The Submarine
USS Halibut
(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.

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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.

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The Model
The 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.

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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 reunion.