USS Razorback (SS-394)
USS Razorback, a Balao-class submarine of the Sandlance variant, was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
Her keel was laid on 09 September 1943. Razorback was constructed in Drydock #1 at the shipyard, and she was launched, along with two sister ships USS Redfish (SS-395) and USS Ronquil (SS-396), on 27 January 1944. USS Scabbardfish (SS-397) was also launched at the shipyard that day. This was the largest single-day launch of submarines in US history.
She was commissioned on 03 April 1944. Her first Commanding Officer was LCDR Albert W. Bontier, USN.
During her training period, Razorback ran aground in the late evening of 23 May 1944 at Race Rock Light outside New London submarine base. Initial attempts to free her failed, and ultimately Razorback would be forced to unload gun ammunition and torpedoes from the forward torpedo room. Following a short drydocking period (27 May - 04 June), Razorback resumed her training regimen. CDR Roy S. Benson relieved LCDR Bontier as Commanding Officer on 05 June 1944. (LCDR Bontier would go on to commmand USS Seawolf (SS-197), which was probably sunk by U.S. forces on 03 October 1944.)
World War II Service
Razorback conducted five combat patrols during World War II, sinking Japanese vessels, capturing Japanese POWs and rescuing American pilots who had been shot down. At the end of WWII, she was one of only 12 submarines selected to be present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender was signed.
Post War Service
After WWII, Razorback was active in the Cold War, conducting surveillance patrols around Russian ports, photographing Russian vessels, and conducting training missions with US ships and aircraft, as well as with US Coast Guard vessels and the vessels of the Canadian, British, and other allied nations.
She received the coveted Navy "E" for overall excellence in 1949.
Razorback was decommissioned on 05 August 1952 in order to undergo conversion and modernization under the (Greater Underwater Propulsive Power) "GUPPY" program.
Read a copy of Razorback's Recommissioning Program Here (3.5MB Adobe PDF Document)
Cold War Activities and Training
Recommissioned on 08 January 1954, Razorback resumed her Cold War duties. During 1955 alone, she made over 390 dives during exercises and ASW training. In 1957 she made a surveillance patrol around the Russian port of Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia's primary submarine port in the Pacific.
She also participated in testing of the Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) in 1957. ASROC was designed to give surface ships a long-range ASW capability.
Razorback was awarded a second Battle "E" on 11 August 1959.
In 1960, Razorback continued her R&D work with both the Naval Electronics Library and the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory.
From November 1961 to February 1962, Razorback was drydocked in San Francisco for additional modifications, including the replacement of her "step-sail" (installed as part of the GUPPY program) with a larger "North Atlantic" sail (the same sail she still has today).
On 04 December, 1961, a Ship's Party was held. The emcee was Ed Hennessey, who emceed the 1961 "Miss Universe" pagent.
Click here to see a copy of the program from the party, including a complete crew list. (54KB Adobe PDF file)
On Christmas Day, 1961, Razorback, then under the command of LCDR Schoenherr, hosted a Christmas Party for "Submarine Group San Francisco". Unfortunately, the program does not list any of the participants, but it does list some of the crew and a menu. Click here to see a copy of the program from the party.
On 11 May 1962, Razorback participated in the "SWORDFISH" nuclear weapons test. An ASROC with a nuclear depth charge warhead was fired by the destroyer Agerholmn (DD-826) at a target raft from a range of 2 nautical miles. Razorback was submerged at periscope depth 2 nautical miles from the target raft. The ASROC weapon produced a powerful underwater shock wave which visibly shook Razorback and her crew. The resulting data was used to formulate tactical doctrine for ASROC, a weapon that remained in front-line service for nearly 30 years.
Training for Vietnam
Following the "SWORDFISH" test, Razorback resumed her normal duties. She conducted ASW training with many different vessels and aircraft. In 1962, Razorback traveled to Seattle, Washington where she participated in the annual "Sea Fair". She hosted an estimated 5,000 visitors during her stay.
In 1963, she rescued Vice Admiral Gerald F. Bogan, USN (ret) and six other men after Admiral Bogan's yacht, Freedom II sank in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and San Diego. In 1967, Razorback rescued two US Navy crew members from a downed S-2E aircraft. Two Razorback crewmen received citations from the Secretary of the Navy for aiding in the rescue and treatment of the airmen.
On 29 June 1965, Razorback deployed to the western Pacific for seven months, receiving the Vietnam Service Medal and visiting many ports of call before returning to the United States in early 1966.
In May 1967, Razorback recorded her 6,000th dive.
On 02 July 1969, Razorback won the Navy "E" for a third time.
During this period Razorback was also participating in the Vietnam War. She received the Vietnam Service medal four times and the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation twice. She received five battle stars for her Vietnam-era patrols. Many of the details of her Vietnam-era service remain classified.
Read the Conning Tower Emegency Bills Here
Decommissioning and Transfer to the Turkish Navy
On 30 November 1970, USS Razorback was decommissioned and transferred to the Turkish Navy.
Click here to read the Decomissioning Booklet (688KB Adobe PDF File)
She was recommissioned as TCG Muratreis (S 336) on 17 December 1971. Muratreis served in the 1st Submarine Squadron, based in Karadeniz Eregil on the Black Sea. On 13 August 1993, she was transferred to the 2nd Submarine Squadron, sailing out of Gölcük and Karadeniz Eregil.
During her service with the Turkish Navy, Muratreis served as a front-line, combatant submarine, making at least 14 patrol rotations and 7 long-range deployments. She also participated in the NATO-sponsored exercise LINKED SEA-95, conducted in the Atlantic in June 1995.
TCG Muratreis was decomissioned on 08 August, 2001.
On 25 March 2004, the Turkish Navy officially transferred Muratreis to the "USS Razorback / TCG Muratreis Association", which is now the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum Foundation.
Click here to see the transfer booklet. (10MB Adobe PDF File)