USS Gudgeon (SS-567)
Gudgeon underway, c. 1970s
|Builder:||Portsmouth Naval Shipyard|
|Laid down:||20 May 1950|
|Launched:||11 June 1952|
|Commissioned:||21 November 1952|
|Decommissioned:||30 September 1983|
|Struck:||6 August 1987|
|Fate:||Leased to Turkey, 1983
Sold to Turkey, 1987
|Commissioned:||30 September 1983|
|Decommissioned:||4 February 2004|
|Fate:||Museum of Naval History at Beşiktaş|
|Class and type:||Tang-class submarine|
|Displacement:||1,560 long tons (1,585 t)|
|Length:||269 ft 2 in (82.04 m)|
|Beam:||27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft (5.2 m)|
|Speed:||15.5 knots (17.8 mph; 28.7 km/h)|
|Test depth:||250 m (820 ft)|
|Complement:||83 officers and men|
|Armament:||8 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 2 aft)|
Construction and commissioning
Her keel was laid down by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. She was launched on 11 June 1952 sponsored by Mrs. Robert A. Bonin, widow of the first Gudgeon's last commanding officer, and commissioned on 21 November 1952 with Commander Robert M. Carroll in command.
After builders' trials, Gudgeon sailed for Pearl Harbor, where she joined Submarine Squadron 1 (SubRon 1), Submarine Division 1 (SubDiv 1), 18 July 1953. Local operations and training exercises continued until 11 April 1954, when Gudgeon sailed to the mainland for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) exercises along the Washington coast. A Mare Island Naval Shipyard overhaul occupied the remainder of the year, and Gudgeon returned to Pearl Harbor 9 March 1955. She sailed 21 Jul 1955, for the first of five WestPac tours, visiting Yokosuka, Formosa, Hong Kong, Manila, and Guam before returning to Pearl Harbor on 30 January 1956. Local operations out of the Hawaiian port, overhaul, special secret operations, and a second trip to the West Coast took Gudgeon through the next 18 months.
Sailing from Pearl Harbor on 8 July 1957, Gudgeon began a history-making cruise around the world, making the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force's flagship the first American submarine to circumnavigate the globe. After exercises at Yokosuka, Gudgeon sailed west 26 August 1957. As she made her way around the world for the next six months, the submarine docked at Asian, African and European ports before a triumphal entry into Pearl Harbor 21 February 1958, eight months and 25,000 miles (40,000 km) since taking departure.
After extensive overhaul, Gudgeon again settled into the peacetime local and special operations, training exercises, and ASW activities. Three WestPac cruises, in 1959, 1961, and 1963, took her to Japan for exercises with the Seventh Fleet as well as to Subic Bay and Hong Kong for liberty. The alternate years, 1960 and 1962, saw Gudgeon heading back to the mainland, where she trained and exercised along the Washington and California coasts.
Gudgeon returned from the Far East to Pearl Harbor 1 August 1963, and for the next two years operated in Hawaiian waters. She departed Pearl Harbor 29 November and arrived San Francisco, California, on 9 December for overhaul at Mare Island. The ship was cut in half and an 18-foot (5 meter) section was added during a conversion which gave the submarine new and larger engines as well as the PUFFS passive sonar installation. Modernization was completed in April 1967 and Gudgeon returned to duty in the Pacific Fleet.
Gudgeon was reclassified an Auxiliary Research Submarine, AGSS-567, and then a Guided Missile Auxiliary Submarine, SSAG-567, 5 November 1979.
Gudgeon served in the Pacific until she was decommissioned on 30 September 1983 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 6 August 1987.
August 1957 Vladivostok Soviet Incident
In August 1957, USS GUDGEON was located close to the entrance of the Soviets' largest naval base on the Pacific, Vladivostok. Its goal was to monitor Soviet ship movements through its periscope and intercept their radio communications.
Suddenly, an alert rang out on Soviet radio channels, and as many as eight destroyers began steaming toward the area where GUDGEON was hiding. GUDGEON turned, its 90 officers and enlisted men rushing to take battle stations and load torpedoes into its eight tubes, and sprinted for the open sea, with the bigger, faster Soviet surface vessels in avid pursuit. As the sub approached, or just after it sped past the imaginary 12-mile line, its skipper, Norman B. "Buzz" Bessac, a 34-year-old Lieutenant Commander, ordered the boat brought to a full stop, hoping it could "go quiet and lose" its pursuers, crew members said. But the ploy failed.
