U.S.S. Triton (SSRN-586)
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U.S.S. Triton (SSRN-586)
Career (United States)
Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Cost: $109,000,000 USD (1959)
Laid down: 29 May 1956
Launched: 19 August 1958
Commissioned: 10 November 1959
Decommissioned: 3 May 1969
Maiden voyage: 16 February 1960 to 11 May 1960
Reclassified: 1 March 1961 (SSN)
Refit: September 1962 to January 1964
Struck: 30 April 1986
Homeport: 1959: New London, Connecticut, 1964: Norfolk, Virginia, 1967: New London, Connecticut
Identification: November - Delta - Bravo - Romeo (Radio Call Sign)
Motto: Nulli Secundus (Second to None)
Nickname: The Big T, Steel Raider
Honors and awards: Presidential Unit Citation (1960), Navy Unit Commendation (1967)
Class and type: Triton
Type: 1959: Nuclear-powered Radar Picket Submarine (SSRN), 1961: Nuclear-powered Attack Submarine (SSN)
Displacement: 5963 tons surfaced, 7773 tons submerged
Length: 447 ft. 6 inch (136.40 m)
Beam: 37 ft. 0 inch (11.28 m)
Draft: 23 ft. 6 inch (7.16 m)
Decks: 3 plus conning tower
Installed power: 45,000 shaft horsepower
Propulsion: Two (2) S4G pressurized water nuclear reactors (PWR), Two (2) steam turbines, Two (2) five blade propellers
Speed: 30+ knots surfaced (56 kph), 27+ knots (50 kph) submerged
Endurance: Essentially unlimited
Test depth: 700 ft. 0 inch (213.36 m) operational, 1,050 ft. 0 inch (320.04 m) crush
Complement: 172 personnel (radar picket role), 159 personnel (attack role)
Sensors and processing systems: AN/SPS-26 air search radar, AN/BQS-4 active sonar, AN/BQR-2 passive sonar, MK-101 fire control system
Armament: 6 (four bow, two stern) 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
U.S.S. Triton (SSRN/SSN-586), a U.S. Navy nuclear powered radar picket submarine, was the first vessel to execute a submerged circumnavigation of the Earth, accomplishing this during her shakedown cruise in early 1960 while under the command of Captain Edward L. Beach, Jr. She also has the distinction of being the only non-Soviet submarine to be powered by two nuclear reactors. Triton was the second submarine and the fifth ship of the United States Navy to be named for Triton, a Greek demigod of the sea who was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. At the time of her commissioning in 1959, Triton was the largest, most powerful, and most expensive submarine ever built, costing $109,000,000 which did not include the cost of nuclear fuel and reactors.
After operating for only two years in her designed role of a radar picket submarine, her usefulness was negated by the advent of the Grumman WF-2 Tracer airborne early warning aircraft. She was then converted to an attack submarine in 1962, and became the flagship for the Commander Submarine Forces U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT) in 1964. She was decommissioned in 1969, becoming the first U.S. nuclear submarine to be taken out of service.
Triton39;s hull was moored at the St. Julien39;s Creek Annex of Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia as part of the reserve fleet until 1993, though she was struck from the Naval Vessel Registry in 1986. In 1993, she was towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to go through the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program, with this process initiated effective 1 October 2007.
The U.S.S. Triton (SSRN-586) is considered part of the first generation of nuclear powered submarines to be commissioned into the United States Navy, joining Nautilus, Seawolf, Halibut, and Skate and her three sister ships. While serving as fully operational units of the U.S. Navy, each vessel also performed a key developmental role. The Nautilus introduced the use of nuclear power for ship propulsion. The Seawolf developed the use of liquid metal nuclear reactor using liquid sodium as an alternative heat exchange medium to pressurized water. The Halibut was the first nuclear powered submarine to perform a strategic nuclear deterrence patrol armed with Regulus cruise missiles. The Skate class were the first nuclear powered submarines to go into series production. For Triton, its unique contribution to the development of nuclear power for naval propulsion was its dual reactor plant combined with the high speed requirement to fulfill its radar picket mission.
