A presentation by Peter l Fullinwider, Captain, USN (Rel), Panel Member, at the 2009 Submarine History Seminar,
sponsored by the Naval Historical Foundation and the Submarine league at the United States Navy Memorial, Washington, D.C., 15 April 2009.
Captain Fullinwider was graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949 and entered submarines in 1951 after serving two years in Atlantic Destroyers. He served in the commissioning crew of the first post war attack submarine TANG (SS563) and later as executive officer of the REGULUS I guided missile submarine TUNNY (SSG282) in 1959 and 1960. Other tours included Staff. Commander Submarine Squadron One; briefly at The REGULUS I Guided Missile Unit 50 and then as the first Officer in Charge of The Research and Development Guided Missile Unit 55 specifically for the Mach Two Aircraft REGULUS II follow on missile then under testing at Edwards Air Force Base.
A very historically significant assignment occurring after patrols in TUNNY was assignment as a member of the first Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at Sac Headquarters Omaha in 1960 to 1962, responsible for the preparation of the Single Integrated Operation Plan for all U.S. nuclear weapons.
Captain Fullimvider received a Master’s Degree in International Affairs while attending the Naval War College at Newport, R.1. and thereafter commanded USS COBBLER (SS344) in New London. Subsequent to his command he was assigned as the Submarine Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander in Chief. U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, in London.
In 1967 he served as the Chief Staff Officer for Commander Submarine Squadron SEVEN in Pearl Harbor prior to assuming command of the nuclear Submarine Division Seventy One in July of 1968. Captain Fullinwider then went to the Pentagon as Assistant to the Director OP 07 for International Research and Development Cooperation and thence to Command of the USS AJAX (AR-6) a repair ship in San Diego and the Far East and finally returning in 1976 to the CNO Staff as Deputy Director Undersea, Strategic, and Nuclear Weapons Development Division which among other things handled the Tomahawk Cruise Missile development funding. Captain Fullinwider retired 1 January 1978
Today, we know about Trident, Poseidon and Polaris missiles as the backbone of our Strategic Missile Force, and now, newspapers and the TV spell out even more about the wonders of Tomahawk. After WWII, the Air Force and the Strategic Air Command were perceived as the main players- but would the Navy be left out?
In 1944, a small group of submariners and technical design people saw an opportunity to use the German V-1 unguided buzz bomb as the baseline vehicle to develop a full submarine capability. An Americanized version named LOON soon came into production and in 1946 the DERBY program was formalized to prove the concept and develop the Regulus submarine weapon system at the then new Naval Air Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, California. The Navy wanted something more than the LOON promised. In just two years, Chance Vought Aircraft won a contract for a missile aircraft carrying a 3000 pound warhead for up to 500 miles. This was to be the Navy’s sea based deterrent, essentially a high performance 42 foot long unmanned turbojet aircraft weighing 7 tons at speeds up to Mach 0.91 (550kts) and guided by radar in the submarine version. It would carry a 40-50 kton nuclear warhead or a 1-2 Megaton thermonuclear warhead when available.
The speed of development was a tribute to those involved, and in 1950 Chance Vought delivered the first of the 10 contract test vehicles to Edward’s AFB for flight testing. An innovation by Chance Vought was the addition of retractable landing gear so that training missiles could be recovered for reuse, thus saving tons of money. Most flew multiple times (3 each were hoped for) some as high as 10 and I believe one flew 21 times.
The World War II fleet submarine TUNNY (SS282) was brought out of mothballs and recommissioned as SSG 282. Her main modification beyond a snorkel and streamlined sail was the addition of a huge hangar fifteen feet in diameter just aft of the sail and a set of launch rails which would be elevated to launch the missile. The Hangar would hold two missiles. One of the four main engines and the auxiliary engine were also removed. TUNNY launched the first Regulus submarine missile in July 1953 as the 58th launch overall and would be the primary test and training platform for the next several years. USS BARBERO (SSG 317) was recommissioned shortly after with essentially the same modifications, however they did not get the streamlined sail and ended up with only two main engines and an auxiliary. These shortcomings would haunt and hazard her during transit and on station.
The Navy added two new construction diesel conversions, USS GRA YBACK (SSG 574) and USS GROWLER (SSG 577) built to carry four Regulus I or two Regulus II and a year later in 1960, the nuclear powered USS HALIBUT (SSGN 587) whose enormous hangar could carry 5 Reg I or 4 Reg II. GRA YBACK and GROWLER had design limitations, even though new construction, specifically hull design, which limited operational speed and mobility, but also their new lightweight design high speed engines which gave them headaches from failure of crankshafts, cracked cylinders, piston, and other fatigue failures due to the light weight construction.
