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Port Visit of USS Greenfish (SS-351) to Århus, Denmark, 1971

The nuclear-capable submarine USS Greenfish (SS-351) visited Århus, Denmark, on July 22-26, 1971. The submarine operated as part of a so-called submarine hunter-killer group together with the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CVS-11), which visited Copenhagen at about the same time. The USS Greenfish's visit to Denmark occurred only three years after the crash of a U.S. nuclear-armed B-52 aircraft in Greenland, after which Danish governments have insisted -- even to this day -- that the United States knew of and abided by Denmark's ban on nuclear weapons on its territory. Yet U.S. Navy documents clearly show what many have expected but Danish governments have always rejected without investigating: the USS Greenfish on-loaded nuclear weapons prior to its port visit to Denmark.

USS Greenfish (SS-351) Underway

The nuclear-armed attack submarine USS Greenfish (SS-351) visited Århus, Denmark, in 1971 in violation of Danish policy against nuclear weapons on its territory.

The 1971 Deployment

USS Greenfish departed the submarine base at Groton on April 16 enroute Lisbon, Portugal. The submarine operated as part of Anti-Submarine Warfare Group Four, and while underway the submarine conducted Hunter-Killer-Group operations. After a brief visit to Lisbon, USS Greenfish took part in NATO exercise Rusty Razor in the Eastern Atlantic, after which it sailed to Plymouth in southern England.

After Portsmouth the USS Greenfish sailed south again and arrived in Rota, Spain, before transferring to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. In Rota the submarine moored alongside the submarine tender USS Holland (AS-32) for briefings, fuel and liberty. Also alongside the submarine tender were the two strategic submarines USS Andrew Jackson (SSBN-619) and USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617).


The nuclear-only Mk-45 ASTOR (Anti-Submarine Torpedo) onboard the USS Greenfish (SS-351) carried a W34 warhead with a yield of 10-15 kilotons. The weapon was wire-guided and had a range of 10-12 miles. These factors gave rise to the joke that ASTOR had a "kill probability" of two: its target and its launcher.

While moored alongside USS Holland, the USS Greenfish conducted a temporary service to one of its nuclear torpedoes. An entry in the submarine's deck log (see figure below) shows that one Mk-45 ASTOR (Anti-Submarine TORpedo) torpedo was offloaded at 8:30 on the morning of Saturday, May 29, 1971, presumably onto the USS Holland for repair. The offloaded torpedo had register number 145569. At 14:30 in the afternoon, shortly before USS Greenfish was scheduled to leave Rota, the same Mk-45 ASTOR torpedo (register number 145569) was brought back onboard the submarine. Thirty-three minutes later, the USS Greenfish departed Rota enroute, first, the Mediterranean Sea followed by operations in the North Atlantic and a port visit to Denmark.

The first part of the operations in the Mediterranean Sea involved maneuvers with Six Fleet Ready Forces, and, after a port visit to Naples in Italy, Operation Constellation 71. This was a major exercise that involved a major portion of the entire Sixth Fleet.

After a visit to France and Spain, USS Greenfish left the Mediterranean Sea and headed north into the North Atlantic and a port visit to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. This was supposed to have been the last visit before heading back to the United States, but the submarine that was scheduled to relieve USS Greenfish had been delayed. To fill the two-week extended cruise, a decision was made to transit on the surface from Rotterdam to Århus in Denmark, where USS Greenfish arrived on July 22. Also arriving in Denmark was the relieving submarine, the USS Sirago (SS-485), which conducted turnover while inport Århus.

USS Greenfish (SS-351) Loads Nuclear Weapons Prior to Denmark

On May 29, 1971, while inport Rota, Spain, the USS Greenfish (SS-351) offloaded an Mk-45 ASTOR nuclear torpedo and later brought the same ASTOR back onboard shortly before departing Rota for operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Northern Europe. Two months after ASTOR torpedo #145569 was brought onboard, USS Greenfish arrived in Århus, Denmark. (Click on the image to download full page from the submarine's deck log.)

USS Greenfish departed Århus on July 26 and sailed straight back to Groton, CT, where it arrived on August 5. A few weeks after the return to the United States, U.S. Navy inspectors arrive to begin training the crew for its upcoming periodic nuclear weapons certification inspection. During September and October, the ship underwent a Technical Standardization Inspection (TSI) and a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI). Both inspections "were completed in this small time frame with outstanding results and praise for the performance, attitude and moral of the crew." As a result, USS Greenfish's certification to carry nuclear ASTOR torpedoes was extended.

Return to Denmark in 1972

The USS Greenfish returned to Northern Europe and Denmark (as well as Norway) again in 1972. Both in 1972 and 1973, the submarine continued operating with the ASTOR nuclear torpedo and regularly trained for and passed the demanding nuclear certification inspections given to ships that were assigned nuclear weapons missions. Indeed, the USS Greenfish appears to have carried nuclear weapons all the way through to its last weapons offload prior to stand-down and decommissioning in December 1973.