Radar picket role
Radar picket submarines were developed during the post war period to provide intelligence information, electronic surveillance, and fighter aircraft interception control for forward deployed naval forces. Unlike destroyers used as radar picket ships during World War Two, these submarines could avoid attack by submerging if detected. However, a key limiting factor was that these conventionally powered submarines were too slow to operate with high speed carrier task forces.
Triton39;s combat information center (CIC)
Triton was designed in the mid-1950s as a radar picket submarine capable to operate at high speed, on the surface, in advance of an aircraft carrier task force. Triton39;s high speed was derived from her twin reactor nuclear propulsion plant, with a designed speed, surfaced and submerged, of 28 knots (52 km/h). On 27 September 1959, Triton achieved 30 knots (56 km/h) during her initial sea trials. Triton39;s main air search radar was the AN/SPS-26, the U.S. Navy39;s first electronically scanned, three dimensional search radar which was laboratory tested in 1953. The first set was installed onboard the destroyer leader U.S.S. Norfolk (DL-1) prior to its installation onboard the Triton in 1959. The SPS-26 had a range of 65 nautical miles (120 km; 75 mi) and could track aircraft up to an altitude of 75,000 feet (23,000 m). It was scanned electronically in elevation, and therefore did not need a separate height finding radar. When not in use, the SPS-26 radar could be lowered into its fairwater housing for stowage within Triton39;s massive sail. Triton had a separate air control compartment, located between its reactor and operations compartments, that housed a fully staffed combat information center (CIC) to process its radar, electronic, and air traffic data.
Twin nuclear reactor propulsion plant
Triton sea trials (27 September 1959)
Triton was the only non-Soviet submarine designed with a two reactor propulsion plant, with her S4G reactors being identical seagoing versions to the land based S3G reactor prototype, both of which comprised the Submarine Advanced Reactor (SAR) program, a joint venture between the U.S. Navy, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), and General Electric. As originally designed, Triton39;s total reactor output was rated at 34,000 horsepower (25,000 kW). However, Triton achieved 45,000 horsepower (34,000 kW) during her sea trials, and her first commanding officer, Captain Edward L. Beach, believed that Triton39;s plant could have reached 60,000 horsepower (45,000 kW) 39;39;had that been necessary.39;39; Both reactors shared the same ship compartment. The number one reactor, located forward, supplied steam to the forward engineering room and the starboard propeller shaft. The number two reactor, located aft, supplied steam to the after engineering room and the port propeller shaft. Each reactor could individually supply steam for the entire ship, or the reactors could be cross connected as required. It is this enhanced reliability, redundancy, and dependability of its dual reactor plant that was a key factor in the selection of Triton to undertake the first submerged circumnavigation of the world. Triton39;s dual reactor plant served a number of operational and engineering objectives, specifically the high speed requirement to meet its radar picket mission, which continue to be sources of speculation and controversy to this day. During the early 1950s, many engineers at Naval Reactors branch of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) were concerned about depending on single reactor plants for submarine operations, particularly involving under the ice Arctic missions. The presence of two de-aerating feed tanks, which are used only on surface warships, suggests that Triton39;s twin reactor plant served as a testbed for future multi-reactor surface warships. Finally, the U.S. Navy was debating the best approach to optimize performance, particularly underwater speed. Triton used sheer brute horsepower to achieve high speeds, while the other approach emphasized the more hydrodynamic teardrop shaped hull form pioneered by the U.S.S. Albacore and, when combined with nuclear power, the U.S.S. Skipjack to achieve higher speed with less horsepower.
Other design features
Triton featured a knife like bow, with a bulbous forefoot to enhance her surfaced sea keeping, as well as possessing a high reserve buoyancy (30%) provided by 22 ballast tanks, the most ever installed on an American submarine. She was the last submarine to have a conning tower (a water tight compartment built into the sail), as well as the last American submarine to have twin screws or a stern torpedo room. Her sail was the largest ever installed onboard an American submarine, measuring 70 feet (21 m) long, 24 feet (7.3 m) tall and 12 feet (3.7 m) wide, which was designed to house the large AN/SPS-26 3-D air search radar antenna when not in use. She also had a compartment dedicated solely for crew berthing, with 96 bunks, and two separate chief petty officer (CPO) quarters. With an overall length of 447.5 feet (136.4 m), Triton was the longest submarine ever built by the United States Navy until the commissioning of the Ohio class ballistic missile submarines.
