Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Georgi Washingtonski Submarines

This is the first American ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the USS George Washington. She was commissioned in 1959 and test-fired a series of Polaris IRBMs in 1960. She then loaded out a full compliment of 16 missiles and began her patrols.

This is a Soviet Yankee-class SSBN. They carried sixteen missiles and went into service in 1968.

You might have noticed that the two submarines look almost identical.

This is no shit:

There is a reason why the two submarines look very much alike. In 1963, Revell Models produced a model of the USS George Washington class submarine. This is a reissue of those models.
As you can see, the models were cutaway and detailed on the interior. The original models had either a swing-away solid side or a clear plastic side.

Five years is about right to design, build and commission a submarine.

As the story goes, when the Revell model was first sent to the stores, the Soviet embassy in Washington sent their people out to buy every one they could find. The models were sent by diplomatic courier back to Moscow.

The Navy was not at all amused. An investigation was started to determine who had sold the plans for the George Washington class to Revell. That person was very quietly arrested, quietly tried, and sent to prison for a very long time.

I never heard the name of the man who supposedly sold the plans to Revell. Rumor had it that it was a fairly senior officer close to retirement, but that might have been an exagerration. When I heard the story, more than 20 years later, I was firmly assured that the man who sold the plans was still in prison and that the only way he was ever going to leave prison was in a wooden box.

Now maybe this is all just a sea-story. The individual who told it to me was rather intoxicated at the time. I wasn't exactly sober when I heard it. It could all be just an alcohol-inspired story dreamed up by two drunken naval officers in a bar at a BOQ or an O-Club. You won't find any mention of this in Wickipedia, Wickileaks or the Google (until now). It's a completely unsubstantiated story with no facts to back it up.

It could be true. It could just be a story. I make no claim either way.


Jimh. said...

So, what of Mr. Walker? The infamous seller of secrets of the US Navy? Scorpion Down(the book) seems to indicate he was behind, directly or indirectly, the Pueblo incident, and (says the book)that likely caused the Scorpion incident. (The Soviets took the code machines from the N. Koreans and decoded the Scorpion's plans for crossing the Atlantic...)

What do you feel is the story? Some think Scorpion was a casualty of Soviet vengeance over the Golf Clss tht "WE" sank north of Hawaii...Interesting story, I am not certain though.

Given your history, I am very interested in your opinion!

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

The best guess that I have heard was that the Scorpion was heading home at the end of a deployment at high speed and, to get a little more speed, was running at a slight negative trim. A casualty in the control system drove the boat below crush depth very quickly.

Someone who was in a position to know told me that there was no credible evidence that there was any Soviet involvement in the sinking of the Scorpion.

PhysioProf said...

Sounds like an urban legend to me. If you were going to go to the trouble of stealing the plans for a nuclear sub, would you really sell them to a fucking plastic model company!? And would a plastic model company really buy plans to a nuclear sub from some lone dude without first checking things out a little bit? It just makes no sense.

Anyhoo, I'm sure the Soviets had enough reconnaisance photos to arrive at a pretty similar hull design. BTW, have you seen this?

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

PP, I'm not saying that it is not a naval urban legend.

I'm not saying that it is, either.

Anonymous said...

It actually sounds plausible to me. You know how the navy is about information. I had some great convos with my nuke MM* friend after high school and can only recall him declining to tell me something twice. Some Pentagon dude counting his pension probably thought nothing of selling a copy of prints with certain detail redacted.

* I was a sea pup, then thanks to asthma a sea pup officer, ~10 years altogether. You can only imagine what happens when you put a 13yo kid on a destroyer for two weeks. And the officers wondered why Ens. Doom (USNSCC) wasn't a by the books guy.