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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Patches contributed by Mike Smolinski

Darter (SS-576)

Radio Call Sign: November - Delta - Lima - Mike

Darter Class Submarine: Laid down, 10 November 1954, at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Co., Groton, CT.; Launched, 28 May 1956; Commissioned, USS Darter (SS-576), 20 October 1956; Decommissioned, 12 December 1989; Struck from the Naval Register, 17 June 1990; Final Disposition, sunk as a target on 7 January 1992 by the Tautog (SSN-639) off Pearl Harbor.

Specifications: Displacement, Surface 1,871 t., Submerged: 2,388 t.; Length 283'; Beam 27'; Draft 19'; Speed, Surfaced 15.5 kts, Submerged 16 kts; Maximum Operating Depth, 700 ft.; Complement 8 Officers 75 Enlisted; Armament, six 21" torpedo tubes (fwd), two 21" torpedo tubes (aft); Propulsion, diesel-electric, two propellers.
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Skate184kThe keel laying of the Skate (SSN-578), 21 July 1955. To the right is the Seawolf (SSN-575) awaiting launching, to the left Darter (SS-576) is under construction. Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Darter1.21kPress photo of the launching preparations for the Darter (SS-576). The accompanying caption reads: "Hampered by strong winds and heavy rains, workmen drape bunting over the bow of submarine Darter as the boat awaits her 28 May launching at Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corp." Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
183kChristening of the Darter (SS-576) by Mrs. George L. Russell, wife of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, 28 May 1956.Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Darter238kShipyard workers and guests cheer the Navy's newest Diesel submarine, the Darter (SS-576) down the ways on 28 May 1956.Sound photo courtesy of San Francisco Examiner via David S. Smith.
Darter83kDarter (SS-576) inboard profile, as built (January 1957). The upper transducer in the bow is for BQS-2, the lower, for BQR-2, with a UQC-1 underwater telephone transducer in the fore end of the big sonar dome, and a UQN-1B (sounder) transducer in its bottom. The big tube under the nest of six bow tubes is the ejector pump (like the tubes, it had a shutter in the bow).
Note that, unlike a fleet boat, Darter had a single engine room abaft her crew spaces, containing three engines side by side (types 2A & 6, the latter carrying the ST range only radar); a fixed whip (starboard side); the SS 2A radar mast (port); the UHF-IFF antenna; the retractable whip (port); the ECM/DF antenna (port) with a VLF loop (starboard) alongside; and the snorkel induction and exhaust.
Darter introduced the type of snorkel mast used in all later U.S. subs).
As in contemporary submarines, the ECM mast carries a series of stub dipoles along its length, with the dome of the direction-finder at the top. There was also a UQC-1 transducer on top of the sail, roughly alongside the UHF-IFF mast.
The line of masts divides the space below the sail into a control room to port and an attack center to starboard, with separate radio room abaft the control room and sonar room abaft the attack center.
Unlike a WW II sub (or a Tang class (SS-563/68)), Darter had her plane controls athwart-ships, on the forward bulkhead of the control room, alongside the helm. The six main controls, automatic depth control and UQC were all against the side of the pressure hull.
Photo & text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Since 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman & James L. Christley. Naval Institute Press.
Corporal117kDarter (SS-576) & Corporal (SS-346) & Sennet (SS-408) outboard of Gilmore (AS-16) at US Naval Base Charleston, SC on the Cooper River. 1960.Photo & text i.d. via A Wolsten. Photo courtesy of John Hummel, USN (Retired).
Darter712kChopper (SS-342) and Darter (SS-576) exercise together with other elements of the fleet in the Atlantic on 20 June 1960.USN photo # 701727 courtesy of Scott Koen &
Darter1.10k This photo was taken prior to her 1966 overhaul, when the "plug" was added between the After Battery and the Engine Room, and before the PUFFS sonar fins were added topside. Text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston.
US National Archives photo # 80G 1002794 from NARA, College Park, Maryland, courtesy of Sean Hert.
Atule103kAtule (SS-403) inboard of Darter (SS-576) at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, 1966. Darter (SS-576) is finishing a comprehensive overhaul which saw the addition of a 16 1/2 foot section added between the after battery and the engine room, referred by her crew as the "Plug". She also received a complete Subsafe safety package, which included an emergency ballast tank blow system, which is being tested in this photo.Photo & text i.d. courtesy of David Johnston
USN photo from the collection of Mr. Palmer Olliff, courtesy of Bob Hall & submitted by Fabio Pena.
Darter472kDodging Darter (SS-576).USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Darter1.00kDarter (SS-576) at rest.USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Darter85k Darter (SS-576) at Palma, Majorca, Jan. 1968.Photo by Ed Sherman, STS2(SS).
1.52k Darter (SS-576) entering San Francisco Bay in 1972 after coming to back from West PAC June 1971 - March 1972 and going into Hunter Point shipyards for overhaul. Each Darter crew member received this photo on 20 February 1972. Photo I.d. via Duane A Geffre, ETR-2 SS.
USS Darter SS-576 crew member from Sept. 1971 - Dec.1975.
Photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Mk 37
653k3 page PDF on Darter's (SS-576) compartment & access and her trim & drain system. She overhauled at Mare Island from 3/15/76 to 5/29/76.Photos courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Mk 37
994k5 page PDF on Darter (SS-576).Photos courtesy of Michael Lodge-Paolini.
