Grayback-class submarine

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Grayback preparing to launch a Regulus II missile, c. 1960
Grayback preparing to launch a Regulus II missile, c. 1960
Class overview
Name: Grayback
Operators:  United States Navy
Built: 1954–1958
In commission: 1958–1964, 1969–1984
Completed: 2
Retired: 1
Preserved: 1
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Tonnage: Surfaced: 2712 tonnes (2670 tons) Submerged: 3708 tonnes (3650 tons)
Displacement: 2,768 long tons (2,812 t) full
Length: 317 ft 7 in (96.80 m)
Beam: 27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)
Draft: 19 ft (5.8 m)
  • 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) surfaced,
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) submerged
Test depth: 700 ft (210 m)[2]
Complement: 84

The Grayback-class submarine was a class of two guided missile-carrying submarines of the United States Navy. They carried the Regulus I and Regulus II nuclear cruise missiles, deployed 1957–64, that were phased out by Polaris Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs). They and USS Halibut were the sole submarines designed specifically to carry Regulus missiles, and the only submarines capable of carrying Regulus II. However, USS Tunny and USS Barbero were modified earlier to carry two Regulus I missiles per boat.


On the Graybacks, two missile hangars allowed for a total of two Regulus II or four Regulus I missiles each. Since Regulus II was cancelled in December 1958 except for test firings,[3] the class deployed with four Regulus I missiles. They were originally ordered as sisters of USS Darter, similar to the last Tang-class submarines, but were converted to missile submarines during construction.[4][2] Torpedo armament was the same as the Tangs, with six bow and two stern tubes. The stern tubes were for "swim-out" weapons only, such as the Mark 37 ASW homing torpedo.

In Grayback's later role as an amphibious transport submarine, the former missile hangars were used to store SEAL Swimmer Delivery Vehicles and other equipment used by the SEALs and Marine Force Recon units.

Ships in class[edit]

Name Hull number Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Grayback SSG-574 Mare Island Naval Shipyard 1 July 1954 2 July 1957 7 March 1958 Decommissioned 25 May 1964, converted to an amphibious transport submarine (LPSS) and recommissioned 1968, decommissioned 16 June 1984, expended as a target 1986
Growler SSG-577 Portsmouth Naval Shipyard 15 February 1955 5 April 1958 30 August 1958 Decommissioned 25 May 1964, struck 30 September 1980, museum ship at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City from 29 September 1988.


  1. ^ a b Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 291–292. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  2. ^ a b c Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 176–192, 234, 244. ISBN 1-55750-263-3.
  3. ^ "Vought SSM-N-9/RGM-15 Regulus II." Parsch, Andreas, Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, 2001. Retrieved: 6 January 2013.
  4. ^ Gardiner and Chumbley, pp. 609–610
  • Jackson, Robert, Fighting Ships of The World, London: Amber Books Ltd, 2004 Pg.314 ISBN 9781840136470
  • Gardiner, Robert and Chumbley, Stephen, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995, London: Conway Maritime Press, 1995. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.

External links[edit]