Saturday, January 07, 2012

Anniversary of Razorback's Return to Duty

USS Razorback on 08 January 1954

On January 7th, 1954, Razorback returned to active duty after spending 16 months in the shipyard being modified and modernized under the GUPPY (Greater Underway Propulsive Power) program. The GUPPY modifications were so extensive and took so long to accomplish that submarines going through the program were routinely decommissioned, freeing up their crews for duty on other submarines.

Some of the major modifications included:

  • Increased battery capacity
  • Streamlined outer hull
  • Addition of a snorkel
  • Improved sensors
While the snorkel allowed Razorback to run her diesel engines while submerged at periscope depth, the streamlining of the outer hull greatly improved her underwater performance while on battery. Some of these changes were:
  • Removal of both deck guns
  • Removal of 20mm and 40mm anti-aircraft guns
  • Rebuilding of the bridge/periscope shears structure as a streamlined "sail"
  • Capstans made retractable
  • Deck cleats made retractable
  • Deck safety rail stanchions made flush with the deck
  • All deck safety rails made removable
  • Replacement of the pointed bow and towing fairlead with a rounded bow (known as the "Guppy Bow")

These improvements increased Razorback's top underwater speed from approximately 10 knots to nearly 20 knots, and increased her "sustained" speed (the speed she could maintain for long periods) from 2 knots to over 10 knots.

Razorback could now attack a formation of warships and "sprint" away faster than the responding destroyers could search, and she could cruise underwater for days or even weeks at a time, performance unimaginable just a few years before. It would be hard to overstate the effects that these developments had.

We have a copy of the booklet issued for the recommissioning ceremony. Her CO at recommissioning was LCDR Charles E. Stastny, USN. Six other officers, eight Chief Petty Officers, and 74 enlisted men were assigned to Razorback when she was commissioned. A digital copy of this program is available on our website. (Adobe PDF File)

We also have a large collection of digital blueprints from the GUPPY conversion, including blueprints for USS Picuda (SS-382), USS Balao (SS-385), USS Sea Fox (SS-402), USS Threadfin (SS-410) and USS Stickleback (SS-415). Contact the museum for more information.


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