USS Tunny: A History, Tribute, and Memoir

This massive book is obviously a labor of love on the part of the author. Much of it is formatted like a scrapbook, covering almost thirty years of naval history. The book covers:

  • Tunny’s operations in World War II, where the boat was honored by earning two Presidential Unit Citations, making it one of the most decorated submarines of that war. Two of the Commanding Officers of Tunny during this period received the Navy Cross.
  • The operations of the boat after it was converted to a Regulus-missile carrying boat and designated an “SSG,” indicating that it was carrying guided missiles. These Regulus missiles were fitted with nuclear warheads. Along with several other similarly-configured submarines, Tunny made a number of deterrent patrols in the Northeast Pacific. Those who served on Tunny and her sister SSG’s and SSGN during those operations are eligible to wear the Deterrent Patrol insignia, as are those who made patrols on SSBN’s. These are the patrols which the author participated in as the ship’s yeoman.
  • Tunny’s operations as an APSS (Amphibious Platform Submarine), later changed to LPSS (Landing Platform Submarine). These mostly involved working with UDT or SEAL teams close inshore in both South Vietnam and North Vietnam. The submarine was awarded with a Meritorious Unit Commendation and the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (unit award). Both commanding officers of Tunny during that time received Bronze Stars with a Combat ‘V.’
  • The final disposition of Tunny and some sidelights on her legacy, as well as short biographies of the Commanding officers, Executive officers, and Chiefs of the Boat on Tunny.

This book has a unique way of explaining the history of the boat, with anecdotes or sidebar information that give insights into the actions and personalities of many of those who served on Tunny when it was an SSG and an APSS. By the time Ray started on the book most of the World War II crew had, as submariners say, gone on their “Eternal Patrol,” so the World War II portion of the book is less able to offer particular insights that reveal the “personality” of the crew. Where possible, Ray has inserted details on many of the officers and enlisted, including anecdotes regarding some specific situations. Some of these involve pranks or unusual actions on the part of the crew.

As a former yeoman, the author was able to access the personnel records of the Tunny throughout its career, and to identify which patrols the various crewmembers participated in. He was also able to include information on every one of the hundreds of submariners who served on Tunny throughout its distinguished career.

The book is a bit overwhelming in its size but is well worth taking the time to go through. It’s almost 700 pages long, and the page size is almost twice the size of a typical hardcover book, making this the equivalent of over a thousand “normal” pages. The author was able to include photos and images of various memorabilia, which helps to break up the text and make it more readable.

The main value of the book is to bring a realistic view of what was entailed in the missile patrols and, later, the UDT/SEAL operations. To my knowledge, no other book offers these insights. It’s one thing to make a long patrol on an SSBN, but something else altogether doing it on a diesel boat that must regularly snorkel or surface, and, in the case of the SSG, operating in one of the most difficult weather areas in the world’s oceans.

So far as the discussion of the APSS/LPSS era goes, I should mention that I served on Tunny from January 1967 to November 1968, as Weapons Officer and as Engineering Officer on her, and can testify that the author portrayed our operations quite accurately.

The primary readers of this will be those who actually served on Tunny, which is what I believe the author intended. I think it will also be a valuable resource for those who want some unusual insights into diesel submarine operations.


USS Tunny: The U.S. Navy’s First Guided Missile Submarine: A History, Tribute, and Memoir
By Raymond Vance Olszewski, USS Tunny (SSG 282) Crewmember 1958-1962, self-published, (2019).

Reviewed by Capt. Gerry A. Young, USNR (Ret.). Captain Young is the author of the novel: Deep Secrets, a Cold War Thriller combining some submarine topics and Soviet spies available online from Amazon as an ebook or in print version. Commissioned into the Navy through the Oregon State NROTC program, Young spent five years of active duty on submarines and then joined the Navy Reserve to eventually command two reserve units. As a civilian, he worked mainly in the financial and corporate planning areas, primarily in telecommunication companies.

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6 Comments

  1. Stephen White

    Reply

    Raymond,

    I won a copy of your book at the Charleston reunion last year. Glad to get it, but knowing little about it, it remained on my desk until yesterday, still in it’s blue wrapping.
    I finally took the time to open and study it a bit. I was totally amazed. I don’t think I have ever seen a book so thoroughly researched and well put together as yours. The quality and format are both superb and without equal.

    After more study, it will go in my library alongside other autographed publications I have, including from Dick O’Kane, Isaac Asimov, Joe Foss, Tom Clancy, Ignatius Galantin, Paul Tibbets, Dan Gallery, and some others. You probably know who all these fellows are. If not, let me know and I will share. In any case, your book will be in great company.

    Again, my sincere congratulations for a job very well done.

    Steve White
    Former MMC(SS)
    SSN-682 plankowner
    7 February 2020

  2. Reply

    Thank you Chief for your comments which are most appreciative. Fact that you being a Tunny nuke (SSN 682) made them is even more appreciative and shows genuine interest in your boat’s namesake of the old gal. Best, Ray Olszewski, Former Boat Yeoman, SSG 282.

  3. Ray Seva

    Reply

    Mr. Olszewski–
    My father (Ramon D. Seva) was the last Chief of the Boat (“COB”) on the Tunny…when it was decommissioned in 1969. It had been based in San Diego until being transferred to Subic Bay in 1966–to the relief of my dad and mom, because this meant no more 9-12 month WESTPAC absences! It also meant they would be able to regularly visit their families (they were both born & raised in the Philippines).

    I’ll always remember the big “Bubble” directly behind the conning tower (I think they still called it this back then; I realize now it’s called the “Sail.” Every time my dad would bring me and my brother aboard for a visit, the CO would always see to it that we got ice cream Sundaes. As old and cramped as it was, my dad was actually kinda sad to see it go. He had some fond memories of serving aboard the Tunny–it was his third WWII-era diesel electric “boat.” And my brother and I had a blast living on the Subic Bay Naval Base from 1966-69. My passed away in 1994–but remained close to several shipmates up until his death.

    Ray Seva
    ray.seva@yahoo.com

  4. Reply

    Thank you Ray (good name) for sharing your memories about your father, Chief Ramon Seva. I understand his “love” for that “old boat” and I too share his sentiments. Thank you and your two sisters for purchasing two copies of the TUNNY book. I hope your family liked the tribute I gave to your father. Serving as the Chief of the Boat was very important and challenging in view of the hazardous demands of taking care of that old gal and the wonderful crew that served in her. Stay well, and again, the very best to your family. Ray Olszewski

  5. William Foley

    Reply

    Dear Ray,
    As you know, I served on TUNNY during it’s early stages of as a missile launch platform in the period from early 1954 to mid 1955, first under Capt. Osborn and then under Capt. Dedrick. As is typical of submarine duty, I wore multiple hats, but the most interesting was that of Missile Guidance Officer. I found your book to be a monumental accomplishment. It is a history book, an encyclopedia and a reference manual all in one. Think of a question about the boat and/or it’s crew and you will most likely find the answer in USS TUNNY. I tested it with many questions and each time the answer was there. I was compelled to keep reading til I got to the end. Congratulations on writing this very significant work! LT William Foley, USNR (Ret.)

  6. Reply

    Bill: Thank you so much for your service on the Tunny. There are not many around today who served during that time and who worked to integrate the Regulus Guided Missile into the Tunny. It was those like yourself who worked to make Tunny the Navy’s first operational guided missile submarine, which made our Nation stronger. Although some call my book a scrapbook, but you nailed it calling the only book written about the old gal, a history book, encyclopedia, and a reference manual. Thank you for your great comments.

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