Ward, Don---1202 Union St.---Belle Fourche, SDemail@example.com
Latest Polaris Base Newsletter
The first of a new class, GEORGE WASHINGTON sailed from Groton 28 June 1960 for Cape Canaveral, Florida, where she loaded two solid propellant Polaris missiles. Standing out into the Atlantic Missile Test Range with Rear Admiral W.F. Raborn, head of the phenomenal Polaris Submarine development program on board as an observer, the nuclear submarine made history 20 July 1960 when she successfully launched the first Polaris missile from a submerged submarine -- the free world everywhere had gained a weapon of utmost importance to the protection of civilization. At 1239 GEORGE WASHINGTON's commanding officer sent President Eisenhower the historic message: "Polaris -- from out of the deep to target. Perfect." Less than 2 hours later another missile from the submerged submarine homed in on the impact area 1,100 miles down range. A new and mighty weapon had been added to the vast power of the sea.
POLARIS MISSLE BOAT DEVELOPMENT
- The Navy's fleet of submarine-launched ballistic missiles is vital to the nation. Yet missile submarines, or "boomers," rarely win headlines. And little is known by the public about the develepment of the missiles carried by these subs. That story is, in large part, about Vice Adm. William F. "Red" Raborn, who made it all happen. In the early 1950s, a Washington magazine published an article accompanied by a cover painting of what looked like a bullet rising into the sky from the sea. It was a rare public view of a long-range ballistic missile, a modern-day outgrowth of the German V-2 rocket of World War II. But this new weapon would have a nuclear warhead. Bringing together the ballistic missile and the submarine took the genius of Raborn, a 1928 graduate of the Naval Academy and former carrier skipper. To realize the goal of developing a submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Special Projects Office was established in November 1955 with Raborn as its director.
- In an extraordinary crash program driven by Raborn's powerful personality; the office undertook development of what soon became the Polaris missile and a new class of nuclear powered submarines to carry the missile. Both submarine and missile were full-fledged marvels of human genius. The first "boomers" displaced about 6,800 tons when submerged, carried 12 officers and 100 enlisted men and packed 16 Polaris missiles in grouped launch tubes dubbed "Sherwood Forest." The missiles were capable of being launched not merely at sea but from beneath the sea. Only five years after Raborn's program office "began butting heads," in the recollection of one expert, the George Washington, first of 41 Polaris subs, departed in November 1960 on its first deterrent patrol. As for the UGM-27 Polaris A-1 missile, it did look like a bullet. It was tipped with a 500-kiloton W-47 thermonuclear warhead, known in the 1950s as a "city buster."
- Early Polaris missiles were so short-ranged that, to get close enough to the Soviet Union, the "boomers" had to operate in the North Sea and the Mediterranean. When the longer-reaching Polaris A-3 model was introduced in 1964, the submarines moved to the North Atlantic, improving their survivability. The Navy built 163 Polaris A-1, 192 Polaris A-2 and 644 Polaris A-3 models. Under the overall aegis of chief of naval operations Adm. Arleigh Burke, Raborn had turned the Navy in a new direction. When he took on the job, the sea service was part of the effort to develop the liquid-fueled Jupiter rocket, a cantankerous and trouble-prone design. But volatile liquid-fuel rockets were prohibitively dangerous in a submarine, and Raborn pushed for the solid-fueled Polaris, butting heads on the issue with Defense Secretary Charles Wilson.
- The Polaris system eventually gave way to the UGM-73 Poseidon and UGM-96 Trident II D-5 missiles. The D-5 can carry eight to 14,300-kiloton W-87 warheads mounted in Mk. 5 re-entry vehicles - meaning that a single Ohio-class submarine of today can unleash more destructive power than has been used in all of the wars in the world's history. Experts say this awesome deterrent power assures U.S. security. The ballistic missile submarine force is part of the "strategic triad," which also includes Air Force bombers and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. Raborn retired from the Navy in 1963 and spent an uneventful tour as head of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1965 and 1966. Always a proponent of the strategic missile system he developed, Raborn remained active supporting Navy causes until his death in 1990.
- Strategic deterrence has been the sole mission of the fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) since its inception in 1960. The SSBN provides the nation's most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. The Ohio class submarine replaced aging fleet ballistic missile submarines built in the 1960s and is far more capable. These submarines are best described as being "black holes in the water." It is virtually impossible to acoustically detect an SSBN in the open ocean as they are so quiet - and for good reason. SSBN's carry up to twenty-four Trident ballistic missiles, each tipped with multiple nuclear warheads. The "boomer," as SSBN's are called, is part of the United States' strategic deterrence of the use of weapons of mass destruction. So long as potential aggressors know that they will never find our deployed SSBN's, they will know that any attack using nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons upon the United States or its allies will be reciprocated by the awesome firepower of the SSBN's.
- Ohio-class/Trident ballistic missile submarines (The only class of SSBN's in the US Navy.) provide the sea-based "leg" of the triad of U.S. strategic deterrent forces. The 18 Trident SSBNs, carry 50 percent of the total U.S. strategic warheads. Although the missiles have no pre-set targets when the submarine goes on patrol, the SSBNs are capable of rapidly targeting their missiles should the National Command Authority, using secure and constant at-sea communications links, deem it necessary.
- Features: The first eight Ohio class submarines (Tridents) were originally equipped with 24 Trident I C-4 ballistic missiles. Beginning with the ninth Trident submarine, USS Tennessee (SSBN 734), all new ships are equipped with the Trident II D-5 missile system as they are built, and the earlier ships are being retrofitted to Trident II. Trident II can deliver significantly more payload than Trident I C-4 and more accurately.
- The Ohio-class submarines are specifically designed for extended deterrent patrols. To decrease the time in port for crew turnover and replenishment, three large logistics hatches are fitted to provide large diameter resupply and repair openings. These hatches allow sailors to rapidly transfer supply pallets, equipment replacement modules and machinery components, significantly reducing the time required for replenishment and maintenance. The class design and modern main concepts allow the submarines to operate for 15+ years between overhauls.
- General Characteristics, Ohio Class
- Builders: General Dynamics Electric Boat Division.
- Power Plant: One nuclear reactor, one shaft
- Length: 560 feet (170.69 meters)
- Beam: 42 feet (12.8 meters)
- Displacement: 16,764 tons (17,033.03 metric tons) surfaced; 18,750 tons (19,000.1 metric tons) submerged
- Speed: 20+ knots (23+ miles per hour, 36.8 +kph)
- Crew: 15 Officers, 140 Enlisted
- Armament: 24 tubes for Trident I and II, MK-48 torpedoes, four torpedo