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Grampus VI (SS-523)

The grampus is a large cetacean (Grampus griseus) of the "blackfish family" commonly referred to as Risso's dolphin. Found in warm seas throughout the world, the dolphin has a blunt head, barrel-shaped body and ranges in color from grey to black. Risso's dolphins swim in groups of 3-50 animals and prefer offshore waters, where they hunt squid, octopi and fish.


(SS-523: displacement 1,570 tons (standard), 2,428 tons (submerged); length 311 feet 8 inches; beam 27 feet 3 inches; draft 15 feet 3 inches; speed 20 knots (surface); complement 82; armament 10 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Tench)

Built at the Naval Shipyard, Boston, Grampus (SS-523) was begun in 1944 but left uncompleted at the end of the war. Construction was resumed in 1948, and Grampus launched 26 October 1949; sponsored by Mrs. Clark H. Woodward, who also sponsored the previous Grampus; and commissioned that same day, Comdr. George F. Sharp in command.

With new "snorkeling equipment," which permitted her to remain submerged for periods far longer than the World War II fleet-class boats, Grampus served as a prototype for the post-war "Guppy" class diesel-electric submarines. Attached to Submarine Division (SubDiv) 61 at Norfolk, the boat helped train and familiarize surface navy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) forces with fast underwater submarines, that being the main naval threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. These exercises took place primarily off the East Coast and in the Caribbean and included torpedo attack exercises, snorkeling tests and demonstrations, and tactical ASW training. Grampus also helped develop early HUK (Hunter-Killer) antisubmarine patrol doctrine in support of Pacific and Atlantic Fleet overseas deployments.

From 5 January to 2 April 1955 Grampus proceeded independently to the Mediterranean, where she "showed the flag" at Algiers, Naples, Barcelona, Malta, Beirut, Monaco, and Gibraltar before returning to Norfolk and her routine of exercises and tests, spaced with regular overhauls at Portsmouth and Philadelphia.

In addition to North Atlantic and Arctic training exercises with Task Group "Alfa" in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Grampus conducted a second Mediterranean deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea between 3 April and 3 August 1964. After receiving an overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in mid-1965, Grampus made several deployments to the West Indies to test equipment for the nuclear-powered submarine program and test new tactics and doctrine.

On 13 May 1966 Grampus departed Norfolk for a cruise in the eastern Atlantic and northern Europe, primarily to conduct North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ASW exercises and train with allied navies in the region. Back in Norfolk on 30 August, she resumed operations in the Virginia Capes area and Caribbean until sailing 29 December to Philadelphia for repairs in the naval shipyard.

Grampus spent the next few years providing training services out of Norfolk, interspersed with an occassional cruise to the West Indies or Europe. Highlights of this period include advanced ASW tactical evaluations, training prospective submarine commanding officers and sailing with the UNITAS Task Force around South America between 24 July and 12 December 1969.

Following two more years of local operations out of Norfolk, Grampus was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 13 May 1972, struck from the navy list that same day and sold to the Federal Republic of Brazil. She served in the Brazilian Navy as Rio Grande do Sul (S 11) until scrapped in 1978.


07 September 2004

Published: Tue Jul 14 08:40:29 EDT 2015