The Submarine (SSGN 587) started out life as the one and only
nuclear powered Regulus missile SSGN ever built. Commissioned in 1960, it was
basically a Skate class SSN hull
modified with a huge cylindrical watertight hanger angled down into the hull.
The cruise missile launching operation entailed surfacing the submarine, opening
the huge hanger pressure door, and moving the Regulus out onto a rail-like
launcher. The launcher was elevated, the Regulus jet engine started and the
missile fired by igniting two solid rocket boosters strapped onto the missile.
"Red" Regulus missiles were practice missiles, "Blue birds"
were nuclear armed operational missiles. The Halibutís
hanger could store 5 of the Regulus I missiles. The original plan was to
progress to a more capable supersonic version of the missile, Regulus II. The
successful acceleration of the Polaris program quickly overshadowed the Regulus
system, and further work on these submarines and the Regulus II was halted.
Although it made a number of Regulus deterrence patrols in
the rough waters off the Kamchatka pennisula, Halibut
was by 1963 a boat without a mission. The boat was selected for modifications to
convert it into a "Special Projects" platform. In this guise, the huge
hanger was converted into an area used for support, operation, and deployment of
the "fish", remote controlled sonar and camera equipped devices that
could inspect and possibly retrieve pieces from "objects of interest"
from the ocean floor. While Halibut
cruised a few hundred feet deep, the "fish" could dive extremely deep,
tethered to the submarine by over 35,000 ft of cable housed on a reel in the
superstructure. The targets for these covert operations included Soviet missile
warheads, naval cruise missiles, and at least one sunken Russian submarine, the K-129.
In the 1970ís Halibut also received
a "DSRV Simulator" mounted near the stern. This in fact was a special
chamber in which divers would spend extended periods of time, slowly changing
the atmosphere composition and pressure to allow saturation diving to depths
"in excess of 600 feet", according to John Craven. This chamber was
used to house divers who tapped the Soviet Navy undersea cable in the Sea of
Okhotsk. Halibut was retired in 1976, and her mission assumed by
the Sturgeon class submarine, Parche.
Some of Halibutís exploits are
described in the book "Blind Manís Bluff"
by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drews.
The ModelThe standard Regulus version of the model was essentially built
"out of box", although the kit does require some scratch-building of
propeller struts and housing. The "Special Projects" version was given
an extended sail. This was achieved on the model by laminating styrene sheets
cut to approximate shape and glued together. These were then attached to the
existing sail to build it to the extended sail height, puttied, filed, and
sanded to final shape. A brass rod goes through the center of the laminates into
the resin conning tower. The "DSRV simulator" was built of Plastruct
hollow rod, hemisphere, I, L, and U beams, and a rocket nosecone shaped to the
tapered tail piece on a Dremel tool used as a "mini-lathe". The
bottom of the hull received a backward slanting tube under the hanger to
represent the "fish" deployment tube.
These models were built for the 2002 USS
Halibut Veteranís Reunion in San Diego, CA (Oct. 10-13), and
were raffled in a "silent Auction" to raise funds for the next