About - Strategic Systems Programs Chronology 1955 - 1965

September 1955 ~ 1965

13 September 1955

Technological advances, particularly in warhead and inertial guidance systems, made an IRBM feasible and economically practicable. On review of the technical capabilities for United States Defense (Killian Report), the National Security Council recommended — and the President approved — “that a 1500-mile ballistic missile system be developed. Both land-basing and sea-basing to be considered.”

8 November 1955

The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) directed Army and Navy to proceed jointly with development of IRBM #2 (JUPITER). This directive established the Joint Army Navy Ballistic Missile Committee (JANBMC). The Department of Defense proposed initiation of the IRBM program with priority equal to the ICBM program, the highest priority within DoD. Army and Navy immediately assigned top priority to the program. Subject to approval by the Office of Secretary of Defense Ballistic Missile Committee (OSDBMC), JANBMC was authorized and directed to carry out all aspects of the JUPITER program operating with maximum urgency.

17 November 1955

The Secretary of the Navy (SecNav) created the Special Projects Office to handle the problems associated with the ship-launched weapon system as contrasted to the assignment of the (land-based) basic missile system development responsibility which remained with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA). The Navy was to develop the ship launching system while the Army developed the missile.

28 November 1955

Navy stated long range objective to develop a solid propellant ballistic missile for use in submarines. This was within an overall plan for development of JUPITER. “On long term basis, the Navy proposes a solid propellant development program pointed toward surface ships and eventual submarine use. This development should be initiated immediately to alleviate the serious hazards and difficult logistic, handling, storage, and design problems associated with liquid fuels. Development of a solid propellant missile and submarine system appears feasible, but not on the time scale of the original approach. The solid propellant is an integral part of the submarine program.” The target date of an operational ship-based JUPITER system had been set at 1965.

Photo: Admiral Arleigh Burke2 December 1955

Admiral Arleigh Burke, CNO, appointed Rear Admiral William F. Raborn (pictured right), a naval aviator, to be the first director of the Special Projects Office. Admiral Burke's memorandum of appointment dedicated the full resources of the Navy to the FBM program.

19 December 1955

The Navy Fleet Ballistic Missile Weapon System operational requirement was issued. The need for extension of research and technical know-how beyond the state-of-the-art was recognized for the following areas: inertial guidance, hypersonic aerodynamics, liquid and solid rocket motors and propellants, and ship navigation.

20 December 1955

The OSDBMC authorized the Army and Navy to proceed with the JUPITER program.

March 1956

JANBMC authorized a navigation system development program, a weapon system test and development program, an FBM surface combatant development program, and an FBM submarine development program.

20 March 1956

OSDBMC approved Navy’s solid propellant program for component development to determine weapon system feasibility.

11 April 1956

Feasibility study contract awarded to Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to determine suitability of missile development for submarine environment.

1 July 1956

At this date, FBM program had as its objective a ship-based liquid propellant missile adaptation of JUPITER.

16-18 July 1956

OSD Scientific Advisory Committee (OSDSAC) reaffirmed its recommendations concerning the Navy's solid propellant project. Specifically, it recommended: 1) a full-fledged solid propellant missile program instead of the existent test vehicle program, and 2) elimination of instructions to contractors that as much as possible of the JUPITER nose cone, guidance, and control components be applied to the solid propellant vehicle, since the suitability of the components was very questionable.

September 1956

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) estimated that a suitable warhead would be available for a smaller ICBM by 1965, with an even chance of attainment by 1963.

23 October 1956

OSDSAC recommended that the Navy solid IRBM program “receive top priority, equal to that of the other IRBM program . . . ” and that its final objective be development of a missile of the POLARIS type in the 30,000 pound class, capable of a range of 1500 nautical miles in the 1962-63 period.

November 1956

Eleventh test of solid propellant missile thrust vector control devices known as jetavators was successfully completed.

9 November 1956

SecNav proposed the POLARIS program to the SecDef and requested authorization to delete the interim liquid missile launching capability from merchant hulls.

8 December 1956

SecDef authorized the Navy to proceed with the development of the small, solid propellant POLARIS; hence, to terminate participation in the liquid JUPITER program

18 December 1956

Joint Army Navy Ballistic Missile Committee was dissolved.

19 December 1956

SecNav reaffirmed the highest Navy priority for the FBM program and established the Navy Ballistic Missile Committee (NAVBMC) to direct the program. The Special Projects Office, previously charged with the development of the ship-based aspects only of the weapon system, was given responsibility for development of the entire system.

