USS Von Steuben (SSBN-632)

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USS Von Steuben (SSBN-632)
Uss Von Steuben SSBN-632.jpg
USS Von Steuben (SSBN-632) on 15 May 1985.
History
Flag of the United States.svgUnited States
Namesake: Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730–1794), a Prussian army officer who served in the American Revolutionary War
Ordered: 20 July 1961
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
Laid down: 4 September 1962
Launched: 18 October 1963
Sponsored by: Mrs. Fred Korth
Commissioned: 30 September 1964
Decommissioned: 26 February 1994
Struck: 26 February 1994
Fate: Scrapping via Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program begun 1 October 2000, completed 30 October 2001
General characteristics
Class and type: James Madison-class submarine
Displacement:
  • 6,504 tons (light)
  • 7,250 tons (surfaced)
  • 8,250 tons (submerged)
Length: 425 feet (130 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Installed power: S5W reactor
Propulsion: 2 × geared steam turbines, 15,000 shp (11,185 kW) 1 shaft
Speed: Over 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Test depth: 1,300 feet (400 m)
Complement: Two crews (Blue and Gold) of 13 officers and 130 enlisted men each
Armament:
  • 16 × ballistic missile tubes
  • 4 × 21 inches (0.53 m) torpedo tubes

USS Von Steuben (SSBN-632), a James Madison-class fleet ballistic missile submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730–1794), a Prussian army officer who served in the American Revolutionary War.

<i>James Madison</i>-class submarine submarine class

The James Madison class of submarine was an evolutionary development from the Lafayette class of fleet ballistic missile submarine. They were identical to the Lafayettes except for being initially designed to carry the Polaris A-3 missile instead of the earlier A-2. This class, together with the George Washington, Ethan Allen, Lafayette, and Benjamin Franklin 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 Benjamin Franklin class are combined with the Lafayettes in some references.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

Baron is a rank of nobility or title of honour, often hereditary. The female equivalent is baroness.

Contents

Construction and commissioning

The contract to build Von Steuben was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia, on 20 July 1961 and her keel was laid down there on 4 September 1962. She was launched on 18 October 1963, sponsored by Mrs. Fred Korth, and commissioned on 30 September 1964, with Commander John P. Wise in command of the Blue Crew and Commander Jeffrey C. Metzel in command of the Gold Crew.

Newport News, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Newport News is an independent city in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 180,719. In 2013, the population was estimated to be 183,412, making it the fifth-most populous city in Virginia.

Virginia State of the United States of America

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U.S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.

Ship commissioning is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service, and may be regarded as a particular application of the general concepts and practices of project commissioning. The term is most commonly applied to the placing of a warship in active duty with its country's military forces. The ceremonies involved are often rooted in centuries old naval tradition.

Polaris missile launch UGM-27C Polaris A3 launch.jpg
Polaris missile launch

During the autumn of 1964, the Von Steuben completed two shakedown cruises — one for each crew — and a period of antisubmarine warfare training between the two cruises. On 22 December 1964, her Gold Crew fired her first Polaris ballistic missile on the Atlantic Missile Range before returning to Newport News for Christmas. She changed crews again at the beginning of 1965, and returned to the missile range off Cape Kennedy, Florida, where the Blue Crew fired its first Polaris missile. In February 1965, after completing all initial training operations, she returned to Newport News.

Shakedown (testing)

A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to last for a much longer, and more importantly, predictable life-span. For example, if a bolt has a hidden flaw introduced during manufacturing, it will not be as reliable as other bolts of the same type.

Eastern Range

The Eastern Range (ER) is an American rocket range that supports missile and rocket launches from the two major launch heads located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. The range has also supported Ariane launches from the Guiana Space Centre as well as launches from the Wallops Flight Facility and other lead ranges. The range also uses instrumentation operated by NASA at Wallops and KSC.

Christmas holiday originating in Christianity, usually celebrated on December 25 (in the Gregorian or Julian calendars)

Christmas is an annual festival, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

In March 1965, Von Steuben headed for her first duty assignment. She joined Submarine Squadron 18 at Charleston, South Carolina, her new base of operations, and immediately began conducting strategic deterrent patrols.

Charleston, South Carolina City in the United States

Charleston is the oldest and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina's coastline and is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando rivers. Charleston had an estimated population of 134,875 in 2017. The estimated population of the Charleston metropolitan area, comprising Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, was 761,155 residents in 2016, the third-largest in the state and the 78th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.

South Carolina State of the United States of America

South Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River.

