U.S. Navy Typhon Warships


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Having been home ported at Port Hueneme, California since 30 November 1948, Norton Sound stood out to sea in June of 1962 bound for Norfolk, Virginia and ultimately to Baltimore, Maryland. She arrived at Norfolk, Virginia and was decommissioned on 10 August 1962, and was later towed to Baltimore to enter the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. shipyard for installation of major portions of the prototype TYPHON Weapons System, which consisted of the AN/SPG-59 Radar and its associated control system. TYPHON was a radical step in the evolution of naval surface weapons systems, being the first system capable of simultaneously taking multiple targets under fire and tracking many more.

Unfortunately, the electronic state of the art at that time was not capable of providing the necessary components in the size required to build a system deployable in a destroyer. The TYPHON Programs was cancelled on 7 January 1964 by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Therefore, it was decided that the installation in Norton Sound would be used to gather data which would help advance the state of the art, and prepare the way for development of a serviceable small ship system at a later date.

Completing the conversion, USS Norton Sound (AVM-1) was re-commissioned on 20 June 1964, and home ported in Baltimore to conduct tests of the system in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Her home port was again changed to Port Hueneme, California, she arrived there on 7 July 1965. Testing of the TYPHON System was continued out of Port Hueneme for a time and then most of the system was removed, including the 190 ton Radar tower, at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, with work being completed on 30 September 1966. Although TYPHON did not survive to serve in the fleet, many of the lessons learned were applied to the development of the AEGIS Weapon System, when the Norton Sound became the test bed for the AEGIS project.

Chronology of USS Norton Sound (AVM-1), 1941-1986
Named for the largest Alaskan Sound; she was the Navy's first guided missile test ship; home port, Port Hueneme, CA
Keel laid in San Pedro Shipyard.
Ship outfitted by Todd Shipyards Corp. Launched and christened 28 November.
Commissioned 8 January. CDR Ben S. Custer, USN, in command. Norton Sound (AV-11) was the first seaplane tender and the largest ship ever built in Los Angeles Harbor area. Her armament, including four 5-inch guns and twenty 40-millimeter antiaircraft guns, was put to the test during her first six months when she found herself participating in the closing campaigns of World War II with the Pacific Fleet.
1946 -1949:
This period included a brief repair period followed by modification at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to become a guided missile test ship. She then returned to the Pacific to again tend seaplanes.
AEROBEE - Installation of launching equipment; two successful launches to obtain data on cosmic radiation.
SKYHOOK - Seventeen SKYHOOK balloons carrying over 100 pounds of instrumentation were tracked by the ship's radar while collecting data concerning cosmic radiation. 1950:
Fitted with launch and control equipment designed for the five-ton VIKING research rocket, to carry cosmic radiation instruments.
In the fall, new equipment was installed for operations with TERRIER missiles.
Reclassified as a guided missile ship (AVM-1). Research, development, and evaluation launchings of TERRIER missiles continued through 1955.
Operation RIFF-RAFF demonstrated the first launch and control of two Regulus guided missiles.
Helicopter landing deck removed. Helicopters continued landing on her large afterdeck.
Surface-to-Surface target boats used in conjunction with ongoing TARTAR and TERRIER missile experiments. Test launchings continued through 1969.
Terrier Operational Proof High Altitude Target (TOP HAT) operations determined the feasibility of using TERRIER missiles as high performance realistic targets for advanced missiles.
Decommissioned and prepared for the installation of the TYPHON Weapon Control System. This weapon system was being developed to defend carrier task forces against Soviet strike aircraft and their antiship missiles. Its capabilities surpassed the existing 3-T's (TERRIER, TALOS, TARTAR) missile systems. In the following two-year period, another deck level was added for TYPHON's phased array-type radar.
Recommissioned, now more than a launching platform for missiles, she was equipped for searching, tracking and controlling the attack of the new TYPHON all the way to interception. This program lasted through 1965.
Fired the first successful SEA SPARROW missile, to provide short range or "point" defense for U.S. warships.
Mark 45, a new lightweight 5"/54 gun, installed for testing. This was the first new major gun system produced by the United States during the last two decades.
Centralized Automatic Testing Systems (CATS) installed to assess the performance of electronic systems.
Other short-term missile firings also took place, to test the feasibility of achieving rocket accuracy through different launch techniques.
Testing of Mark 86 Gun Fire Control System.
Made first deployment in many years. Temporairly based in and out of American Samoa (Pango Pango). Also visited Pearl Harbor Hawaii, several times during the deployment. This trip is believed to be the only time the Norton Sound ever crossed the equator and she made it across twice during the deployment.
1972 -1973:
Installation of engineering development model (EDM-1) of the AEGIS Weapon System takes place.
System integration testing commenced. A stringent missile firing program continued. Navy personnel were trained to operate and maintain the system.
Preparation for the first all-Navy Preliminary Evaluation (NPE) continued through the beginning of 1975.
AEGIS, entirely Navy-operated, engaged and shot down three missiles, including a low-altitude supersonic TALOS Missile configured for target drone use.
CDR D.B. Dickmann relived CDR J.R. Poole as Commanding Officer.
AEGIS in AVM-1 participated actively in the five-nation fleet exercise, "VALIANT HERITAGE."
ADM M. Weismer (CINCPACFLT) visited for AEGIS briefings.
Tests demonstrated AEGIS could fire both SM-1 and SM-2 missiles.
AEGIS scored a direct hit on a SEPTAR configured boat in its first surface-to-surface firing.
AEGIS fired its first SM-2 and scored a direct hit on a BOM-34A target drone.
Ship and system testing continued.
CDR T.J. Loftus relieved CDR B.D. Dickmann as Commanding Officer.
"SUPER SUNDAY" – Mark 26 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) Sustained Firing Test conducted. These tests demonstrated the capability of the launching system to support rapid missile firings on a sustained basis.
Preparation made for AEGIS/SM-2 engagements of High Altitude Supersonic Targets (HAST).
Two separate HAST engagements were successfully completed, demonstrating antiship missile attack capability.
First foreign port of call with AEGIS aboard; the ship paid a good-will visit to the Canadian Naval base at Victoria.
Major overhaul, including modification for Vertical Launching System installation, took place.
Norton Sound returned to sea and resumed testing program. Sustained Firing Tests using the GMLS Mark 26 demonstrated the firing of 12 modified improved TARTAR warhead missiles.
"CENTURION" was painted on the launcher arm to signify the successful completion of more than 100 missile firings.
BUZZARDEX- a new fleet record was set for a successful defense against TALOS missile (BUZZARD) targets.
"TRIUMPHANT THURSDAY" became the day two standard missiles were fired in rapid succession from the Vertical Launching System, scoring two direct hits on two separate BOM-34A drone target aircraft.
Norton Sound celebrated her 40th year of service to the Navy.
Decommissioned 16 December. Future testing to take place aboard AEGIS cruisers.
Disposed of by Maritime Administration (MARAD).


