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Chivo (SS-341) 


A large-scaled, heavy-set fish upeneus grandisquamis belonging to the family Mullidae (or Surmullets) fishes of tropical seas, with a pair of long barbels or "whiskers" under the chin, giving rise to the common name "goatfish". The Chivo (the Spanish term for goatfish) ranges along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Central America from Guaymas to Panama.

(SS-341: displacement 1,526 tons; length 311'9"; beam 27'3"; draft 15'3"; speed 20 knots; complement 66; armament 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 1 40-millimeter, 2 20-millimeter; class Gato)

Chivo (SS-341) was laid down on 21 February 1944 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Co.;  launched on 14 January 1945; sponsored by Mrs. R. E. Baldwin, wife of the governor of Connecticut; and commissioned on 28 April 1945, Lt. Cmdr. William R. Crutcher, USNR, in command.

After shakedown and torpedo trials, Chivo departed New London on 7 June 1945 for Key West, Fla., where she trained and exercised briefly at the sound school and experimental torpedo range, before sailing on to Pearl Harbor, Terrtory of Hawaii,  in company with Requin (SS-481) and Redfish (SS-395). While preparing for her first war patrol, hostilities ended and Chivo remained at Pearl Harbor, operating locally with other ships of the Pacific Fleet. Assigned to Submarine Squadron Seven, the submarine returned to the west coast in October, basing out of San Diego for local operations which continued until January 1946, when Chivo sailed for a short tour of duty operating out of Subic Bay in the Philippines. Returning to San Diego in May, the submarine exercised along the west coast for the next 15 months, a period culminating in an overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

Growing tensions in Asia, provoked in part by French conflict with the Vietminh in Indochina and disagreements over the future of Korea, encouraged the Navy to conduct more realistic training for submariners. As part of this general approach, Chivo began a three-month simulated war patrol in August 1947 which took her to Suva, Fiji Islands; Guam; and Japan; before she arrived back at San Diego in November. West coast duty continued for her until mid-1949 when she was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet, arriving at her new home port of Key West and Submarine Squadron Four on 4 July 1949. During her transit there the boat's movement reports describe one of the hazards of sailing in the warm waters in the West Indies when Chivo "struck unidentified submerged object, possibly turtle." The submarine provided training and services for Atlantic Fleet ships in intertype exercises until 30 October 1950 when she arrived at New London to begin an extensive Greater Underwater Propulsion Program (GUPPY) 1-A overhaul and modernization. The modifications included streamlining the hull and superstructure, adding a snorkel to allow diesel engine operation while at periscope depth and increasing overall battery power.

Chivo returned to duty with the Atlantic Fleet in July 1951, resuming anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training operations with surface ships as well as maintaining proficiency in anti-shipping and mine warfare. These drills and exercises took place mainly off Key West and Guantanamo Bay. This regular training continued until 19 April 1952 when Chivo sailed for a short cruise in the Mediterranean, visiting Augusta, Sicily; Cannes and Marseille, France; and Naples, Italy; before returning home via the Azores in June. Assigned to Submarine Squadron Twelve upon her return to Key West, the submarine resumed her familiar training routine with the Fleet Sonar School interspersed with port visits to Havana, Cuba; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Port au Prince, Haiti. Aside from a three-month overhaul at Philadelphia between January and May 1953, Chivo remained in the West Indies until October when the submarine transited the Panama Canal for a month of operations off the Pacific coast of Columbia. This training period continued until May 1954 when the boat began a four-month regular overhaul at Charleston Naval Shipyard. She again returned to Fleet Sonar School duty in September, with such employment put on hold in March 1955 for a ten-week battery renewal restricted availability. In a change to her normal schedule, the submarine visited Gulfport, Mississippi, in March 1956 and New York City in August of that same year. After another visit to Gulfport in January 1957 to train reservists, and Santiago de Cuba in February, Chivo commenced an overhaul at Charleston Naval Shipyard in March. Returning to normal duty out of Key West in September, the boat remained there save for the occassional port visit to Gulf Ports until transferred to Charleston and Submarine Squadron Four in July 1959, a shift completed after a short cruise north to Boston and Quebec City the previous month. Chivo resumed her familiar ASW services out of Charleston shortly thereafter, a duty she continued in January 1960 with ASW services to patrol aircraft off Bermuda. She followed that with another overhaul at Charleston Naval Shipyard between March and September, with repairs and modifications that included a new sonar system.

