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A ceremony to mark the stand down of the U.S. Navy in Holy Loch will be held on 21 February 1992 at 1400 in Queen’s Hall in Dunoon. Several U.S. Navy, Royal Navy, U.S. and U.K. government ofjiciDls have been invited to the event which will commemorate the passing of an historical era.

The establishment of Submarine Squadron Fourteen as a deployed Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine refit squadron was an essential element of the Polaris missile program. On 1 July 1958, the squadron was established in Washington, DC. Under the command of Captain Noavell G. Ward, the squadron staff worked with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in transforming the Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine concept into reality.

The first 20 months were devoted to the development of doctrine and procedures governing the operations of the nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). From these deliberations emerged the two crew (Blue/Gold) manning concept to maximize the amount of time the submarine would spend at sea, and the scientific and logistics support framework that supported the Polaris/Poseidon systems and seave today to support the Trident Class weapons system.

Concurrent with the establishment of Squadron Fourteen, the original hull for USS SCORPION (SSN-589), under construction at Electric Boat Shipbuilding Company at Groton, Connecticut, was cut in half and a compartment with 16 Polaris missile tubes was installed. Thus, the first Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN-598).

Limited by an effective missile range of 1,200 nautical miles, it was necessary to locate the submarine refit site at an overseas location within a reasonable transit time of assigned patrol areas. Therefore, in the autumn of 1959, the United States approached the government of the United Kingdom with a request for support of the U.S. Navy’s first SSBN squadron. In July 1960, Holy Loch, Scotland was selected as FBM Refit Site One. Located on the Firth of Clyde, the site had been the location of a Royal Navy Submarine Base in World War ll. Today, its location is adjacent to the Royal Navy’s new Trident Facilities at Coulport and Faslane.

As the Submarine Fleet Ballistic Missile program became more clearly defined, Submarine Squadron Fourteen moved to Norfolk, Virginia, and USS REDFIN (SS-272) became the first operational submarine to join the squadron, assigned to assist in the development and refinement of navigational techniques. Gradually, the squadron assumed a more direct role in the daily material and personnel aspects of Polaris operations. The culmination of the first two years of the Squadron’s existence occurred on 20 July 1960, when USS GEORGE WASHINGTON successfully conducted the first undersea launch of a Polaris missile. In September 1960, Captain Ward moved the Squadron to New London, Connecticut in preparation for the first SSBN deployment. On 15 November 1960, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON deployed on the first submarine strategic missile patrol.

Concurrent with the development of the SSBN was the development of support activities including the conversion of USS PROTEUS (AS-19) into a Polaris support tender. The preparation of a mobile support base ensured that equipment and skilled personnel would be available to conduct required repairs at an overseas refit site, anywhere in the world.

On 3 March 1961, USS PROTEUS, with Commodore Ward embarked, arrived in Holy Loch, Scotland, establishing Submarine Fleet Ballistic Missile Refit Site One. F’ave days later, USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN-599), the second SSBN to deploy on a Polaris A-1 patrol, arrived to commence the first refit at the Holy Loch. On 1 June 1961 the four sections of USS LOS ALAMOS (AFDB-7) arrived and a 500-man crew of Mobile Construction Battalion Four labored for the next 5 months to assemble the craft. In November 1961, USS LOS ALAMOS (AFDB-7) commenced more than 30years of continuous service to SSBNs, SSNs and other visiting Fleet units at Refit Site One.

A strong emphasis on mobility would remain a characteristic throughout the existence of Submarine Squadron Fourteen. The tender was anchored or moored in the middle of the Holy Loch, with access provided only by small boat. Although accommodations would eventually be made for the provision of potable water and telephones; electrical power would be provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by the tender, or in the tender’s absence, the drydock, an arrangement that would remain unique in the Submarine Force.

In March 1963, the first change of deployed tenders occurred when USS HUNLEY (AS-31) relieved USS PROTEUS as the Submarine Squadron Fourteen tender. By the end of 1963, Submarine Squadron Fourteen had reached its full operational strength of 10 SSBNs, a large floating drydock and a submarine tender.