At the end of her 11th deterrent patrol early in 1968, Von Steuben was reassigned to Submarine Squadron 16 and operated out of Rota, Spain, until the middle of 1969.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sealady incident

On August 9, 1968, while operating submerged about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the southern coast of Spain, Von Steuben was struck by a submerged tow cable connecting a tug and a merchant tanker called Sealady (Sealady was a liberty ship previously named Bengt H. Larson (1959) and before that was named Alan Seeger (1954)). Due to the merchant being under tow at the time of the collision, the ship had no engine noise for the submarine to detect its presence. When it became apparent the submarine had lost depth control and steering, but not knowing why, the submarine conducted an emergency main ballast tank blow, which resulted in the collision of the submarine and the towed ship. The submarine suffered external damage to the sail and superstructure. After local repairs at the submarine squadron facilities in Rota, she reported to Groton, Connecticut, for more detailed repairs at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, after which she resumed deterrent patrols out of Rota. [1] [2]

Liberty ship cargo ships built in the United States during World War II

Liberty ships were a class of cargo ship built in the United States during World War II. Though British in concept, the design was adapted by the United States for its simple, low-cost construction. Mass-produced on an unprecedented scale, the Liberty ship came to symbolize U.S. wartime industrial output.

Groton, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Groton is a town in New London County, Connecticut located on the Thames River. It is the home of General Dynamics Electric Boat, which is the major contractor for submarine work for the United States Navy. The Naval Submarine Base New London is located in Groton, and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer is also a major employer. Avery Point in Groton is home to a regional campus of the University of Connecticut. The population was 40,115 at the 2010 census.

Connecticut state of the United States of America

Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport. It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the Tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".

This incident was revisited, when USS Greeneville, on 9 February 2001, also conducted an emergency main ballast tank blow off the coast of Oahu while hosting several civilians. Greeneville struck the 191-foot (58 m) Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru (えひめ丸), causing the fishing boat to sink in less than ten minutes with the death of nine crew members, including four high school students. [3] Von Steuben had conducted an emergency main ballast tank blow due to its planes tangled in the submerged towline of the tug, jamming them so that the sub threatened to sink. Greenville blew her main ballast tanks merely to demonstrate a maneuver and not to escape from danger. Her captain consciously surrendered control of the vessel. The captain of Von Steuben had acted properly in ordering the emergency blow. He had lost control of his ship, his stern planes were jammed, and the possibility of an irreversible plunge to the bottom of the ocean was very real. However, Greenville's captain had to face a court of inquiry and possibly a full court-martial, until his request to retire was approved. [4]

Upgraded ballistic missile system

Poseidon missile launch Poseidon C-3 SLBM.jpg
Poseidon missile launch
Trident I missile launch Trident missile launch.jpg
Trident I missile launch

In November 1970, Von Steuben visited Groton once again, this time near the end of a 16-month overhaul during which she was modified to carry the newly developed Poseidon C-3 ballistic missile, which boasted major advances in warhead technology and accuracy and systematically was replacing the older Polaris missiles in the Lafayette, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin-class submarines. Von Steuben conducted post-conversion shakedown during the early months of 1971 and, while escorted by the destroyer USS William C. Lawe (DD-763) for range security, conducted a two-missile Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) in which she fired her first and second Poseidon missiles in February and March 1971, respectively. [5] [6]

In May 1971, she returned to Charleston and resumed strategic deterrent patrols carrying the newer Poseidon missiles. She conducted an Extended Refit Period at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard between March 1978 and May 1978.

Von Steuben's ballistic missile system was upgraded a second time in the early 1980s to use Trident I (C4) ballistic missiles. [7] These missiles were also retrofitted to 11 other SSBNs of the James Madison and Benjamin Franklin classes, replacing their Poseidon missiles, and also were the first missiles carried by the early Ohio-class submarines. Trident missiles were three-stage missiles that provided for increased range along with advances in inertial guidance systems. [8] Von Steuben continued making strategic deterrent patrols into the early 1990s with the Trident I missile.

Decommissioning and disposal

Von Steuben was decommissioned on 26 February 1994 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register simultaneously. Her scrapping via the Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington, began on 1 October 2000 and was completed on 30 October 2001. Von Steuben's age from delivery to disposal was 37.2 years.

See also

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References

Citations
  1. "A-Sub of U.S. Collodes With Ship Off Spain" . Retrieved 2016-05-19.
  2. "Naval Historical Center, Von Steuben" . Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  3. "CNN.com – U.S. sub hits Japanese fishing vessel, 10 missing". 9 February 2001. Archived from the original on 11 April 2005.
  4. "Marine Collisions in the Vertical: Submarines Surfacing" . Retrieved 2016-05-19.
  5. "Naval Historical Center, William C. Law" . Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  6. "Naval Historical Center, Von Steuben" . Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  7. "Encyclopedia Astronautica" . Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  8. "Program Guide to the U.S. Navy" (2002 ed.). Retrieved 2011-09-25.
Sources