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A History of the USS Cusk

This page contains an overview of the Cusk's history followed by a time line of events during the Cusk's 24 years of service.  Any corrections, additions or comments are always welcome and should be sent directly to the Cusk Webmaster.  Thanks!

Displacement: 1,526 Tons      Length: 311' 9 3/4"     Beam:  27'3"     Draft: 15'3" 
Speed: 20 Knots     Crew's Compliment:  66     Torpedo Tubes:  Ten-21"      Class:  Balao
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        A Balao class World War II "Fleet Boat" famous for being the first submarine to launch a guided  missile, the keel of the Cusk was laid by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut on May 25, 1944.  She was launched on July 28, 1945 and commissioned on February 5, 1946.  The Cusk's call sign was "Standish" and her first captain was Commander Paul Summers.  The Cusk left New London in April of 1946 and arrived at her first home port of San Diego in June, 1946.  In 1947, the Cusk was fitted with a tubular hangar and a missile launching ramp just aft of her sail.  On February 12, 1947 off the coast of Point Mugu, California, the Cusk made submarine history and became the "Mother of all Boomers" when she successfully launched a guided missile called the "Loon" from her newly installed launch platform. On January 20, 1948, the Cusk was redesignated SSG-348, the second of four designations she would receive throughout her career.         The Loon missile was a copy of the German V1 "Buzz Bomb" that was later redesignated by the Navy as the LTV-N-2 missile.  It was the forerunner of the most lethal submarine weapon of all, the underwater launched ballistic missile.  A little over a year later on May 3, 1950, the Cusk again made submarine history when she launched her Loon, then submerged to periscope depth and tracked the missile for a distance of 105 miles using her AN/BPQ-2 guidance equipment.

The Cusk underwent a Guppy II conversion in the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1954.  She remained in the missile program because of the special guidance equipment located in her "Missile Center" - an area just below the mess hall that was later utilized to house the sonar equipment.  The Cusk was redesignated SS-348 on July 1, 1954 after all of her missile launch equipment was removed.

        Home port was changed for the Cusk to Pearl Harbor where she arrived on May 13, 1957.  She continued to use her missile guidance equipment while operating in Hawaiian waters except for a cruise to San Diego in 1957.  The Cusk completed three Westpac's in 1958, 1960, and 1962.  During the third WestPac from January to July, 1962, the Cusk made a month long patrol in the South China Sea and stopped twice in Hong Kong.  During this trip the boat also visited Kobe, Japan for training in self-defense force in submarine plotting, and stopped in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines.

        Home port for the Cusk was changed back to San Diego just prior to her entering the yards for a major overhaul in Bremerton, Washington in early 1966.  While undergoing sea trials in Puget Sound in August, 1966, she experienced a fire and burn-out of her port main motors which extended her stay in Bremerton several months.  A huge hole was cut in the pressure hull over the maneuvering compartment enabling the motors to be removed, repaired, and reinstalled.  Her second, subsequent sea trials were successful and she returned to San Diego at the end of the year.

The Cusk was to make two more Westpac's before she was removed from service - one in 1967 and the final one that began in the fall of 1968 and ended in the spring of 1969.  Both tours included service in Vietnam and various ports of the south and western Pacific.  The Cusk returned home to San Diego in the spring of 1969 and underwent a minor overhaul at the 32nd Street Naval Shipyard where all of her major sea valves were resurfaced, her screws were repaired and polished, and she received a fresh coat of paint.

        In June of 1969, the Secretary of Defense, in an effort to reduce military spending and compensate for the escalating cost of the war in Vietnam, ordered that 100 of the Navy's oldest ships be decommissioned.  Unfortunately for the Cusk, she was on that list.   Subsequently, the Cusk was redesignated AGSS-348 and she set sail for the last time in September of 1969 for Hunter's Point Shipyard in San Francisco.  There she was gutted of virtually all of her equipment by her final crew.  Everything that would fit through a hatch was lifted out, stacked on pallets on the pier, and hauled away for scrap.  On September 24, 1969, the Cusk was decommissioned and removed from Naval service.  Three years later on June 26, 1972, the remains of the Cusk were sold for scrap to Zidell Exploration, Inc. of Portland, Oregon for $112, 013.00.

