feet
Draft:28 feet
Powerplant:S4G reactor
Complement:nine officers and 88 ment
Armament:one Regulus missile launcher, five Regulus missiles, six 21-inch torpedo tubes
USS Halibut (SSGN/SSN-587), a unique guided missile submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the halibut, a large species of flatfish found on both sides of the Atlantic. Her keel was laid down by Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, California. She was launched on 9 January 1959 sponsored by Mrs. Chet Holifield, wife of Congressman Chet Holifield of California and commissioned on 4 January 1960 with Lieutenant Commander Walter Dedrick in command.

Halibut was the first American submarine designed to launch guided missiles. Intended to carry the Regulus missile, her main deck was high above the waterline to provide a dry "flight deck." Her missile system is a completely automated system of hydraulically powered machinery, controlled from a central control station.

Halibut departed for her shakedown cruise 11 March 1960. On 25 March, underway to Australia, she became the first nuclear-powered submarine to successfully launch a guided missile. She returned to Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 18 June 1960, and after short training cruises departed 7 November for Pearl Harbor and active service with Pacific Fleet. During her first deployment she successfully launched her seventh consecutive Regulus I missile during a major Southeast Asia Treaty Organization weapons demonstration. Returning to Pearl Harbor on 9 April 1961, Halibut began her second deployment 1 May. During the months that followed she participated in several guided missile launching exercises and underwent intensive training.

Halibut deployed for the third time to the Western Pacific in late 1961, establishing a pattern of training and readiness operations followed through 1964. On 4 May 1964 Halibut departed Pearl Harbor for the last Regulus missile patrol to be made by a submarine in the Pacific. Then, from September through December, Halibut joined eight other submarines in testing and evaluating the attack capabilities of the Permit-class of submarine.

In February 1965 Halibut entered Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for a major overhaul, and on 15 August she was redesignated an attack submarine and given the hull classification symbol SSN-587. The nuclear attack submarine sailed from Pearl Harbor on 6 September for the West Coast, arriving at Keyport, Washington, on 20 September. On 5 October she departed Keyport for Pearl Harbor and, after an eight-day stop over at Mare Island, California, arrived 21 October. Halibut then began ASW operations in the area, continuing until August 1968 when she transferred to Mare Island for overhaul and installation of side thrusters and other specialized oceanographic equipment. She returned to Pearl Harbor in 1970 and operated with the Pacific fleet and Submarine Development Group 1 out of Mare Island until decommissioning in 1976. She was stricken and disposed of by submarine recycling on 30 April 1986.

Halibut was also used on secret underwater espionage missions by the United States against the Soviet Union. Her most notable accomplishments include:

See USS Halibut for other ships of the same name.


This article includes information collected from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.