January 1957

The FBM Navigation Development and Test Ship, USS COMPASS ISLAND (EAG 153), formerly known in the program as Mariner 1, began operations at sea.

January-February 1957

Special Projects (SP) organized POLARIS/ Submarine Special Steering Group, later known as the Steering Task Group (STG), to formulate FBM program goals and plans. Members were drawn from top levels of participating agencies and contractors. First meeting was 7 January 1957. The STG tasks were to advise an optimum missile and submarine envelope and thereafter to assist in monitoring and sponsoring later contingent developments. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) established interim (1963) and optimum (1965) goals for the FBM program. SP began scheduling the program in phase with reasonable expected advances in the state-of-the-art to assure attainment of program goals and maximum economical use of resources.

8 February 1957

CNO issued a requirement for a 1500 nautical mile solid propellant ballistic missile capable of being launched from a submerged submarine to be operational by 1965

March 1957

Dimensions of the POLARIS missile envelope and the optimum envelope for FBM submarines were established. Determination of these parameters early in the program was vital to the sea-based system since submarine construction lead times dictated early design of the launching vehicle.

28 March 1957

The highest total impulse ever achieved in this country by a solid propellant rocket motor was attained in a static firing of a POLARIS test vehicle by Aerojet General Corporation.

18 June 1957

CNO approved the ship characteristics of the FBM submarine. (This approval was reached 3- 1/2 months sooner than the complex procedure customarily requires.)

1 July 1957

At this date, FBM program had as its objective to provide an FBM submarine weapon system with a 1500 nautical mile range missile ready for operational evaluation not later than l January 1963.

October 1957

AEC estimated that the POLARIS warhead development program could attain POLARIS requirements in 1960.

22 October 1957

SecNav proposed an acceleration of the FBM program to SecDef. It included: 1) attainment by December 1959 of an operable 1200-mile range missile, launchable from land and sea, 2) attainment by early 1962 of an operational capability of two FBM submarines and a third 3 months later, and 3) attainment by mid-1963 of a missile with the performance specifications previously set up as a goal for 1965 (1500-mile range).

November 1957

Compressed air launching subsystem was proved by successful operation of PEASHOOTER, an experimental tube launcher at San Francisco Naval Shipyard.

26 November 1957

NAVBMC informed OSD that, for the same dollar requirements reported on 22 October, the FBM program could be accelerated to provide a POLARIS/Submarine system by October 1960 and a 1200-mile range missile.

December 1957

Preliminary design of the first submarine was completed and contract design started—both ahead of schedule.

9 December 1957

SecDef authorized acceleration of the POLARIS program to achieve the first POLARIS Submarine weapon system in 1960.

20 December 1957

SP and the Bureau of Ships (BuShips) forwarded to CNO a plan for maximum acceleration which gave their best judgment of results possible under “national emergency” conditions. It was emphasized that the earliest submarine completion dates (December 1959, March 1960, etc.) could be met only under the most optimistic conditions, “assuming every possible breakthrough and key personnel working with maximum fervor and motivation.” Streamlined decision making processes and optimum fiscal support were identified as necessary to meeting such dates.

January 1958

Construction was begun on the first three FBM submarines. The first one, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, had been laid down as USS SCORPION but was cut in two and had a 130- foot weapon system section inserted.

Photo: Submarine in Water
USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598)

11 January 1958

First FBM test flight, Point Mugu, CA.

12 February 1958

The President signed the FY 58 Supplemental Appropriations Act, including funds for construction of the first three SSBNs. Construction had begun in January using funds “borrowed” from other Navy programs.

23 March 1958

First launching from the submerged tactical launcher facility (POPUP) off San Clemente Island, CA, was successful.

April 1958

Training of the crew to be assigned to the Weapon System Test Ship (USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154)) was started; the trainees included missile guidance, launching and handling, propulsion, and ordnance personnel.

9 April 1958

As a result of SecDef action on the FY 59 augmentation budget, the Navy submitted to OSDBMC a plan to provide a five-submarine capability with a 1200 nautical mile range missile by mid-1961 with the first submarine ready for sea by April 1960.

23 April 1958

CNO promulgated the concept of operations for the FBM weapon system and directed cognizant Navy offices to start detailed planning and action to place the system in operational status in 1960.

1 July 1958

Submarine Squadron Fourteen was established in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations to formulate plans for operational logistics support, crew training, crew rotation, patrol-doctrine, refit procedures, and to provide input from experienced submariners to the Special Projects Office, Bureaus, contractors, and shipbuilders.