Declassified details of USS Greenfish's nuclear operations during the 1971, 1972 and 1973 are listed in the table below:

USS Greenfish (SS-351)
Nuclear Operations During 1971-1973


Description & Remarks

02/27/71 Arrive in Groton, CT, following completion of shipyard period.
04/16/71 Departs Groton, CT, for extended deployment in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe as a unit of COMASWGRU FOUR.
04/29-05/02/71 Inport Lisbon, Portugal, followed by NATO exercise Rusty Razor.
05/12-14/71 Inport Plymouth, England, followed by joint operations with Portuguese and Spanish navies.
05/21-30/71 Inport Rota, Spain. Moored alongside USS Holland (AS-32). Also present is USS Andrew Jackson (SSBN-619) and USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617) [Deck Log]
Deck Log: (05/29) 8:30 Offloaded one MK 45 torpedo register number 145569. 14:00 On-loaded one MK 45 torpedo register number 145569. 14:33 Underway.
Departed 30 May IAW COMSUBLANT OPORD 11-71 for Northern Europe and port visit to Denmark.
06/07-11/71 Inport Naples, Italy, for “Constellation 71.”
06/19-24/71 Inport Nice, France, for sonar evaluation exercises.
06/30-07/07/71 Inport Palma, Spain.
07/12-19/71 Inport Rotterdam, Netherlands.
07/22-26/71 Port visit to Århus, Denmark, for turnover and relief. Also inport is USS Sirago (SS-485).
08/05/71 Returned to Groton, CT.
09/27-10/15/71 During this period the ship underwent a Technical Standardization Inspection (TSI) and a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI). The inspections "were completed in this small time frame with outstanding results and praise for the performance, attitude and moral of the crew."
11/22/71 Enters dry-dock ARD-7 in Groton, CT, presumably proceeded by a weapons offload. [Note: this dry dock events is not listed in the deck log.]
07/10/72 Departs Groton, CT, for Northern Europe cruise with NATO exercises IAW COMSUBLANT OPORD19-72.
07/25-31/72 Port visit to Århus, Denmark. Also present is USS McCloy (FF-1038).
08/18-21/72 Inport Trondheim, Norway.
10/19-30/72 Port visit to Kiel, West Germany. Also present is USS New (DD-818). [Deck Log]
11/10/72 Return to Groton, CT.
11/27/72 Inport Groton, CT, where a torpedo offload/onload took place.
Deck Log: Loaded and offload several conventional torpedoes and loaded one MK 45 MOD 0 torpedo register number 154866.
02/23/73 Inport NAD [NWS] Earle, NJ, for nuclear weapons exchange.
Deck Log: 11:30 Commenced loading and off-loading torpedoes. 13:00 Completed loading and off-loading torpedoes. Loaded 2 MK 45 MOD 2 torpedoes register numbers 158743 and 154832. Off-loaded 2 MK 45 MOD 2 torpedoes register numbers 154884 and 150807.
03/21/72 At NAD [NWS] Earle, NJ, for torpedo transfer.
Deck Log: 10:00 Commenced off loading torpedoes and loading torpedoes. 11:30 Completed transferring torpedoes. Torpedoes register No. 154770 and 145584 offloaded. Torpedoes register No. 150807 and 154844 onloaded.
02/23/73 In NAD [NWS] Earle, NJ.
07/11-13/73 Underwent a Technical Standardization Inspection (TSI).
Deck Log: (07/12) 8:30 Col. J.R. Smith, USA Field Command, Defense Nuclear Agency accompanied by members of his staff came aboard and commenced Technical Standardization Inspection. (07/13) 11:30 Off loaded 1 MK 45 MOD 2 torpedo register number 158745.  12:30 Col. J.R. Smith, USA, Field Command, Defense Nuclear Agency and his staff departed.
08/02-03/73 Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI).
08/10/73 Inport NAD [NWS] Earle, NJ, before stand-down and preparation for decommissioning.
Deck Log: 8:15 Commenced offloading torpedoes.  8:30 Completed offloading torpedoes. Offloaded two MK 45 MOD 2 torpedoes register no. 154832 and 158743.

(Use navigation bar to read other aspects of US-Danish nuclear relations.)

© Hans M. Kristensen/Federation of American Scientists | www.nukestrat.com | 2004-2007

download documents:

» Department of the Navy, USS Greenfish (SS-351) Command History 1971, n.d. [1972]. (0.15 MB).

» Department of the Navy, USS Greenfish (SS-351) Deck Log, excerpt only (May 29, 1971). (0.37 MB)

background reports:

» Hans M. Kristensen, et al., "U.S. Naval Nuclear Weapons in Sweden," Greenpeace, Neptune Papers No. 6, September 1990.
(3.4 MB)

» Hans M. Kristensen, "The Neither Confirm Nor Deny Policy," unpublished working paper, August 2004.
(0.4 MB)

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  © Hans M. Kristensen