for Submariners

by Hamilton 1:1 Communications, LLC

USS Narwhal (SSN-671)
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USS Narwhal (SSN-671)


The USS Narwhal (SSN-671) was the quietest of submarines at the time of her commissioning, the result of a natural circulation reactor. She had been modified for special missions, and is fitted to operate a Remotely Operated Vehicle. She was decommissioned in 1999. The USS NARWHAL carried the only operational General Electric S5G natural circulation reactor. The innovative design of the reactor plant
allowed for operation at most ship speeds with primary circulation pumps secured, significantly reducing the ship's overall radiated acoustic signature. It is similar to the Sturgeon design in other respects. Narwhal used new engineering technology and several other innovations that led to advances in the submarine development program, laying important groundwork for the LOS ANGELES and OHIO class submarines, which followed her. She was truly a one-ship class.

According to some reports Narwhal was employed for intelligence collection, and was fitted with a structure, called a "turtleback" -- just forward of her rudder that some have suggested may possibly be for remote-controlled underwater vehicles. However, a more prosaic explanation suggest that the big bulge on her stern is a casing for TB-23 towed array fitted with the new BQQ-5D sonar.

During her career, Narwhal was highly decorated, receiving the Navy Unit Commendation, three Meritorious Unit Commendations and five Battle Efficiency "E" awards. She has conducted 17 deployments to all corners of the world. Most recently, during her 1998 deployment to the Mediterranean, Narwhal was underway 86 percent of the time, conducting numerous international exercises and two extended operations of vital importance to national security.

After commissioning, Narwhal was assigned to Submarine Detachment TWO in New London CT. She made her first deployment in the summer of 1970 and was eventually assigned to Submarine Squadron TWO in New London. In November 1979, Narwhal was reassigned to Submarine Squadron FOUR in Charleston SC which was her home until she was transferred to Submarine Squadron SIX in Hampton Roads during October 1994. USS Narwhal was inactivated on 16 January 1999 at Naval Station Norfolk, and She began the decommissioning process at Newport News Shipbuilding later in the month.

Boats Built:

USS Narwhal (SSN-671)


General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division
Groton, Connecticut
5,350 tons submerged
314 feet
38 feet
20 plus knots
Power Plant:
One S5G nuclear reactor,
Two steam turbines,
One shaft, 17,000 shp
Four torpedo tubes,
Annual Operating Cost:
~$17,000,000 (source: FY 1996 VAMOSC)