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USS Razorback (SS-394)
USS Razorback (SS-394), port-side view, after GUPPY IIA conversion, c. 1960s off Hawaii.
Razorback, after GUPPY IIA conversion, c. 1960s off Hawaii.
Career (USA)
Builder: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine[1]
Laid down: 9 September 1943[1]
Launched: 27 January 1944[1]
Sponsored by: Mrs. H. F. D. Davis
Commissioned: 3 April 1944[1]
Decommissioned: August 1952[1]
Recommissioned: 1954[1]
Decommissioned: 30 November 1970[1]
Struck: 30 November 1970[2]
Fate: Sold to Turkey, 30 November 1970[2]
Career (Turkey)
Name: TCG Muratreis (S-336)
Acquired: 30 November 1970
Commissioned: 17 December 1971
Decommissioned: 8 August 2001
Fate: Sold to N. Little Rock, Ark. on 25 March 2004 to become a museum ship
General characteristics
Class & type: Balao-class submarine diesel-electric submarine[2]
Displacement: 1,526 long tons (1,550 t) surfaced[2]
2,391 long tons (2,429 t) submerged[2]
Length: 311 ft 6 in (94.95 m)[2]
Beam: 27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)[2]
Draft: 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m) maximum[2]
  • 4 × Fairbanks-Morse Model 38D8-⅛ 10-cylinder opposed piston diesel engines driving electrical generators[3][4]
  • 2 × 126-cell Sargo batteries[5]
  • 4 × high-speed Elliott electric motors with reduction gears[3]
  • two propellers [3]
  • 5,400 shp (4.0 MW) surfaced[3]
  • 2,740 shp (2.0 MW) submerged[3]
Speed: 20.25 knots (37.50 km/h; 23.30 mph) surfaced[6]
8.75 knots (16.21 km/h; 10.07 mph) submerged[6]
Range: 11,000 nmi (20,000 km; 13,000 mi) surfaced at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)[6]
Endurance: 48 hours at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) submerged[6]
75 days on patrol
Test depth: 400 ft (120 m)[6]
Complement: 10 officers, 70–71 enlisted[6]
General characteristics (Guppy IIA)
Displacement: 1,848 long tons (1,878 t) surfaced[7]
2,440 long tons (2,480 t) submerged[7]
Length: 307 ft (94 m)[8]
Beam: 27 ft 4 in (8.33 m)[8]
Draft: 17 ft (5.2 m)[8]
Propulsion: Snorkel added[7]
One diesel engine and generator removed[7]
Batteries upgraded to Sargo II[7]
Speed: Surfaced:
17.0 knots (31.5 km/h; 19.6 mph) maximum
13.5 knots (25.0 km/h; 15.5 mph) cruising
14.1 knots (26.1 km/h; 16.2 mph) for 12 hour
8.0 knots (14.8 km/h; 9.2 mph) snorkeling
3.0 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) cruising[7]
Armament: 10 × 21 inches (533 mm) torpedo tubes
(6 forward, 4 aft)[8]
all guns removed[7]

USS Razorback (SS-394), a Balao-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named after the razorback, a species of whale (Balaenoptera physalus) found in the far southern reaches of the Pacific Ocean. It is arguably the longest-serving submarine still existing in the world, having been commissioned by two different countries for 53 years of active duty. In 2004, the state of Arkansas adopted the submarine, although it was not named after the University of Arkansas mascot.

Her keel was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine on 9 September 1943. She was launched on 27 January 1944 along with Redfish and Ronquil. Scabbardfish was launched a few hours later, making 27 January 1944 the first and only time the US Navy has launched four submarines at one shipyard in a single day. Razorback was sponsored by Mrs. H. F. D. Davis, and commissioned on 3 April 1944 with Lieutenant Commander Albert M. Bontier in command.

World War II

During shakedown exercises Razorback ran aground off Race Rock in Block Island Sound. A board of inquiry removed Bontier and the executive officer, Lieutenant John Haines, and replaced them respectively with Commander Roy S. Benson and Lieutenant Commander C. Donald Brown.

After shakedown off New England, Razorback sailed to Pearl Harbor. Her first war patrol, commencing 25 August, was conducted east of Luzon as a member of an offensive group in support of the mid-September Palau landings. After sighting only enemy antisubmarine planes, she headed northeastward, arriving at Midway Island on 19 October.

On 15 November Razorback sailed from Midway Island on her second war patrol under the command of Lieutenant Commander Brown in company with Trepang and Segundo. Operating with these submarines in the Luzon Straits, Razorback damaged 6933 ton freighter Kenjo Maru on 6 December and sank the old 820 ton destroyer Kuretake and damaged another freighter on 30 December. She arrived at Guam for refit on 5 January 1945.

On 1 February Razorback set out for the East China Sea for her third war patrol, this time accompanied by Segundo and Sea Cat. After sinking four wooden ships in three separate surface gun actions, she deposited three Japanese prisoners at Guam before terminating her patrol at Pearl Harbor on 26 March 1945.

