The USS Blueback was a member of the Barbel-class of submarines. She is the second U.S. Navy submarine named after the blueback trout, found in Lake Crescent in Washington State.
The order to build the Blueback was awarded to Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp. of Pascagoula, Miss., on June 29, 1956. Her keel was laid down on April 15, 1957; she was launched on May 16, 1959. She was commissioned on Oct. 15, 1959, with Lt. Commander Robert H. Gautier in command. She was the last non-nuclear submarine to join the ranks of the U.S. Navy.
Assigned to the Pacific Fleet’s Submarine Squadron 3 at San Diego, the Blueback deployed to the Western Pacific for the first time in March 1961. The six-month cruise was completed on Sept. 25. She operated off the west coast of the United States until July 1962, when she entered the Mare Island naval Shipyard (Calif.) for her first major overhaul.
The overhaul was completed in January 1963, at which time the Blueback was ordered to her new homeport of Pearl Harbor. Now part of Submarine Division 13, she began a second Western Pacific deployment on April 11. After taking part in a celebration marking the anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea in Australia, the Blueback made stops in the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan before returning to Pearl Harbor on Oct. 26.
In March 1964, the Blueback was damaged while berthed at Pearl Harbor when a crane toppled over on her while changing her propeller. After undergoing repairs, she made two trips to Wake Island to take part in the evaluation of the SUBROC missile system and Permit-class submarines.
In February 1965 the Blueback deployed once more to the Far East. She supported U.S. operations in the Gulf of Tonkin as part of the Vietnam War and made stops in Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong before returning home in June. Her next Western Pacific deployment began in February 1967 and also included a stint in the Gulf of Tonkin. On Sept. 20, she returned to Pearl Harbor.
In January 1969, the Blueback arrived at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Wash., for an overhaul. She returned to active duty at Pearl Harbor in December, and began another Western Pacific deployment in April 1970. She took part in operations in the Vietnam War zone and special operations during the deployment, which ended on Oct. 1. In June 1971, the Blueback headed west once again, providing a training opponent for U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin and conducing crew training operations before returning home on Dec. 14. She would receive the Meritorious Unit Commendation in June 1972, in large part for her performance during her 1970 and 1971 Western Pacific cruises.
On March 29, 1972, the Blueback began a major overhaul at Pearl Harbor. The process would take nearly a year, and the submarine would not began her next deployment until Aug. 8, 1973, when she sailed for the Far East. During the deployment, the Blueback took part in exercises in with the navies of Korea and Taiwan before returning to Pearl Harbor at the end of January 1974.
In March 1975, the Blueback took part in Exercise RIMPAC 75, with other U.S. ships and those from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. She would also take part in RIMPAC 77 before being transferred to San Diego on April 8, 1977. On Aug. 7, 1977, she deployed to take part in Exercise UNITAS XVIII, which included training with multiple South American navies. She made stops in Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Chile during her circumnavigation of the continent.
In September 1978, the Blueback began her eighth Western Pacific deployment. After taking part in exercises with the navies of South Korea and Taiwan, as well as other members of the 7th Fleet, she returned to San Diego (having made a nine-day cruise from Subic Bay entirely submerged) on March 1.
In 1980, the Blueback deployed to the Far East once more, taking part in exercises with members of the 7th Fleet, the South Korean Navy and Britain’s Royal Navy.
The Blueback would receive three Battle Efficiency “E”s for outstanding combat preparedness, for the 1978, 1985 and 1989 fiscal years.
The Blueback was decommissioned on Oct. 1, 1990 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on Oct. 30, 1990. In February 1994, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland purchased her, and she remains there as an interactive museum exhibit and memorial.
Characteristics of the USS Blueback
Class and type: Barbel-class diesel-electric submarine
Displacement: 1,744 tons (1,778 t) light 
2,146 tons (2,180 t) full
2,637 tons (2,679 t) submerged 
402 tons (408 t) dead
Length: 219 ft 6 in (66.9 m) overall 
Beam: 29 ft (8.8 m) 
Draft: 25 ft (7.6 m) max 
Propulsion: Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines, total 4,800 bhp (3.6 MW)
2 × General Electric electric motors, total 3,150 bhp (2.3 MW)
one screw  Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h) surfaced
25 knots (46 km/h) submerged 
Endurance: 30 minutes at full speed
102 hours at 3 knots
Test depth: 712 ft (217 m) operating
1,050 ft (320 m) collapse
Complement: 10 officers, 69 men
Armament: 6 × 21 in (533 mm)  bow torpedo tubes, 18 torpedoes
Awarded: 29 June 1956
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Laid down: 15 April 1957
Launched: 16 May 1959
Commissioned: 15 October 1959
Decommissioned: 1 October 1990
Struck: 30 October 1990
Fate: Donated to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
June 1956: USS Blueback ordered
April 1957: USS Blueback’s keel laid down
May 1959: USS Blueback commissioned
March 1961: USS Blueback makes first Western Pacific Deployment
1972: USS Blueback receives Meritorious Unit Commendation
1977: USS Blueback takes part in UNITAS XVIII
October 1990: USS Blueback decommissioned
Crewmembers of the USS Blueback:
An unofficial list of crew members that served on the USS Blueback can be found on the unofficial navy website at: http://navysite.de. This list is compiled by former crewmembers that voluntarily register. Some quoted comments from former crewmembers are listed below; many more are available on the source website at the following Web address:
Wayne Hainsworth (served July 1970-November 1973): “Greatest experience of my life. Met a great bunch of guys who made me a better person; met & still married < 35 years! >to the lady of my life while serving on board.”
Chet Cronin (served October 1970-February 1974): “Best tour of my life. You guys are terrific!!!!!”
Scott Butler (served May 1972-July 1975): “Best boat – best crew – best times ! WestPacs Forever ?”