A Tender Tale

The Soviets - always the masters at propaganda and high impact - have anticipated America's muted reaction - so three weeks later - they put the "exclamation point" on their ICBM announcement. And what a point it was - literally - you could go outside at night and see it - a little "point" of light traveling across the sky. You could hear it on your radio - or if you didn't try to pick it up on the radio - TV News would gladly play it for you. There was this "Russian thing" in the heavens - over America. The launching of Sputnik - made it crystal clear
The Washington being "reassembled". The part just visible in the upper left corner of the picture is the front half of the original "Scorpion". The front of the new section being added is the Missile control / Navcenter. This section is part of the "tubes" addition.
to all Americans just how serious the ICBM threat was. Before - it was "over there". Now the damned Russians were over head - ready to send nuclear rain on us. The threat that their advanced inter-continental missiles had much longer range and much more payload capacity hit home - hard. The country was in near panic. President Eisenhower had to go on TV to calm nerves - and re-assure the public. But privately - he turned to the Military and challenged them to meet the threat - and do it quickly. The Army and the Air Force had nothing to offer. The B36 project the Air Force was totally committed to was no match for this new threat. CNO Arleigh Burke went to the president with an idea. Within two weeks of the launch of Sputnik - in cooperation with the White house - congress appropriated funds for Burke and Rayburn's plan.
The Washington - ready for service...
A rare look at the "business end" of the Polaris Delivery System
The answer - an ambitious plan was adopted to take a fast attack sub already well under construction - cut it in half - and install a missile section. That could be done in a couple of years - rather than the 6 to 7 years required with new construction. So it was that the USS Scorpion - SSN 598 - became the USS George Washington - SSBN 598. She was cut in half just behind the sail - and a 130 foot section added containing 16 missile tubes and spaces where some additional new equipment could be mounted. The lower deck - in the new part going just aft of the sail is the Missile control subsystems - including Fire Control, Missile Test and Readiness Equipment - and the Master Missile Status and Control Console.

In the Upper Deck of this section - is the new Navigation Equipment - Including SINS, the NavConsole and the Multi-speed repeaters - that feed the Nav Data to the Missile SubSystem. Eventually - five Skipjack class submarine were built as SSBNs.


© 1997 Common Cents Computers