USS Plunger SSN-595 Tribute

Keel Laid 2Mar1960

Launched 9Dec1961

Commissioned 21Nov1962

Decommissioned 1990

Length 278' Test Depth 400'

Beam 31' Speed 20 kts

Draft 26' Displacement 4400 tons

Complement 130 officers and men

The name "Plunger" is a distinguished one in United States submarine history, from the SS-2, the first submarine to be ordered by the Navy, through the SS-179 with its twelve war patrols, 16 sinkings, and numerous other plaudits, to the SSN-595, the most decorated submarine ever at Subase Ballast Point San Diego, CA. The common link is that they have all gone "in harm's way" in their own fashion and served their country well.

"Give me a strong ship and the men to sail her, for I intend to go in harm's way." -John Paul Jones

The USS Plunger SSN-595 keel was laid March 2, 1960. She was christened and launched on 9 December 1961. She was commissioned at Mare Island Naval Shipyard 21 November 1962. Initially homeported in Pearl Harbor as part of Submarine Division 71, she served as the Submarine Force Flagship in 1963 and was transferred to San Diego in 1973 to join Submarine Squadron Three.

The USS Plunger SSN-595 was the third of what came to be known as the world's "first modern, quiet, deep-diving fast attack submarines, "integrating such advanced features as a hydrodynamically shaped hull, a large bow-mounted sonar array, advanced sound-silencing features, and an integrated control/attack center with the proven S5W reactor plant. Designed for prolonged periods submerged, she was limited only by the amount of food that she can carry, and is capable of sustained operation at high speed. All of these features made these ships the truly mature nuclear submarine design in the world at that time. So revolutionary, in fact, were these changes that one exercise report concluded with the statement that "at present we still have much to learn about the effective use of nuclear submarines".

Much of the Plunger's first years were spent in the development and testing of new weapons and tactics for nuclear submarines. In addition to this, she was also tasked with the full operational evaluation of the SUBROC anti-submarine missile, for which she received the SUBPAC Award for Excellence in Fire Control.

The Plunger was featured in All Hands magazine in October 1966. The following pages are scanned images of the feature stories about Plunger and her crew. The images are large so they can easily be read and they are filled with pictures of the crew from 1966.Cover, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5. In the September 1967 issue of ALL HANDS Magazine a Subroc is moved for loading aboard the USS Plunger (SSN 595). This rare photo was taken off Hawaii in early 1968. It shows Submarine Division 71 operating off Oahu. The boats are the USS Flasher SSN-613, USS Guardfish SSN-612, USS Barb SSN-596 and the USS Plunger SSN-595 steaming in formation. This is the back of the photo.

Plunger went through three major overhauls, two at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and a refueling overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard from 1971 through 1973. Each overhaul saw her fitted with the latest in sonar, fire control, and electronic gear, along with improvements in her propulsion machinery. This gives credence to a favorite expression of a Pacific Fleet commander regarding 594 class submarines that "If you take an axe and replace the head and handle often enough, pretty soon you have a new axe."

In recognition of her abilities, Plunger won an impressive number of wards, including four Navy Unit Commendations, two Meritorious Unit Commendations, and six Battle "E" combat efficiency awards, making her the most highly decorated submarine in San Diego history. In addition, she was awarded in 1969, the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy as the ship exhibiting the most improvement in battle efficiency for that year-the first Pacific Fleet submarine to be so honored. She was again honored in 1983 by being the SUBPAC nominee for the award.

Plunger was also awarded the prestigious Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award in 1986 as the most combat-ready warship in the Pacific. This gave Plunger the distinction of being the only US submarine to win both of these impressive awards.

Despite significant differences, the USS Plunger SSN-595 has much in common with her distinguished ancestors. They all have been pioneers, the Navy's first submarine, one of the first submarines to take the war to the Japanese, and one of the first true submarine warships, able to operate totally divorced from the surface. All have been well-constructed and well-crewed and, despite the fact all have, in their own way, gone "in harm's way," all have discharged their duties with honor. "The past is prologue" is the motto of the USS Plunger SSN-595. She has lived up to that creed and leaves an even richer legacy to her successor.

USS Plunger SSN-595 Plankowners.

A large color jpg of USS Plunger SSN-595.

Operating out of San Diego in 1987. Passing Coronado and from Point Loma.

Westpac 1986 Pictures. Sasebo, Japan, moored to the power barge,

Hong Kong, moored to USNS Catawba, far right SK1(SS) Jerry Brown,

Surface transit looking aft from the bridge,  (Nice wake..at least a FULL bell),

Russell Perry, Davy Ferrel and Ham Moran in a 1986 shellback photo, Eng Lower Level,

and ET2(SS) Rudy Martinez, RM2(SS) Matt Rachke.

USS Plunger's final deployment to the Western Pacific included port visits to Chinhae, Korea, Hong Kong , Hong Kong 1, Hong Kong 2 and Okinawa.

A very large jpg of the USS Plunger SSN-595 deactivation ceremony pamphlet cover.

Over head picture of USS Plunger SSN-595 after decommisioning in Mare Island. The overhead picture of Plunger at Mare Island NSY was taken sometime in January 1990, she had been Defueled and final preparations were being made for towing to Bremerton WA. Soon after this picture was taken she was turned over to the shipyard and the final remnants of the crew were dispersed. It's interesting that she is berthed about 500 ft from the place where it all started almost 30 years before, the Building Way in the upper left of the picture.

USS Plunger SSN-595 Sea Stories by former Commanding Officer Bob Styer.

Other "594 Tough" Submarine Photos

USS Plunger SS-179 Tribute Page

USS Plunger SS-2 Tribute Page


Link to other Sites

USS Thresher SSN-593 Homepage.

USS Permit SSN-594 Homepage.

USS Haddo SSN-604 Homepage.

USS Jack SSN-605 Homepage.

USS Tinosa SSN-606 Homepage.

USS Dace SSN-607 Homepage.

USS Flasher SSN-613 Homepage.

USS Greenling SSN-614 Homepage.

USS Gato SSN-615 Homepage.

The Goat Locker A Chief Petty Officer website.

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