for Submariners

by Hamilton 1:1 Communications, LLC

Barracuda Class (ASW)

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The Barracuda class submarines were the product of Project Kayo, a research and development effort begun immediately after World War II by the United States Navy to "solve the problem of using submarines to attack and destroy enemy submarines." The three Barracuda ASW boats were not the only US Submarines to bear the hull classification symbol SSK. USS Croaker (SSK-246) was a converted WW2 Gato Class submarine.

The primary innovation created by Kayo was a low-frequency passive bow sonar system, the BQR-4. With the sonar array occupying the boat's bow, the forward torpedo tubes had to be moved back and angled outward.

The Barracuda type SSK's were designed to be smaller than contemporary attack submarines and simpler in design and construction. It was hoped that this would allow them to be cheaply mass produced in the large numbers it was thought would be needed to combat the growing Soviet submarine fleet. It was also thought that this would allow shipyards without submarine experience, and aircraft contractors with experience in the mass production of large complex aircraft, to build these submarines.

Like other attempts to build smaller, cheaper submarines, the experiment was a failure. As with the pre-WWII Mackerel class, and later USS Tullibee, the result was a ship with insufficient performance to meet their intended operational usage. The Barracudas were slow and had limited endurance, and so were retired by the late 1950s. Their sonar, however, proved excellent, with good convergence zone detection ranges against snorkeling submarines. A bow sonar array and angled, amidships torpedo tubes have been used in every submarine design created since the Barracudas.

USS Bass & Bonita (SSK-2 and 3) Barracuda Class

USS Bass & Bonita (SSK-2&3) Barracuda Class


USS Barracuda (SSK-1/SST-3/SS-550)

Not fully Shown the lead ship of her class,
was launched 2 March 1951 by Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corp., Groton, Conn., as K-1 (SSK-1); and commissioned 10 November 1951. Notably, the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, served as an officer on the SSK-1 during its first year. (The rear portion of the "Sail" of (SSK-1) can be seen at the far right of the above image.)

USS Bass (SSK-2/SS-551),

Was a Barracuda Class Submarine. The Mare Island Naval Shipyard laid down the keel for the Bass. She was launched on 2 May 1951 as K-2, and commissioned on 16 November 1951.

K-2 arrived at Pearl Harbor on 23 May 1952 to join Submarine Division 72. Since she belonged to a new type of submarine, she engaged in evaluation operations to determine her capabilities and limitations. In January 1953 she underwent restricted availability at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for the installation of additional equipment.

In January 1954, K-2 returned to Mare Island, California, for overhaul. She was renamed Bass on 15 December 1955. Bass operated out of Pearl Harbor until June 1957. She was put out of commission in reserve 1 October 1957. Her hull classification symbol was changed to (SS-551) on 15 August 1959. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1965.


USS Bonita (SSK-3/SS-552),


The original contract for construction of Bonita (SSK-3) was let to New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, NJ, but later transferred to Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, CA where her keel was laid down on 19 May 1950. She was launched as K-3 on 21 June 1951 and commissioned on 11 January 1952.

K-3 joined Submarine Squadron 7 at Pearl Harbor on 15 May 1952 and performed experimental and normal submarine duties, making a cruise to Alaskan waters in August and September 1956. She was renamed Bonita 15 December 1955, decommissioned on 7 November 1958, and given hull classification symbol (SS-552) on 15 August 1959.

Boats In Class:

USS Barracuda (SSK-1/SST-3/SS-550) Not Shown
USS Bass (SSK-2 /SS-551)
USS Bonita (SSK-3/SS-552)



306 length
27' 4” Beam
1,525 tons Surfaced Displacement
2,400 tons Submerged Displacement
2,400 SHP Diesels, 2 Shafts
2,740 SHP Electric Motors, 2 Shafts
15 kt surfaced speed
9 kt submerged speed
300 ft Test Depth


4 x 21” TT Bow
4 x 21” TT Stern


BQS-4 active search sonar
BQR-2B passive search sonar
BQG-4 passive attack sonar