USS Buffalo (SSN-715)

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USS Buffalo (SSN-715)
Name: USS Buffalo
Namesake: Buffalo, New York
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding
Laid down: 25 January 1980
Launched: 8 May 1982
Sponsored by: Joanne Kemp
Acquired: 27 October 1983
Commissioned: 5 November 1983
Out of service: 30 September 2017
Homeport: Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington[1]
Nickname(s): Silent Thunder
Status: In Reserve (Stand Down)
Badge: USS Buffalo SSN-715 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Los Angeles-class submarine
Type: Nuclear attack submarine
Displacement: 5771 tons light, 6142 tons full, 371 tons dead
Length: 362 ft (110 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Propulsion: 1 GE 165 MW S6G PWR nuclear reactor[2], 2 turbines 35,000 hp (26 MW), 1 auxiliary motor 325 hp (242 kW), 1 shaft
  • Surfaced: 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)
  • Submerged: 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h) (official)[3]
Range: Unlimited
Endurance: 90 days
Test depth: 800 ft (240 m)
Complement: 12 officers, 98 men
Armament: 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

USS Buffalo (SSN-715) is a Los Angeles-class submarine, the second vessel that actively served the United States Navy to be named for Buffalo, New York (another USS Buffalo was named for the animal). The contract to build her was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia on 23 February 1976 and her keel was laid down on 25 January 1980. She was launched on 8 May 1982 sponsored by Mrs. Joanne Kemp[4], wife of former Buffalo Bills quarterback and New York's 31st congressional district representative Jack Kemp who was credited with winning approval to name the ship after the city in his district.[5]. Buffalo was commissioned on 5 November 1983, with Commander G. Michael Hewitt in command.[4]

Operational History[edit]


Upon commissioning, Buffalo was assigned to Submarine Squadron 8 in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1984, after a five month post-shakedown maintenance availability, Buffalo transited through the Panama Canal during a change of homeport to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where she was assigned to Submarine Squadron 1.[6]

Buffalo completed her first deployment to the Western Pacific in 1985, where she became the first nuclear-powered submarine to anchor off the coast of Pattaya Beach, Thailand. Buffalo's second Western Pacific deployment came in 1987, after which she was awarded her first Battle Effectiveness Award, which she proceeded to win for three consecutive years. She conducted another Western Pacific deployment from late 1988 to early 1989.[6]


Uss Buffalo departing Pearl Harbor
USS Buffalo departing Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for a Western Pacific Deployment in 1995.

After conducting Western and Eastern Pacific deployments in 1990, the next year Buffalo entered dry-dock in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and began a yearlong Depot Modernization Period during which she was temporarily assigned to Submarine Squadron 7. In the following years, Buffalo conducted numerous deployments to the Eastern and Western Pacific, earning a CNO Letter of Commendation for her 1997 deployment.[6]

Buffalo conducted the first-ever dual Selected Restricted Availability, sharing a dry-dock with the USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) in 1998, followed by an Eastern Pacific deployment that included special Joint Operations with the United States Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard, for which she was awarded the Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbon. In 1999, she conducted another Western Pacific deployment, earning the Battle "E" again, which occurred again in 2001.[6]


In 2002, Buffalo entered dry-dock in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and became the first[7] ship to undergo the multi-year nuclear refueling process in Hawaii.[6] In late November 2005, the DDS was used to launch an underwater glider capable of gathering and storing information to be later transmitted using a built-in satellite phone.[8]

Operations in Guam[edit]

Buffalo changed homeport again in 2007 to Naval Base Guam, where she operated out of Apra Harbor assigned to Submarine Squadron 15 as one of the Navy's most forward-deployed submarine assets.[9] While stationed in Guam, she conducted 11 missions vital to national security and visited Australia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Saipan, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. She won numerous awards including three Battle "E" awards[10][11], the prestigious Pacific Fleet Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy[12], and a Meritorious Unit Commendation.[11][12]


Return to Hawaii[edit]

USS Buffalo and USS Stethem depart Changi Naval Base for the at-sea. (28506939156)
USS Buffalo moored in Changi Naval Base, Singapore during her final deplyoment in 2016.