AN/BQS-4 - This active / passive sonar detecting ranging set had a listening range up to 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi) for surfaced or snorkeling submarines, optimized to 35 nautical miles (65 km; 40 mi) with target tracking capability within 5 degrees of accuracy.
AN/BQR-2 - This hull mounted passive sonar array supplemented the BQS-4 system, with a range up to 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) and a bearing accuracy of 1/10th of degree, allowing the BQR-2 to be used for fire control in torpedo attacks.
MK-101 - Fire control system.
Mark 37 torpedo
Mark 27 torpedo
Launch of U.S.S. Triton (19 August 1958)
Authorization, keel laying, and initial construction phase Triton was ordered in October 1956 as SCB 132 under the U.S. Department of Defense appropriation for Fiscal Year 1956. Her keel was laid down on 29 May 1956 in Groton, Connecticut, by the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation, using material supplied by 739 different companies during the ensuing 26 months of construction. Triton39;s length presented Electric Boat with many problems during her construction. She was so long that her bow obstructed the slipway39;s railway facility used for transporting material around the yard, so the lower half of her bow was cut away and re-attached just days prior to her launch. Similarly, the last 50 feet (15 m) of her stern had to be built on an adjoining slipway and added before she was launched. Her sail was found to be too high to go under the scaffolding, so the top 12 feet (3.7 m) of the sail was cut away and re-attached later.
Launching, fitting out, and sea trials
Triton was launched on 19 August 1958, with Louise Will, the wife of Vice Admiral John Will USN (ret.), as her sponsor. The principal address was delivered by Admiral Jerauld Wright, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCLANT), the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) and Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) for NATO. Over 35,000 guests attended the launching, the largest crowd to witness a submarine launching up to that time. On 1 February 1959, Triton was provisionally accepted for service in the U.S. Navy, with Captain Edward L. Beach, Jr., the Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO), now designated as Officer-in-Charge. Triton met several key milestones before her commissioning. On 8 February 1959, reactor No. 2 achieved initial critical mass, while reactor No 1 achieved this milestone on 3 April 1959. Triton passed her initial sea trial on 27 September 1959 and her preliminary acceptance trials from 20 October to 23 October 1959. Two shipboard accidents occurred during Triton39;s post launch fitting out. On 2 October 1958, prior to the nuclear reactor fuel being installed, a steam valve failed during testing, causing a large cloud of steam that filled the number 2 reactor compartment, and on 7 April 1959, a fire broke out during the testing of a deep fat fryer and spread from the galley into the ventilation lines of the crew39;s mess. Both incidents, neither nuclear related, were quickly handled by ship personnel, with Lt. Commander Leslie B. Kelly, the prospective chief engineering officer, being awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his quick action during the 2 October incident.
Commissioning and pre-shakedown testing and fitting out activities
U.S.S. Triton commissioning
Triton was commissioned on 10 November 1959 with Captain Edward L. Beach, Jr. in command. The keynote address was given by Vice Admiral Bernard L. Austin, the Deputy CNO for Plans and Policy, who noted: As the largest submarine ever built, her performance will be carefully followed by naval designers and planners the world over. For many years strategists have speculated on the possibilities of tankers, cargo ships and transports that could navigate under water. Some of our more futuristic dreamers have talked of whole fleets that submerge. Triton is a bold venture into this field. The final cost of building Triton, less its reactors, nuclear fuel, and other related costs paid by the AEC, was $109,000,000 USD, making Triton the most expensive submarine ever built at the time of her commissioning.
Triton being fitted out at Electric Boat
Triton was assigned to Submarine Squadron 10, the U.S. Navy39;s first all nuclear force, based at the U.S. Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut, under the command of Commodore Tom Henry. Triton subsequently completed torpedo trials at Naval Station Newport and conducted other special tests at the Norfolk Navy Base before returning to Electric Boat on 7 December 1959 in order to install special communications equipment. Work on the Triton at Electric Boat was delayed as priority was given to completing the Navy39;s first two fleet ballistic missile (FBM) submarines, the George Washington and the Patrick Henry.
