Alexander Hamilton (SSBN617)
(SSBN-617): displacement 6,700 tons (surfaced), 7,363 tons (submerged); length 425; beam 33'; draft
32'; speed 20+ knots; compliment 156; armament 16 Polaris, 4 21"torpedo tubes; class LAFAYETTE)
(Note: The following narrative comes almost entirely from the COMMAND HISTORY OF THE USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON (SSBN-617) for each calendar year. These Command Histories were obtained from the Center for Naval History archives at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, DC. on 12 September 2012 by me. I made copies of all the available histories at that time. These histories have been compiled and edited by Dean Habhegger, Webmaster of SSBN-617.com)
The ALEXANDER HAMILTON (SSBN-617) was laid down on 26 June 1961 at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corporation and launched on 18 August 1962 (A news article at the time noted that the USS Alexander Hamilton was the 13th nuclear powered submarine built at EB). The launch was sponsored and christened by Mrs. Valentine Hollingsworth, Jr., the great-great-great granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton. A copy of the Launching Program can be READ HERE]
ALEXANDER HAMILTON was placed in service on 23 DEC 1962 (this is the period after the launching but before commissioning when ship construction is finished and sea trials happen).
"1. COMPLETION...NOTED AS SHORTEST SSBN OVERHAUL ACHIEVED TO DATE IN ANY SHIPYARD.
The nuclear reactor was taken critical for the first time on the last day of February 1963. ALEXANDER HAMILTON was powered by an S5W reactor (the 'S' stands for submarine, the '5' is the 5th version of the power plant and the 'W' stands for Westinghouse the designer and builder of the reactor). The S5W plant was a pressurized water reactor and was installed in most if not all of the "41 For Freedom" Polaris boats. [The AMERICAN SUBMARINER Magazine has a great article titled "Submarine Nuclear Propulsion" by Tom Dougherty in the 2021 Fourth Quarter September 1st Issue. READ HERE]
A momentous day for any new ship, 7 April 1963 ALEXANDER HAMILTON was underway for the first time. These were the first Sea Trials conducted and lasted two days. During this trial the boat made its first dive as well; obviously an important milestone for a submarine.
From April through the first part of June several more sea trials were conducted. At this point the crew was made up of both shipmembers and Electric Boat personnel. All systems throughout the boat were tested, calibrated, retested, repaired if necessary and replaced if needed. On the 10th, 11th and 12th of June the seventh sea trials were conducted. This was the combined preliminary and final acceptance trials which were conducted by the Naval Board of Inspection and Survey.
On 23 June 1963 Electric Boat delivered USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON to the US Navy.
On 27 June 1963, the USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON was commissioned. Commander Norman B. BESSAC, USN and Commander Benjamin F. SHERMAN, Jr, USN were the Commanding Officers of the BLUE and GOLD Crews respectively. Two days later, a Dependent's Cruise was conducted to familiarize the families of crew members with typical operations of the ship. The following day (30 June) an "orientation cruise for gentlemen of the press" was conducted to aquaint them with the ship's capabilities.
On 9 August 1963 two A2 Polaris missiles were successfully launched by the BLUE crew.
The following day the GOLD crew relieved the BLUE crew and on 23 August the GOLD crew launched two A2 Polaris missiles both of which were successful. Next came tactical and maneuvering trials from 26 August to 8 September including standardization trials for the David Taylor Model Basin in Maryland. Torpedo tube acceptance trials were conducted between 11 and 14 September. These were somewhat concurrent with sound trials that occurred between 12 and 16 September 1963. After successfully completing shakedown, the ALEXANDER HAMILTON completed and orientation cruise for AFL-CIO labor leaders. The ship then visited the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland from 4 to 7 October allowing 700 station personnel and 1500 midshipmen to visit and become acquainted with a Polaris Submarine.
On 18 October the BLUE crew relieved the GOLD crew and post shakedown availability began.
Several post shakedown sea trials were conducted and on 16 thru 20 February 1964 torpedo weapons trials were conducted at the US Naval Underwater Laboratory, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ship now moved to the US NAVAL BASE, CHARLESTON in Charleston, South Carolina which became her new homeport. The off-crew was located in the office building of Commander Submarine Flotilla SIX.
