The USS PUFFER (SSN652) celebrated two years of commissioned service in August of this year (1971). These first years of service have proved PUFFER to be a worthy member of the U.S. Submarine Force.
PUFFER's life as a ship began on March 30, 1968 when Commander John M. WILL, Jr., and his pre-commissioning crew rode her down the ways at Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi. During the next year and a half PUFFER was certified to operate her nuclear power plant and underwent extensive dock and sea trials. Following successful completion of sea trials she was commissioned on August 9, 1969. Two days later she departed for duty in the Pacific Ocean. PUFFER was subjected to rigorous acoustic trials while enroute which showed her to be one of the Navy's quietest ships. An "Aloha" welcome of flowers, hula girls and music greeted PUFFER on her Hawaiian arrival on October 15, 1969 - PUFFER had arrived at her Pacific home. Once in Hawaiian waters, PUFFER's crew took her to sea extensively to train and prove her capable of performing her many varied tasks. In December 1969,. PUFFER returned to the mainland for a Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California.
In March 1970 PSA was completed and PUFFER returned to sea. Enroute back to Hawaii, PUFFER conducted weapons systems tests near Seattle, Washington, and was again subjected to acoustic trials. She again arrived in Pearl Harbor on May third. Following several months of local operations and upkeep PUFFER deployed in October for a two month submerged training cruise. Her return to Pearl Harbor in December marked the start of a leave and liberty period for her crew which lasted until early January 1971.
After an upkeep and training period during the first quarter of 1971, PUFFER deployed on March 17 for an extended period in the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) as a member of the Seventh Fleet. She operated hard in WESTPAC and visited many varied places including: Adak, Alaska; Guam; Yokosuka, Japan; Pusan, Korea; Buckner Bay, Okinawa; Subic Bay, Philippines; and Hong Kong. PUFFER returned to Hawaii in late September 1971 and tied up for a well deserved crew's rest.