On 20 January 1960, Triton got underway to conduct an accelerated series of at sea testing. Triton returned on 1 February as preparations continued for her forthcoming shakedown cruise, scheduled for departure on 16 February 1960, which involved operating with the command ship U.S.S. Northampton (CLC-1), the flagship of the U.S. Second Fleet, in northern European waters. On 1 February 1960, Captain Beach received a message from Rear Admiral Lawrence R. Daspit, Commander Submarines Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT), instructing Beach to attend a top secret meeting at The Pentagon on 4 February.
U.S.S. Triton (SSRN-586)
November Delta Bravo Romeo
The ship39;s crest depicts two atoms, which are symbolic of Triton39;s twin reactors; the falcons are symbolic of reconnaissance, which was Triton39;s initial mission; and the hand rising out of the sea with the trident refers to the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, and his son Triton, which is symbolic of sea power from the deep. The insignia patch depicts Triton holding his twisted conch shell which he blows like a trumpet to calm or raise the waves, with Triton39;s ship number SSRN 586 over his right shoulder. The ship39;s bell was the original ship39;s bell from the first submarine named Triton at the new Triton39;s commissioning ceremony on 10 November 1958. The bell was donated by the widow of the late Rear Admiral Willis Lent, the first commanding officer of Triton39;s namesake from World War II, U.S.S. Triton (SS-201).
On 4 February 1960, Captain Edward L. Beach and Commodore Tom Henry of Submarine Squadron 10 arrived at the Pentagon in civilian attire to attend a top secret, high level meeting with Vice Admiral Wallace M. Beakley, Deputy CNO for Fleet Operations and Readiness; Rear Admiral Lawson P. Ramage, Director of the Undersea Warfare Division, OPNAV; Captain Henry G. Munson, Director of the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office and representatives from COMSUBLANT and COMSUBPAC.
Triton39;s circumnavigation track and milestones
It was announced that Triton39;s upcoming shakedown cruise was to be a submerged world circumnavigation, code named Operation Sandblast, with the following mission objectives: For purposes of geophysical and oceanographic research and to determine habitability, endurance and psychological stress, all extremely important to the Polaris program, it had been decided that a rapid round the world trip, touching the areas of interest, should be conducted. Maximum stability of the observing platform and unbroken continuity around the world were important. Additionally, for reasons of the national interest it had been decided that the voyage should be made entirely submerged undetected by our own or other forces and completed as soon as possible. TRITON, because of her size, speed and extra dependability of her two reactor plant, had been chosen for the mission.
Triton would generally follow the track of the first circumnavigation (1519 - 1522) led by Ferdinand Magellan, departing 16 February, as scheduled, and arriving back home no later than 10 May 1960. Beach and Henry arrived back in New London at 5:45 A.M. on 5 February. Later that morning, after breakfast, Beach briefed his officers, whom Beach had insisted needed to know, about their new shakedown orders and the mission objectives for Operation Sandblast. Operation Sandblast reflected the highest priority within the Eisenhower administration, with President Eisenhower39;s naval aide, Captain Evan P. Aurand, credited with recommending that a successful submerged circumnavigation, timed to conclude just prior to the upcoming Paris four power summit in May 1960, would provide a much needed boost to American prestige.
Loading ship39;s stores
The officers and crew of the U.S.S. Triton had just 12 days to complete preparations for their much more ambitious, but top secret shakedown cruise. With the exception of Chief Quartermaster (QMC) William J. Marshall, the enlisted personnel did not initially know the true nature of their upcoming mission. A key personnel change occurred on 2 February when Triton39;s veteran chief engineering officer, Lt. Commander Leslie D. Kelly, left the ship for duty at the Naval Reactors branch of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. His relief was his former assistant engineering officer, Lt. Commander Donald G. Fears.