Early in 1964, ALEXANDER HAMILTON loaded out for deployment and departed the east coast on 16 March for Rota, Spain, her new base of operations. She conducted deterrent patrols out of that port for the remainder of the year as a unit of Submarine Squadron (SubRon) SIXTEEN. Deterrent Patrol ONE was conducted from late March until 12 May 1964 after which the GOLD crew under Commander Benjamin SHERMAN relieved the BLUE crew.
After conducting the first upkeep in Rota, the GOLD crew sailed on the ship's SECOND Deterent Patrol. This patrol was completed on 1 August and the cycle was completed again with the BLUE crew relieving the GOLD crew.
Patrol THREE was completed by the BLUE crew on 6 October and after change of command and upkeep, the GOLD crew left for Patrol FOUR.
During off-crew in December, Commander BESSAC was relieved by Commander C.D. SUMMITT as CO of the Blue crew.
The GOLD crew completed the Patrol FOUR on 23 January 1965 but returned to Holy Loch, Scotland and transferred to SubRon FOURTEEN from which the ALEXANDER HAMILTON conducted additional patrols.
Patrol FIVE by BLUE crew under CO SUMMITT was completed 17 April 1965
Patrol SIX by GOLD crew under CO SHERMAN was completed 10 July 1965
Patrol SEVEN by BLUE crew under CO SUMMITT was completed 2 October 1965
Patrol EIGHT by GOLD crew under CO SHERMAN was completed 27 December 1965
Commander SHERMAN was relieved by Commander Harvey E. LYON as Commanding Officer of the GOLD crew in January 1966.
Patrol NINE by BLUE crew under CO SUMMITT was completed 26 February 1966
Patrol TEN by GOLD crew under CO LYON was completed 11 June 1966
Patrol ELEVEN by BLUE crew under CO SUMMITT was completed 9 September 1966
Patrol TWELVE by GOLD crew under CO LYON was completed 2 December 1966
Patrol THIRTEEN by BLUE crew under CO SUMMITT was completed 24 February 1967
Commander C.D SUMMITT was relieved by Commander William A. MILLER as BLUE crew Commanding Officer at Charleston, SC on 5 May 1967. Commander SUMMITT had commanded the BLUE crew for almost two and on half years covering five polaris patrols. Commander MILLER has completed nine polaris patrols, six as Commanding officer of the sister ship USS JAMES MONROE (SSBN-622).
Patrol FOURTEEN by GOLD crew under CO LYON was completed 2 June 1967
Her cycle of patrols from Holy Loch lasted until June 1967 at which time she returned to the United States for the first time in over three years, arriving at the U.S. Naval Weapons Station at Charleston S.C.
FIRST OVERHAUL AND REFUELING
In early June ALEXANDER HAMILTON departed Charleston for pre-overhaul sound trials (conducted 6-11 June 1967). On 13 June, the homeport of the ship was changed from Charleston, SC to New London, CT in connection with overhaul and refueling at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corp. in Groton, CT. Following completion of sound trials the ship proceeded to the U.S. Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory, New London, CT arriving on 16 June 1967. The ALEXANDER HAMILTON became a unit of Submarine Flotilla TWO with headquarters at the US Naval Submarine Base New London.
That same day, the ship made an orientation cruise for members of the US Congress, hosted by Vice Admiral SCHADE, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet and Captain LYON, GOLD crew commanding officer. Others participating in the cruise included: US Representatives; Edward Darwinski (R-IL), Irving Whalley (R-PA), Joseph Vigorito (D-PA), Benjamin Blackburn (R-GA), Robert Mathias (D-CA) and William Stuckey (D-GA). Navy personnel; Vice Admiral SCHADE, COMSUBLANT, Cdr SUMMITT, Staff, COMSUBLANT, Cdr BARNES, Staff, COMSUBLANT, Cdr RUBLE, Escort to members of Congress and Lt WARBURTON, Flag Lieutenant, COMSUBLANT. Other guests were; Mr. T. Burwald, press assistant to Rep. Mathias and Mr. A. Schatz, Life Magazine photographer.
Two days later, she moved into the Electric Boat yard on 18 June to begin her first overhaul and nuclear refueling. The overhaul included refueling of the nuclear reactor, modifications to various systems and components and general repair, refurbishment and updating of installed equipment. The objective was to ensure a readiness and reliability for five years deployed service.