On 7 May Razorback headed west again. Assigned to lifeguard duty in the Nanpō Islands and Tokyo Bay areas, she rescued Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. Taylor, a P-51 fighter pilot from the 21st Fighter Group on 25 May. On 5 June she rescued four B-29 Superfortress crewmen shot down during an air raid over Kobe, Japan. Razorback retired to Midway Island to end that patrol and refit on 27 June.

On 22 July Razorback departed Midway Island for patrol in the Okhotsk Sea, where she sank six wooden cargo sea trucks[Clarification needed] and damaged two in a surface gun action. The remainder of the patrol was spent performing lifeguard services off Paramushiro for Alaska-based planes. On 31 August Razorback entered Tokyo Bay with 11 other submarines to take part in the formal Japanese surrender. She departed 3 September, arrived at Pearl Harbor on 11 September and San Diego, on 20 September.


After the war she remained active with the Pacific Fleet serving off Japan and China in early 1948 and again in late 1949. She won the Navy "E" for overall excellence in 1949. In August 1952 she decommissioned incident to conversion to a GUPPY IIA-type submarine. She recommissioned in January 1954 and reported to Submarine Squadron 10 at New London, Connecticut, for shakedown and training.


Following shakedown Razorback was transferred to the West Coast and on 24 May 1954 became a unit of Submarine Squadron 3, based at San Diego, California. The remainder of 1954 and 1955 were spent providing antisubmarine training services for local surface and air units. In 1956 her range of operations was extended north to Canada and on 24 June 1957 she got underway for an extended Far East patrol that included extensive surveillance of the Russian port of Petropavlovsk. She won a second Battle "E" in 1959.

"Swordfish" nuclear weapons test. Razorback was submerged 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) from the explosion.

On 11 May 1962, Razorback participated in the "SWORDFISH" nuclear weapons test, a test of the ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket). An ASROC with a 10-kiloton, W44 nuclear depth charge warhead was fired by the destroyer Agerholm at a target raft from a range of 2 nautical miles (3.7 km). Razorback was submerged at periscope depth approximately 2 miles (3.2 km)[Clarification needed] from the target raft. The explosion produced an underwater shock wave that shook Razorback. A video of this test is available from the Department of Energy.

Regularly deployed to the Seventh Fleet into the sixties Razorback sailed into the South China Sea on her 1965 deployment where she earned her first Vietnam Service Medal. She returned to San Diego on 1 February 1966, but was in the western Pacific from 29 December 1966 to 3 July 1967 and from 6 August 1968 to February 1969. During 1969 she continued to operate on the west coast out of San Diego, winning her third Battle "E" on 2 July 1969. Razorback's last deployment, again to the western Pacific, was from 30 January to 7 August 1970. Not long after her return to the West Coast, she was decommissioned at Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard. Concurrent with her decommissioning on 30 November, Razorback was transferred to the Turkish Navy.

Razorback earned five battle stars for World War II service and four stars for Vietnam War service.

TCG Muratreis (S-336)

The submarine was recommissioned TCG Muratreis (S-336) on 17 December 1971, named after the great Ottoman admiral Murat Reis and served Turkey for 31 years, decommissioning on 8 August 2001.[9]

After decommissioning

Ex-Muratreis was purchased from Turkey by the city of North Little Rock, Arkansas on 25 March 2004 for US$37,500. The purchase price and all towing costs were paid for by private donations.

She was towed from Turkey on 5 May, across the Mediterranean Sea to Gibraltar and then across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving at Key West, Florida, on the evening of Sunday, 13 June 2004. On 14 June 2004, she was again taken under tow, and arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 19 June. Thence she was towed up the Mississippi River and the Arkansas River to her permanent berth in North Little Rock.

After a stopover for the dedication of the Montgomery Point Lock and Dam on 16 July, her transit was delayed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers over safety concerns. At the time of transit, she was drafting 11.5 feet (3.5 m) at her bow and at nearly 15 feet (4.6 m) at her stern, while some portions of the Arkansas River were less than 9 feet (2.7 m) deep. A pair of barges were used as pontoons to lift the submarine a few feet to clear the river bottom while remaining low enough to pass under the bridges along her route, just as USS Batfish (SS-310) had 32 years earlier.

On 29 August 2004, Razorback reached her berth in North Little Rock, at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. She officially opened to the public on 15 May 2005.

Razorback is also the meeting place the Quapaw Area Council Sea Scout ship number 394. Sea Scout Ship 394, as part of the Venturing program, have a particular emphasis on water-based activities.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 275–280. ISBN 0-313-26202-0. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 275–280. ISBN 978-0-313-26202-9. 
  4. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 261–263
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 U.S. Submarines Through 1945, pp. 305–311
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 11–43. ISBN 1-55750-260-9. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 U.S. Submarines Since 1945 pp. 242
  9. "USS Razorback (SS-394)". Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM). Retrieved 2009-02-11. 

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entries can be found here and here.

External links

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