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George Washington-class submarine

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George Washington-class submarine

George Washington class
 (SSBN-598)George WashingtonUSS  at sea.
Class overview
Operators:  United States Navy
Succeeded by: Ethan Allen class submarine
Built: 1958–1961[1]
In commission: 1959–1985
Completed: 5[1]
Retired: 5[1]
General characteristics
Type: SSBN

Surfaced: 5,959 long tons (6,055 t)

Submerged: 6,709 long tons (6,817 t)[2]
Length: 381.6 ft (116.3 m)[1]
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)[1]
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)[1]
  • 16 knots (30 km/h) surfaced
  • 22 knots (41 km/h) submerged[2]
Range: unlimited except by food supplies
Test depth: 700 ft (210 m)[1]
Capacity: 112 (Crew Only)
Complement: Two crews (Blue/Gold) each consisting of 12 officers and 100 men.

The George Washington class was a class of Ethan Allen, Lafayette, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin classes comprised the "41 for Freedom" group of submarines that represented the Navy's main contribution to the nuclear deterrent force through the late 1980s.


  • Development 1
  • Construction 2
  • Withdrawal from strategic role 3
  • Boats in class 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The commissioning of George Washington on 30 December 1959, the first submarine Polaris launch on 20 July 1960, and her first deterrent patrol November 1960-January 1961 were the culmination of four years of intense effort. The Navy initially worked on a sea-based variant of the Yankee-class submarines.


The Navy ordered a class of nuclear-powered submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles on 31 December 1957, and tasked Electric Boat with converting two existing attack submarine hulls to ballistic missile-carrying boats to quickly create the deterrent force. To accomplish this conversion, Electric Boat persuaded the Navy in January 1958 to slip the launch dates for two Skipjack class fast attack submarines, the just-begun Scorpion (SSN-589) and the not-yet-started Sculpin (SSN-590). On 12 February 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized funding for three ballistic missile submarines.

The George Washingtons were essentially Skipjacks with a 130 foot (40 m) missile compartment, inserted between the ship's control/navigation areas and the nuclear reactor compartment. In the case of the lead ship, Mare Island Naval Shipyard began construction of one other boat each from extended plans. President Eisenhower authorized construction of two more submarines on 29 July 1958. Newport News Shipbuilding and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard began work immediately.

The George Washingtons carried the  (SSBN-602)Abraham LincolnUSS  swapped out her A1s for A3s on 14 October 1965.

Withdrawal from strategic role

By the end of 1979, to make room within the limitations imposed by  (SSBN-599)Patrick HenryUSS , and USS Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601) had their missiles removed and were reclassified as attack submarines nicknamed "slow attacks", a role in which they served briefly prior to being decommissioned by early 1985.[9]

George Washington's sail is preserved at the Submarine Force Library and Museum at Groton, Connecticut.

Boats in class

Submarines of the George Washington class:[10][11]

Name and hull number Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
 (SSBN-598)George Washington
General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut 1 November 1957 9 June 1959 30 December 1959 Decommissioned 24 January 1985. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, 1998
Patrick Henry (SSBN-599) General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut 27 May 1958 22 September 1959 11 April 1960 Decommissioned 25 May 1984. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, 1997
Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600) Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California 20 May 1958 3 October 1959 13 February 1961 Decommissioned 1 December 1982. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, 1995
Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601) Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia 25 August 1958 18 December 1959 15 September 1960 Decommissioned 1 December 1983. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, 1991
Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602) Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine 25 August 1958 18 December 1959 15 September 1960 Decommissioned 28 February 1981. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, 1994

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "SSBN-598 George Washington-Class FBM Submarines".  
  2. ^ a b c d Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History.  
  3. ^ Friedman, pp. 192-195
  4. ^ Friedman, pp. 192-195
  5. ^ a b History of the Jupiter Missile, pp. 23-35
  6. ^ Teller, Edward (2001). Memoirs: A Twentieth Century Journey in Science and Politics. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing. pp. 420–421.  
  7. ^ Friedman, pp. 193-199
  8. ^ Gardiner and Chumbley, pp. 610-611
  9. ^ Farley, Robert (18 October 2014). "The Five Best Submarines of All Time".  
  10. ^ Gardiner and Chumbley, pp. 610-611
  11. ^ "Missile Submarines of the Cold War". California Center for Military History (dead link 2015-05-07). Retrieved 2012-10-18. 

External links

  • SSBN photo gallery index
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