Launched 20 May 1967
Commissioned 6 December 1968
Decommissioned 12 August 1994
Length 289' Test Depth 400'
Beam 32' Speed 20 kts
Displacement 4050 tons
Complement 15 officers and 131 enlisted
The keel for the USS GURNARD (SSN 662) was laid on 22 December 1964, at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. She was the fourteenth of thirty-seven Sturgeon class fast attack submarines, and the second naval ship to bear the name. After being christened by Mrs. George P. Miller, wife of representative George P. Miller of California, GURNARD launched on 20 May 1967. The first contingent of the commissioning crew arrived in Vallejo in July 1967, and completed construction, training and testing. With many long hours and hard work behind them, the crew, commanded by Commander William S. Cole, Jr., was commissioned GURNARD on 6 December 1968 at the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard.
The next six months were spent in local operating areas under Commander Submarine Flotilla ONE and Commander Submarine Squadron FIVE control while conducting shakedown, extensive crew training, and participating in an Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise with other Navy assets.
The GURNARD departed Vallejo in September 1969 and transited to her new home, the Submarine Support Facility at Ballast Point in San Diego on 31 October for her first Western Pacific Deployment (WESTPAC). Enroute, a stop in Pearl Harbor to fire two near-perfect trajectory SUBROC missiles earned her certification as a SUBROC launch platform. While deployed, the crew enjoyed liberty in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii. GURNARD returned to San Diego in May 1970.
On 22 September 1970, GURNARD sailed to Pearl Harbor for two months. While underway to Pearl, GURNARD participated in the first ever fleet exercise to evaluate fleet operational readiness. In January 1971 GURNARD conducted a two month deployment, and upon completion of her mission, she returned directly to San Diego. This marked the first port-to-port deployment of a San Diego-based submarine.
During June 1971, GURNARD was involved with testing new concepts in passive sonar classification and efforts to expand the capabilities of the Navy's satellite navigation system. In addition to these tasks, the ship replaced its main storage battery, the first ever attempted at Ballast Point. GURNARD deployed in July 1971 to WESTPAC, earning the Vietnam Service Medal, and returned home in December, in time for the holidays.
GURNARD returned to the western pacific in May 1972. Upon approaching Guam, GURNARD was diverted to conduct a search and rescue mission to recover a downed B-52 bomber crew. Arriving at the scene in the midst of Typhoon Rita, GURNARD and BARB (a 594 class nuclear submarine) heroically pulled five of the ill-fated crewmembers from the rolling seas. GURNARD received a Meritorious Unit Commendation as a result of the daring rescue.
In November 1973 , GURNARD returned to San Diego following an eight month overhaul in Bremerton, Washington. She deployed once again to the western pacific in July 1974. Over the next year, she participated in fleet exercises, independent operations, and operations with a Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV). GURNARD deployed in March 1976 to the Arctic region, where she set a new record of 42 days of operations during SUBICEX 1-76. All hands were given the opportunity to stand on the "top of the world" after GURNARD surfaced at the North Pole on April 1976. In 1976 GURNARD also provided actor Charlton Heston with the opportunity to see a real submarine operate when he rode her to prepare for making the movie "Gray Lady Down".
GURNARD completed a fourteen month refueling overhaul in February 1978 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the fastest refueling overhaul by a 637 class submarine to date, at a savings of $4 million. The ship was outfitted with the new ANBQQ-5 Sonar system and MK-117 Fire Control system. She completed two more WESTPAC deployments over the course of the next two years, along with several independent ship's operations.
As tensions grew in 1981 in Iran, GURNARD was tasked with operations in the Indian Ocean during the height of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. As a result of her efforts, the ship earned the Navy Expeditionary Medal. In September of that year, GURNARD responded to special high priority tasking, loading out and deploying in less than 36 hours, bound for the mid-pacific
April 1982 found GURNARD showing her warfare might during RIMPAC, where she was credited with sinking over 300,000 tons of "opposing forces" shipping. WESTPAC soon followed that year, affording the crew the opportunity to explore the cultures of the Far East during several port visits.
GURNARD stalked the seas once again during RIMPAC-84. Later that year, she spent 44 days under the Arctic ice along with USS PINTADO (SSN 672) during PACSUBICEX. The two submarines rendezvoused and then surfaced together at the North Pole. In May 1985, GURNARD entered an 18 month overhaul in Bremerton, Washington. She was updated with the new Electrostatically Suspended Gyro Navigation (ESGN) system, MK 1 Fire Control system, and was made capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. GURNARD came out of overhaul in February 1987, ready for further operational assignments.
She departed in March 1988 for WESTPAC, returning in the fall. Following extensive repairs to her sonar dome which was damaged in a grounding mishap in May 1989, GURNARD put to sea in August 1989 for sea trials, and continued the year with local operations and MK-48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) torpedo certification. In March of 1990, GURNARD deployed to the Arctic region. While deployed, she completed only the fourth winter submerged transit of the Bering and Seas. She once again surfaced at the North Pole, this time in the company of the USS SEA HORSE (SSN669). On her way back to San Diego, GURNARD passed through the Panama Canal, and upon her return to homeport, became the third U.S. submarine to circumnavigate the North American continent.
GURNARD departed in January 1991 for WESTPAC, participating in joint exercises with the Japanese Maritime Defense Force. She also conducted operations with the Republic of Korea Navy. GURNARD participated in Prospective Commanding Officer's operations in Hawaii during January and February of 1992. This followed by a three month maintenance period, finishing out 1992 with local operations and fleet exercises. In January of 1993, GURNARD deployed to WESTPAC fro the final extended deployment returning to San Diego in July 1993. Over the course of her six months abroad, she participated in multiple joint exercises with Korean, Japans, Thai and U.S. Naval Forces. Gurnard made significant contributions in the areas of joint operations and anti-diesel ASW tactics. Upon return from WESTPAC GURNARD participated in exercise KERNEL RAIDER, operating in conjunction with forces from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy
GURNARD's final year was a continuation of her previous operational successes. GURNARD was decommissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 1994.
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