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First Regulus Missile Launched From A Submarine 1953

Waring Hills Jul 15, 2011

USS Tunny prepares to launch a Regulus missile (Photo US Navy)

On 15 July 1953, the USS Tunny SS-282 would become the first submarine to launch a Regulus cruise missile. The Regulus cruise missile development began in 1947  and it was built by the Chance Vought Aircraft company.  The unmanned turbojet powered Regulus system was capable of delivering a thermonuclear warhead, either the 3000 pound (40-50 kiloton yield) W5 or the 2800 pound (1-2 megaton yield) W27 within a range of 500 nautical miles. Regulus would be carried as a nuclear deterrent aboard submarines in the United States Navy from 1953 to 1964. Watch the launch  below…

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33 thoughts on “First Regulus Missile Launched From A Submarine 1953

  1. Watt Jordan says:


    Always enjoy the “Call the Ball”. I was REGUUS I Missile officer on the USS LOS ANGELES (CA135) 1959-1960. Durig that time we had five red birds and one blue bilrd sucessful launches. Besides the submarine the missle was also on several heavy curisers.

    Have a great day,


    1. Waring Hills says:

      Thanks Watt for your comments and long service to our nation!

    2. Arnie Goldberger says:

      I was stationed at Chincoteague NAS 1955/1956/part of1957 attached to GM GRP 2! I was a MA3! We flew the Reds with FJs! We lost a pilot that ejected over US 13 and the chute never deployed! He was still in the seat! LTJG Crouch was his name! I enjoyed my duty there!

  2. Steve McDonald says:

    I was aboard the Tunny after her Regulas deployments and during her conversion to APSS. I was always proud of my time aboard and earning my SS designation on her.

  3. I reported aboard the USS Tunny SSG-282 in 1957 as a Seaman and was part of the launch crew. As soon as the missile comes out of the hangar, I would attach the RC antenna to the fuselage and I would jump out before it is raised to it’s launch position.

    1. Edward Turenne says:

      My father may have been there during this time if not a few years earlier. His name is Edward N. Turenne he was a baker and would be turning 90 years old he just passed away on March 10, 2012. I am looking through his military paper work and learning more about this man then I could even imagine.

  4. Bob Johnson says:

    I was stationed at the USNAMTC, Point Mugu California during the early tests of the Regulus. (Rember the Regal as well???) Anyone out there who was stationed at Mugu during the early 50’s?? I worked at the Director of Tests, building 36, as well as the metal shop as an Aviation Metalsmith.

    Now at 80 years old, I wonder.

  5. Bill W. Jonker ETCS (SS) Ret. says:

    SSG 242 was my qual. boat in 1956 Made trips to Dutch Harbor and Pearl Harbor for simulated War launches. Left before she was moved to Pearl. Did lots of testing out of Port Hueneme. At night we would anchor in Wilson Cove on San Clementy Island and fish. Almost everyone had a fishing pole stored on board.

    1. TJ Meyer says:

      I work at NASA Wallops Flight Facility at the former Chincoteague NAS. I would be very interested in talking with any servicemen who were at Chinco. Please contact me at theodore.j.meyer@nasa.gov. I have talked to several former members of VU-4 and GMGRU-2.

  6. Howard Wallace,LCDR,USN, RET says:

    My first duty station was Guided Missile Group Two in Chincoteague, Va. 1956- 1959. In 1959 we moved the squadron to Roosevelt Roads. Switched to Regulas II and F9F-6K drone. I was a bright eyed Yeoman. We stopped work to watch launch and landing. Great memories. We lost a few on launch and only 1 landing that verred to the left hit the grass and barely missed our flight line.

    1. robert rush says:

      I was stationed at Chincoteague from 1956 – 1959 and finished my tour at Roosevelt Roads in April of 59.
      I was in the control truck with Charlie Leveque during the launches for many a launch. Charlie was a nickname we enlisted gave him. He came on board as Ens & left as Ltjg I think. Do you know anything about him? Bob Rush

    2. TJ Meyer says:

      I work at NASA Wallops Flight Facility at the former Chincoteague NAS. I would be very interested in talking with any servicemen who were at Chinco. Please contact me at theodore.j.meyer@nasa.gov. I have talked to several former members of VU-4 and GMGRU-2.

