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Benjamin Franklin-class submarine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN-640).gif
Class overview
Name: Benjamin Franklin class
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: James Madison class
Succeeded by: Ohio class
Built: 1963–1967[1]
In commission: 1965–2002[2]
Completed: 12
Retired: 12
General characteristics
Type: Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine

Surfaced: 7,325 long tons (7,443 t)

Submerged: 8,251 long tons (8,383 t)[3]
Length: 425 ft (130 m)[3]
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)[3]
Draft: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)[3]
  • 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) surfaced
  • 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph) submerged[3]
Test depth: 1,300 feet (400 m)[3]
Complement: Two crews of 14 officers and 126 enlisted[3]

The Benjamin Franklin-class submarine was a group of US ballistic missile submarines that were in Navy service from the 1960s–2000s. The class was an evolutionary development from the earlier James Madison class of fleet ballistic missile submarine. Having quieter machinery and other improvements, it is considered a separate class. A subset of this class is the re-engineered 640 class starting with USS George C. Marshall The primary difference was that they were built under the new SUBSAFE rules after the loss of USS Thresher, earlier boats of the class had to be retrofitted to meet SUBSAFE requirements. The Benjamin Franklin class, together with the George Washington, Ethan Allen, Lafayette, and James Madison classes, composed the "41 for Freedom" that was the Navy's primary contribution to the nuclear deterrent force through the late 1980s. This class and the James Madison class are combined with the Lafayettes in some references.


The Benjamin Franklin-class submarines were built with the Polaris A-3 ballistic missile, and in the early 1970s were converted to carry the Poseidon C-3 missile. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, six boats were further modified to carry the Trident I (C-4) missile, along with six James Madison-class boats. These were Benjamin Franklin, Simon Bolivar, George Bancroft, Henry L. Stimson, Francis Scott Key, and Mariano G. Vallejo.[1]

Due to the loss of USS Thresher in April 1963, this class was designed to SUBSAFE standards and its equipment was similar to the Sturgeon-class fast attack submarines (SSNs). Previous US SSBNs except the George Washington class had equipment similar to the Thresher-class SSNs.

This class can be distinguished by the fairwater planes' location halfway up the sail; the Lafayettes and James Madisons had the fairwater planes in the upper front portion of the sail.

Two submarines of this class were converted for delivery of up to 66 SEALs or other Special Operations Forces each. In the early 1990s, to make room for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines within the limits set by the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty, the ballistic missile tubes of Kamehameha and James K. Polk were disabled. Those boats were redesignated special operations attack submarines and given attack submarine (SSN) hull classification symbols. They were equipped with dry deck shelters to accommodate SEAL Delivery Vehicles or other equipment.[1]


The Benjamin Franklins were decommissioned between 1992 and 2002 due to a combination of SALT II treaty limitations as the Ohio class SSBNs entered service, age, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.[1] USS Kamehameha was decommissioned on 2 April 2002, the last ship of the Benjamin Franklin class to be decommissioned.[4]

The sail of George Bancroft is preserved at the Naval Submarine Base King's Bay, Georgia. James K. Polk's sail is on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History[5] in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mariano G. Vallejo's sail is preserved at Mare Island, California, where she was built. The sail of Lewis and Clark is on display at the Patriot's Point Maritime Museum in Charleston, South Carolina.

Boats in class

Submarines of the Benjamin Franklin class:[1] (Submarines marked with * indicate Trident C-4 ballistic missile conversions.)

Name Hull no. Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Benjamin Franklin * SSBN-640 General Dynamics Electric Boat 25 May 1963 5 December 1964 22 October 1965 Decommissioned 23 November 1993. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1995
Simon Bolivar * SSBN-641 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. 17 April 1963 22 August 1964 29 October 1965 Decommissioned 8 February 1995. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1995
Kamehameha SSBN-642 Mare Island Naval Shipyard 2 May 1963 16 January 1965 10 December 1965 Decommissioned 2 April 2002. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 2003
George Bancroft * SSBN-643 General Dynamics Electric Boat 24 August 1963 20 March 1965 22 January 1966 Decommissioned 21 September 1993. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1998
Lewis and Clark SSBN-644 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. 29 July 1963 21 November 1964 22 December 1965 Decommissioned 27 June 1992. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1996
James K. Polk SSBN-645 General Dynamics Electric Boat 23 November 1963 22 May 1965 16 April 1966 Decommissioned 8 July 1999. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 2000
George C. Marshall SSBN-654 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. 2 March 1964 21 May 1965 29 April 1966 Decommissioned 24 September 1992. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1994
Henry L. Stimson * SSBN-655 General Dynamics Electric Boat 4 April 1964 13 November 1965 20 August 1966 Decommissioned 5 May 1993. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1994
George Washington Carver SSBN-656 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. 24 August 1964 14 August 1965 15 June 1966 Decommissioned 18 March 1993. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1994
Francis Scott Key * SSBN-657 General Dynamics Electric Boat 5 December 1964 23 April 1966 3 December 1966 Decommissioned 2 September 1993. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1995
Mariano G. Vallejo * SSBN-658 Mare Island Naval Shipyard 7 July 1964 23 October 1965 16 December 1966 Decommissioned 9 March 1995. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1995
Will Rogers SSBN-659 General Dynamics Electric Boat 20 March 1965 21 July 1966 1 April 1967 Decommissioned 12 April 1993. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1994

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p.612.
  2. ^ Benjamin Franklin class at
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 199–203, 244. ISBN 1-55750-260-9.
  4. ^ Kamehameha at
  5. ^ "Heritage Park". National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. Retrieved 17 August 2012.


External links

This page was last edited on 26 December 2020, at 13:04
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