|As the Cold War intensified during the 1950s, nuclear deterrence became a key element of global diplomacy. The United States and the Soviet Union were keeping
pace with each other in developing atomic weapons and had deployed large manned bomber forces capable of reaching each other’s homelands with either forward
basing or aerial refueling. Both superpowers were also quick to take advantage of captured German V-1 and V-2 technology from World War II to begin development
of both guided and ballistic missiles for tactical and strategic use. Submarines had proven their worth in being able to travel undetected for relatively great distances,
so it wasn’t a big leap to utilize them in some capacity to deploy missiles. The U.S. Navy converted two World War II fleet boats, USS Carbonero (SS-337) and
USS Cusk (SS-348), to carry a U.S. variant of the German V-1 missile, known as the Loon, which was first launched at sea in February 1947. At this time, the
supersonic Grumman Rigel (SSM-N-6) and the subsonic Chance-Vought Regulus (SSM-N-8) were being developed. Each missile was intended to carry a 3,000
pound warhead for 500 nautical miles. The Regulus missile was successfully developed into the U.S. Navy’s first sea-going nuclear deterrent (the Rigel project was
abandoned in 1953) and was initially deployed on the heavy cruiser USS Los Angeles (CA-135) in 1955.
USS Tunny (SS/SSG-282) was the first submarine to carry Regulus. Launched in 1942, she was a Gato class World War II fleet submarine. Tunny completed nine
war patrols and earned nine battle stars in the Pacific war before being decommissioned in December 1945. During the Korean War she was briefly recommissioned
but later decommissioned again. In 1953, she was brought out for conversion to a guided missile submarine (SSG). This consisted of deck-mounting a large,
pressurized, cylindrical hangar, some 15 feet in diameter, just abaft the sail, with a collapsible launch ramp extending aft. The hangar could accommodate two
Regulus I missiles in a rotating ring arrangement. The missiles could be prepped while the submarine was still submerged by entering the hangar through an access
trunk. However, the actual launching required the submarine to surface and for crew to manually move the missile onto the rails before it could be fired. The boat
could submerge to periscope depth to guide the missile to the radar horizon. The Tunny’s conversion was completed very quickly and she fired her first Regulus at
sea in July 1953. For the next several years, Tunny operated out of Point Mugu, California, primarily as a Regulus test platform.
In October 1955, USS Barbero, originally SS-317 and also a World War II fleet boat, was brought out of mothballs and received a similar conversion to become the
Navy’s second SSG. Barbero joined the Atlantic Fleet and Tunny remained in the Pacific Fleet, now based out of Pearl Harbor. Tunny completed ten deterrent
patrols and successfully launched a total of 100 Regulus exercise missiles, the only submarine in history to accomplish such a feat. In May 1965, the Regulus missile
system was phased out, and Tunny was redesignated SS-282. Before long, the missile hangar was converted into a troop berthing compartment, and in October
1966 Tunny was re-designated a troop transport submarine (APSS). She served in other capacities until she was decommissioned on 28 June 1969.