A cover story was devised that, following the shakedown cruise, Triton would proceed to the Caribbean Sea to undergo additional testing required by the Bureau of Ships. The crew and civilians were instructed to file their Federal income taxes early and take care of all other personal finances that might arise through mid-May. Lt. Commander Will M. Adams, Triton39;s executive officer, and Lt. Commander Robert W. Bulmer, Triton39;s operations officer, along with Chief Quartermaster Marshall, prepared the precise, mile by mile track of their upcoming voyage in the secure chart room, located at COMSUBLANT headquarters. Lt. Commander Robert D. Fisher, Triton39;s supply officer, coordinated the loading of ship39;s stores sufficient for a 120 day voyage. Eventually, some 77,613 pounds (35,205 kg) of food were loaded onboard, including 16,487 pounds (7,478 kg) of frozen food, 6,631 pounds (3,009 kg) of canned meat, 1,300 pounds (590 kg) of coffee, and 1,285 pounds (583 kg) of potatoes. Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover sent special power setting instructions for Triton39;s reactors, allowing them to operate with greater flexibility and a higher safety factor. On 15 February 1960, Triton went to sea to do a final check of all shipboard equipment. Except for a malfunctioning wave motion sensor, Triton was ready for her shakedown cruise.
Around the world submerged - 1960
Departure (16 February 1960)
Triton departed New London on 16 February 1960 for what was announced as her shakedown cruise. Triton shaped course to the south east (134 degrees True). At dawn on 17 February 1960, Triton performed its first morning star sighting using the built in sextant in its No. 1 periscope during the nightly ventilation of the shipboard atmosphere. The inboard induction valve was closed after the removal of a rusted flashlight that had prevented its closure. Captain Edward L. Beach announced the true nature of their shakedown cruise: Men, I know you’ve all been waiting to learn what this cruise is about, and why we’re still headed southeast. Now, at last, I can tell you that we are going on the voyage which all submariners have dreamed of ever since they possessed the means of doing so. We have the ship and we have the crew. We39;re going around the world, nonstop. And we’re going to do it entirely submerged.
Making the announcement (17 February 1960)
Later that day, Triton experienced a serious leak with a main condenser circulating water pump, and a reactor warning alarm tripped because of a defective electrical connection. Both incidents were handled successfully and did not affect the ship39;s performance. On 18 February, Triton conducted its first general daily drill and, on 19 February, released its first twice daily hydrographic bottles used to study ocean current patterns. On 23 February, Triton detected a previously uncharted seamount with its echo sounding fathometer.
On 24 February 1960, Triton made its first landfall, reaching St. Peter and Paul Rocks after traveling 3,250 nautical miles (6,020 km; 3,740 mi). The Rocks would serve as the home base for Triton39;s submerged circumnavigation. Photographic reconnaissance was carried out by Lt. Richard M. Harris, the CIC/ECM officer, and Chief Cryptologic Technician (CTC) William R. Hadley, who would be the ship39;s secondary photo recon team for the voyage. Triton turned south and crossed the equator for the first time later that day, passing into the Southern Hemisphere, with ship39;s personnel participating in the crossing the line ceremony.
Destination: Cape Horn
Crossing the Equator (24 February 1960)
On 1 March 1960, as the Triton passed along the east coast of South America, a trio of crises threatened to end Operation Sandblast. The first was when Chief Radarman (RDC) John R. Poole began suffering from a series of kidney stones. The second was when the ship39;s fathometer malfunctioned, putting it out of commission, with its loss meaning that the Triton could no longer echo sound the sea floor, risking possible grounding or collision. The third was when readings on one of the reactors indicated a serious malfunction which require its shutdown. As Captain Beach noted: 39;39;So far as Triton and the first of March were concerned, it seemed that troubles were not confined to pairs. On that day we were to have them in threes.39;39; Later that day, Lieutenant Milton R. Rubb and his electronics technician team returned the fathometer to operational status, and the Chief Engineer Donald D. Fears, Reactor Officer LCDR Robert P. McDonald, and Triton39;s engineering crew repaired the malfunctioning reactor. Since Poole39;s symptoms were intermittent, the Triton continued south, although there was a detour to the Golfo Nuevo region when the ship investigated an unknown sonar contact. Contemporary news accounts reported that the Argentine Navy had been encountering numerous unknown submarine contacts in the Golfo Nuevo during early 1960, but the Triton39;s sonar contact turned out to be a school of fish.