The Navy planned some three more SSNs and 7 Cruisers for a future program, but these were either not converted or never really participated in on station deterrent roles. There were, however, to the best of my memory, many training and test firings from cruisers and carriers.
The last Submarine Regulus patrol was carried out in 1964, just twenty years from the first inspiration in 1944. Slightly over 1000 Regulus launches took place in the combined developmental, training, cruiser and submarine programs. TUNNY fired her 100th missile which was the last from a submarine in 1964. The remaining inventory of Regulus I and II airframes were expended in the next few years as target drones.
Regulus was a highly successful program from start to finish but was phased out prematurely due to the speed with which POLARIS moved in tum from concept to operational status in 1960 and to the flexibility of the nuclear submarine as a platform plus the superb performance of the Special Projects Office in developing the launch and navigation system, the guidance system, the missile and fire control systems and integrating them into the launch platform.
Regulus II, well into its flight test program, and following 8 successful flights in a row was cancelled because of the success of Polaris. Its cancellation incidentally allowed $100 Million to be reprogrammed into the Polaris program which was being funded out of the existing Navy budget. An anecdote I might mention is that the CNO, Admiral Arleigh Burke, told his former aide after watching a nationally televised launch of Reg II, that Regulus II would be cancelled over his dead body. One week later on 12 Dec 1958 SecDef Gates cancelled the program. Contrary to public opinion, even the CNO can be wrong (on occasion).
I entered the Regulus program for a relatively short three year period in 1957 by way of a Nuclear Weapon familiarization course at Albuquerque, NM and a few months training in Reg I procedures at GMU 50 as a prelude to becoming the first Officer in Charge of GMU 55 for flight testing and development of the Regulus II. As you know, that program was cancelled in 1958 and I moved on to Executive Officer of TUNNY in spring 1959. Regulus II was designed as a state of the art Mach 2, 65,000 foot flying machine doubling the capability of Reg I out to 1000 miles and guided by an inertial navigation system to its target. Awesome in those days. One navy flight was scheduled for maximum altitude and speed and a problem developed in which the snap lock fasteners would not snap to secure the 1 1/2 by 3 ft electronic panel smoothly to the fuselage. What to do? The crew chief working the problem said forget the fasteners, we’ll use duct tape (Submariner make do/ingenuity). As missile officer that seemed a rather questionable procedure, but by the time I might have said NO and cancel, it was done, and I felt we had to move on. Oh well, trust the chief, I had been taught, so we did and it worked beautifully. I was pleased as you may imagine. In retrospect, “Thank you LORD.”
By 1958 and ’59 the Regulus program was entering its Strategic Deterrent Operational Phase which would last for five more years. It was really a story of the men who made up the crews of 5 submarines struggling to meet their commitments of maintaining four missiles on station, all the while feeling great pride that they were essential to the safety of their country and the free world. The reality in looking back over the years is that the Submarine Force always operated on a war footing the entire Cold War. The Sea itself was a main adversary with our operating area being a region of the roughest weather in the Pacific and our ships all had shortcomings which the long and repeated patrols brought to the surface with wear and tear. Some had unreliable main engines, aluminum superstructures that could not stand the pounding and poor hull design that made depth control marginal in the high sea states. Our men were remarkable and innovative and they took the hardships and continuous patrols in stride and we never embarrassed our nation in those long years with an international incident of detection by the Russians.
Briefly, deployment on our Regulus patrols involved sailing from Pearl Harbor in a northerly direction to ADAK in the Aleutian Islands, the site of a small port and a Navy airfield for long range patrol Aircraft. After a brief stop to top off fuel, the boat then would sail pretty much Westerly, until in the vicinity of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the eastern end of Siberia where one would cease the difficult transit period, dive and commence a 45 to 60 day deterrent patrol. We would then return via Adak to Pearl or proceed to Yokosuka for a 20-30 day refit and recreation interim then back on patrol and return to Pearl. As a side, the next to last TUNNY patrol, in 1963, lasted 82 days (13 July to 3 October).