    3. Marvin W. (John) Johnson says:

      I was a AE3/2 with GMGRU-2 in 57-58. I worked on the FJ’s and the TV-2’s. Left Chincoteague and headed for NMC Pt. Mugu the last of December 58 when the NAS was closing down. I did make a deployment to Gitmo for a couple of months.

  7. Bob Davidson says:

    I was stationed on San Nicolas Island (Pt. Mugu detachment) in 1951-52. I witnessed the crash of an early Regulus as they attempted to land it on the Island. I was lying on a dirt berm just off the taxiway. The parabrake failed to fill up on touchdown. The missile ran off the end of the runway into the anchor chain barrier. The missile turned upside down and the jet engine raised a big dust cloud until it finally shut down. Exciting for a 19 year old sailor.

  8. Marvin Sebourn says:

    I was an ET, stationed at GMU-10, SubBase, PH, from August 1961 to November 1963. Some of our GMU-10 guys went to Bonham Detachment, Kauai, and witnessed an FTM landing; the Red Bird did a bit of a ground loop, as it came in fast–the chase plane pilot had popped the parabrake about five minutes early, and there was no retarding action. Still, the bird remained upright through slewing 270 degrees on the landing. Just saw what Bob D. wrote of the parabrake problem above… I would enjoy chatting with GMU-10 guys-post here, or email osugeography@aol.com, Marvin

  9. George Williams says:

    I was an ET on the USS Carbonero SS 337 in1957. We were present and guided several missiles fired from the Tunny and the Hellena. The Tunny fired the missile and guided it until it was handed off to Carbonero then to Cusk or vice versa. From the launch until landing of the missile there were at least two boats doing the guidance. The guidance was with a PIX radar built by Stavid Electronics on Long Island.

  10. Bill W. Jonker ETCS (SS) Ret. says:

    Just spent a week May 2003 IN Port Hueneme and Poing Mugu.Found very few people there were aware of the subs there and the work they did in the 50s.Even the man at the SeeBee muzeam who had been there since 1956 did not no of the subs.
    They would be glad to have a display about the events of that time.My wife and I are designing a quilted wall hanging with text and photos. I do not remember what the squidren number was. can any one help.Bill Jonker submarine624@earthlink.net

  11. Dave Kelley says:

    I was on Tunny SSG282 8/60 thru 9/63. Made 2 runs. Also, got to go on the shakedown cruise to Tahiti. Great times, good friends, fantastic leaders.

    1. Steve Maloney says:

      I was on the USS Tunny SSG282 from May, 1963 to Nov. 1964. I was on the sub when we made two deterent missions. One I remember was when the sub that was subpose to relieve us had to go back to Pearl Harbor, so we were told to stay out for another month. We had to go to Adake Island for refuel.

      Were you on the sub during that timeframe ?


  12. Bob Johnson says:

    When I arrived at Mugu in 1952 I was assigned to the Director of Tests, building 36 as a draftsman. A little later I struck for AMAN (metal smith). Worked on the first German “buzz-bomb” that the US had obtained for tests. Had JATO bottles on it and it was controlled by a mechanic using a radio-control similar to those used today for RC planes. The Sec. of the Navy and a bunch of politicians were there for the test. The bird blasted off, but only one JATO fired and the thing turned upside down. The dude with the control, in a panic, pulled back on the joystick, which of course did not make the unit rise, but slashed down in the ocean. Everyone just turned and left!!!!!

  13. Jim Weigel says:

    I was stationed at GMU 10 in ’63 and ’64. Had good friends at the unit and from the boats. Transferred to Kauai in late ’64 where we phased out the remaining birds for the next year and half or so.The last one fired splashed on launch….sort of a sad end to the program.