 

USS Cusk Historical Time Line, 1944 to present:

Year

Date

Event

Commanding Officer

1944

May 25

Keel laid by Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut

Paul Summers, CDR

 

December 2

The keel is re-laid in another dry dock at Electric Boat Company

 

1945

July 28

Cusk is launched down the way at Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut

 

1946

February 5

Commissioning Ceremonies, New London, Connecticut.  Cosponsored by Mrs. C. S. Gillette and Mrs. W. G. Reed

 

 

April 24
 

Cusk departs New London, Connecticut  for her new home port in San Diego.  Makes an extended cruise through the Caribbean on her way.


 

 

May 1

Cusk arrives in San Juan, Puerto Rico

 
 

June 6

Cusk arrives in San Diego

 

 

July 16 to August 20

Alaska and Aleutian Islands - Visits to Nome and Dutch Harbor, Alaska.  A mysterious and fast moving surface craft is detected but never seen.  An errant Mark V torpedo runs wild during a test firing and explodes in a gravel spit after giving the crew a healthy scare.

 

1947

 

Tubular hanger and missile launching ramp is added to rear topside of boat just aft of the sail.

 

 

February 12

California Coast - History is made as the Cusk becomes the first submarine to launch a guided missile called the "Loon" from near Point Mugu, California.  Captain Fred Berry watched the action of the waves through the periscope. When the Cusk was in the trough of a wave, he gave the order to launch. Smoke from the rockets obliterated Berry's view as the Loon leapt off the deck. Controlled by the submarine and then by a chase aircraft, the missile was flown for several miles and "dumped" on a target. The Cusk had just made history.

 

 

June 16

Cusk surfaces near the USS Shangri-La near Pearl Harbor

 
 

September 29

Cusk is in Mare Island for missile hanger installation

 

1948

January 20

Cusk is redesignated SSG-348

 

 

July 7

Something went horribly wrong. "One of the rocket bottles exploded on the deck (of the Cusk)," recalls Thomas. "And the missile, which was full of JP-5, like kerosene, exploded and dove down on the deck of the submarine." Horrified onlookers saw the boat disappear beneath a towering fireball and smoke cloud. "Everyone thought the Cusk had sunk," remembers Captain Pat Murphy, USN (ret.) another Loon-era veteran. "But the Cusk's captain [Fred Berry] saw what happened through the periscope and saw that there was no hull rupture. Well, he submerged. They had all the water they needed to put out the fire."  The Cusk survived with minor damage.

Fred Berry

1949

 

 In 1949, the Cusk and a sister ship, the USS Carbonero, launched a missile attack as part of an exercise. Although the Cusk's Loon malfunctioned and crashed, the Carbonero's flew over the fleet, despite the use of radar, fighter interdiction, and heavy anti-aircraft fire. It was a terrific demonstration. But the Loon was not a practical weapon. Its payload and range were small, and new aircraft could out-fly it easily. "We were walking before we learned to run," says Murphy. "We were saying, this is what we can do, now give us the resources so that we can go do it."

F. B. Clarke, CDR
F. B Tucker, CDR

1950

 

Cusk simulates giant sea fan when she attempts to dive with 10,000 lbs to much weight forward and the stern is lifted into the air.

 
 

May 3

California Coast - More submarine history as Cusk launches a Loon and then submerges to periscope depth and tracks the missile for 105 miles.

 
 

December 7

Cusk is in San Francisco Bay for a visit to Mare Island Shipyard

 

1951

   

C. B. Momsen, Jr., CDR

1952

     

1953

   

E. Pridonoff, LCDR

1954

 

Missile launch equipment removed.  Cusk began participating in the Regulus missile program.  WestPac

 
 

15 February

Mare Island Naval Shipyard, San Francisco - Cusk undergoes Guppy II conversion.  She is equipped with a "fleet snorkel" and special missile guidance equipment for supporting the Regulus Missile program.

 
 

1 July

The Cusk is redesignated "SS-348".

