USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654): History, Patrols, Crews
The USS George C. Marshall was a member of the Benjamin Franklin class of ballistic missile submarines (also known as “Boomers”). She was named in honor of General George C. Marshall, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his service as Secretary of State and also served as Secretary of Defense.
The contract to build the George C. Marshall was awarded to the Newport News (Va.) Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. on July 29, 1963. Her keel was laid down on March 2, 1964; she was launched on May 21, 1965 and was sponsored by Gen. Marshall’s widow, Katherine. She was commissioned on April 29, 1966, with Commander Warran Cobean commanding the Blue Crew and Commander Willard Johnson in command of the Gold Crew.
Homeported at Charleston, S.C., the George C. Marshall departed on her first nuclear deterrence patrol on Oct. 25, 1966, armed with 16 Polaris A-3 missiles. She would continue to serve in this capacity without incident until February 1973, when she entered dry dock at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul. During this overhaul, the George C. Marshall’s Polaris missiles were removed and replaced with the Poseidon C-3 missile system. After the overhaul was completed, she test fired a Poseidon missile during her shakedown cruise.
In September 1973, the George C. Marshall returned to regular deterrence duties. On March 30, 1977, fired two Poseidon missiles during an operational test. Two days later, she fired a third Poseidon successfully. On July 11, 1981, the George C. Marshall fired four Poseidon missiles in rapid succession during another test.
In December 1981, the George C. Marshall returned to Newport News for a major overhaul. The overhaul took nearly 29 months to complete, and the submarine did not return to the waters of the Atlantic until April 1984. On July 24 of that same year, she test fired a Poseidon missile as it completed a shakedown cruise.
On Oct. 16, 1987, the George C. Marshall fired four Poseidon missiles, marking the 60th test firing of the ballistic missile by the Navy’s deterrence fleet. In 1991, she received the Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Battle “E” for outstanding combat preparedness.
The George C. Marshall completed 78 deterrence patrols; one of the final patrols marked her departure from her forward operating base at Holy Loch, Scotland, in 1992.
The George C. Marshall was decommissioned on Sept. 24, 1992 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. She entered the Navy’s Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Wash., and was declared scrapped on Feb. 28, 1994.
Characteristics of the USS George C. Marshall (Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Displacement: 6,494 tons
Length: 129.5 m (425 ft)
Beam: 10 m (33 ft)
Draft: 9.6 m (32 ft)
Propulsion: S5W reactor
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h) surfaced, 21 knots (39 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 400 m (1,300 ft)
Complement: two crews of 14 officers and 126 enlisted men each
Armament: 16 missile tubes, 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
Name: USS George C. Marshall
Ordered: 29 July 1963
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company
Laid down: 2 March 1964
Launched: 21 May 1965
Commissioned: 29 April 1966
Decommissioned: 24 September 1992
Motto: Patience not Weakness (Unofficial / crew: Patience my ass)
Fate: Submarine recycling
July 1963: USS George C. Marshall ordered
March 1964: Keel of USS George C. Marshall laid down
May 1965: USS George C. Marshall launched
April 1966: USS George C. Marshall commissioned
February—September 1973: USS George C. Marshall upgraded to fire Poseidon ballistic missiles
October 1987: USS George C. Marshall test fires 60th Poseidon missile
1991: USS George C. Marshall wins Meritorious Unit Commendation
September 1992: USS George C. Marshall decommissioned
Crewmembers of the USS George C. Marshall:
An unofficial list of crew members that served on the USS George C. Marshall 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:
Rick Powell (served 1981—91): “I have fond memories of my time on the Marshall, flooding, mattresses over the battery well, taping up dink mess cooks and going to Capt mast over it…. good times. Miss all of you the Blue crew.”
Jose Pacheo (served October 1989—February 1992): “Great memories of this pig, especially the people and the rainy days standing Topside Watch in Scotland. I guess back then it didn’t seem as much fun as it seems now. I learned a lot of my English on this boat.”
Wayne Antal (served November 1989—January 1991): “Great experience. I will forever be linked to the guys that went underway with me. Great friendships and great memories.”