‘A New Kind of Navy Man Pioneering a New Concept of Sea Power in the Age of Space’

Enjoy this great 27-minute circa 1960 film “Man And The FBM” covering the Navy’s Cold War Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine force and the UGM-27 Polaris nuclear-tipped SLBMs they carried. 

Keep in mind, the film was made just a few years after USS Nautilus took to the sea and only 15 since the first, comparatively puny, A-bomb was dropped from a propeller-driven bomber.

These first nuclear-powered FBM submarines, armed with long-range strategic missiles, were ordered on 31 December 1957, with the building attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589) lengthened with a 130-foot section to accommodate 16 Polaris missiles.

Rear Admiral William F. Rayborn, USN (left), and Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN, Chief of Naval Operations. Examine a cutaway model of the ballistic missile submarine George Washington (SSBN-598), July 1959. Official U.S. Navy photograph. Catalog#: USN 710496.

Completed as USS George Washington (SSBN-598), she was commissioned on 30 December 1959, just short of two years later, the first of the “41 for Freedom” boats that kicked off the strategic missile deterrent patrol system still maintained today. Footage of the GW’s commissioning is included in the film. 

Seldom heard from, the 41 boats of the FBM program made an incredible 2,824 armed patrols during their time on earth, each typically about 65 days. This is about 502 patrol years at sea during the Cold War.


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