The USS Daniel Webster, (SSBN-626 submarine, ballistic missile firing, nuclear-powered), was named in honor of the former Massachusetts Senator and fabled orator Daniel Webster (1752-1822).
The Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics was awarded the contract to build the Daniel Webster on Feb. 3, 1961 and the her keel was laid nearly 11 months later, on Dec. 28, 1961. She was launched on April 27, 1963. Given the motto “Liberty and Union,” the Daniel Webster was the ninth submarine to join the Lafayette class of ballistic missile submarines (commonly nicknamed “Boomers”).
The Daniel Webster was officially commissioned on April 9, 1964. As she would throughout her career, the submarine had two crews: the Blue Crew, commanded by Commander Marvin S. Blair, and the Gold Crew, led by Commander Lloyd S. Smith.
The Daniel Webster had a slightly different design from other Lafayette class submarines, with planes mounted above the hull near the bow. Intended to stabilize the vessel, it instead increased water resistance and made the ship slower (as well as giving rise to the derisive nickname “Old Funny Fins”). During its first of two overhauls, the Daniel Webster had the planes removed in favor of standard fairwater plates.
Originally part of the Atlantic Fleet, the Daniel Webster was transferred to the Pacific Fleet after its first overhaul was completed in 1970. After a later, second overhaul (which included the installation of the new Poseidon ballistic missile), the Daniel Webster returned to the Atlantic Fleet.
The Webster was decommissioned on Aug. 30, 1990 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. But it was spared the fate of many of its Lafayette class comrades and was not scrapped. Instead, it was converted into a Moored Training Ship and is permanently moored at the Charleston’s Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit. Her official designation is now MTS-626.
Characteristics of the USS Daniel Webster
Type: Ballistic missile submarine
Displacement: 7,250 long tons (7,370 t) surfaced; 8,250 long tons (8,380 t) submerged Length: 425 ft (130 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 31 ft 6 in (9.6 m)
Propulsion: 1 × S5W reactor
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h) surfaced; -25 knots (46 km/h) submerged
Complement: Two crews (Blue/Gold) of 13 officers and 130 enlisted
Armament: • 4 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes for Mark 48 torpedoes
• 16 × vertical tubes for Polaris or Poseidon nuclear missiles
- February 1961: Contract for construction of USS Daniel Webster awarded
- December 1961: Keel laid for the USS Daniel Webster
- April 1963: USS Daniel Webster launched
- April 1964: USS Daniel Webster officially commissioned
- August 1990: USS Daniel Webster decommissioned
Crewmembers of the USS Daniel Webster:
An unofficial list of crew members that served on the USS Daniel Webster can be found on the unofficial navy website at: http://navysite.de. This list is compiled by former crewmembers that voluntarily register. Some quoted comments from former crewmembers are listed below; many more are available on the source website at the following web address: http://www.navysite.de/crew.php?action=ship&ship=ssbn_626.
Jeffrey Garner (served January 1989-February 1992): “Served as reactor operator…Stayed for decommissioning, refueling and conversion to MTS. Sweet times in Scotland prior to patrols.”
Mark Nunn (served February 1992-May 1996): “Reported when ship went into yards to become MTS-626 and sailed the last ride from the ship yard to the weapon station…Good fun and great memories.”