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Typhon spurred a number of ship projects (cruisers, destroyers) built around it, in the same vein of what did the AEGIS/Standrd later.
Skybolt said:
Typhon spurred a number of ship projects (cruisers, destroyers) built around it, in the same vein of what did the AEGIS/Standrd later.

From what I recall the Typhon radar was so power hungry that it almost demanded nuclear power too which drove the cost up. IIRC there is an article in the "Encyclopedia of Weapons and Warfare" that describes what they projected Typhon LR and MR equipped ship sizes might be. With Aegis they pretty much just grabbe the Spruance hull and threw the system on it. IMO they should have used the nuclear powered Virginia class hull as the basis but it was too expensive.
Friedman (US Destroyers, A design evolution" has a number of Typhon ship projects. I'll post them tomorrow. Not all were nuclear.
From Norman Friedman's US Cruisers (Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-718-6)

1. Long Range Typhoon (Super Talos) /Medium Range Typhoon (Super Tartar) missile cruiser. Conventional propulsion. Dimensions: 635x64x28 feet. Electronics: SPS-32/33 and SPG-59. 1958

2. Super Tartar Missile Frigate. 1958. Conventional propulsion. Dimensions: 535x53x25.5 feet. Electronics: it was hoped to use an advanced dish guidance radar rather than the big Luneberg Lens of the SPG-59.


