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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


Patch contributed by Mike Smolinski
Radio Call Sign: November - Sierra - India - Golf

Whale (SSN-638)


Sturgeon Class Attack Submarine: Laid down, 27 May 1964, at General Dynamics Corp., Quincy, MA; Launched, 14 October 1966; Commissioned, USS Whale (SSN-638), 12 October 1968; Decommissioned and simultaneously struck from the Naval Register, 25 June 1996; Final Disposition, disposed of through NPSSRP (Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA., 29 September 1997.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 3,640 t., Submerged: 4,640 t.; Length 292' 3"; Beam 31' 8"; Draft 28' 8"; Speed, Surfaced 15 kts, Submerged 25 kts; Depth limit 1,300'; Complement 108; Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes amidships aft of bow, MK 48 Torpedoes, UUM-44A SUBROC, UGM-84A/C Harpoon, MK 57 deep water mines, MK 60 CAPTOR mines; Combat Sensors, Radar, BPS-14/15 surface search, Sonars, BQQ-5 multi-function bow mounted, BQR-7 passive in submarines with BQQ-2, BQS-12 active 7, TB-16 or TB-23 towed array, EW Systems, WLQ-4(V), WLR-4(V), WLR-9 ; Propulsion System, one S5W nuclear reactor, two steam turbines, one propeller, 15,000 shp.
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SizeImage DescriptionContributed By
X304kSix page PDF of the Whale (SSN-638) & Sunfish (SSN-649) christening on 14 October 1966.U.S. Navy Photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com
PDF added 01/01/13.
Whale31k Commemorative post mark on the occasion of the double launching of the Whale (SSN-638) & Sunfish (SSN-649) at General Dynamics Corp., Quincy, MA., 14 October 1966.Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Whale90k Commemorative post mark on the occasion of the launching of the Whale (SSN-638), 14 October 1966.Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Whale109kPort quarter bow view of the Whale (SSN-638) underway, probably during her alpha sea trials off the New England coast, late 1966.
Official US Navy photo courtesy of Wendell Royce McLaughlin Jr.
Whale181kWhale (SSN-638) reached the North Pole on 6 April 1969 and surfaced there in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary's arrival there.US Navy photo # NPC K-71474 (B) 4-4-69 courtesy of US Navy Arctic Submarine Laboratory & Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
Whale207kFrozen Whale (SSN-638) on 6 April 1969.U.S. Navy Photo # NPC K-71474 courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com
Photo added 01/01/13.
Whale911k Whale (SSN-638) returned to warmer waters after completing historic patrol of Arctic in which she became the fifth US undersea craft to reach North Pole.
US Navy photo courtesy of Bill Gonyo.
Whale27k Commemorative post mark issued on the occasion of the Whale's (SSN-638) surfacing at the North Pole on 6 April 1969.
Courtesy of Jack Treutle.
Sturgeon Class43k Oil on canvas painting by the artist Jim Christley entitled "Trailing".
During the Cold War the US Naval Submarine Force was tasked with keeping tabs on Soviet Naval movements in particular, the Soviet Submarine Force. Submarines of the Sturgeon Class were well suited to this task and often trailed Soviet submarines for days reporting on their movements and recording noise signatures. In this image, such a trailing has turned into a close aboard encounter as a Soviet Viktor III Class has turned to port to check his baffles (to listen to see if anyone is immediately astern). A trailing Sturgeon has stopped his screw and gone quiet. Extending far behind the US submarine is its towed array sonar which assists in giving a clear picture of the oceanís acoustics
Photo & text courtesy of subart.net.