After five and a half years in Guam, Buffalo returned to Pearl Harbor in early 2013, rejoining Submarine Squadron 1.[12] After completing a 17-month Pre-Inactivation Restricted Availability[13], on 23 December 2016 Buffalo completed her final Western Pacific deployment prior to scheduled decommissioning,[14], for which she earned a Navy Unit Commendation.[citation needed] On 1 May 2017, Buffalo departed Pearl Harbor for the final time.[5]

Inactivation and Decommissioning[edit]

Per the Annual Report to Congress on Long-Range Planning for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY2013, Buffalo was originally scheduled for decommissioning in 2017.[15] On 26 May 2017, Buffalo arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Friday for inactivation and decommissioning. [1] Buffalo was officially stood down to reserve status, inactivated but in commission on 30 September 2017.[16] On 16 July 2018, Buffalo conducted her inactivation ceremony, the final public event prior to the ship's official decommissioning, which will occur within the access-controlled Puget Sound Naval Shipyard sometime in February 2019.[17][18]

Commanding Officers[edit]

  • George M. Hewitt (May 1982 - May 1984)[4][6]
  • Carl T. Berry (May 1984 - June 1987)[6]
  • Donald P. Miller (June 1987 - November 1989)[6]
  • Hugh D. Nelson (November 1989 - January 1993)[6]
  • Robert S. Brown (January 1993 - September 1994)[6]
  • John E. Cohoon, Jr. (September 1994 - December 1997)[6]
  • Robert M. Hennegan (December 1997 - May 2000)[6]
  • Ralph C. Ward (May 2000 - May 2002)[6]
  • Ronald M. Gero, Jr. (May 2002 - May 2005)[6][19]
  • Brian N. Humm (May 2005 - July 2007)[19][9]
  • Scott W. Pappano (July 2007 - August 2009)[9][10]
  • Christopher M. Henry (August 2009 - December 2009)[10][20]
  • Michael D. Lewis (December 2009 - April 2010)[20][11]
  • Richard E. Seif (April 2010 - February 2013)[11]
  • Brian L. Tothero (February 2013 - October 2015)[11][13]
  • Micah D. Maxwell (October 2015 - October 2017)[13][21]
  • Paul C. Lee (October 2017 - present)[21]


This article includes information collected from the public domain sources Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships and Naval Vessel Register.

  1. ^ a b "Submarine USS Buffalo arrives in Washington for decommissioning". 30 May 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
  2. ^ "Nuclear-Powered Ships". World Nuclear Association. July 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Navy Fact Sheet – Attack Submarines – SSN". United States Navy. Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2008. General Characteristics, Los Angeles class ... Speed: 20+ knots (23+ miles per hour, 36.8 +km/h) 
  4. ^ a b c Cressman, Robert J. (11 July 2016). "Buffalo III (SSN-715)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 2018-08-03. 
  5. ^ a b Stephen T. Watson (4 July 2018). "From 'Talking Proud' to the scrapyard: USS Buffalo ends its service". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Buffalo (SSN-715) III Command Operations Reports". Naval History and Heritage Command. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  7. ^ William Cole (14 December 2008). "Pearl Harbor ends era of submarine reactor projects". Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  8. ^ Rush, David (Winter 2006). "Submarine Makes First Launch of an Underwater Glider" (PDF). Undersea Warfare. Vol. 8 no. 2. 
  9. ^ a b c "Submarine USS Buffalo now calls Guam home". KUAM. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  10. ^ a b c MC3 Jacob Sippel (20 August 2008). "USS Buffalo holds change of command". Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  11. ^ a b c d e MC2 Steven Khor (2 February 2013). "USS Buffalo holds change of command". Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c MC1 Jeffrey Jay Price (14 January 2013). "USS Buffalo bids farewell to Guam". Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  13. ^ a b c MC1 Jason Swink (7 October 2015). "USS Buffalo changes of command". Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  14. ^ "US Navy attack submarine completes final deployment before its decommissioning". 25 December 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
  15. ^ "Annual Report to Congress on Long-Range Planning for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY2013" (PDF). Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. April 2012. 
  16. ^ "NVR USS BUFFALO (SSN 715)". 30 May 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  17. ^ "Attack submarine USS Buffalo inactivated after 35 years of service". 17 July 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
  18. ^ "USS Buffalo (SSN 715) Holds Inactivation Ceremony Celebrating 35 Years of Service" (Press release). United States Navy. 17 July 2018. NNS180717-06. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
  19. ^ a b JO2 Corwin Colbert (25 May 2005). "Gero Relinqishes Command of the Silent Thunder". Retrieved 15 August 2018. 
  20. ^ a b Santiago, Bernice (21 December 2009). "Buffalo CO Fired". Navy Times. 
  21. ^ a b MC1 Amanda Gray (10 October 2017). "USS Buffalo holds change of command". Retrieved 15 August 2018. 

External links[edit]