On 2 June, 1964, GEORGE WASHINGTON departed Holy Loch on her last patrol prior to returning to the U.S. for overhaul and conversion to the Polaris A-3 missile system. NATICK (YTB-760) joined the squadron on 31 July 1964, assisting with arrivals, departures, and berth shifts. Also during July, USS SAM HOUSTON (SSBN-609) completed the tOOth Polaris strategic deterrent patrol.

With the arrival of USS JOHN ADAMS (SSBN-620) in January 1965, USS HUNLEY was then required to perform refits on three classes of submarines (598, 608 and 616). In addition, in August 1965, HUNLEY received the A-3 missile, this marking the first time a tender simultaneously carried all three Polaris missiles. Later that same month, ABRAHAM LINCOLN departed on the final Polaris A-1 patrol, also closing out the SSBN-598 class’s initial deployment cycle. At the end of the year, HUNLEY marked her 100th SSBN refit when USS THOMAS A. EDISON (SSBN-610) commenced an upkeep alongside.

In April 1966, SAUGUS (YTB-780) arrived from Rota, Spain, to serve as the Squadron’s second tug. Three months later, USS SIMON LAKE (AS-33) commenced turnover as the supporting submarine tender. On 28 September 1966, USS GEORGE BANCROFT {SSBN-643) became the first 640 class submarine to undergo refits in Scotland.

For the next four years, as the level of conflict in Southwest Asia escalated, Refit Site One continued to conduct a nominal 36 refits a year in support of the strategic defense of the United States and the free world. USS LOS ALAMOS spent all of 1969 in overhaul at Scott-Lithgow shipyard in near-by Port Glasgow, returning to the Squadron in January 1970. As the yard period had disrupted her six submarines-a-year docking schedule, she drydocked 10 submarines in the first four months of 1970 to restore the submarine drydocking schedule to normal.

The fourth submarine tender to serve at Holy Loch was USS CANOPUS {AS-34), fresh from a conversion overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where she became the first tender configured to support the Poseidon C-3 missile system. By 1970, Submarine Squadron Fourteen consisted of 14 SSBNs, a submarine tender, a large floating drydock, two tugs, a 100-ton floating crane, one YNFB and 20 small craft.

In 1971, the mooring of the tender, drydock and YNFB was changed. The new arrangement had the stem of the tender moored to the stem of the YNFB and the bow of the YNFB moored to the bow of the drydock. Under this revised mooring plan, submarine and tender personnel were able to walk from the tender to the drydock without taking a small boat. This greatly improved efficiency and productivity.

In 1972, Submarine Squadron Fourteen transitioned to an all 627 class Poseidon-converted submarine squadron. On 19 May 1972, USS JOHN CALHOUN (SSBN-630) returned to Holy Loch after completing the l,OOOth strategic deterrent patrol.

The rapid construction of the 41 nuclear powered fleet ballistic missile submarines in the 1960s, combined with the 594 and 637 class SSNs, resulted in a large number of submarines requiring overhauls in the 1970s. As part of the innovative procedures developed to extend the operation cycle of the Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine, the Ship’s System Maintenance Monitoring (SSMS) program was instituted in 1972. This program, designed to identify shipboard components requiring repair before they failed, set up its first monitoring team in Holy Loch. In addition, in order to extend the period between shipyard overhauls, the Extended Refit Program (ERP) was initiated. USS JAMES MADISON (SSBN-627) conducted the Squadron’s first ERP between September and November 1974. With the completion of the ERP drydocking availability, LOS ALAMOS, with the assistance of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, initiated a self-overhaul. The overhaul provided the drydock with additional capabilities to help support future ERPs. During the overhaul, four diesel engines were removed from two pontoons, returned by air freight to the U.S. and refurbished and installed in two replacement pontoon sections. These refurbished pontoons were then towed to Scotland and replaced two of the four operational pontoon sections.

