The Lafayette class of submarine was an evolutionary development from the Ethan Allen class of fleet ballistic missile submarine, slightly larger and generally improved. This class, together with the George Washington, Ethan Allen, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin classes, composed the "41 for Freedom," the Navy's primary contribution to the nuclear deterrent force through the late 1980s. The James Madison and Benjamin Franklin classes are combined with the Lafayettes in some references.
Lafayette-class submarine USS Woodrow Wilson
|Operators:||United States Navy|
|Preceded by:||Ethan Allen class|
|Succeeded by:||James Madison class|
|In commission:||1963–1994 |
|Preserved:||1 (As Training Vessel)|
|Type:||Nuclear-powered Ballistic Missile Submarine|
Surfaced: 7,325 long tons (7,443 t)Submerged: 8,251 long tons (8,383 t)
|Length:||425 ft (130 m) |
|Beam:||33 ft (10 m) |
|Draft:||28 ft 6 in (8.69 m) |
|Test depth:||1,300 feet (400 m)|
|Complement:||Two crews of 14 officers and 126 enlisted|
|Armament:||16 Polaris A2/A3 or Poseidon C3 missiles, 4 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes|
The first eight submarines initially deployed with the Polaris A-2 missile, later being refitted with the longer ranged Polaris A-3, with USS Daniel Webster (SSBN-626) having the A-3 missile from the start. In the mid-1970s all were upgraded to carry the Poseidon C3 missile; their missile tubes were slightly larger than the Ethan Allen and George Washington classes and Poseidon was designed to take advantage of this. Unlike twelve of the similar James Madison and Benjamin Franklin classes, none of the Lafayette-class submarines were refitted with Trident I (C4) missiles.
The Lafayettes and their successors were equipped with a hovering system to manage trim more effectively when firing missiles; this increased the missile rate of fire from one per minute to four per minute.
Daniel Webster was originally built with diving planes mounted on a "mini-sail" near the bow, leading to her nickname "Old Funny Fins". This configuration, unique to US submarines, was an attempt to reduce the effect of porpoising. While successful, the "mini-sail" required to contain the operating mechanism reduced hydrodynamic efficiency and lowered her overall speed. During a mid-1970s overhaul these unusual planes were removed and standard fairwater planes were installed.
The Lafayettes were decommissioned between 1986 and 1992, due to a combination of SALT II treaty limitations as the Ohio class SSBNs entered service, age, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. One (Daniel Webster) remains out of commission but converted to a Moored Training Ship (MTS-626) with the missile compartment removed. She is stationed at Nuclear Power Training Unit Charleston, South Carolina, along with USS Sam Rayburn (MTS-635).
Boats in classEdit
|Name and hull number||Builder||Laid Down||Launched||Commissioned||Fate|
|Lafayette (SSBN-616)||General Dynamics Electric Boat||17 January 1961||8 May 1962||23 April 1963||Decommissioned 12 August 1991. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1992|
|Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617)||General Dynamics Electric Boat||26 June 1961||18 August 1962||27 June 1963||Decommissioned 23 February 1993. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1994|
|Andrew Jackson (SSBN-619)||Mare Island Naval Shipyard||26 April 1961||15 September 1962||3 July 1963||Decommissioned 31 August 1989. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1999|
|John Adams (SSBN-620)||Portsmouth Naval Shipyard||19 May 1961||12 January 1963||12 May 1964||Decommissioned 24 March 1989. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1996|
|James Monroe (SSBN-622)||Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.||31 July 1961||4 August 1962||7 December 1963||Decommissioned 25 September 1990. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1995|
|Nathan Hale (SSBN-623)||General Dynamics Electric Boat||2 October 1961||12 January 1963||23 November 1963||Decommissioned 3 November 1986. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1994|
|Woodrow Wilson (SSBN-624)||Mare Island Naval Shipyard||13 September 1961||22 February 1963||27 December 1963||Decommissioned 1 September 1994. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1998|
|Henry Clay (SSBN-625)||Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.||23 October 1961||30 November 1962||20 February 1964||Decommissioned 5 November 1990. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1997|
|Daniel Webster (SSBN-626)||General Dynamics Electric Boat||28 December 1961||27 April 1963||9 April 1964||Decommissioned 30 August 1990. Converted to Moored Training Ship (MTS-626) with missile compartment removed.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lafayette class submarines.|
- 41 for Freedom Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines
- Fleet Ballistic Missile
- List of submarines of the United States Navy
- List of submarine classes of the United States Navy
- "SSBN-616 Lafayette-Class FBM Submarines" from the FAS Archived 2012-10-23 at the Wayback Machine
- Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 199–203, 244. ISBN 1-55750-260-9.
- Polmar 1981, p.21.
- Daniel Webster at NavSource.org
- Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p.612.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2012-10-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) California Center for Military History (dead link 2015-05-05)
- Gardiner, Robert and Chumbley, Stephen (editors). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995. Annapolis, USA: Naval Institute Press, 1995. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
- Polmar, Norman. The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet: Twelfth Edition. London:Arms and Armour Press, 1981. ISBN 0-85368-397-2.
- US Naval Vessel Register - List of SSBN BALLISTIC MISSILE SUBMARINE (NUCLEAR-POWERED) Class vessels
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.