Unknown Waters: A Firsthand Account of the Historic Under-Ice Survey of the Siberian Continental Shelf by USS Queenfish (SSN-651)

By Alfred S. McLaren | Go to book overview

5
The First Arctic Test of Queenfish
The Davis Strait Marginal Sea-Ice Operation
As the first of the Sturgeon-class submarines to be commissioned and made ready for unrestricted operations at sea, Queenfish was immediately subjected to a series of tests of her capability to operate under polar sea ice. A special add-on was a test of the under-ice capability of the nose cone of the new MK-48 antisubmarine warfare torpedo and all associated acoustic components.The area chosen for conducting the tests, beginning in early February of 1967, was a marginal ice zone (MIZ) way up north within the Davis Strait, between Baffin Island and Greenland, approximately sixty miles south of the Baffin Bay pack ice. Even though this choice meant revising Christmas and holiday leave plans for most of the crew, we all turned to with enthusiasm to prepare and load out our new boat for an operational assignment considered by all to be a great honor.The full list of major new hull and structural modifications and new equipments incorporated into Queenfish for operation under ice were as follows:
1. The top of the sail and the rudder were reinforced with HY-80 steel to enable all submarines in the class to break through as much as six feet of sea ice in the polar regions.
2. The forward diving-control surfaces (formerly “bow planes”) were relocated from the bow to the middle of the sail and could be rotated to a 90° or vertical position to minimize impact and risk of damage to the sail planes and their operating mechanism during the process of surfacing through sea ice.
3. All masts and periscopes housed within the sail, with the exception of the elec-

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