The BLUE and GOLD crews were merged for the overhaul and reduced in strength to one full crew on 20 June 1967, at which time Captain LYON was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander William MILLER. Captain LYON commanded the GOLD crew for one and a half years completing three polaris patrols.
During the period 26 June through 25 August the ship hosted approximately 900 Midshipmen Second Class from the US Naval Academy at weekday lunch during their tours of the Electric Boat Division shipyard in connection with their summer cruise submarine orientation program.
The overhaul crew of ALEXANDER HAMILTON held a Christmas party for thirty-four children at the Seaside Regional Center in Waterford, CT on 20 December 67. This center is a State of Connecticut mental facility for children. The ship furnished a Christmas tree and decorations, refreshments for the party and presented the children with two record players and numerous records donated by the crew. Each of the children were given individual gifts. A very positive way to end the year.
(Note: There was almost no detail in the COMMAND HISTORY for the first part of the overhaul period between June and December 1967. The ship was in drydock at ELECTRIC BOAT during that period.)
As of 1 January 1968, the ALEXANDER HAMILTON was in dry dock at Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, CT. Refueling of the reactor plant had been completed and on 12 Jan 1968 the reactor plant was filled. This was followed the next day with the ship being floated off the keel blocks. The boat remained moored inside the drydock for ease of crane services. Cold operational testing of the reactor plant was successfully completed on 9 February. During 27 & 28 Feb a reactor safeguards examination was conducted as directed by COMSUBLANT. Later, 18 & 19 Mar 68, the Naval Reactors Safeguards examination was conducted and ALEXANDER HAMILTON was certified to operate the Reactor Plant. On 29 Mar the Weapons Department successfully completed Dockside Weapons System operational testing.
On 2 April the "Supply Overhaul Assistance Program" commenced and was completed satisfactorily by 23 April and on 4 April the US Naval Submarine School certified successful completion of ALEXANDER HAMILTON Emergency Ship Control TEAM training. The next day, the newly refueled reactor was taken Critical for the first time and this was four days ahead of the planned initial overhaul schedule. Commenced reloading the ship in preparation for sea trials on 22 April and completed same on 4 May 1968. During this same period the USS SKYLARK (ARS-20) successfully conducted the pre-sea trials Salvage Inspection. Between 29 April and 1 May ALEXANDER HAMILTON satisfactorily completed Phase I, "Readiness for Sea Trials" certification. This was led by Commander M. TERRASS for SubFlot TWO and assisted by the C.O. and crew of USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (SSBN-600) (BLUE).
FAST CRUISE AND POST OVERHAUL SEA TRIALS
On 4 May Dock Trials were conducted for the operational check of all shipboard equipment and the following day commenced the first Fast Cruise.
(Note: An explanation of Fast Cruise from the book "Nuclear Navy 1946-1962" by Richard G. Hewlett and Francis Duncan..."For about four consecutive days the ship was sealed and moored “fast” to the dock. In all respects the submarine was ready for sea with her full crew, stores, and essential spares. No one except the assigned officers and crew was on board. The ship’s force conducted drills and operated the equipment—including the propulsion plant—insofar as possible as if they were at sea. The captain had an opportunity to check the condition of his ship and the training of his officers and men. His only communication with the shore was by telephone, by which he reported at least daily to Rickover.
The purpose of the fast cruise was to make certain by actual operation, that the ship was ready for sea trials. Failure of equipment or crew during the fast cruise was sufficient cause to postpone further trials. (The readiness of the ship at the time of the fast cruise usually made it possible to begin actual sea trials a few days later.)
During the Fast Cruise the ship satisfactorily completed Phase II, Operational Readiness for Sea Trials certification conducted during 6 & 7 May and now the ALEXANDER HAMILTON was certified to conduct Sea Trials. Once that was completed the ship secured from the first Fast Cruise. Beginning on 10 May the second fast cruise commenced and the ship secured from this fast cruise on 15 May. ALEXANDER HAMILTON was now ready for Sea Trials and on 16 May 1968 the ship commenced 1st Overhaul Sea Trials and conducted dive #188. This was followed two days later with the commencement of the 2nd Sea Trials which were satisfactorily completed on 23 May and the ship shifted to the Electric Boat Floating Drydock for regular post sea trials docking. After several inspections the ALEXANDER HAMILTON moved out of the drydock and into a normal berth on 27 May. The 3rd Sea Trials were completed during 5-7 June and quickly followed by the 4th Sea Trials starting on 12 June 68. During this Sea Trial the Board of Inspection and Survey conducted an inspection of ALEXANDER HAMILTON which the boat successfully passed on 14 June and also completed the 4th and final Sea Trials.