1 July 1958

At this date, FBM program had as its objective a complete POLARIS/Submarine weapon system with a 1200-mile range missile in 1960 with a threesubmarine capability by mid-1961. Three submarines were authorized at this time.

26 July 1958

SecDef authorized procurement of long leadtime items for SSBNs 6 through 9.

29 July 1958

Construction of submarines 4 and 5 authorized by the President.

22 August 1958

The President signed the DoD FY 59 Appropriations Act. Funds for SSBNs 6-9 were withheld. Funds for submarines 4 and 5, which were provided for in the Act, had been apportioned in July.

25 August 1958

Deputy SecDef granted authority to obligate funds for procurement of long lead-time items for submarines as then proposed for the FY 60 FBM program budget (SSBNs 10 through 14).

24 September 1958

Test of first POLARIS-configured flight test vehicle (AX series).

30 September 1958

OSD approved construction of the POLARIS Missile Assembly facility at Charleston, SC. This is the facility where the tactical missiles were assembled, checked out, and loaded on FBM submarines before going on operational patrol.

October 1958 Through April 1959

AX flights became spectacular sights at Cape Canaveral . . . Hotfoot solved by Phoenix . . . AX-6 first successful flight.

August 1959

First successful seaborne aireject launch of a large ballistic missile from EAG-154.


20 July 1960

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) successfully launches two POLARIS A1 missiles off Cape Canaveral.

5 December 1958

The Weapon System Test Ship USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154), formerly known in the program as Mariner 2, was completed on schedule and commissioned.

23 December 1958

The President authorized construction of SSBN 6.

1 March 1959

Construction of the Team Training Facility at Naval Base, New London, CT, to support submarine crew training began.

20 April 1959

First fully successful POLARIS AX vehicle flight test.

9 June 1959

First FBM submarine, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598), launched at Groton, CT.

27 June 1959

The President authorized construction of SSBNs 7, 8, and 9.

1 July 1959

At this date, FBM program had as its objective a complete POLARIS/Submarine system with a 1200-mile range missile in 1960. Nine submarines and one submarine tender were authorized.

14 August 1959

First air-eject launched test flight fully successful at Cape Canaveral, FL. Missile, POLARIS AX 14, was launched from Ship Motion Simulator (SMS) launch tube. SMS was not in motion.

27 August 1959

First seaborne launch of a large solid propellant ballistic missile. POLARIS test vehicle launched from the USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154) at sea off Cape Canaveral, FL. Ship had complete submarine type launching and fire control system. Missile was launched by compressed air.

21 September 1959

First POLARIS AlX (tactical prototype) test vehicle flight fully successful at Cape Canaveral, FL.

30 December 1959

First FBM submarine, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598), commissioned at Groton, CT.

7 January 1960

First inertially guided POLARIS test vehicle flight fully successful at Cape Canaveral, FL.

29 March 1960

First fully integrated FBM system test. A1X test vehicle launched from USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154). Submarine type navigation, fire control, and launching equipment used. Missile was inertially guided.

29 March 1960

Naval Weapons Annex, Charleston, SC, commissioned (POLARIS Missile Facility, Atlantic).

14 April 1960

First successful underwater launch of a large solid propellant ballistic missile, San Clemente Island, CA. POLARIS flight test vehicle used reduced quantity of propellant to produce ignition and planned 6-second powered flight. Launched from static underwater launcher.

1 July 1960

At this date, FBM program had as its objective a complete POLARIS/Submarine system with a 1200-mile range missile by October 1960. Nine submarines and two submarine tenders were authorized.

8 July 1960

First FBM weapon system submarine tender, USS PROTEUS (AS 19), commissioned. Ship was World War II tender converted for POLARIS submarine program use.

15 July 1960

President authorized construction of SSBNs 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14.

20 July 1960

First launch of POLARIS test vehicle from submerged nuclear FBM submarine (USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598)) at sea off Cape Canaveral, FL. (Second POLARIS launch, same date, 2 hours 53 minutes later.) Both fully successful.

September 1960

Development of the 2500 nautical mile range POLARIS (A3) missile approved by SecDef and initial funds allocated the following month.

15-18 October 1960

USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN 599) successfully launched four POLARIS test vehicles 500 miles at sea under operational rather than test conditions.

10 November 1960

First test vehicle in the second generation, 1500 nautical mile range POLARIS (A2) was successfully launched at Cape Canaveral, FL. Missile went over 1400 nautical miles.

15 November 1960

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol. She carried 16 tactical POLARIS (A1), 1200 nautical mile range missiles.


22 November 1960

USS ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN 608) launched. First submarine designed from keel up as an FBM submarine.