In 1975, Refit Site One completed two more ERPs. In recognition of the superb performance during these first three extended refits at the deployed site, Submarine Squadron Fourteen was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. In November 1975, USS HOLLAND (AS-32) relieved USS CANOPUS as the fourth tender in the Holy Loch, and CANOPUS returned to Charleston. In 1976, PIQUA (YTB-793) arrived in Holy Loch, providing the third tug to assist with Site operations.

The late 1970s and early 1980s were marked by increased operating tempo and increasing complexity in material maintenance. The first steam generator inspection to be accomplished at an advanced refit site was conducted in 1976. During the following years, two steam generator inspections and two ERPs became the normal workload; along with three SSBN refits, a T AK visit and, on average, one SSN upkeep per month.

In 1981, LOS ALAMOS completed a major overhaul of her wingwalls. The work included shifting the drydock’s boilers 90 degrees to permit better maintenance accessibility and improved space utilization. This year also marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Refit Site One. On 29 March 1981, a banquet was held in Dunoon for many past and present members of the Squadron and for many citizens of the local Scottish community.

On 11 November 1981, USS OHIO (SSBN-728) was commissioned at Groton, Connecticut. With the commencement of operations of the Trident weapons system, and the establishment of the refit sites at Bangor, Washington, and Kings Bay, Georgia, the years of the Polaris/Poseidon weapons system were clearly numbered. However, there remained many years before the planned 24 Trident Class SSBNs would be completed and Submarine Squadron Fourteen continued its daily business of refitting submarines for strategic deterrent patrols.

On 25 January 1982, USS HUNLEY (AS-31) returned to Holy Loch for her second tour as the Submarine Squadron Fourteen tender. Members of the Squadron, tender, and drydock continued to support a multitude of community functions and organizations.

On 8 March 1986, a gala 25th anniversary celebration was held at Queen’s Hall in Dunoon. In commemoration of that occasion, a ceremonial cairn and 25th year Submarine Squadron Fourteen commemorative plaque were dedicated at Castle Gardens. This occasion, attended by numerous U.S. and Royal Navy officials and by many Scottish dignitaries, celebrated the continuing harmonious relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. In June 1987, Submarine Refit Site One received the United Kingdom’s Ambassador’s Award for Community Relations for calendar year 1986. The following year, the Squadron was the recipient of a special Ambassador’s Award for its strong community service to the residents of the Cowal Peninsula.

On 7 June 1987, USS SIMON LAKE relieved USS HUNLEY for what was destined to be the last tender turnover. As part of the Navy’s continuing goal to be a valued member of the local community, the SIMON LAKE’s Repair department prepared a copy of a bust of General Dwight D. Eisenhower to commemorate the tOOth anniversary of his birth. This superb casting was presented to the Scottish National Trust and is now on display at Culzean Castle in southern Scotland, Eisenhower’s headquarters during WW II. The castle is now a museum. Ot 8 August 1991, USS WILL ROGERS (SSBN-659) completed the last submarine drydocking at Site One. On 23 September 1991, LOS ALAMOS completed her last undocking evolution when she undecked the YNFB-42 and YD-245 which were in an availability prior to their transfer to COMSUBRON TWENTYTWO in La Maddalena, Sardinia.

The U.S. Navy facilities at Holy Loch, both Submarine Squadron Fourteen and the Naval Support Activity, will be disestablished by 1 June 1992. In February 1992, LOS ALAMOS will depart Scotland for the first time in 31 years, and on 3 March 1992, SIMON LAKE will weigh anchor for her return to the United States. On that day, for the first time since 3 March 1961, the Oag of Commander, Submarine Squadron Fourteen will no longer fly over the Holy Loch. For all the men and women who served at Refit Site One, an era will have ended. But for those active duty and dependent personnel, who were fortunate enough to have served in the Highlands, the warmth and friendships established over three decades with our Scottish neighbors will always remain.

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