Upon return to port the Secretary of the Navy, Paul Ignatius visited and toured the ship. On 16 June the homeport of ALEXANDER HAMILTON was officially shifted from New London (Groton), CT to Charleston, SC thus completing the First Overhaul which was completed in fifty-three weeks being nearly seven weeks ahead of the original schedule and also the first Polaris Overhaul to be completed "on schedule" and the first of the SSBN 616 Class Submarines to complete overhaul.
This achievement was recognized by COMSUBLANT in a letter to the ALEXANDER HAMILTON with the following comments:
2.EXCELLENT MATERIAL CONDITION OF SHIP REFLECTS...ADHERANCE TO A TRUE COMPLETED-SHIP CONCEPT...THE COMMANDING OFFICER, OFFICERS AND CREW ARE COMMENDED IN THIS ACHIEVEMENT.
3.EFFECTIVE COOPERATION & COORDINATION BETWEEN...SHIPYARD AND SHIPS OFFICERS AND CREW...CONTRIBUTED SIGNIFICANTLY TO QUALITY RESULTS AND A TIMELY SCHEDULE.
4.WELL DONE TO ALL WHO CONTRUBUTED TO THIS ACHIEVEMENT.
On 28 June 1968 administrative and operational control of the ship shifted from ComSubFlot TWO to ComSubFlot SIX.
The overhaul crew was split into two crews, Cdr William A. MILLER remained Commanding Officer (BLUE) on ship and Cdr William A. WILLIAMS III assumed Command (GOLD) in off-crew status.
An "End of Overhaul Completion Ceremony was conducted and the Commanding Officer held a Meritorious Mast followed by a Dependents Cruise for both crew's dependents. Finally, the ship moored at the US Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory, New London, CT.
READY FOR SEA PERIOD
The day after Independence Day ALEXANDER HAMILTON opened the boat for a dependent's tour and visit while simulating underway operations and later moved back to Electric Boat Division to repair a Reactor Plant relief valve. This repair was completed on 12 July and the ship was again ready for sea. The BLUE crew got underway for Post Overhaul Shakedown operations. The GOLD crew departed New London (Groton) and headed for Charleston, SC. On 19 July the ship arrived in Norfolk, VA and moored at the Deperming Crib at the Naval Station.
(Note: Deperming, or degaussing, is a procedure for erasing the permanent magnetism from ships and submarines to camouflage them against magnetic detection vessels and enemy marine mines.) The ship was depermed and shifted berth to the Destroyer/Submarine piers to load exercise torpedoes.
The next day Capt W.H. SANDFORD, Chief of Staff, ComSubFlot SIX embarked and shortly after the ALEXANDER HAMILTON departed Norfolk enroute to Charleston operation areas. From 22 to 23 July the ship conducted submarine approach and torpedo firing exercises in the Charleston operation areas and on 24 July arrived at the Charleston Naval Station, SC.
Two days later Cdr WILLIAMS and GOLD crew relieved Cdr MILLER and BLUE crew in whole and the next day the GOLD crew was underway enroute to conduct Sound Trials at Tongue of the Ocean (TOTO) and crew training.
Sound trials were conducted from 2-8 August. The ship arrived at US Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico on 12 August and commenced Weapons System Accuracy Trials (WSAT) and Change of Command.
Two days later Cdr MILLER and BLUE crew relieved Cdr WILLIAMS and GOLD crew in whole.
The BLUE crew continued WSAT trials out of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands over the next few days mooring in Frederiksted, VI on the 16th. On 21 August the WSAT's were completed and the ship got underway for Charleston, SC. The ship and crew arrived at the Naval Weapons Station, Charleston on the 24th where they commenced Demonstration and Shakedown Operations (DASO) while in port and loaded A2 Polaris Missiles for test firing. On 28 August the ship was underway enroute to Port Canaveral, FL with Capt A.R. HANNSSEN, ComSubRon FOUR aboard. The ALEXANDER HAMILTON arrived in Port Canaveral two days later for the "sea" portion of DASO which lasted for eleven days.
