Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content

George Washington III (SSBN-598)


Image related to George Washington III
Caption: George Washington (SSBN-598), the world's first fleet ballistic missile submarine.

(SSBN-598: displacement 5600; length 382'; beam 33'; draft 29'; speed 20+ knots; complement 120; armament 16 Polaris A-1 submarine launched ballistic missiles; class George Washington)

Image related to George Washington III
Caption: Captain Osborn reporting on success of the first missile firing.

George Washington, 1732–1799, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States. For additional information see:


The third George Washington (SSBN-598) was laid down on 1 November 1957 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corp.; launched on 9 June 1959; sponsored by Mrs. Ollie R. Anderson, wife of Robert B. Anderson, Secretary of the Treasury, and commissioned on 30 December 1959, Cdr. James B. Osborn (blue crew) and Cdr. John L. From Jr. (gold crew) in command.

The first of a class of ballistic missile submarines, George Washington sailed from Groton on 28 June 1960 for Cape Canaveral, Fla., where she loaded two solid propellant Polaris missiles. Standing out into the Atlantic Missile Test Range with Rear Adm. William F. Raborn, head of the Polaris submarine development program on board as an observer, the nuclear powered submarine made history on 20 July 1960 when she successfully launched the first Polaris from a submerged submarine. At 1239, George Washington's commanding officer sent President Dwight D. Eisenhower the message: "Polaris from out of the deep to target. Perfect." Less than two hours later another missile from the submerged submarine homed in on the impact area 1,100 miles down range.

George Washington returned to Cape Canaveral to embark her gold crew, and on 30 July 1960 duplicated her earlier successes by launching two more missiles while submerged. Shakedown for the gold crew ended at Groton on 30 August and the submarine got underway from that port on 28 October for Charleston, S.C., to load her full complement of 16 Polaris missiles. There she received the Navy Unit Commendation, covering the period of 9 June 1959–20 July 1960, after which her blue crew took over; and George Washington embarked on her first patrol.

The submarine completed her first patrol after 66 days of submerged running on 21 January 1961 and put in at New London, Conn. The gold crew took over; and she departed on her next patrol on 14 February. After the patrol George Washington entered Holy Loch, Scotland, on 25 April 1961. Through 1964 she continued to conduct classified deterrent patrols from that port, alternating her two crews. Four years after her initial departure from Groton she put in to refuel, having steamed 100,000 miles.

After overhaul and refueling at Electric Boat in 1965, George Washington resumed her patrols and served as a deterrent to global war for the next twenty years.

George Washington was decommissioned on 24 January 1985, stricken on 30 April 1986, and later transferred to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., for scrapping. She was disposed of by submarine recycling on 30 September 1998.

Detailed history pending.

Updated by Mark L. Evans

8 January 2016

Published:Fri Jan 08 11:35:58 EST 2016