She prepared to conduct photoreconnaissance of Stanley Harbor, but before they could sight the islands, Poole39;s condition worsened so much that, taking a calculated risk, Captain Beach ordered the Triton39;s course reversed, ordered flank speed, and sent a radio message to headquarters describing the situation. From the ship39;s log on that date: In the control and living spaces, the ship had quieted down, too. Orders were given in low voices; the men speak to each other, carrying out their normal duties, in a repressed atmosphere. A regular pall has descended upon us. I know that all hands are aware of the decision and recognize the need for it. Perhaps they are relieved that they did not have to make it. But it is apparent that this unexpected illness, something that could neither have been foreseen nor prevented, may ruin our submergence record.
Cape Horn (7 March 1960)
Fortunately, the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Macon, with Captain Reuben T. Whitaker in command, had been on a good will cruise to South American ports since January as the flagship for Rear Admiral Edward C. Stephan, Commander Naval Forces South Atlantic (Task Force 138). The U.S.S. Macon had been in Argentine waters in conjunction with President Eisenhower39;s visit to Argentina from 26 February - 29, 1960. In the early hours of 5 March 1960, the Triton rendezvoused with the the Macon off Montevideo, Uruguay, after a diversion of over 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km; 2,300 mi). The Triton broached slighly, exposing only her submarine sail while the rest of the ship remained submerged. A boat handling party led by Lieutenant George A. Sawyer, the ship39;s gunnery officer, transferred Poole to the waiting whaleboat, which then returned to the U.S.S. Macon. Poole would be the only crew member who did not complete the voyage. Chief Radarman John R. Poole was subsequently examined by both the doctors on board the U.S.S. Macon and at a hospital in Montevideo, but his third attack of kidney stones, which had prompted his transfer off of the Triton, proved to be his last and he didn39;t require kidney surgery.
After the rendezvous, the Triton completely re-submerged and turned back southwards. The Triton subsequently passed to the west of the Falklands, and she rounded Cape Horn through Estrecho de le Maire (The Drake Passage) on March 7th. Captain Beach described his first impressions of this legendary lands end of the Western Hemisphere as being 39;39;bold and forbidding, like the sway backed profile of some prehistoric sea monster.39;39; Captain Beach allowed all of the crew members the opportunity to view Cape Horn through the boat39;s periscope, requiring five reverses of her course to keep the cape in sight.
Across the Pacific
On 7 March 1960, the Triton entered the Pacific Ocean and passed into the operational control of Rear Admiral Roy S. Benson, Commander Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), who had been Captain Beach39;s commanding officer on the U.S.S. Trigger (SS-237) during World War II. The Triton39;s first Pacific visual landfall would be Easter Island, some 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) away. On 8 March 1960, Triton detected a seamount, registering a minimum depth of 350 fathoms (640 m; 2,100 ft), with a total height of 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above the ocean floor. Also on that day, the Triton successfully conducted a drill simulating the emergency shutdown of both her reactors and loss of all power.
On 9 March 1960, the starboard shaft seal sprung a major leak in the after engine room. A make shift locking clamp was jury rigged to contain the leak. On 12 March 1960, the trouble plagued fathometer ceased operation when its transducer header flooded, grounding out the entire system. Since the transducer head was located outside the boat39;s pressure hull, it could not be repaired except in drydock. Without an operational fathometer, the Triton could be vulnerable to grounding or collision with uncharted submerged formations. It was subsequently determined that the cabling to the Triton39;s fathometer head, located in the bulbous forefoot of her bow, had not been properly insulated, and the constant buffeting caused by the Triton39;s high speed ruptured these cables, rendering the fathometer inoperable. An alternative to the fathometer was devised involving the use of the ship39;s active forward search sonar in conjunction with the gravity meter installed in the combat intelligence center (CIC). By using both systems in tandem, underwater masses could be detected and avoided, although this approach lacked the capability of the fathometer to echo sound the depth of the ocean floor.
On 13 March 1960, the Triton detected a submerged peak using active sonar and the gravity meter that confirm the feasibility of this procedure. The Triton next spotted Easter Island on that same day, first by radar, and then by periscope. She photographed the northeastern coast of the island for some two and a half hours before spotting the statue that Thor Heyerdahl had erected. Again all of the crewmen were invited to observe through the periscope. Triton39;s next visual landfall would be Guam, some 6,734 nautical miles (12,471 km; 7,749 mi) away.
