Our History

Volador's History

USS Volador (SS-490), a Tench-class submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the volador. The contract to build her was awarded to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, and her keel was laid down on 15 June 1945, but work on her construction was discontinued in January 1946. Her unfinished hulk remained on the ways until August 1947 when construction resumed, now including GUPPY II enhancements to the basic Tench design. Volador was launched on 21 May 1948 sponsored by Mrs. Harriet Rose Morton (née Nelson) widow of Commander Dudley W. Morton, and commissioned on 1 October 1948, with Lieutenant Commander Howard A. Thompson in command.

We will continue to add information until we think we’ve told the complete story of the USS Volador and its crews. This site has a lot of information about the boat, its officers and crew, its deployments, and boat reunions. We welcome comments, suggestions, corrections, and photo submissions that will make this site even better.

West Coast

Volador completed her builder's trials on 20 January 1949, left Portsmouth three days later, and stopped at Newport, Rhode Island, and New London, Connecticut, before sailing for the Gulf of Mexico on 5 February. Volador arrived at New Orleans, Louisiana, on 11 February and proceeded to the West Coast, via Galveston, Texas, and the Panama Canal, and arrived at San Diego, California, on 11 March. The submarine conducted local operations along the California coast between San Diego, California, and San Francisco, California, until she departed San Diego on 13 October, bound for Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 7 November but returned to San Diego on 18 November and spent the remainder of 1949 as well as most of the following year on the West Coast, conducting various training exercises. During that period, she also visited Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, Washington, and Pearl Harbor. In June 1950, Volador embarked reserves at Treasure Island, California, and proceeded on a two-week reserve cruise to Hawaii. En route, the Korean War broke out, and the submarine spent two months training in Hawaiian waters before returning to San Diego for operations on the West Coast that lasted into the summer of 1951.

Korean War

The submarine departed San Diego, California, on 21 July, bound, via Pearl Harbor, for Japan and arrived at Yokosuka on 15 August 1951. On 18 August, Volador got underway from Yokosuka for a period of special operations. Her orders directed the submarine to conduct an undetected reconnaissance patrol in the area of Hokkaidō, Japan, for a four-week period, in order to keep Commander, Naval Forces Far East, informed of any Soviet or People's Republic of China's seaborne and airborne activity in that area. Throughout her patrol, the submarine identified and photographed numerous radar contacts and made rendezvous with submarines Ronquil and Tiru to exchange patrol reports and other valuable information. On 16 September, Volador held ceremonies commemorating her 1000th dive. After a 24-hour engineering run in Tsugaru Strait, she ended her patrol and arrived in Yokosuka on 22 September. From 11 to 15 November, Volador conducted ASW operations with destroyers Hanson, George K. MacKenzie, and Taussig in the Atami area. From 16 November to 9 December, Volador participated in hunter/killer operations en route to Okinawa from Japan in company with Task Group (TG) 96.7. The submarine visited Buckner Bay, Okinawa, before heading home via Pearl Harbor.

Volador returned to San Diego, California, in January 1952 and conducted local operations until early summer. She then spent three months in the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Puget Sound area before entering the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in October. During the five-month overhaul which followed, a new battery and an Askania automatic depth control system were installed. Upon her return to San Diego, Volador provided services to ASW surface units, aircraft, and the Fleet Sonar School and participated in type training, Exercise "Pacphibex", and hunter/killer exercises. She departed San Diego on 7 August 1953 and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 15 August, received briefings by members of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and the Commander, Submarines, Pacific staffs on 17 and 18 August and tested experimental sonar equipment at sea on 20 August.

Key Dates

Builder: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine

Laid down: 15 June 1945

Launched: 21 May 1948

Commissioned: 1 October 1948

Decommissioned: 18 August 1972

Stricken: 5 December 1977

Fate: Transferred to Italy, 18 August 1972; Sold to Italy 5 December 1977