30 December 1960

USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN 599) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A1) missiles.

1 January 1961

The VLF Naval Radio Station at Cutler, ME, went on the air 1 year ahead of original schedule.

21 January 1961

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) arrived New London, CT, having completed her first patrol. She had been gone 67 days and had set a new record for length of time submerged—66 days, 10 hours. She came alongside the tender PROTEUS which was to complete her first FBM submarine upkeep in the stateside port before sailing to Holy Loch, Scotland.

29 January 1961

President Kennedy authorized the acceleration of the POLARIS program. As a result, construction of SSBNs 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 (initially planned for FY 62 budget) were authorized in FY 61. A third submarine tender was also authorized for FY 61.

8 March 1961

USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN 599) returned from patrol and came alongside the USS PROTEUS in Holy Loch, Scotland, to become first SSBN to use Holy Loch as a refit and upkeep anchorage. She bettered the GEORGE WASHINGTON’s record by staying submerged 66 days, 22 hours.

27 March 1961

The President announced plans for 10 SSBNs to be included in the FY 62 program. Funds were accordingly added to the FY 62 budget request.

2 May 1961

USS ROBERT E. LEE (SSBN 601) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A1) missiles.

1 July 1961

At this date, FBM program had as its objective the deployment of two more submarines carrying the 1200-mile range POLARIS missile by the end of calendar year 1961 and the deployment of the 1500-mile range POLARIS (A2) missiles in ETHAN ALLEN Class submarines during 1962. Nineteen SSBNs and three tenders were authorized.

9 July 1961

USS ROBERT E. LEE (SSBN 601) returned from patrol and came alongside USS PROTEUS at Holy Loch. She had established a record by staying submerged and completely sealed for 68 days, 4 hours, 15 minutes.

19 July 1961

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN 600) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A1) missiles.

19 July 1961

The President authorized construction of SSBNs 20 through 29.

27 August 1961

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (SSBN 602) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A1) missiles.

22 September 1961

SecDef tentatively approved construction of six SSBNs in FY 63 and six in FY 64.

23 October 1961

First launch of a 1500 nautical mile range POLARIS (A2) test vehicle from submerged submarine USS ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN 608) at sea off Cape Canaveral, FL, was fully successful.

7 December 1961

Last production model of POLARIS (A1) delivered.

26 February 1962

Rear Admiral Ignatius J. “Pete” Galantin (pictured) relieved Vice Admiral William F. “Red” Raborn, Jr., as Director, Special Projects.

23 April 1962

DoD announced selection of various facilities planned for POLARIS support in Pacific area. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, WA, was selected as FBM submarine overhaul facility; the Naval Ammunition Depot at Bangor, WA, was selected for the POLARIS missile assembly facility (POMFPAC); Pearl Harbor, HI, was chosen as the location of the crew training facility.

6 May 1962

USS ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN 608), operating in the Pacific as a unit of Joint Task Force 8, successfully launched a POLARIS missile with a nuclear warhead. Successful nuclear detonation achieved.

8 May 1962

USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN 616), first of the largest class submarine ever built, was launched at Groton, CT. Mrs. John F. Kennedy, wife of the President, christened the ship.

26 June 1962

USS ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN 608) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

1 July 1962

At this date, FBM program had as its objective the deployment of three additional submarines carrying the POLARIS (A2) missiles and delivery to the fleet of the operational 2500-mile range POLARIS (A3) by mid-1964. Twenty-nine submarines and three tenders were authorized.

7 August 1962

First flight test of POLARIS (A3) at Cape Canaveral, FL.

10 August 1962

The President signed the DoD FY 63 Appropriations Act providing funds for construction of SSBNs 30 through 35 and long lead-time items for SSBNs 36 through 41. Funds were also allotted for construction of a fourth submarine tender.

10 October 1962

USS SAM HOUSTON (SSBN 609) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.


7 November 1962

USS THOMAS A. EDISON (SSBN 610) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.


31 December 1962

USS JOHN MARSHALL (SSBN 611) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

5 March 1963

Construction began on the POLARIS Missile Facility, Pacific (POMFPAC) at Bangor, WA.

15 March 1963

USS HUNLEY (AS 31) relieved USS PROTEUS (AS 19) at Holy Loch, Scotland.

28 March 1963

Defense Department announced deployment of first of three FBM submarines in the Mediterranean and that these three would come from those operating from Holy Loch, Scotland.

10 April 1963

First seaborne launch of a POLARIS (A3) test vehicle from the USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154) at sea off Cape Canaveral, FL.