On 17 March 1960, a malfunctioning air compressor was repaired, requiring the re-wiring of its armature, a task ordinarily done at a submarine tender or at a shipyard. Captain Beach was deeply impressed by 39;39;this spirit and outlook [that] permeated our crew.39;39; He was also 39;39;astonished39;39; by two different make shift fathometer sound transmitters created by the electronics and engineering crewmen. One was based on a general announcing speaker while the other used a stainless steel cooking pot from the galley, with stainless steel rods and copper wiring. Beach noted: 39;39;I could only marvel at the ingenuity of the American sailor.39;39; On 19 March 1960, the Triton detected another submerged peak, using its sonar and gravity meter, and then crossed the equator for the second time passing into the Northern Hemisphere again. Another submerged peak was successfully detected on 20 March 1960. Later that day, the Triton made her closest approach to Pearl Harbor, and the crew celebrated with a luau party.
On 23 March 1960, the Triton crossed the International Date Line, losing 24 March from her calendar. On 25 March 1960, sonar indicated another rise from the ocean floor, which was previously uncharted, and was logged with a depth of 350 fathoms (640 m; 2,100 ft). On 27 March 1960, the Triton passed the point of closest approach to the location where the previous boat U.S.S. Triton (SS-201) was lost during World War II, and a memorial service was held to commemorate the occasion. A submerged naval gun salute was fired to honor the lost crew when three water slugs were shot in quick succession from the forward torpedo tubes.
On the morning of 28 March 1960, the Triton spotted the island of Guam and observed activity on shore. Petty Officer Edward Carbullido, who had been born on Guam but had not returned home for 14 years, was asked to identify his parents39; house through the periscope while the boat remained submerged in Agat Bay. The Triton then changed course for the Philippines, the mid-point of her around-the-world voyage. Carbullido was able to go home to Guam for Christmas Day 1960 on a 60 day leave, with the cost of his flight paid for by selling a magazine article on Triton39;s circumnavigation written by Captain Beach and with the assistance of Pan American Airways.
On 31 March 1960, the Triton crossed over the Philippine Trench and began threading her way through the vast Philippine archipelago, passing from the Philippine Sea through the Surigao Strait and then the Mindanao Sea, and finally through the Bohol Strait into the Camotes Sea.
A special water sample was taken during the Triton39;s transit of the Surigao Strait; its recipient was the retired Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf, the task force commander whose battleships had defeated the Japanese Southern Force during the Battle of Surigao Strait, history39;s last naval battle fought only by surface warships, during World War II. Captain Beach observed: 39;39;We think that Admiral Oldendorf will appreciate a sample of this body of water.39;39;
On 1 April 1960, the Triton spotted Mactan Island, and shortly before noon she sighted the monument commemorating the death of Ferdinand Magellan at that site, with the Triton thereby reaching the mid-point of its submerged circumnavigation. Captain Beach reflected on Magellan and his demise: Ordinarily a leader given to the most meticulous preparations for any important undertaking, one who personally checked every item and left no stone unturned in his effort to eliminate any possible cause of failure, Magellan39;s every action during this entire episode ... might almost have been calculated with the intention of seeking defeat. Such was the height of his religious fervor that divine intervention was expected as a matter of course. God, having brought him this far, would not forsake him now. So much have thought Magellan in the height of his exaltation, forgetting entirely that God is not bound by the conventions of man39;s thought.
Off Mactan Island (1 April 1960)
Later that same day, April Fool39;s Day, the Triton was sighted by the only unauthorized person to spot the submarine during her secret voyage, a young Filipino man in a small dugout canoe about 50 yards (46 m) off the Triton’s beam. The noted photographer Joseph Baynor Roberts of the National Geographic Magazine was able to snap several photos of this unexpected interloper through the ship39;s periscope before the Triton moved out of range. The November 1960 issue of National Geographic Magazine would identify of the fisherman as then 19 year old Rufino Baring of Punta Engano, Mactan Island, who believed that he had encountered a sea monster: 39;39;I was very frightened. I tried to get away as fast as I could.39;39; Later on the afternoon of 1 April 1960, the Triton proceeded through Hilutangan Channel into the Sulu Sea via the Bohol Strait. On 2 April 1960, the Triton39;s gyroscopic repeaters experienced severe oscillations, possibly caused by a malfunctioning synchro amplifier, which ceased when shifted to direct gyro input to the helm. Later, while transiting the Pearl Bank Passage, this gyro malfunction nearly caused a potentially hazardous helm error, although the problem was quickly corrected. The Triton then proceeded through the Sibutu Passage into the Celebes Sea, leaving Philippine waters. The Triton entered the Makassar Strait, crossing the Equator for the third time, on 3 April 1960, and then, during 4 April, transited the Flores Sea, bound for Lombok Strait, the gateway to the Indian Ocean.
