USS Pigeon (ASR-21)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Pigeon.
USS Pigeon, submarine rescue ship
Career
Name: USS Pigeon
Awarded: 15 November 1967
Builder: Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company, Mobile, Alabama
Laid down: 17 July 1968
Launched: 13 August 1969
Acquired: 29 January 1972
Commissioned: 28 April 1973
Decommissioned: 31 August 1992
Struck: 31 August 1992
General characteristics
Class & type: Pigeon-class submarine rescue ship
Displacement: 4,119 long tons (4,185 t) light
4,954 long tons (5,033 t) full
Length: 251 ft (77 m) o/a
230 ft (70 m) w/l
Beam: 86 ft (26 m)
Draft: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Propulsion: 4 diesel engines, two shafts
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 17 officers, 149 enlisted
Armament: 2 × 20 mm guns
Aviation facilities: Helicopter platform only

The third USS Pigeon (ASR–21) was the lead ship of her class of submarine rescue ships. Laid down on 17 July 1968 by the Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co., Mobile, Alabama, the ship was launched on 13 August 1969, sponsored by Mrs. Allen M. Shinn, wife of Vice Admiral Shinn, Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and commissioned on 28 April 1973. She was a sister ship to USS Ortolan (ASR-22).

Design[edit]

The leader of a new class of submarine rescue ships designed to operate with the Navy's new deep submergence rescue vehicles, Pigeon was the first seagoing catamaran warship built for the Navy since Robert Fulton's twin-hulled steam warship Fulton was built at the close of the War of 1812. Her twin hull gave great stability for deep water operations and provides ample deck working space. She was able to carry two deep submergence vehicles on her main deck. These craft were capable of docking to a disabled submarine on the sea bottom, removing survivors and transporting them to the surface. Pigeon also carried the McCann diving bell or rescue chamber which was used to rescue the survivors of submarine Squalus (SS-192) in 1939. Pigeon '​s mooring system enabled her to maintain a precise position over a disabled submarine during rescue operations.

Pigeon's rescue control center used a three-dimensional sonar system for continuous tracking of the rescue vehicle. During rescue operations it served as a floating command post with specialized communications equipment for contacting the disabled submarine and any other craft, planes or ships working with her.

Pigeon is currently under tow to Brownsville, Texas for scrapping. The Pigeon's last voyage began at Mare Island 1/25/2012.

In fiction[edit]

In Tom Clancy's novel The Hunt for Red October, USS Pigeon was the ship that rescued Soviet seamen from renegade ballistic missile submarine Red October after Captain Ramius fakes a shipboard emergency.

USS Pigeon and her DSRV were prominently featured in the 1978 disaster film Gray Lady Down by Universal Studios

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