The performance criteria required of the boats on patrol were: (I) copy the fleet radio broadcast 24 hours a day to be able to receive almost instantly any Presidential decision to launch against the enemy. (2) Maintain readiness of the ship and missiles such that the first missile could be launched within 15 Minutes of receiving the EAM, emergency action message. (3) Maintain knowledge of one’s navigational position such that a missile would be guided to target at any time, and (4) Remain undetected from all forces, friendly, enemy or neutral while in transit or on station.
Unfortunately, navigation aids were almost nonexistent, consisting of a single Loran A line at the fringes of reception, sparsely charted mountains on the Peninsula which were often obscured by ever changing fog and/or clouds. I do recall one chart with a depth recorded as having been taken by Captain Cook the explorer in 1776 and taken by Lead Line. Big Deal for navigation as you will quickly surmise, every yard of inaccuracy in the SSGN position would be added to target miss distance. Admiral Blount shared recently that BARBARO on one Patrol did not know where they were for 17 straight days. So much for 15 minute launch accuracy. I am not prepared to remember or discuss TUNNY performance, thank you very much! Polaris would have multiple equipments, unknown to the diesel navy, to facilitate their navigation tasking.
Regulus patrols were indeed Hard Labor considering the submarines, the sea conditions, facing Cold War conditions 100% of the time and the reality of a single crew often making 3 patrols in a year, and many having to endure hot bunking, too little water for showers and the monotony of the operations. The families were superb in putting up with their deprivation and having a total lack of knowledge as to where their men were or how long they would be gone. Consider that all four diesels made trips of 80-82 days in the latter years, and HALIBUT (SGN) made one of 102 days in ’61/’62. Not for sissies, man or family.
Because of the highly classified nature of our patrols, Regulus personnel were not authorized to wear the Strategic Deterrent Patrol Pin as was Polaris, at least not until 35 years later in 1995 when The BuPers issued a bulletin authorizing the Polaris pin for those engaged in Regulus patrols. Feeling a little left out by this slight, some of our enterprising people in 1961 (BARBERO), designed a small rather innocuous logo and pin memorializing a group called the North Pacific Yacht Club, had the Japanese make a pin and obtained sufficient quantities for clandestine use by those who had participated, before and thereafter. One wonders in retrospect, if the Regulus had been authorized in the beginning for a Strategic Deterrent Patrol Pin, might the Polaris folks have had to wear a pin in the shape of TUNNY rather than the streamlined Polaris. The “Diesel Boats Forever guys” of the North Pacific Yacht Club would have liked that.
Preparations for a patrol with Regulus were basically the same as for other submarines, notably making sure all equipment and machinery was in tip top shape, a full complement of spares on board. The Supply Officer would personally deliver two extra Movie Projection bulbs to the Captain to put in his safe for emergency use along with his medicinal whiskey. Underway training time was needed for torpedo firings, drills, operation of all equipment and just washing the rust off of crewmen from the time ashore plus integrating new members into the crew. We of course would add missile training, launches and navigation training. Finally there would be an all hands effort to take aboard and stow the supplies and extra food cases in every nook and cranny and the passageways. I don ‘t know how the earlier boats could store that much and still get the men in, much less operate.
As part of pre patrol training for our second patrol, TUNNY launched a missile from the NW comer of Oahu targeted for the next island to the West, Kauai, and for recovery at the Navy airfield at Barking Sands. Shortly after launch it became apparent that the missile was not responding to TUNNY guidance commands, nor shortly, we determined, by either chase plane. We had tested guidance fully effective moments earlier. It appeared that the missile had a mind of its own as it turned over Oahu and populated areas and headed toward Honolulu proper and Diamond Head by Waikiki. A DISASTER IN THE MAKING!!!!! As it approached the Commander in Chief, Pacific’s Headquarters, the missile decided to go in to a vertical climb to 20,000 feet, stalled, flamed out and spun into the rugged mountain terrain just a quarter mile above the headquarters. It is not usually career enhancing to attack either your Commander in Chief or the City in which he lives. The evening paper emblazoned its front page with a picture of TUNNY launching a missile and the first Red Headlines since Dec. 7, 1941. The accompanying story was beautifully crafted as to the perfect safety of the event and that the Navy knew what it was doing when the safety chase planes forced the errant missile to crash in the mountain terrain. Score one for CincPac’s Public Affairs people. ISSUE CLOSED, thank you very much and much to the relief of the CO and the DivCom embarked.
