USS George Washington (SSBN-598)

The launching of George Washington, 9 June, 1959. Note the raised deck aft of the conning tower, covering her ballistic missile tubes. US Navy photo.

Laid Down

The nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was laid down 1 November, 1958. However, during construction, her design was modified to make her the first ballistic missile submarine, lengthening her hull by 130 feet. Renamed USS George Washington (SSBN-598), commissioning took place on 30 December, 1959. On 20 July, 1960, Washington conducted the first test launch of the Polaris, successfully firing two missiles that day. Washington would go on to conduct nuclear deterrent patrols for the rest of the decade, operating out of Scotland from April, 1961. In 1970, Washington refueled in South Carolina, and transferred to the Pacific, conducting operations out of Pearl Harbor. On 9 April, 1981, Washington was rammed by the Japanese cargo ship Nissho Maru, while at periscope depth. Washington suffered minor damage, surfaced and made port, but the freighter sank in fifteen minutes, with the loss of two crew. Washington was repaired with parts from the USS Abraham Lincoln. After fifty-five deterrent patrols, Washington was switched to her original planned role of attack submarine in 1983, involving sealing her ballistic missile tubes. She decommissioned 24 January, 1985, and was disposed of through the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, completed as of 30 September, 1998. Her sail, however, is on display in Groton, Connecticut.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: The original name and hull number from George Washington were reassigned to another submarine under construction, resulting in the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) that was lost at sea in 1968.