On 5 April 1960, the Triton entered the Indian Ocean via the Lombok Strait. The transition proved to be dramatic. The change in salinity and density of the seawater caused the Triton to dive abruptly from periscope depth to 125 feet (38 m) in about 40 seconds. Captain Beach noted: 39;39;I had experienced changes in water density many times before, but never one of this magnitude.39;39; The Triton returned to periscope depth and subsequently entered the Indian Ocean. While crossing the Indian Ocean, the Triton conducted a sealed ship experiment. Beginning on 10 April 1960, rather than refreshing the air in the boat by snorkeling each night, she remained sealed, using compressed air to make up for consumed oxygen, as well as burning 39;39;oxygen candles39;39; to replenish the ship39;s atmosphere. Also, starting on 15 April 1960, the smoking lamp was extinguished, with no tobacco smoking permitted anywhere aboard the boat. On Easter Sunday, 17 April 1960, the Triton rounded the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, and she entered the South Atlantic Ocean, returning to the fleet command of Rear Admiral Lawrence R. Daspit (COMSUBLANT).
The Return to the St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks
The smoking lamp was re-lit on 18 April 1960, with the three days of prohibition having taken a noticeable toll on the crew39;s morale. Rather than passing the word in a traditional manner, Captain Beach demonstrated the lifting of the ban by walking though the ship smoking a cigar, blowing smoke in people39;s faces, and asking, 39;39;Don39;t you wish you could do this?39;39; He recorded in his log that 39;39;it took some 37 seconds for the word to get around.39;39; On 20 April 1960, the Triton crossed the Prime Meridian, and on 24 April 1960, the sealed atmosphere experiment was terminated.
Off Cadiz, Spain (2 May 1960)
On that same day, the hydraulic line to the stern plane mechanism in the after torpedo room burst, caused by a fractured valve. Through the prompt action by Torpedoman39;s Mate Third Class Allen W. Steele, aided by Engineman Third Class Arlan F. Martin, this potentially catastrophic event was successfully contained. Eventually, the main hydraulic system was restored with a control valve from the steering system, but the boat39;s steering controls remained on emergency mode for the rest of the voyage. For his quick and decisive actions in handling this emergency, Steele was presented the Navy Commendation Medal. On 25 April 1960, the Triton crossed the Equator for the final time, re-entering the Northern Hemisphere, and shortly thereafter, she sighted the St. Peter and Paul Rocks, completing the first submerged circumnavigation. As Captain Beach noted: 39;39;We are not yet home, but we may be considered to have taken a long lead off third base.39;39;
During 28 - 29 April 1960, the Triton conducted engineering drills, and then she proceeded to Tenerife, the Canary Islands, arriving on 30 April 1960, and thereafter setting course for Cadiz, Spain, to complete two additional goals of 39;39;Operation Sandblast39;39; on 2 May 1960. These two goals were to honor the seaport where Magellan set sail from in 1519, and the other was to make the delivery of the plaque created to honor Magellan39;s and the Triton39;s historic voyages. Afterward, the Triton descended to cruise depth and increased speed to all ahead flank. As Captain Beach noted: 39;39;We are on the last leg of our trip enroute to the United States.
The Triton returned to the United States, surfacing off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on 10 May 1960. Captain Beach was helicoptered to Washington, D.C., where news of the Triton39;s submerged around-the-world voyage was announced by the President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, at the White House, with Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, known as the 39;39;Father of the Nuclear Navy39;39;, in attendance. Beach flew back to his boat later that day, and the Triton arrived back at Groton, Connecticut, on 11 May 1960, completing her shakedown cruise and the first submarine circumnavigation of the earth.