We in TUNNY always went by ADAK to refuel, going and coming, at least for my year of Patrols, and we would loiter off of Kamchatka within launch distance of our prime targets the fighter airfields around and the Port of Petropavlosk.
You may ask why the U.S. was concerned with this out of the way place on the globe. Well, Petro just happened to be the one spot in the Pacific which our heavy bombers needed to fly over from whatever airfield in the U.S. in order to reach their targets. The Russians figured this out and put their forces in place to defend themselves. The U.S. mustered the Regulus submarines around as the best way to be ready around the clock to prevent them from doing their job.
TUNNY made the first scheduled Submarine Deterrent Patrol with nuclear weapons 23 October to 16 December 1959. As a matter of fact she had already made the first and only emergency deployment when on return from a West Pac trip in July of ’58 she was loaded with Warheads, reprovisioned for patrol and sent to Kamchatka in response to the Lebanon Crisis.
These first year patrols ran 54, 57, and 60 days of highly stressful wartime operations. Our mission was to be on Alert and ready 100% of the time and indeed, on mooring in Pearl at the end of the third in eleven months, the self styled Black and Blue crew of TUNNY expressed their approval of the pending Polaris policy of 2 crews by draping a large banner on the Sail saying “Ok, GOLD CREW, She’s All Yours.”
The stress of these patrols made them seem much longer in memory and more nearly equivalent to the 65 days on station plus transit time as later reported by other submarines. As we arrived on station for our third and a back to back patrol, a palpable black cloud of silence descended on the crew as the realization of another 45 days of boredom sank in.
We had our share of typical emergencies which threatened our mission as did all the boats, but the ingenious, dedicated and highly motivated crewmen solved them in every instance. For example, en route Adak, we experienced a fire in the cubicle controlling our propulsion, which could have aborted the patrol. It was fixed in a few hours. RAdm Bob Blount, then skipper of the BARBERO told me a few days ago that his two main engines were of a GM design which could not withstand the rigors of snorkeling and many cracked cylinder liners had to be replaced while on station or transiting, sometimes leaving them with only the auxiliary engine to continue. They also had breakdowns on their High Pressure Air Compressors and Stills which made their water, both of which were essential to staying on Patrol and they had to manufacture internal, close tolerance parts on both as there were no spares on board.
Well into the first patrol routine, we were sitting down for a full Thanksgiving Dinner when a loud bump and a heavy lurch brought on the Collision Alarm. The Captain ran aft to the Control Room and I, as the Exec, ran into the Torpedo Room to assess the damage. I arrived just in time to watch the 3″ from the shaft Sonar Dome rise into the room and form a beautiful “S”. As Navigator, I was happy that the analysis was a playful whale rather than a grounding. We were able to stop the minor sprays caused by stress as the steel shaft bent, then continued the patrol. I guess we went back to a cold turkey dinner, each with our separate thoughts of what might have been.
On our next patrol, a crewman came down with appendicitis and we off loaded him in Adak as we passed. But on arrival at Yokosuka the Captain took notice and he had the entire Crew, including himself, checked for potentials for Appendicitis. He was assured all were sound. Quite naturally, three weeks into the third patrol Captain Chris disappeared behind his curtain with a severe case of Appendicitis which our Corpsman treated with massive doses of Penicillin and intravenous feeding. I wanted to leave station take him to Adak but he stubbornly declined, sure he would rise up shortly, and he did. The Doctors who operated on him on return to Pearl were not happy over his delayed arrival.
One of our enemies in the winter and spring months were the Bergy-Bit floating ice chunks, silently drifting down from the arctic ice fields. Hard to see with only about 1/3 of them above water, the 2/3 below could be hard on masts or snorkels. One night while snorkeling, a loud bang was followed by engine shutdown. We surfaced and found a 6 inch hole in the snorkel exhaust mast. The Chief Engineer surveyed the damage, repair of which would be critical to staying on station, and astounded us by saying “if you will let me have the Corrosion Resistant steel liner in the After Battery Hatch and the Engine Room cable covers, I can fix it.” In some 3 hours he had built the world’s biggest band-it patch with layer after layer of gasket material wrapped by the hatchliner and 20 band-it clips. It was rumored that contrary to Navy Regulations, some medicinal whiskey may have been dispensed to those who were topside in the frigid North Pacific weather. Later the shipyard declared the patch the strongest part of the mast.