TEST FIRING OF A2 MISSILES
10 Sept 1968 was BLUE crew Firing Day. Rear Adm Levering SMITH and Brigadier Gen W. HUNTER were aboard to observe. At 1200 the BLUE Crew successfully fired one A2 Polaris Missile. After returning to port the Nuclear Weapons Acceptance Inspection (NWAI) for Polaris Missile and ASTOR Torpedo was commenced.
This was successfully completed on 13 Sept and Cdr WILLIAMS and GOLD crew relieved Cdr MILLER and BLUE crew in whole.
The next day the GOLD crew was underway for independent operations in the Cape Kennedy Operating areas.
On 15 Sept the GOLD crew commenced DASO. Completing DASO the ship was underway on 26 Sept for GOLD Crew Firing Day. Adm L.G. BERNARD and Adm Levering SMITH were aboard as observers. At 1400 the GOLD crew successfully fired an A2 Polaris Missile which was the 14th Polaris Missile fired by ALEXANDER HAMILTON. On 27 Sept the GOLD Crew NWAI for Polaris and ASTOR commenced which was successfully completed the following day. On the 29th the ship headed back to Charleston and arrived on 1 Oct and after loading excercise torpedoes got underway in the Charleston operating areas to conduct submarine firing exercises. After completion of the torpedo exercises the ship returned to Charleston and tied up at the US Naval Weapons Station which officially ended the post overhaul shakedown and training operations.
LOADOUT AND DEPLOYMENT
On 7 Oct Cdr MILLER and BLUE Crew relieved Cdr WILLIAMS AND GOLD Crew in whole and commenced pre-deployment refit and loadout which was conducted at the US Naval Weapons Station with the USS HUNLEY (AS-31) as the refitting tender.
During this period the ALEXANDER HAMILTON was selected by CNO for participation in the filming of a New Navy Motion Picture designed to feature the role and the importance of the individual Navy man in the modern ships of today's Navy. The film tile was "The Navy Man" and approximately two minutes of the 28-minute film were devoted to ALEXANDER HAMILTON and her personnel. The film was by John Bransley Productions.
Refit FIFTEEN was completed on 28 October. From 5-7 November the ship conducted Sea Trials and Refresher Training in the Charleston operating areas. These concluded, the boat moored at the US Naval Weapons Station where loadout for patrol began with missle loading, torpedo loading, taking on of stores, lube oil and the countless supplies necessary to sustain a Polaris Submarine. The next operation was the SSBN Security Exercise on 12 Nov during which ComSubFlot SIX reported the satisfactory completion of the post overhaul administrative inspection conducted during July through October 1968.
On 13 Nov ALEXANDER HAMILTON arrived in Charleston and after debarking the Security Exercise observer, redeployed on Polaris Deterrent Patrol FIFTEEN. Two days later, administrative control shifted from ComSubFlot SIX to ComSubRon SIXTEEN. On 30 December 1968 she moored alongside USS CANOPUS (AS-34) at Rota, Spain, completing Patrol FIFTEEN.
On 2 January 1969 Cdr WILLIAMS, and Gold Crew relieved Cdr MILLER and BLUE Crew in whole and on 25 January deployed on patrol SIXTEEN.
At the completion of patrol SIXTEEN on 18 Mar 1969 the GOLD crew successfully completed an Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination (ORSE) and moored alongside USS CANOPUS (AS-34) at Rota, Spain on 19 March.
On 21 March Cdr MILLER and BLUE Crew relieved Cdr WILLIAMS and GOLD Crew in whole and on 24 April deployed on patrol SEVENTEEN.
After patrol SEVENTEEN the BLUE Crew successfully completed their (ORSE) and moored alongside USS HOLLAND (AS-32) on 8 June in Rota, Spain.
Cdr WILLIAMS and GOLD Crew relieved Cdr MILLER and BLUE Crew in whole on 10 June.
The crew successfully completed a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI) and deployed on patrol EIGHTEEN on 4 July 1969 which they completed on 30 August and tied up alongside USS HOLLAND (AS-32).
On 2 Sept Cdr MILLER and BLUE Crew relieved Cdr WILLIAMS and GOLD Crew in whole and commenced upkeep NINETEEN.
On 26 Sept the BLUE Crew successfully completed a (NTPI) inspection and deployed on Patrol NINETEEN. This patrol was completed on 30 November when the ship tied up to USS HOLLAND.