On 4 October 1960 Chivo began her first out-of-area cruise in eight years, though she first sailed south to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, for a two-week amphibious exercise with the 2d Reconaissance Company, Fleet Marine Force. The submarine then sailed to South Africa, via Trinidad, British West Indies, for Operation CAPEX-60, a joint ASW exercise with British, French, Portugese and South African ships and aircraft. While en route, the boat held the traditional crossing-the-line ceremonies at the equator. As put by the Navy Times, "Although greatly outnumbered, the fifteen 'shellbacks' kept complete control as they initiated the 'polywogs' into the Ancient Order of the Deep." The exercise, which included port visits to Simonstown, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, lasted through November and Chivo did not return home to Charleston, via San Juan, Puerto Rico, until 21 December.

Over the next few years, Chivo continued to specialize in her role as an "opposition force" (i.e. Soviet) submarine during ASW training exercises. These included pretending to launch a ballistic missile at the United States, disrupting "blue force" amphibious convoys or attempting submerged transits against reconaissance aircraft patrols. In the latter case during Operation DeltEx XV in October 1962, Chivo managed to stay undetected during a three-day submerged transit opposed by aircraft from Norfolk and Bermuda. In addition to conducting similar exercises in 1963, the submarine also received a plastic fairwater sail to help with underwater speed during a regular overhaul at Charleston between February and June 1964.

On 4 January 1965 the submarine got underway for her second Mediterranean deployment, stopping at Lisbon, Portugal; and Rota, Spain; before beginning a series of exercises with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces off Italy and Turkey. The boat sailed for home from Athens, Greece, on 14 April and arrived, via Rota, on 2 May. Chivo spent the rest of the year conducting her usual local training operations, including a specialized mine planting exercise. A regularly scheduled five-month overhaul took place at Charleston in early 1966, followed by type training and the usual ASW services to various Atlantic Fleet units. During this period Chivo also participated in the final weapons range acceptance tests for the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in the Bahama Islands.

Local operations continued into 1967, with Chivo servicing warships and submarines out of Guantanamo Bay and conducting Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) training in nearby operating areas. This routine was only broken in January 1968 when the submarine participated in destroyer-submarine Exercise Springboard I, a six-week exercise that allowed Chivo to conduct forty-eight torpedo firings at surface and sub-surface targets, greatly improving the skill of the fire control team. Following upkeep alongside submarine tender Howard W. Gilmore (AS-16), the submarine then sailed north on 26 May to assist in Search and Rescue operations for Scorpion (SSN-589), with Chivo assisting in tracing the intended track of the wrecked submarine. During November, Chivo provided services for the AUTEC range at Bermuda before ending the year at Charleston. After another overhaul between January and August 1969, the submarine conducted refresher and type training in preparation for Exercise Springboard II in January 1970. After a port visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in mid-January, the boat sailed north to Portsmouth, Virginia, for repairs. She then conducted two months of training services out of Gunatanamo Bay before returning to Charleston on 28 April.

At this time, the Navy, needing money and qualified manpower elsewhere, reduced Chivo's manning level to 43 sailors and placed the boat in cadre or "non-operational" status. A service inspection completed on 16 February 1971 determined the boat was unfit for further service as Chivo was "far below the standards of a Guppy III submarine considered the minimum required to meet the increasing demands of present and future submarine warfare requirements." Although temporarily returned to active duty on 26 February 1971, the status change was in preparation for her transfer to a foreign navy that summer. There was still time for providing training and services, however, and the submarine conducuted operational readiness exercises with Seahorse (SSN-669) in March; mainly conducting trailing, approach and torpedo firing exercises with the newer nuclear-powered submarine. Chivo provided the same "opposition force" training for Sunfish (SSN-649) in April and Whale (SSN-638) in May. These services ended when Argentine Naval personnel arrived at Charleston on 15 June to receive two weeks of underway training with Chivo's crew, focusing on diving, surfacing and snorkeling evolutions.

Chivo decommissioned at Charleston Navy Yard on 1 July 1971 and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register that same day. The submarine served in the Argentine Navy as Santiago del Estero (S.22). Paid off in September 1981, she played no active role in the Falklands' War and was disposed of in 1983.

Dr. Timothy L. Francis

31 August 2007

Published: Thu Sep 03 20:55:58 EDT 2020