Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Nebraska II (SSBN-739)


Nebraska was admitted to the Union as the 37th state on 1 March 1867.

The second ship named for Nebraska. Shakamaxon, a large, seagoing monitor, was ordered from the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pa., on 4 November 1863, and laid down before the end of the year. The ship still lay on the ways at the end of the Civil War, and work on her was suspended on 30 November 1865. She was renamed Hecla on 15 June 1869, and Nebraska on 10 August 1869, the unfinished monitor was broken up on the ways (January 1874-March 1875) .

The first Nebraska (Battleship No. 14) commissioned into the Navy served from 1907-1920.


(SSBN-739: displacement 18,700; length 560'; beam 42'; draft 38'; speed 20+ knots; complement 153; armament 24 UGM-133 Trident II D5 submarine launched ballistic missiles and four torpedo tubes for Mk 48 torpedoes; class Ohio)

The second Nebraska (SSBN-739) was laid down on 6 July 1987 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corp.; launched on 15 August 1992; sponsored by Mrs. Patricia P. Exon, wife of Representative J. James Exon, Jr., of Nebr.; and commissioned on 10 July 1993, Capt. William R. Hansell (Blue Crew) and Capt. Charles B. Beckman (Gold Crew) in command.

Nebraska (SSBN-739) II 1993-
Nebraska knifes through the waves in this undated photograph. (Nebraska (SSBN-739) Collection, Ships History, Naval History & Heritage Command)


The shield features a blue and white globe combined with a submarine to make up the Trident silhouette, superimposed within an arrowhead. Its mail color is red highlighted with a gold trident spear. Two corn stalks support the shield on either side, interlaced with a scroll of blue displaying the motto Defensor Pacis, Defender of Peace.


The color red, symbolic of valor in action, is surrounded by a coat of dark blue and gold, the traditional colors of the Navy. The shield is in a shape of an arrowhead recalling Nebraska heritage; Nebraska is the Native American word for the state’s major river, the Platte. The submarine silhouette and globe represent Nebraska’s world-wide mission.


The coat of arms is emblazoned upon a white background enclosed within a dark blue oval band. The band is edged in red on the inside and encircled by a gold rope. Two gold stars indicate excellence. In white the inscription “USS NEBRASKA” appears at the top and “SSBN 739” at the bottom.

Nebraska (SSBN-739) II 1993-Omaha
The ships company stands tall while receiving the Omaha Trophy, which is presented annually to the single most outstanding U.S. strategic asset. Cmdr. David M. Volonino (commanding officer, Blue Crew) and Cmdr. Melvin G. Williams, Jr. (commanding officer, Gold Crew) accept the award on behalf of both crews, at Strategic Command Headquarters, Omaha, Nebr. Upon their return to Kings Bay, Capt. Thomas E. Digan, Commander Submarine Squadron 16, re-presents the award to the crewmen on board the submarine, to ensure that everyone can witness the event. (Big Red in the Med — Nebraska (SSBN-739) 1997 Cruise Book).
Nebraska (SSBN-739) II 1993-Diving
Nebraska blasts her diving alarm twice, passes the general announcement “Dive! Dive!” and misty plumes of water escape from her ballast tanks as she plunges into the depths. (Big Red in the Med — Nebraska (SSBN-739) 1997 Cruise Book).

Nebraska served initially with Submarine Group 20 at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. She changed her home port from Kings Bay to Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Wash., effective on 1 October 2004. The move followed the reassignment of two other Ohio-class fleet ballistic missile submarines, Kentucky (SSBN-737) and Pennsylvania (SSBN-735), to Bangor (24 August-22 November and October-November 2002, respectively). The Navy’s decision resulted in part from converting Ohio-class submarines Florida (SSBN-728), Georgia (SSBN-729), Michigan (SSBN-727), and Ohio (SSBN-726) to guided missile submarines (SSGNs). The shift also equalized the deployment of the remaining Ohio-class boats to seven each in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.

Nebraska successfully test fired two Trident II D5 submarine launched ballistic missiles from beneath the Pacific in early May 2008. Her launches marked the Navy’s 121st and 122nd successful test firings of Trident IIs.

Twenty-one-year-old Machinist Mate 3rd Class Michael A. Gentile of the Blue Crew, from Fairfield, Maine, died on board Nebraska while she trained submerged off Oahu, Hi., on 20 September 2008. Gentile apparently became “entangled and pinned” in the rudder ram during a cleaning evolution. Crewmen gave Gentile medical treatment, the submarine surfaced, and they placed him onto a helicopter for an emergency flight ashore, but he succumbed to his injuries while en route to the hospital.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

30 June 2014

Published: Wed Aug 12 14:27:20 EDT 2015