(SSBN-624: dp. 7,250 (surf.), 8,220 (subm.); l. 425'; b. 33'; dr. 31'4"; s. 16 k. (surf.), 20+ (subm.); cpl. 140; a. 16 Polaris mis., 4 tt.; cl. Lafayette)
Thomas Woodrow Wilson, born on 28 December 1856 at Staunton, Va., graduated from Princeton University in 1879 before attending University of Virginia Law School. He subsequently earned a doctorate at Johns Hopkins and then taught at Bryn Mawr and Wesleyan before accepting a teaching post at Princeton, his alma mater. He became president of Princeton in 1902 and brought the university to national prominence. In 1910, Wilson was elected governor of New Jersey and served a two-year term in which he effected several key progressive reforms.
After becoming the Democratic Party's presidential candidate in the 1912 elections, Wilson defeated a badly split Republican Party and was inaugurated president on 4 March 1913. Wilson's first term in the White House was marked by liberal reforms which were popularized under the label, the "New Freedom." Upon the outbreak of World War I in Europe, Wilson tried to keep the United States neutral. While patiently insisting on American rights as a neutral, he successfully guided the country through the Lusitania crisis in the spring of 1915.
While abstaining from intervention in Europe's affairs for a time, the United States, under Wilson's leadership, moved decisively in Latin America and the Caribbean when it saw American rights threatened. American naval or military units landed in Mexico, Santo Domingo, Haiti, and Nicaragua to restore order and to establish benevolent American protection for its own nationals as well as for the nationals of the troubled countries.
Eventually, pressures to enter the war, despite the 1916 campaign slogan "He kept us out of war," proved too great. In April 1917, the United States joined the Allied and Associated Powers in the war against the Central Powers. Exercising his powers as Commander in Chief, Wilson was well aware of the Navy's role in the "war to end wars" and "to make the world safe for democracy." In a speech to the officers of the Atlantic Fleet on 11 August 1917, the President said: "... the officers of this Navy . . . have the distinction of saying how this war is going to be won."
With the Navy guarding the sea lanes to Europe, the United States eventually sent substantial numbers of troops "over there," to join the battle on the Western Front. On 11 November 1918, the armistice was signed, ending World War I.
Between 1914 and 1917, Wilson had based his appeals for peace upon the formula, "peace without victory." After the United States entered the conflict, the President continued to strive for the ideal of a peace wherein there would be no victor, none vanquished. Instead, he urged the recognition of the rights of smaller nations and freedom of the seas. His "Fourteen Points" attempted to apply these broad ideals to specific problem areas of the peaceful postwar settlement. Incorporating these fourteen points of international ethics into a comprehensive plan, Wilson broke precedent by leading the American delegation to the Peace Conference at Paris. Once there, however, he found to his dismay that European leaders were not as ready as he to make high ideals the foundation of a postwar settlement that would be fair and just for all. As a result, negotiations were weakened by many compromises with Wilson's ideals, and the treaty, with its provision for a League of Nations, was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate. Taking his fight to the people, Wilson embarked upon a strenuous speaking tour, valiantly fighting to convince the American people that only collective security could keep the United States out of future wars. In September 1919, worn out by the struggle for his League of Nations, Wilson broke, physically, and remained ill throughout the remainder of his second term. Never fully recovered, he lived quietly in Washington after Warren G. Harding won the 1920 elections and brought "normalcy" to the United States; Wilson died in Washington on 3 February 1924.
Woodrow Wilson (SSBN-624) was laid down on 16 September 1961 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard; launched on 22 February 1963; sponsored by Miss Eleanor A. Sayre, the granddaughter of President Wilson; and commissioned on 27 December 1963, Comdr. C. N. Mitchell and Comdr. W. N. Dietzen in command of the Blue and Gold crews, respectively.
Woodrow Wilson departed Vallejo, Calif., on 9 January 1964, bound for the east coast on a route which would take her through the Panama Canal. After stopping briefly at San Diego, the submarine proceeded on to Panama, arriving on 19 January at the west coast end of the canal. Violent anti-American demonstrations and riots over a recent flag-displaying incident had resulted in an extremely tense atmosphere. As a result, the submarine transited the canal in a record seven hours and ten minutes while combat-ready Marines and soldiers guarded the locks.
Making port at Charleston, S.C., on 5 February, the Woodrow Wilson conducted shakedown off the lower eastern seaboard into March and underwent her post-shakedown availability into April. She put to sea at the end of May upon the conclusion of these repairs and alterations and commenced her first deterrent patrol out of Charleston in June.
Woodrow Wilson subsequently operated in the Atlantic until the autumn of 1969 conducting her patrols from forward bases at Rota, Spain, and Holy Loch, Scotland. She was then transferred to the Pacific and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 19 November, via Charleston and the Panama Canal. The fleet ballistic missile submarine continued toward the western Pacific to be based at Guam. She conducted deterrent patrols from Apra Harbor through 1972. In that year, she shifted back to the Atlantic and served with the Atlantic Fleet into 1978. Between 1964 and 1977, the ship performed 37 deterrent patrols.