 
 

12 July

The Cusk completes overhaul and sea trials at Mare Island Shipyard and departs for San Diego

 

1955

January 16

R. M. Clark, LCDR assumes command of the Cusk.

 
 

March 10

Cusk visits Kodiak, Alaska

 
 

April 

Cusk sails to Hawaii with the Tunny and Carbonero to attack the islands. Local DDs caught them and ended the exercise. Later, the Cusk sailed to La Peruse for a little R&R.

R. M. Clark, LCDR

1956

September

Cusk returns to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for a scheduled overhaul and modernization.

 

1957

May 13

Cusk arrives in her new home port of Pearl Harbor.

R. J. Cooke, LCDR

   

Cruise to San Diego

 

1958

 

WestPac - Last Ship's patch designed during this trip.

 

1959

February 3

Commenced exercise Z-33-a-U with USS Lansing DER-388 just outside Pearl Harbor

R. E. Crawford, LCDR

 

July

Cusk completes an extended Alaskan training cruise and returns to Pearl Harbor.

 

1960

 

WestPac

W. T. Mawhiney, LCDR

1961

September

Regulus Missile guidance equipment is removed.  ECM equipment is relocated from portside aft in the Control room to the old Missile Center below the mess deck.

 

1962

January to July

After successfully shooting a MK 14, Mod 3 warshot torpedo at the target cliffs on Kahoolawe Island in Hawaii, she departed for Westpac.  The Cusk was designated as the Subplot 7 Mining platform.  During the deployment, the Cusk offloaded all steam torpedoes at Cubi Point Naval Aire Station in Olongapo, Philippines that spring and reloaded 4 MK 27 Mobile drill mines and 18 MK 10 moored drill mines. 12 days after departure from Subic Bay, the Cusk entered the shallow waters of Buckner Bay, Okinawa.  There she submerged, launched the 4 MK 27 mobile mines and then planted a field of 18 MK 10 moored mines.  Following the successful mine plant, the Cusk returned to Subic Bay and retrieved her MK 14, Mod 3 warshot torpedoes.  The Cusk also spent one month patrol in South China Sea.  Ports of call included two stops in Hong Kong for R&R, and one in Kobe, Japan for training.  Other stops included Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan, Okinawa, and Subic Bay, Philippines.

Campbell, CDR

 

October to November

Cuban Missile Crisis deployment to the Yellow Sea south of Korea (28 days)

 

1963

12 August to

18 October

Patrol in North Korean waters

 

The Cusk is chosen, along with the USS Carbonero to travel to French Polynesia for a "Show the Flag" tour.  Papette, the capital of Tahiti was one of the stops as was a "Crossing the Equator" ceremony for all the pollywogs on board.

LCDR G. Frank Comstock

1964

April

Cusk departs for WestPac where she'll visit Kobe and Sasebo, Japan.  During the trip, the Cusk is awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary medal

William Von Christierson

 

August

Cusk returns to Subic Bay, Philippines after an extended patrol on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin

 
 

November

Cusk is again awarded a battle efficiency 'E' for Submarine Division Twelve for the fiscal year 1964.

 
 

November 11

Underway from Yokosuka, Japan

 
 

November 18

Underway from Yokosuka, Japan

 

1965

October 19 - 27

9 September to 30 September - North Vietnam patrol

20 October to 10 November - North Vietnam patrol

19 to 27 October - Tonkin Gulf,  North Vietnam - Performed ASW operations with the destroyer USS Stoddard (DD-566)  Cusk is awarded the Vietnam Service Award

 

1966

May 18

Home port is changed from Pearl Harbor to San Diego.

 
   

Cusk arrives at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington for a major overhaul.

 
 

June 10

Change of Command ceremonies as Don Killian takes command of the Cusk from William Von Christierson at Dry Dock Four at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.

Donald J. Killian, LCDR

 

August

Puget Sound - Port main motors catch fire during sea trials.

 
 

Nov & Dec

Bremerton Shipyards, Washington - Main motors are replaced and the Cusk completes sea trials in Puget Sound.  Near the end of the trials, the Cusk is suspended from three huge buoys for a total of 36 hours to test noise levels of all equipment.  Afterwards, the Cusk descends to test depth to test sea fittings.  All is well until a grease fitting on the forward sonar come explodes but the leak is minor and the test continues to completion.

