Famous Nuclear Submarine That Starred In “Hunt For Red October” Has Been Retired

Talk about things that make you feel old, the storied Los Angeles class nuclear fast attack submarine USS Dallas (SSN-700) was decommissioned by the U.S. Navy on December 5th, 2017 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. “The Big D” as it was lovingly called was best known for its starring role in the 1990 blockbuster Hunt For Red October.

The movie and the Tom Clancy novel that it was adapted from were such a big deal that the ship’s unofficial motto has been “The Hunt Is On” ever since. Elaborate sets that articulated on dynamic platforms of the star submarines’ interiors were built for the movie, including one for Dallas. Other submarines were used for most of the exterior shots seen in the film, but it was Dallas that was being represented on the silver screen. 

The boat has also been featured in a number of other media releases, including other novels, video games, and various television shows, adding to its unique mystique and lore. 

Dallas was originally commissioned in July of 1981 and was just the 13th of 62 boats that make up the Los Angeles class. The submarine was somewhat unique at the time of her acceptance into the fleet as she was the first fast attack submarine to feature an all digital combat systems suite, making her a force to be reckoned with during the waning years of the Cold War. 

She was based her entire life on the east coast and executed 14 major deployments over her lifespan, traveling over a million miles in the process and visiting 30 countries. 

USS Dallas seen in 1982 not long after her commissioning., USN

In 1998, Dallas went through a complex overhaul and refueling process, where she received new upgrades. The sub and her crew would have a greater focus on special operations support during the second half of her service, as she was fitted with a modular Dry Dock Shelter behind her sail that housed Swimmer Delivery Vehicles and other gear used by Navy SEALs. Dallas was also used to haul around the Navy’s now retired Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle, which also featured in Hunt For Red October, during a number of high-profile drills and exercises. 


The famous submarine was supposed to be retired in 2014 but that date was extended three years to 2017 after a dry dock fire badly damaged the far younger USS Miami (SSN-755). In all, the submarine has served for over 36 years, with thousands of submariners having walked her halls, slept in her bunks, and manned her stations. 

December 5th, 2017 Decommissioning ceremony for the Big D., USN

The Dallas Maritime Museum Foundation wants to feature artifacts and components from the USS Dallas at a purpose-built facility located on the banks of the Trinity River in her namesake city. Originally it was hoped that the entire submarine could be displayed there, but the issues and cost surrounding denuclearizing it and removing its sensitive systems, not to mention a daunting proposed process of disassembling the 362 foot vessel, trucking it to Dallas and then reassembling it, are unlikely to be overcome. No other American nuclear submarine, aside from the first one ever, the USS Nautilus, serves as a museum attraction.

USS Dallas is slated to begin the recycling process in 2023. 

Majestic USS Dallas seen in dry dock in 2001. , USN

Author’s note: Readers were quick to give me a reminder that USS Nautilus now serves as a museum ship. Correction made, and thanks for notes!

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com