As GUDGEON tried to hide below perhaps 200 feet of water, Bessac instructed his men to get ready for what seemed likely to be a long, frightening and lonely siege, the crew members said. When a diesel submarine is forced to stay underwater, it depends entirely on power from its electric battery previously charged by the diesel to circulate air, operate interior lights, heat food and provide bursts of speed for a possible getaway, and life aboard becomes much more precarious. The snorkel sucks in air needed to operate the boat's diesel engines and to refresh the air that its crew breathers. Diesel subs normally snorkel every night. In GUDGEON's case, the menacing presence of the Soviet destroyers meant that the sub would be unable to go up to periscope depth, about 60 feet below the surface, and snorkel that night. The boat also could not send any kind of plea for help without rising enough to pierce the surface with its radio antenna. So Bessac ordered that every precaution be taken to preserve electricity and air, the crew members said.
Fans and blowers that pushed air around the submarine were turned off. Lights were trimmed to a dim, candle- like glow. Crystals of lithium hydroxide, a chemical that absorbs the carbon dioxide exhaled by the crew, were sprinkled on cloth mattress covers laid out in various compartments. Bessac instructed all non-essential crew members to stay in their bunks. Despite the rising tension, GUDGEON's officers forbade cigarette smoking, which give off carbon monoxide. As the hold down stretched through that night, the whole next day and well into a second night, the sub's air got so thick and foul that many of the men developed severe headaches. Every hour or two, one of the destroyers would bounce active sonar off GUDGEON's 290-foot-long hull, creating chilling metallic "pings" that resounded inside the sub and in the minds of its crew members. The destroyer then would steam over the top of the sub- marine and drop a wave of depth charges that detonated above or around it. "They would circle, and one of them would make a run and drop" its depth charges, one GUDGEON crew member said. "Then they'd go back out and pick up again (on sonar), and somebody else would come in and make a run. One crew member said GUDGEON's officers decided after the first wave of explosions failed to cause serious damage that the destroyers probably had dropped small, practice- sized depth charges similar to hand grenades instead of full-power charges like those that sank scores of submarines in WWII. The grenade-like charges make a terrifying noise that splinters the water like a jackhammer ripping through concrete, but they are unlikely to cause much damage to the thick steel hull of a submarine.
At one point, GUDGEON tried to elude the gauntlet of destroyers by shooting a noise-making decoy out of its garbage ejection tube in one direction while it moved in another, one crew member said. Another time, he said, the sub went below its "test depth" of 700 feet or so in a vain attempt to escape the reach of the Soviet's sonar. Finally, after more than 30 hours under Soviet control, the sub's battery had gotten so weak, and its air so horrid, a new fear took hold among its crew: If GUDGEON had to surface in the midst of the destroyers, would the Soviets try to board it and capture the crew? With this possibility in mind, some of the officers and intelligence operatives on board hastily destroyed a number of classified documents, one crew member recalled.
During the hold down, a few of the Soviet destroyers had broken off from the pack and sailed back toward the port. So Bessac, who had decided he would fight rather than allow the sub to be boarded, tried one last stratagem, crew members said. He ordered the crew in the Control Room to bring the sub to periscope depth, where it quickly raised its radio antenna and shot off a message to U.S. 7th Fleet headquarters in Japan asking for assistance. The sub also stuck up its snorkel mast to try to gulp some fresh air, but a Soviet vessel raced straight toward the pipe, as if to ram it, and "drove us back under," one of GUDGEON's crew members said. At this point, Bessac had no choice but to risk bringing GUDGEON fully to the surface. As the sub rose slowly through the water, Bessac made sure that the doors to its torpedo tubes were open, the last action needed to ensure that the torpedoes could be fired at the push of a button, crew members said. After the sub broke the surface, Bessac clambered up the ladder inside the sub's sail and onto the bridge, where he instructed a signalman to point the light at one of the Soviet ships out in the night and blink a message in Morse code. The staccato light beams identified GUDGEON as a U.S. Navy warship and asserted its right to be in what its crew believed were international waters. A few minutes later, the Soviets flashed back a message that was comforting, though somewhat gloating, in its simple statement of the obvious. These blinking lights identified the GUDGEON's adversary as "CCCP," and suggested the sub head for home without delay. The Soviet ships then parted their ring around GUDGEON and allowed it to set sail. A few hours later, U.S. warplanes passed overhead and could see that GUDGEON had survived the ordeal.
TCG Hızırreis (S 342)
In 1983, Gudgeon was transferred by lease to Turkey and renamed TCG HIZIRREİS (S 342), named for Ottoman Admiral Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis. She was purchased in 1987 and served until 2004. She is berthed as a museum ship at the Kocaeli Museum Ships Command  in Izmit and is open to the public.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- navsource.org: USS Gudgeon
- hazegray.org: USS Gudgeon
- "Life on the Gudgeon, a Navy Fast Attack Submarine", additional photographs of the USS Gudgeon