Submerged submarines145kSubmerged submarines in tandem.U.S. Navy Photo courtesy of Robert Hall.
Whale513kTewelve page Welcome Aboard PDF of the Whale (SSN-638), circa 1978.U.S. Navy Photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com
PDF added 01/01/13.
Whale185kSurfaced Whale (SSN-638) underway.U.S. Navy Photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com
Photo added 01/01/13.
Whale100kWhale (SSN-638), arriving at New London, CT., Friday morning, 9:49am, 12 July 1991, passing the old State Pier.
Photo by Ken Hart.
Whale25k Close-up of Whale (SSN-638) about to pass beneath the Gold Star bridge enroute to the base, Friday morning, 12 July 1991.
Photo by Ken Hart.
Whale89kStern view of Whale (SSN-638), alongside at Groton, 13 July 1991.Photo by Ken Hart.
Whale86k Whale (SSN-638) at Groton, pier 4 south, 13 July 1991.
Photo by Ken Hart.
Whale64kUndated bow view of what appears to be the Whale (SSN-638) underway.
US Navy photo courtesy of Bill Gonyo.
Text i.d. courtesy of Joe Knowles, John Eldridge (CTR), Dave Johnston (USNR).
Whale136kWhale (SSN-638), underway, date and place unknown.US Navy photo.
Spent Fuel569kSealed reactor compartments are shipped by barge out of Puget Sound Naval Base down the coast and along the Columbia River to the port of Benton. There the radioactively-contaminated hull sections are transferred to special multiwheeled high-load trailers for transport to the Hanford Reservation in Washington State. Pictured below is the burial ground for spent fuel of the following 77 nuclear reactor submarines as of March 2003:
Patrick Henry (SSBN-599),
Snook (SSN-592),
George Washington (SSBN-598),
Scamp (SSN-588),
Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601),
Thomas Jefferson (SSBN-618),
Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600),
Dace (SSN-607),
John Adams (SSBN-620),
Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602),
Barb (SSN-596),
Ethan Allen (SSBN-608),
Thomas A. Edison (SSBN-610),
Pollack (SSN-603),
Glenard P. Lipscomb (SSN-685),
James Monroe (SSBN-622),
Skipjack (SS-585),
Nathan Hale (SSBN-623),
Plunger (SSN-595),
Shark (SSN-591),
Lafayette (SSBN-616),
Sam Houston (SSBN-609),
Jack (SSN-605),
Haddo (SSN-604),
Tinosa (SSN-606),
Guardfish (SSN-612),
Permit (SSN-594),
Queenfish (SSN-651),
Ulysses S. Grant (SSBN-631),
John Marshall (SSBN-611),
George C. Marshall (SSBN-654),
Flasher (SSN-613),
Guitarro (SSN-665),
Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617),
George Washington Carver (SSBN-656),
Tecumseh (SSBN-628),
Halibut (SSGN-587),
Will Rogers (SSBN-659),
Henry L. Stimson (SSBN-655),
Daniel Boone (SSBN-629),
Greenling (SSN-614),
John C. Calhoun (SSBN-630),
Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633),
Skate (SSN-578),
Sargo (SSN-583),
Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657),
Sturgeon (SSN-637),
Benjamin Franklin (SSBN-640),
Swordfish (SSN-579),
Seadragon (SSN-584),
Stonewall Jackson (SSBN-634),
Simon Bolivar (SSBN-641),
Hammerhead (SSN-663),
Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN-658),
Tullibee (SSN-597),
Lewis & Clark (SSBN-644),
Pargo (SSN-650),
Seahorse (SSN-669),
Gurnard (SSN-662),
Flying Fish (SSN-673),
Gato (SSN-615),
Puffer (SSN-652),
Seawolf (SSN-575),
Baton Rouge (SSN-689),
Bergall (SSN-667),
Whale (SSN-638),
Henry Clay (SSBN-625),
James Madison (SSBN-627),
Finback (SSN-670),
Spadefish (SSN-668),
Sunfish (SSN-649),
George Bancroft (SSBN-643),
Grayling (SSN-646),
Pintado (SSN-672),
Tunny (SSN-682),
Archerfish (SSN-678),
& Woodrow Wilson (SSBN-624).
USN photo & partial text courtesy of home.flash.net/~tomj/tunny/chop/rx. & submitted by Jack Treutle.

View the Whale (SSN-638)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
FAS--SSN-637 Sturgeon class

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