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Home > April 2022 > 40th Anniversary Spotlight: Growler
40th Anniversary Spotlight: Growler
Seperator
Posted: 4/19/2022 1:01:37 PM

The submarine USS Growler was commissioned on August 30, 1958. It was a guided missile submarine capable of launching and guiding the Regulus I nuclear missile. The United States hoped that the presence of Growler and other Regulus missile submarines would deter the Soviet Union from launching an attack against the U.S.

USS Growler
 

Growler made eight strategic deterrent patrols to the Western Pacific Ocean, waiting for an order to launch its missiles at military facilities in Russia. But to launch the Regulus, Growler had to surface, making the submarine easier for the enemy to detect. So Growler was a transitional weapon until the introduction of the next generation of submarines that could launch missiles while submerged.

Nonetheless, Growler played an important role in the Cold War as it patrolled the eastern coast of the Soviet Union.

Following its decommissioning at Mare Island in 1964, Growler was placed into the Inactive Reserve Fleet, where it remained well into the 1970s. It was later shifted to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and it seemed as through Growler would be sunk as a target ship – an obsolete vessel used for weapons testing or target practice.

In 1987, the Intrepid Museum started making plans to acquire Growler. Richard P. Torykian, a Marine officer who served in Vietnam, wrote letters to several government officials to have Growler transferred to the Museum. In November 1987, Wayne Schmidt, the Museum’s executive director at the time, sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Everett Pratt requesting that Growler be released for donation.

One factor that had to be negotiated was Growler’s capability as a missile submarine. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the U.S. and the Soviet Union laid out guidelines for the dismantling of decommissioned nuclear missile submarines. After some diplomatic effort, it was agreed that making Growler a museum ship would be a permanent and peaceful use of the vessel. Growler was officially transferred to the Intrepid Museum in September 1988.



In early 1989, Growler left Puget Sound and began its journey to the Intrepid Museum through the Panama Canal. The first stop of that journey was Tampa, Florida, where Growler went through significant modifications to allow visitors access into the submarine. After this work was completed, Growler made its way to New York City. The submarine arrived at Pier 86 on April 18, 1989 and opened to the public on May 26. Since then, millions of visitors from around the world have toured inside Growler, getting a taste of what the life of a submariner was like during the Cold War.

Throughout 2022, the Intrepid Museum will highlight key milestones in the Museum’s history to celebrate our remarkable 40-year journey. The year-long commemoration will also feature new exhibits, a preview of future restoration of historic spaces on Intrepid, and special in-person and virtual public and educational programming. While celebrating its past and present, the Museum will also take an aspirational look forward to its future.

  


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