  14. Norman Morgan says:

    I was stationed at N.A.S. Chincoteague in 1953/54 with Guided Missile Group 2. A great experience coming from N.A.S., N.O.T.S. China Lake, California to witness the beginning of the Regulus to go into the squadron after it’s development to R.A.M. GMGRU-2

    1. TJ Meyer says:

      I work at NASA Wallops Flight Facility at the former Chincoteague NAS. I would be very interested in talking with any servicemen who were at Chinco. Please contact me at theodore.j.meyer@nasa.gov. I have talked to several former members of VU-4 and GMGRU-2.

  15. Bob Johnson says:

    Does anyone know of the Navy guys in the metal shop at Mugu during Feb. ’55.

  16. TJ Meyer says:

    I am interested in hearing from any former Navy servicemen who were stationed at Chincoteague Naval Air Station or Naval Aviation Ordnance Testing Station.

    1. Molly Hamilton says:

      Mr. Meyer,
      Have you tried Vetfriends.com? We have been working with them on several projects and we have heard stories of many former military servicemen being reconnected through their organization. Hope that helps.
      Molly Hamilton
      Public Information & Media Relations

  17. Billy Joe Wood says:

    I join the Navy 05-31-51 and was discharged 07-07-55. I went to boot camp at Bainbridge, MD COMPANY 109. From there I went to VU-4 and was there until GMU-53 was assign to NAS Chincoteague and I was selected to transfer to this new unit and I routed all the SECRET information to the officers stationed in the Quonset hut. The day we launched the first one the secretary of the Navy and other big wigs came out of Washington to view it. I was assign as a j-tow bottle chaser and I was about 5 miles down in the woods across the highway to spot where the bottles fell so the ordinance crew could retrieve them for the next launch I lived in G-50 B on the base after we were assign to GMU-53. We had a daughter born 01-10-54 while we were station there. I have visited one time many years ago and got to drive thru the tunnel across the Cheasapeake Bay rather than take the ferry like we had to do in the 50’s.

  18. Don Hill says:

    GMTU-3 Graduate of GMTU-U in 53 I think? I was 19 i think. Went to Chincoteague and GMTU-3 became GMU-3. Discharged 3 months before I turned 21 to go to school. I was with ZP-2 as a blimp catcher and VR-6 as an AT2 in 51 and 52. Went to 50th anniversary of Mugu in 200x? I never saw so much Brass. Admirals all over the place. Didn’t see anyone from school.

  19. Don Hill says:

    Had to settle argument between two old pharts about Dove missile sensors and control system.

  20. Ron Snow says:

    Aloha e
    I was one of those lucky ones stationed at GMU 10 Bonham Detachment from early 1962 to August 1964. What a great group of men and what a wonderful tour. Lots of successes and a few that were a little strange. Those of you that were there – remember we wired the bank control backward to make it easier for the GCL officer to control the missile coming in? Well, on one landing, the GCL officer did not believe us and refused to relinquish control of the bird to the chase plane until it was too late. We lost that one to the mountain between Kekaha and Mana. Greatest years of my life. I was fortunate to be able to return to Hawaii and taught at Kamehameha before retiring. There is a nice plaque and Regulus 1 at the submarine museum dedicated to us.

    1. Tony Deas says:


      TEU (Tom Umscheid) was running a search on Bondet and saw your note. I occasionally run into someone from there on the internet. My guess is that TEU got in touch. Endo is in San Diego but doesn’t do the internet thing, or at least didn’t last time I checked, and we haven’t written in a few years. He stopped by when I lived in VA long ago. He was working on a doctorate (double doctorate?) at MIT as I recall and came through with a woman (older, of course). Hope you are doing splendidly.

      Tony Deas

  21. Earl D. Burghart says:

    I served aboard the U.S.S. NEREUS AS-17 From late 1951 through April 1955. We stood by for the launching of the Regulus Missle from the submarine in 1953, but I don’t remember the name of the submarine, could very well of been the USSTunny. It was quite an event for a young farm boy from Chanute, Kansas.

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