Admiral Arleigh Burke’s Deep Dive Diploma
U.S.S. Robert E. Lee (SSBN 601) Pax Deterrendo Deep Dive Diploma
Be it known among all ye landlubbers and topside sailors that on 15 Nov 60 I was visited in the depths of my domain by the U.S.S. Robert E. Lee (SSB (N) 601) during a dive to DEEP DEPTH. And among the distinguished present at that time was Admiral A.A. Burke, USN He shall forevermore bear the mark of the confirmed Ballistic Missile Submariner.
For Davy Jones
His Majesty’s Scribe
His Majesty’s Servant
Arleigh Albert “31-knot” Burke was of course the longest serving Chief of Naval Operations, a job typically filled in two-year terms, serving from across the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, working 15-hour days, six days a week, starting in 1955. Born 19 Oct 1901, he was just a couple weeks past his 59th birthday when he picked up his Deep Dive diploma above.
Upon completing his third term, Burke was transferred to the Retired List on August 1, 1961.
Though famous for being a destroyer man, he oversaw what became the Navy’s SSBN program, arguing that land-based missiles and bombers were vulnerable to attack, which made the U.S.-Soviet nuclear balance dangerously unstable. By contrast, nuclear submarines were virtually undetectable and invulnerable– the strongest part of the nuclear triad.
The Robert E. Lee was a George Washington-class fleet ballistic missile submarine and the third to join the fleet when she was commissioned 15 September 1960. She served until replaced by a more modern Ohio-class boomber in 1983 and was recycled by 1991. When commissioned (and while Burke took his cruise) Lee carried 16 UGM-27 Polaris SLBMs, each capable of being armed with a single Mk 1 re-entry vehicle, carrying a single W-47-Y1 600 kt nuclear warhead.