14 April 1963

USS SAM HOUSTON (SSBN 609), first POLARIS submarine assigned to Mediterranean patrol, visited Izmir, Turkey. This was first foreign port, other than Holy Loch, visited by an SSBN.

1 July 1963

At this date, FBM program had as its objective the deployment of additional submarines carrying the POLARIS (A2) missiles and the deployment in 1964 of FBM submarines carrying POLARIS (A3) missiles. Thirty-five SSBNs and four tenders were authorized with long lead-time items authorized for an additional six SSBNs.

1 September 1963

POLARIS Missile Facility, Pacific, Bremerton, WA, was established in a development status. The facility will serve as an assembly, checkout, and outloading base for FBM submarines and tenders operating in the Pacific.

26 September 1963

First steam-eject launch of a POLARIS missile from the USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154) at sea off Cape Canaveral, FL.

26 October 1963

First POLARIS (A3X) missile launched from a submerged submarine. Missile launch from the USS ANDREW JACKSON (SSBN 619) off Cape Canaveral, FL, was fully successful.

28 October 1963

USS THOMAS JEFFERSON (SSBN 618) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

16 November 1963

President John F. Kennedy watched a successful launch of a POLARIS (A2) missile from the USS ANDREW JACKSON (SSBN 619). He saw the shot from the deck of the USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154)

4 January 1964

USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN 616) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

24 February 1964

USS PROTEUS (AS 19), the first FBM submarine tender assigned to Holy Loch, became the first FBM submarine tender at Rota, Spain. Rota to be the second advanced FBM anchorage site and home for Squadron Sixteen.

16 March 1964

USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON (SSBN 617) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

1 April 1964

USS HOLLAND (AS 32), the second submarine tender built from the keel up for the support of FBM submarines, arrived at Rota, Spain, to relieve PROTEUS.

20 April 1964

USS HENRY CLAY (SSBN 625) successfully launched a POLARIS (A2) missile from the surface. This was the first demonstration that POLARIS submarines could launch missiles from the surface as well as from beneath the ocean. Thirty minutes earlier the CLAY successfully launched a POLARIS ( A 2 ) missile while submerged.

28 April 1964

USS ANDREW JACKSON (SSBN 619) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

25 May 1964

USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN 616) arrived at Rota, Spain, to become the first FBM submarine to use the second advanced FBM anchorage. LAFAYETTE was the first submarine assigned to Squadron Sixteen.

25 May 1964

USS DANIEL BOONE (SSBN 629), first FBM submarine assigned to the Pacific Fleet, visited Hawaii, participating in shakedown operations during the visit.

25 May 1964

First POLARIS (A3P) missiles launched from a submerged submarine. Two missiles launched from USS DANIEL WEBSTER (SSBN 626) off Cape Kennedy, FL, both fully successful.

25 May 1964

USS NATHAN HALE (SSBN 623) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

1 June 1964

USS JAMES MONROE (SSBN 622) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles.

2 June 1964

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) returned to Charleston, SC, to off-load missiles in preparation for overhaul at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT. This ended the initial deployment of the first FBM submarine, which began in November 1960.

2 July 1964

USS WOODROW WILSON (SSBN 624) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles. The WILSON was the 16th POLARIS submarine to go on operational patrol. At this date, FBM program had as its objective the deployment of the last of the POLARIS A2 missile-carrying submarines and the initial delivery to the fleet of the operational 2500 nautical mile range POLARIS (A3) missile. Forty-one SSBNs were authorized, with the entire force to be operational in 1967.

17 August 1964

USS HENRY CLAY (SSBN 625) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles. 21 AUGUST 1964 USS DANIEL BOONE (SSBN 629) reported to the Pacific Fleet, becoming the first FBM to be permanently assigned to the Pacific.

21 August 1984

USS DANIEL BOONE (SSBN 629) reported to the Pacific Fleet, becoming the first FBM to be permanently assigned to the Pacific.

11 September 1964

POLARIS Missile Facility, Pacific, was commissioned at the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot, Bangor, WA. Secretary of the Navy, Paul H. Nitze, was principal speaker.

24 September 1964

Raborn Hall was dedicated at the FBM Training Center, Dam Neck, VA. Named after VADM William F. “Red” Raborn, first Director of Special Projects.

28 September 1964

USS DANIEL WEBSTER (SSBN 626) left Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol. She carried the first boatload of the new and longer range POLARIS (A3) missiles.


3 November 1964

USS JOHN ADAMS (SSBN 620) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A2) missiles. She was the last SSBN to deploy carrying POLARIS (A2) missiles.

