Saturday, November 12, 2005

Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines

Nick Spark, the director of "Regulus" and several other submarine historical movies, contacted me not too long ago and offered to send along a couple of the films from Periscope Film to watch and review. And just two days ago I received "Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines" and "The Nuclear Pioneers".

"Regulus" was outstanding. Two thumbs up, five stars, a great historical film. I'd read a little and heard a little of the Regulus program, but very little...mainly in reading about the post-Regulus exploits of a couple of the SSN's that had been outfitted to carry the missile (and later were converted for covert operations, the old Regulus hangars used to carry cable tapping gear). I toured the Growler, one of the Regulus diesal boats, now a museum in New York City. But I knew precious little about the program itself.

Turns out (and to you "old timers" who served on these boats, this is old news) that the Regulus missile was a nuke, and the Regulus boats were the great-grandaddies of the Trident SSBN's in service today. From the late '50's through the Cuban missile crisis, the Regulus SSG's and SSGN's were the Navy's nuclear deterrent (along with a handful of surface ships and carriers that handled the missile). Regulus itself was a follow-on to the German V-1 rockets that we captured at the close of WWII.

Regulus had a short life...the second Regulus missile never really made it into production. But it broke ground in submarines carrying missiles, and the boats shown in the film pioneered many of the ideas we now take for granted in the "boomer" and Tomahawk programs of the modern submarine force.

Spark's film was outstanding...highly recommended, excellently made, with extra footage and dozens of photos, interviews with Regulus test personnel and the submarine crews, and a lot of footage that has only recently been declassified. A rare look into the early days of missiles on subs.

(A note to the crew of Ultraquiet...I'd be more than happy to send along both movies for me for details.)


At 4:28 PM, Blogger Cdrjerry said...

I am wondering if anyone remembers the first sub-surface to surface attempt of firing a sidewinder missile submerged from the periscope shears of a fleet boat submarine in 1958. The mission was called Subwinder. I have a story to tell if anyone will listen!


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