The Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine

There was a time when all the children of our Country were aware of "duck and cover". All were fearful in those times, of radiation, and blast effect, there seemed little chance we would recover. The bombs we faced, or felt we faced, became more menacing each year. Many citizens built their fallout shelters, and it mattered not what they said, it was out of fear.

The future in those days, from all points of view, was bleak at best, none at worst, with most folks in-between. This went on from year-to-year, and life went on despite the fear, would that huge flash be our last scene? In time the powers that be, said they had the answer, if there was an answer to be had. They would combine our mighty military force; Navy, Air Force and Army into an effort known as TRIAD.

The Air Force had Strategic Bombers, the Army developed impressive ICBMs. The Navy built, manned and trained the crews for the Submarines that were known as FBMs. All these Warriors combined performed the jobs they were assigned, and due to their efforts over numerous years, the people of the great United States were beginning to lose their all out fears.

I have no real knowledge of those B 52s that carried the bombs, which would protect our Land. The Soviet SAMs could defeat them before they reached their goal, and the latest MIG fighter would be their last very last stand. Land based ICBMs, with their mighty power were probably targeted before they were ever on line. This made them a first strike target, they could not hide, they could not move, and were far away from our cities by design.

Then there was the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine and She became the ultimate answer to the problem of the time. She went to sea on nuclear power with missiles at the ready, Her crew trained and in their prime. The plan to launch and man these Submarines was something to behold. The best of the best enlisted men were picked to man these boats, and that plan was always bold.

The ol' Diesel Boats were the main source of the officers and crew to staff each Man-of-War. With Dolphins earned, they knew Trim, Drain and Depth Control and every ship system to its core. The FBM was huge, compared to that Diesel Boat; no man had to hot bunk, no smell of diesel in the air. These Submariner's, both forward Sailors and Nucs, could take the Boat to sea and bring Her home, they would always do their share.

These great Submarines, these FBMs, each had a famous name, well known in our great land; WASHINGTON, LINCOLN, JOHN ADAMS, PATRICK HENRY and TECUMSEH each had made their stand. These Boats did their job, in full, but could never make that claim. They could neither confirm nor deny. That was the order of the day. And these patriotic Submariners would never question why. They were 41 in number and patrolled the oceans that encompassed all the enemies land. They kept our enemies in range and insured they always would receive the orders from the highest Command.

I must list a few more Boats; each one had a vital role, as our nation certainly must have seen; EDISON, JAMES MADISON, LAFAYETTE, SAM RAYBURN, ULYSESS S. GRANT, JEFFERSON and NATHANEAL GREEN, as well as BEN FRANKLIN, SAM HOUSTON, KAMEHAMEHA, SIMON BOLIVER and JOHN C. CALHOUN, ETHAN ALLEN, LEWIS AND CLARK, ALEXANDER HAMILTON, JAMES K. POLK and the DANIEL BOONE.

The COs and the XOs of these Boats, were the best officers that Admiral Rickover could deploy. This Submarine was their Boat. They made it so. They used all the skill and knowledge, each one could employ. We, the men of this Submarine, and all FBMs, had to be together. There could be no other way. Our COs and our XOs were masters that provided the guidance and the course that we would stay.

Machines, even magnificent machines, as were these 41, must eventually meet their end. They were replaced by new FBMs that had more missiles, more power, and later technology on which they could depend. These Trident Submarines relied on the skills of those that manned the original 41. The names of the Boats may have changed, and the weapons too, but the same mission still was to be done.

These new proud Boats mostly took the names of states of this great land; ALABAMA, ALASKA, MICHIGAN and TENNESSEE along with RHODE ISLAND, NEBRASKA and. MARYLAND. There is also the OHIO, WYOMING, NEVADA, LOUSIANA, PENNSYLVANIA, WEST VIRGINIA, KENTUCKY and MAINE. Some took names of old Battleships, they are the Battleships of new, and in the minds of Sailors young and old they always will remain.

Many of these Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines are still engrossed in doing upkeeps and patrols, and even to this day there are many that do not comprehend these FBMs, let alone their roles. I must state this fact: these FBMs saved the world from nuclear war, because they did the job intended. No other force could belay the records of these FBMs. The Soviets tried but their efforts were upended. This Sailor that I am, or rather that I was, is proud to have played a minor part in this effort that won that long Cold War, and it is my hope that my Grandchildren's Children will never understand "duck and cover "or even what those words were for.

E. A. Hughes, FTCM (SS)
USN (Retired), 2005