I think the Cuban Missile Crisis upped the ante for future patrols when President Kennedy warned that the U.S. would respond to any Cuban missile as though it were from the Soviet Union. The Soviets presumably knew that Regulus was there, hence our boats saw more naval activity in our patrol areas, raising the danger of conflict in peacetime. ln TUNNY’s early patrols, we played the same Alert game of making sure the mouse is never detected. While we rarely saw Soviet Naval Activity as they did later, we were absolutely certain that the 3 masted Schooner which passed through our area twice a day, 2 or 3 times a week had high powered and highly sensitive sonar and they were after us. Constant vigilance was our watchword. Periscopes, Electronic countermeasures, sonar and good ship handling were all on alert to minimize chances of detection. Torpedoes were ready in the tubes against the ever present threat of hostile action from the Soviet Navy, even in peacetime.
The reality to us was that we were at war in the Cold War and for more than 30 years we leaned against the Soviet Union with our mind-set and tempo of operations. The general population didn’t know it, but our families did and they were the unsung heroes for their unstinting support. Not just the Submarine Force, but the Anny, the Navy and the Air Force felt the high paced tempo and tension of War in the Cold War, until the wall came down, and I suspect, even today.
The final patrol incident on my third and last patrol was in a very heavy willywaw Alaskan Storm and very high seas while proceeding to ADAK after leaving station. To keep up with our speed of advance, we chose to run surfaced under the cover of the seas which we thought would be helpful in keeping us from being detected. A weak ECM contact was detected far away on the starboard beam and moving forward until it disappeared in the direction of Adak, our destination. One of our patrol planes, no doubt, but not a threat. Suddenly, the diving alarm and the officer of the deck with the lookouts swung below. The OOD hastily said, “No Sir He was off in the clouds and didn’t see us.” And that folks is the name of this picture delivered to us on arrival Adak the next evening in an unmarked envelope. The picture shows no one on the bridge. There are no numbers on the Sail and no flag to identify a nationality. Who could it be? And, why would they deliver the picture to us? If it were TUNNY, it would mark the only unauthorized sighting in four patrols and over the roughly 8 months we had spent defending our country on patrol. Fortunately it was a friendly aircraft crew.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this concludes my thoughts on the subject of Recollections of Regulus. We Jed the way. Upon mooring in Pearl Harbor, I received orders to proceed on new duty, to arrive in eight days at the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff, then being formed at SAC Headquarters, Omaha, Nebraska. The where, the what? I wondered. Actually quite related, it turned out, as the new all service staff was to draft a Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) for efficient targeting of the entire inventory of some 3500 weapons. This we did, publishing the first SIOP two and a half months later about to December 1960, almost to the day USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) pulled into port at completion of the first Polaris patrol. GW was commanded by Commander, later RADM, Jim Osborn, one of the early giants (and there were many) of the Regulus Program and in fact he was the first Commanding Officer of TUNNY (SSG 282). Early Polaris years are replete with the names of those who had cut their teeth on Regulus in the strategic deterrent world and I think many of the lessons learned and experience gained in the Regulus era were carried forward helpfully into the programs that followed. So you see, the Navy would not be left out. Regulus, to Polaris, to Trident plus the Ohio Class SSGN with Tomahawk. The Navy leads the way while The Strategic Air Command (SAC) is no longer with us as the preeminent Strategic Service.
Lastly, and as an aside, I would draw your attention to David K. Stumpf’s book, Regulus, The Forgotten Weapon as noted below. It is an incredibly detailed summary of everything done or said from start to finish in the program from predevelopment to phase out and is written in a very engaging and almost riveting manner. It is written largely based on the recollections, pictures and records of about 150 participants, plus Navy and Chance Vought Corporation cooperation.
The following references were useful in improving my recollection and perceptions for overall program details and dates occurring before and after my participation in the program.
1. Holian, Thomas. From U.S.S. BARB to the OHIO Class The Use of Missiles on Submarines, as edited in the 2009 Submarine History Seminar PROGRAM Submarines in Land Attack. 15 April 2009.
2. Stumpf, David K, Ph.D. Regulus. The Forgotten Weapon Weapon. Copyright 1996. Turner Publishing Company, 412 Broadway, P .0 . Box 3101, Paducah, Ky. 42002-3101. (Ph 502-443-0121).
3. RADM Joe Ekelund, USN (Ret), Draft Outline of Submarine Land Attack Tactical Missile Development – Incremental Innovation (Significant Dates). 1917-2006, Unpublished.