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Ponme' you're faster than me... but the Typhon stoy didn't end there... 8)
Typhon ships evolution was paradoxical. Since Typhon radar was an energy hog, a large ship (a cruiser) had the required power even in a non-nuclear powerplant (see the cruiser schemes above). In smaller ships DDG and DLG (destroyers and frigates), it was much more difficult. The Navy tried to skecth DDGs with Typhon but they had to use only the medium-range version and a conventional (mechanical scan) radar. This was unaccpatable, and so the projected DDg went up in scale till reaching the DLG size (more or less 8000 tons). Even at thi scale, the ship would have had the smaller 3400 element radar, operate it for the 10 per cent of the time (so the ship needed a separate conventional air search radar for the remaining 90 per cent). This conventional powered ship would have had a long range and a medium-range Typhon launcher. Then in march 196i the Navy decided to go nuclear, discarding the DDg and going for a cruiser and a DLGN. There was a last try at conventional, with a CONAG powerplant (30.000 hp gas turbines), but the cost was higher than a a pure nuclear (CONAG was tryed because the available DLGN-size reactor weren't able to propel the ship at the desired 30 Knots). After a lot more of wringlings, the NAvy settled for the design showed, a pure nuclear DLGN with a longer hull (600 ft) thah permitted the 30 knots at lower power. This was 1962. Next year Typhon was cancelled. Source Friedman, US destryers design history.


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Anybody have information on the radar itself? I seem to recall reading that it didn't operate like a normal radar. (Not like a normal phased array either).
The main radar of the abortive Typhon system, employing a Luneberg lens for electronic beam-steering. Primary requirements included large bandwidth and frequency independence in steering the beam, to avoid several types of countermeasure. The cylindrical Luneberg lens focussed a beam projected onto it from any point on its surface. In the complete system, a lens deep in the ship was used, in effect, as a computer to generate signals with the appropriate phase relationships, for transmission from a sphere atop the cylindrical housing of the radar. It proved necessary to amplify these signals to overcome losses, and 356 travelling-wave tube amplifiers (TWTs), originally not part of the design, had to be interposed between the lens and the radiating sphere. Three more spheres were used for reception.

One problem in system design was that the spheres had a very small effective radiating aperture, less than 4ft, which had to be balanced by high radiated power. Altogether, 1800 medium-power amplifiers and associated waveguides were required for the 'small ship' system, with proportionately more for the 10,000-element 'large ship' system. It was tested aboard Norton Sound after the cancellation of the system proper. As installed aboard the test ship, it had a maximum peak power of 8.7 MW (pulselengths of 2 microseconds for search, 0.1 microsecond for tracking, with jittered PRFs of, respectively, 200,000 and 400,000 on average burst) in C-band. Average power was 200MW, and pulse doppler operation provided high velocity resolution (100 fs in search, 9 fs in track). Range resolution was 20ft in search and 2ft in track, and acquisition range was stated as 165nm on a 1m2 target. In principle the system could handle up to ten targets at a 0.1-second data rate for high-precision (3.5-mil) tracking, and could control up to 30 defensive missiles at the same time. At a lower data rate (4 seconds) it could maintain track on up to 120 targets (TWS).

SPG-59 was designated to carry out a high-power hemispherical search, with acquisition on 1m2 targets (with a 6-14 second data rate, and a detection probability of 0.5) at 165nm (horizon to 5.1°), 155nm (to 8.5°) or 105nm (to 80°) and a low-power horizon search (37nm on a 0.5m2 target with a detection probability of 0.9 at a 1-second data rate). Like the current Aegis, Typhon envisaged command control of defensive missiles.
Artist's impression of the abortive Typhon nuclear frigate, drawn in 1961, shows the Terrier-sized long-range ramjet and the Tartar-sized medium range rocket missile. The conical structure is the SPG-59 radar, with its transmitter at the top and three receivers at its base; a conventional two-dimensional air-search radar was to have been mounted atop the mast. Both it and a shorter radio mast display the conical wire antennas that were then being introduced for broadband operation so as not to have excessive multiplication of antennas.

Source: US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman, Naval Institute Press, 2004.


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From Archives II


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Artist's Concept of Typhon on USS Norton Sound; No date given.


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Typhon Missile Drawings from I believe:

Naval Engineers Journal, May 1988

Have been resized to 800 pixels wide so that I don't violate copyright per board rules.


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I have always been very interested in Typhon since I first
saw a drawing of the Typhon frigate in Janes.

I am surprised that Typhon MR is drawn as a Tartar/Standard
type missile. I had always assumed that Typhon MR was simply the
LR version without the booster?

UK 75
Awesome stuff Ryan.

Here is the SCB deck layout drawing of the DLG Typhoon as planned for production. This is to my knowledge the only released image by the US Navy of the interior layout of a nuclear powered surface vessel. So provides an insight into the interior layout of any such ship.