1 December 1964

The third FBM advance anchorage site, at Apra Harbor, Guam, became operational with USS PROTEUS (AS 19) as the FBM tender. PROTEUS has opened all three FBM anchorage sites.

1 December 1964

POMFPAC certified for A3P processing.

11 December 1964

USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN 599) returned to Charleston, SC, to off-load missiles in preparation for overhaul at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT. This ended the initial deployment of the second FBM submarine, which began in December 1960.

25 December 1964

USS DANIEL BOONE (SSBN 629) departed Apra Harbor, Guam, to begin the first operational patrol in the Pacific with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

1 January 1965

At this date, FBM program had as its objective the deployment of additional submarines carrying the POLARIS (A3) with the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets. USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) was in overhaul, with USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN 599) scheduled to begin in early 1965. This was the beginning of overhauls on the first five SSBNs to give them A3 capability. When completed, POLARIS program was to have 13 SSBNs carrying the A2 and 28 the A3. Forty-one SSBNs were authorized, the entire force to be operational in 1967.

14 January 1965

USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN 599) entered Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT, to begin her initial overhaul.

17 January 1965

USS JAMES MADISON (SSBN 627) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

18 January 1965

President Johnson announced in a special message to the Congress that his administration proposed to develop a new missile for the Fleet Ballistic Missile System—POSEIDON. POSEIDON, designated C3, would be 100% different from the POLARIS (A3). It would be 6 feet in diameter, as opposed to the 4-1/2-foot POLARIS and 3 feet longer than the 31-foot A3. Yet despite this increase in size, the growth potential of the ballistic missile submarine launching system would enable POSEIDON to fit into the same 16 missile tubes that carry POLARIS. Only a minor and relatively inexpensive modification to the missile tubes would be required. POSEIDON has double the payload of the POLARIS (A3) and is twice as accurate. Like POLARIS (A3), it can reach any spot on earth from its nuclear-powered nesting place.

24 January 1965

USS TECUMSEH (SSBN 628) departed Apra Harbor, Guam, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.


6 February 1965

USS ULYSSES S. GRANT (SSBN 631) departed Pearl Harbor, HI, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.


16 February 1965

Rear Admiral Levering Smith (pictured) relieved Rear Admiral Ignatius J. “Pete” Galantin as Director, Special Projects.

23 February 1965

USS ROBERT E. LEE (SSBN 601) entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA, to begin her initial overhaul.


6 March 1965

USS CASIMIR PULASKI (SSBN 633) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

15 March 1965

USS NATHANAEL GREENE (SSBN 636) successfully launched a POLARIS (A3) missile from the surface, again demonstrating that POLARIS submarines can launch missiles from the surface as well as from beneath the ocean.

22 March 1965

USS JOHN C. CALHOUN (SSBN 630) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

28 March 1965

USS VON STEUBEN (SSBN 632) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

9 April 1965

USS STONEWALL JACKSON (SSBN 634) departed Bangor, WA, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

5 June 1965

USS SAM RAYBURN (SSBN 635) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.


21 June 1965

USS NATHANAEL GREENE (SSBN 636) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

7 July 1965

At this date, FBM program had as its objective the overhaul of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN 600) in mid-1965 and the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (SSBN 602), the last of the first five FBM submarines to carry POLARIS (Al). The first three were in overhaul for conversion to POLARIS (A3) capability. When these overhauls are completed, the POLARIS program will have 13 SSBNs carrying the A2 and 28 the A3 making up the total 41 SSBNs authorized.

26 July 1965

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN 600) entered Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT, to begin her initial overhaul.

28 July 1965

An interim FBM anchorage site was established at the U.S. Naval Station, Charleston, SC, with the USS SIMON LAKE (AS 33) as the FBM tender. SIMON LAKE officially became the support tender for Submarine Squadron Eighteen.

14 October 1965

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (SSBN 602) returned to the United States, completing her initial deployment. She was the last of the first five SSBNs carrying the POLARIS Al to return to the U.S. for overhaul. This marked the official retirement of the POLARIS (Al) missile from active fleet duty.

22 October 1965

The Cooper River FBM anchorage site near Charleston, SC, became operational when the USS SIMON LAKE (AS 33) moved from the interim site to this location.

25 October 1965

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (SSBN 602) entered Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT, to begin her initial overhaul.

2 February 1966

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598), the first submarine ever to carry POLARIS missiles on operational patrol, completed her initial overhaul. She has been refitted to carry the 2500 nautical mile range POLARIS (A3) missile.