 
 

December

San Diego - Cusk arrives in new home port.  A large number of the crew greet their new wives and families from Bremerton.

 

1967

January 13

1530 - Moored at Ballast Point Submarine Base in San Diego

 

 

19 July to

19 August

North Vietnam (Yankee Station) duty

 

   

WestPac - Pearl Harbor; Yokosuka, Japan; White Beach, Okinawa; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Bangkok, Thailand; Subic Bay, Philippines.  Cusk is awarded the Vietnam Service Award.

 
   

San Diego - Cusk returns from WestPac and arrives at the Reserve Pier where families and a Navy Band welcome them home.

 
 

November 30

0937 - Cusk is moored outboard the USS Archerfish at Ballast Point, San Diego

 

1968

February 21

Moored at Ballast Point in San Diego.  Nested with USS Medregal (SS-480), USS Baya (AGSS-318) and U.S.S. Archerfish (AGSS-311)

Albert "Sam" Houston, CDR

 

February 23

1513 - Moored outboard the USS Archerfish (AGSS-311) and inboard the USS Pomodon (SS-486)

 
 

February 26

0633 - Underway from Ballast Point

 
 

June 25

Exercise near San Clemente of San Diego

 
 

July 30

Albert W. "Sam" Houston relieves Don Killian as commanding officer of the Cusk at the Submarine Pier at Ballast Point in San Diego.

 
 

October

WestPac - Pearl Harbor; Yokosuka, Japan; White Beach, Okinawa; South China Sea (Yankee Station); Subic Bay, Philippines; Hong Kong.

 
  15 - 16 November North Vietnam (Yankee Station) duty  
1969 18 January to 1 February North Vietnam (Yankee Station) and South China Sea duty  
 

February

Cusk completes North Vietnam (Yankee Station) and South China Sea duty after being submerged on patrol for 43 days.  It was an adventurous time that included on one occasion, accidentally straying into an abandoned mine field.  Later during the reconnaissance patrol, the Cusk was detected and attacked by unfriendly forces.

 
   

Tonkin Gulf - Exercise torpedo fired at a Canadian destroyer runs astray and narrowly misses hitting the Cusk.

 
 

February 25

The Cusk departs Yokosuka, Japan for Pearl Harbor and a trip home after 7 months in WestPac

 
 

March 12

Wednesday, 1400 at the Admiral Kidd Pier, the Cusk returns from WestPac to San Diego where families and a Navy Band welcome her home.

SubFlot1 Commander:

Captain Roy H. Gallemore

 

April

San Diego - Cusk receives minor over haul at 32nd Street Naval Shipyard.

 
 

June

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara designates the Cusk "AGSS-348" and schedules her for decommissioning.

 
 

June 27

Thomas F. Arnold relieves Albert Houston and assumes command of the Cusk at the Submarine Pier at Ballast Point in San Diego.

Thomas F. Arnold, LCDR

 

July 30

Anti-Submarine exercise HUKASWEX 7-69. BENNINGTON, CVSG-59, USS RAMSEY (DEG-2), USS DAVID (DE-1040) and USS O'BRIEN (DD-725) simulated wartime operations with USS CUSK (SS-348) and USS SCAMP (SSN-558) acting as aggressor forces. HUKASWEX 7-69 was completed on 7 August.

 
 

September

San Diego - Cusk leaves home port for Hunter's Point Shipyard in San Francisco for disassembly and decommissioning.

 
 

September 24

San Francisco - Cusk is decommissioned and removed from Naval service.

 

1972

June 26

Cusk is sold for scrap to Zidell Exploration, Inc. of Portland, Oregon for $112,013.

 

1990

 

Cusk Reunion in San Diego, California

 

1992

 

Cusk Reunion

 

1994

 

Cusk Reunion in Seattle, Washington

 

1996

 

Cusk Reunion in Kittery, Maine

 

1998

 

Cusk Reunion in San Diego, California

 

1999

July

Merritt Island, Florida - Webpage is started for the Cusk to honor her memory and her crew.

 
2000  October  Cusk Reunion in Kingsland, Georgia   

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This page was last updated: 11/17/16