Darter589kA high angle view of the attack submarine Darter (SS-576), the guided missile destroyer Berkeley (DDG-15) and the frigate Hepburn (FF-1055) docked at the pier of Naval Station Subic Bay, P.I., 28 August 1981. USN photo # DN-ST-82-01661, by PHC Larry Foster, courtesy of, Defense Visual Information Center. Photo i.d. courtesy of David Johnston (USN, retired)
Darter704kA high angle starboard bow view of the attack submarine Darter (SS-576), underway off the coast of the Philippines, 14 September 1981. USN photo # DN-ST-84-00332, by PHCS Harris, courtesy of, Defense Visual Information Center.
Darter459kDarter (SS-576) about to enter Dry Dock. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Darter461kStern of the Darter (SS-576) in Dry Dock.USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Darter309kPropellers and stern planes of the Darter (SS-576) are revealed as the water recedes.USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Darter78k Darter's (SS-576) Plan of the Day for my first day on board, 20 February 1984. Note that the listed duty officer is Ensign Ray Everts, USN. Ray was later killed in the line of duty in the battery fire and explosion aboard the Bonefish (SS-582) in April, 1988. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter164kDarter (SS-576), in Drydock #2, SSK Heavy Industries, Sasebo, Japan, March 1984. In the dock astern of the Darter is the USCGC Basswood (WLB-388).Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter352kPainting and a shave makes the Darter (SS-576) a smarter looking boat.USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Grayback308kThree of one of a kind: Blueback (SS-581), Darter (SS-576) & Grayback (SSG-574), some where at some time. Photo courtesy of John Hummel, USN (Retired).
Darter & Barbel 156kBarbel (SS-580) and Darter (SS-576), alongside at Subic Bay, November 1984. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter106kDarter (SS-576), making her way up the channel into Pearl Harbor, just off Hospital Point, 10 May 1985.Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter, Barbel & Queenfish215kBarbel (SS-580) and Darter (SS-576), at Sub base Pearl Harbor, June 1985. The Topside Watch on the Darter is TMSN(SS) Russ Dzielak and TMSA Jeff Buzzard. Directly astern of the duo is the Queenfish (SSN-651). Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter389kA port bow view of the submarine Darter (SS-576) departing Pearl Harbor, possibly in June 1985.USN photo # DN-SC-92-06500, by OS2 John Bouvia, courtesy of, Defense Visual Information Center. Photo i.d. courtesy of David Johnston (USN, retired)
Darter, Flasher & Swordfish364kSwordfish (SSN-579), Flasher (SSN-613) & Darter (SS-576) alongside at Subic Bay Naval Station, February, 1986. It was pretty unusual to see three boats moored abreast in those days, much less three distinct generations of submarine design. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter97k Darter (SS-576) looking forward in the South China Sea enroute from Sasebo to Subic Bay, February, 1986. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter83k Darter (SS-576) looking aft in the South China Sea, en-route from Sasebo to Subic Bay, February, 1986. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter, Flasher & Swordfish62kSwordfish (SSN-579), Flasher (SSN-613) & Darter (SS-576) alongside at Subic Bay Naval Station, February, 1986. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired) .
Darter187kDarter (SS-576), preparing to get underway, Pier India 8, Fleet Activities, Sasebo, October 1986. Astern of the Darter is the St. Louis LKA-116, and the San Bernardino LST-1189. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter93kDarter (SS-576), port bow view, getting underway, departing Pier India 8, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan October, 1986. Photo by David Johnston (USN, retired).
Darter372kCrew members stand atop the attack submarine Darter (SS-576) as the vessel comes into port for an ammunition loading at the Macerate Ordnance Facility on 25 April 1989.USN photo # DN-ST-90-11777, by PH1 Brian R. Lee, from the Department of Defense Still Media Collection, courtesy of & submitted by Bill Gonyo.
Darter305kCrew members stand atop the attack submarine Darter (SS-576) while the vessel is maneuvered away from the pier prior to its departure from Sasebo, 18 September 1989. USN photo # DN-SC-90-11781 by PH1 Brian R. Lee, courtesy of, Defense Visual Information Center.
Tautog25kDarter (SS-576) in the foreground about to be sunk as a target by the Tautog (SSN-639), 7 January 1992.USN photo courtesy of
Darter172kThis picture shows one of the two screws from the Darter (SS-576). To my knowledge, it is the only major piece of the boat still in existence. It is part of the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association's Pampanito (SS-383) museum at Fisherman's Wharf. Photo and text by David Johnston (USN, retired)
Mk 37276kMk 37 Mod 2 torpedo of the type carried by the Darter (SS-576), and other submarines during the Cold War. A 19 inch diameter weapon powered by batteries, it swam out of the tube instead of the traditional impulse shot, making it hard for the enemy to detect.
Early versions of this torpedo were notoriously finicky. An overheating battery that lead to an explosion is one of the leading theories of the loss of the Scorpion (SSN-589).
During the 80's, the Darter normally carried two of these weapons in her after torpedo room, although up to four could be carried if two were tube loaded. Carried as a supplement to the normal load-out of Mk 48's in the forward torpedo room, they were mostly intended to be shot at pursuers during an evasion.
The Darter had the honor of shooting the last Mk 37 exercise rounds during a Tactical Readiness Evaluation at Pearl Harbor in June, 1985. In early 1987 she offloaded the last operational Mk 37 warshots, sending them to storage.
This particular weapon is part of the Lexington (CVT-16) museum at Corpus Christi, Texas.
Partial text courtesy of Anthony Gennaro Cipoletta II.
Photo & majority text by David Johnston (USN, retired) .

View the Darter (SS-576)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

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