1 April 1966

At this date, FBM program had as its objectives: completion of construction and launching of the last two SSBNs; completion of the overhauls to refit the first five SSBNs to carry POLARIS (A3) missiles; continued deployment of SSBNs on operational patrol in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets; and proceeding with engineering development on the newest missile, POSEIDON (C3).

27 April 1966

USS SIMON BOLIVAR (SSBN 641) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.


7 May 1966

USS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (SSBN 640) departed Pearl Harbor, HI, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

9 May 1966

USS ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN 608), first SSBN designed from keel up as an FBM submarine, returned to the United States, completing her initial deployment. She was the first submarine to carry the longer range POLARIS (A2) missile.

20 May 1966

USS ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN 608) entered Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company Shipyard, Newport News, VA, to begin her initial overhaul.

23 June 1966

USS LEWIS AND CLARK (SSBN 644) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

26 June 1966

USS CANOPUS (AS 34), last of five planned FBM tenders, deployed to the Cooper River anchorage to relieve USS HUNLEY (AS 33).

30 June 1966

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

26 July 1966

USS GEORGE BANCROFT (SSBN 643) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

6 August 1966

USS KAMEHAMEHA (SSBN 642) departed Apra Harbor, Guam, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

14 October 1966

USS JAMES K. POLK (SSBN 645) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.


25 October 1966

USS GEORGE C. MARSHALL (SSBN 654) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

1 November 1966

SecDef initiated a comprehensive study effort termed STRAT-X to examine future ballistic missile basing concepts and missile performance characteristics required to counter potential Soviet strategic offensive forces and ABM proliferation.

17 November 1966

The first in a series of improved POLARIS (A3) missiles was successfully launched from a land pad at Cape Kennedy, FL.

5 December 1966

USS ROBERT E. LEE (SSBN 601) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

12 December 1966

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER (SSBN 656) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

12 December 1966

First inert POSEIDON (C3) test vehicle launched from a land-based launcher (PEASHOOTER) at San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard (Hunters Point Division), San Francisco, CA.

17 December 1966

SecDef approved production of POSEIDON (C3).

27 December 1966

USS PATRICK HENRY (SSBN 599) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

6 January 1967

An improved POLARIS (A3) missile was successfully launched from a land pad at Cape Kennedy, FL.

23 February 1967

USS HENRY L. STIMSON (SSBN 655) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

2 March 1967

An improved POLARIS (A3) missile was successfully launched from a land pad at Cape Kennedy, FL.

7 April 1967

First STV-4K POSEIDON special test vehicle was launched from PEASHOOTER and caught by a special crane (Skycatch).

3 June 1967

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (SSBN 602), last of the five SSBNs that carried POLARIS Al, completed her conversion to carry A3.

4 June 1967

USS FRANCIS SCOTT KEY (SSBN 657) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

11 June 1967

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN 600) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

5 July 1967

First full-scale firing of POSEIDON (C3) first-stage motor was statically launched at the Hercules, Inc., facilities at Magna, UT. Test was successful.

31 July 1967

USS MARIANO G. VALLEJO (SSBN 658) departed Pearl Harbor, HI, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

August 1967

STRAT-X study report promulgated.

12 September 1967

An improved POLARIS (A3) missile was successfully launched from a land pad at Cape Kennedy, FL. Powered flight only partially successful.

3 October 1967

USS WILL ROGERS (SSBN 659), last of the 41 authorized SSBNs, departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

26 October 1967

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (SSBN 602) departed Charleston, SC, to go on operational patrol with 16 POLARIS (A3) missiles.

1 February 1968

Advanced development objective for an Undersea Long Range Missile System (ULMS) was established by the Chief of Naval Operations.

3 February 1968

First full-scale static firing of POSEIDON (C3) second-stage motor at the Hercules, Inc., facilities at Magna, UT. Test was successful.

15 February 1968

HMS RESOLUTION (SSBN 01), the Royal Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine to be outfitted with the Polaris weapon system under the terms of the Polaris Sales Agreement, successfully launched a POLARIS (A3) missile down the Atlantic Missile Test Range while cruising submerged off Cape Kennedy, FL. (On 4 March, the Starboard Crew successfully launched a POLARIS (A3).) Purpose of the U.S. visit was final “shakedown” tests of her two crews and the weapon system before deploying for her first operational patrol.

12 March 1968

The Navy awarded the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company a $456.1 million cost-plusincentive fee contract for development and production of the POSEIDON missile system. The contract represents one of the first awards made by the Navy Department providing for total system development and production.

29 March 1968

USS ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN 608) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

11 April 1968

USS SAM HOUSTON (SSBN 609) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

1 July 1968

The last production-line POLARIS (A3) missile was turned over to the Navy by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, prime contractor.