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I have to ask Abraham - do you have any idea what the two gazebo-like towers aft of the ship's boats are?
uk 75 said:
I have always been very interested in Typhon since I first
saw a drawing of the Typhon frigate in Janes.

I am surprised that Typhon MR is drawn as a Tartar/Standard
type missile. I had always assumed that Typhon MR was simply the
LR version without the booster?

UK 75

The LR version was ramjet powered. Without the booster it wouldn't have been going anywhere. ;)
starviking said:
I have to ask Abraham - do you have any idea what the two gazebo-like towers aft of the ship's boats are?

There is one tower-like object aft of the ship's boats which is a broadband radio antenna that is more or less on the ship's centreline. In the plan view you can also see two circles aft of the ship's boats, one on the port side and one on the starboard side. These are the working circles for gun turrets, single 5in/38cal if I recall correctly. There is an artists impression in Friedman's book an U.S. Cruisers or Destroyers (Can't remember which one right now - don't have the books with me) which shows all of this clearly. I know I've seen it on the net somehwere but I don't have a link to it.

Hope this helps.

uk 75 said:
I am surprised that Typhon MR is drawn as a Tartar/Standard
type missile. I had always assumed that Typhon MR was simply the
LR version without the booster?

So did I until saw these drawings. But when you think about what they evolved from; and their original names:


Then it makes a lot of sense.
How much of the Typhon MR went into the development of the Standard Missile family?
Pencil on lined paper drawing showing I think how teh Typhon system is laid out.


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The picture posted by Triton (from Freidman) pretty clearly shows 5/54 Mk 16 singles, not 5/38. It would make sense to some degree; these weapons were surplus (being removed from Midway around this era) and would have been much more effective in surface fire than the 5/38. Further I'd have to expect that backup AA utility was considered somewhat less critical on a ship with (in theory) such superb SAM armament.

Is there any other source that suggests 5/54 instead of 5/38? I'm loathe to assume anything just based on an artist's impression, but the drawing is clearly a careful and informed one.
RyanCrierie said:

These are more like design schemes for the USS Long Beach than for the Typhon carrier cruiser
What kind of command and control computer was specified for the Typhon missile system?
Delta Force said:
What kind of command and control computer was specified for the Typhon missile system?

Start with the first post in this thread.
Are you looking for the speicfic models of computers (e.g., AN/UYK-7) or something more general? If the former, I've never seen anything concrete. I suspect they didn't really get that far, since the radars proved so hard to make work even in prototype form.
I see the radar set mentioned, but I was looking more for specific computers. Apparently there were going to be two different sets of computers to go with the two different sets of planned radars. The number of tracks the computers could keep track of is large even by modern standards. The systems were to be capable of tracking 33 targets at 0.1 second intervals and 400 targets at 4 second intervals for the cruiser/Typhon LR system, and 10 targets at 0.1 second intervals and 120 targets at 4 second intervals for the destroyer/Typhon MR system. There's information on that and some more on proposed Typhon warships here.
I think computer technology of the day was in such flux that specific models weren't really settled. They may have been purpose-built for Typhon.
While the details of the 'associated command system' component of the AN/SPG-59 are mostly vague* (about the only things that I'm reasonably certain of is that it would have used the NELIAC programing language, and that it consisted of at least four 'beam forming computers'), the Typhon combat system in turn would have been hooked up to the AN/USQ-20 NDTS (originally AN/USQ-17).

*However I was able to determine from an old ONR report I found on DTIC that the full Typhon combat system was ultimately intended to be effective against enemy aircraft launching standoff weapons from 200 to 100 nm range, while under multi-level, multi-directional jamming attacks (projected early 1970s threat environment).
Thanks for all the information.

So if Typhon had worked, was it planned for deployment in the early 1970s, or was it more being future proofed for jamming? I know jamming was a major issue for the SAGE system that was resolved around the early 1960s, so there would have been a good base of knowledge and practice to work from.
Delta Force said:
Thanks for all the information.

So if Typhon had worked, was it planned for deployment in the early 1970s, or was it more being future proofed for jamming? I know jamming was a major issue for the SAGE system that was resolved around the early 1960s, so there would have been a good base of knowledge and practice to work from.
It was Aegis before Aegis, the idea was to construct a series of Tyhon surface combatant classes to replace the Talos/Terrier/Tartar ships as was done with Aegis starting with the Ticonderoga class.

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