29 July 1968

Special Projects Office was officially redesignated the Strategic Systems Project Office to reflect additional responsibilities assigned by the Chief of Naval Operations for strategic offensive and defensive systems.

16 August 1968

The first test flight model of the POSEIDON missile (C3X-l) was successfully launched from a land pad at Cape Kennedy. Principal objective of the test was basic missile development. The POSEIDON is scheduled for deployment on 31 of the 41 FBM submarines.

29 August 1968

First submerged firing of an improved POLARIS (A3) missile from the USS DANIEL WEBSTER (SSBN 626). (The Gold Crew successfully launched two missiles.)

6 September 1968

USS JOHN MARSHALL (SSBN 611) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

22 September 1968

USS THOMAS A. EDISON (SSBN 610) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

29 October 1968

USS THOMAS JEFFERSON (SSBN 618) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

10 November 1968

USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON (SSBN 617) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

20 November 1968

USS FRANCIS SCOTT KEY (SSBN 657) returned to Charleston, SC, and thus marked the successful completion of the 600th deterrent patrol by units of the POLARIS submarine force, and the equivalent completion of l00 patrol years completely submerged. Since the initial patrol in November 1960, a total of 36,500 days of patrol vigilance have been successfully completed.

26 November 1968

POSEIDON (C3) developmental missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL. This was the second in a series of concept test firings.

21 January 1969

Third POSEIDON (C3) developmental missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL. A malfunction during first-stage powered flight of the test missile caused it to veer off course and it was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer.

3 February 1969

USS JAMES MADISON (SSBN 627), first of the Navy’s POLARIS missile submarines scheduled for conversion to POSEIDON missile capability, commenced overhaul and conversion at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT.

19 February 1969

Fourth POSEIDON (C3) test missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

20 March 1969

Fifth POSEIDON (C3) test missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

27 March 1969

HMS REPULSE (SSBN 03), Royal Navy nuclear powered submarine, successfully launched a POLARIS (A3) missile down the Atlantic Missile Test Range while submerged off Cape Kennedy, FL. (The Port Crew successfully launched a POLARIS (A3) missile on 14 April.)

5 April 1969

The 100th POLARIS patrol in the Pacific was completed when USS STONEWALL JACKSON (SSBN 634) returned to Apra Harbor, Guam.

9 April 1969

Sixth POSEIDON (C3) test missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

1 May 1969

USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154) completed overhaul and conversion to POSEIDON capability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norfolk, VA. Port Canaveral, FL, was assigned as home port.

12 May 1969

USS DANIEL BOONE (SSBN 629), second SSBN for conversion to a POSEIDON missile capability, commenced overhaul and conversion at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, VA.

18 May 1969

USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN 616) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

24 May 1969

Seventh POSEIDON (C3) test missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

14 June 1969

Eighth POSEIDON (C3) missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

9 July 1969

Ninth POSEIDON (C3) test missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

11 July 1969

USS VON STEUBEN (SSBN 632), third SSBN for conversion to POSEIDON capability, commenced overhaul and conversion at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT.

4 August 1969

USS JOHN C. CALHOUN (SSBN 630), fourth SSBN for conversion to POSEIDON capability, commenced overhaul and conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA.

21 August 1969

Tenth POSEIDON (C3) missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

17 September 1969

Eleventh POSEIDON (C3) missile launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

3 October 1969

USS ULYSSES S. GRANT (SSBN 631), fifth SSBN for conversion to POSEIDON capability, commenced overhaul and conversion at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA.

4 October 1969

The Undersea Long Range Missile System (ULMS) program was established by the Chief of Naval Operations.

17 October 1969

Strategic Systems Project Office was relocated to new quarters in Building No. 3, Crystal Mall, 1931 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA.

3 November 1969

Twelfth POSEIDON (C3) missile was launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

10 November 1969

USS TECUMSEH (SSBN 628), sixth SSBN for conversion to POSEIDON capability, commenced overhaul and conversion at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, VA.

26 November 1969

Thirteenth flight test in the POSEIDON (C3 development program conducted at Cape Kennedy, FL.

16 December 1969

Fourteenth flight test of POSEIDON (C3) was conducted from the surface missile test-firing ship USS OBSERVATION ISLAND (EAG 154). This was the first operational missile tube launch and the first complete test of the POSEIDON weapons system, including the launcher, fire control, and missile subsystems.

24 December 1969

USS NATHAN HALE (SSBN 623) deployed for operational patrol following overhaul.

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