Again, Cdr WILLIAMS and GOLD Crew relived Cdr MILLER and BLUE Crew in whole on 3 December and commenced upkeep.
On 18 Dec GOLD Crew successfully completed another (ORSE) and five days later (23 Dec) deployed four days early on Patrol TWENTY. Thus, ALEXANDER HAMILTON and GOLD Crew ended the year on Deterrent Patrol.
Commander MILLER was relieved by Commander Harry SCHRADER, Jr as Commanding Officer of ALEXANDER HAMILTON and BLUE crew in January 1970.
Patrol TWENTY-ONE by BLUE crew under new CO SCHRADER was completed on or about 27 May 1970.
Commander WILLIAMS was relieved by Commander Stanley S. SKORUPSKI as Commanding Officer of the ALEXANDER HAMILTON GOLD crew in May 1970.
Patrol TWENTY-TWO by GOLD crew under CO SKORUPSKY was completed on or about 25 August 1970.
Patrol TWENTY-THREE by BLUE crew under CO SCHRADER was completed on or about 23 November 1970.
Patrol TWENTY-FOUR by GOLD crew under CO SKORUPSKY was completed on or about 24 February 1971.
Patrol TWENTY-FIVE by BLUE crew under CO SCHRADER was completed on or about 25 May 1971.
Patrol TWENTY-SIX by GOLD crew under CO SKORUPSKY was completed on or about 22 August 1971.
Patrol TWENTY-SEVEN by BLUE crew under CO SCHRADER was completed on or about 23 November 1971.
Patrol TWENTY-EIGHT by GOLD crew under CO SKORUPSKY was completed on 21 February 1972 and after passing an Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination (ORSE)moored at Rota, Spain alongside the USS HOLLAND (AS-32).
The GOLD Crew under CO SKORUPSKI was relieved by the BLUE Crew under Cdr SCHRADER.
After upkeep the BLUE Crew deployed on Patrol TWENTY-NINE. On 20 May 1972 the BLUE Crew completed Patrol TWENTY-NINE, moored alongside the HOLLAND and were relieved by the GOLD Crew under Cdr SKORUPSKI.
During June the GOLD Crew passed a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection and deployed on Patrol THIRTY. The GOLD Crew completed Patrol THIRTY on 17 August 1972 and tied up to the USS HOLLAND (AS-32) where they were relieved by the BLUE Crew under Cdr SCHRADER.
In September, as with the GOLD Crew, the BLUE Crew passed a (NTPI) inspection after which they deployed on Patrol THIRTY-ONE. On 16 Nov 72 the BLUE Crew completed Patrol THIRTY-ONE, passed an (ORSE) and moored at US Naval Base, Charleston, SC, returning ALEXANDER HAMILTON to the United States for the first time since 1968.
The BLUE Crew CO, Cdr SCHRADER was relieved for the last time by Cdr SKORUPSKI and the GOLD and BLUE Crews were combined for a preoverhaul upkeep period.
On 21 November 1972 ALEXANDER HAMILTON was the recipient of the PROVIDENCE PLANTATION's COUNCIL AWARD; which is awarded in order to recognize the most outstanding Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine of the Atlantic Fleet. Mr. Robert C. HOGAN, President of the Providence Plantations Council of the NAVY LEAGUE, presented the POLARIS/POSEIDON Trophy to commemorate the event.
SECOND OVERHAUL, REFUELING AND POSEIDON CONVERSION (1973-1974)
In January 1973 began her second refueling overhaul combined with a conversion to carry Poseidon missiles at the yard of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. Shipyard nuclear refueling overhaul and Poseidon conversion continued for the second calendar year.
The homeport of the ALEXANDER HAMILTON was changed from Newport News, VA to US Naval Submarine Base New London, CT. The Prospective Commanding Officer of the post conversion GOLD Crew, Cdr M.G. ALDEN reported for duty. Command of the conversion combined BLUE and GOLD Crews was retained by Cdr Stanley SKORUPSKI.
POST CONVERSION SEA TRIALS
January 1975 commenced for ALEXANDER HAMILTON nearing completion of overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. Machinery Checkout was completed satisfactorily along with the ALPHA Sea Trials, the first of four sea trials. During February, the BRAVO and CHARLIE Sea Trials were completed and the ship was drydocked for final sandblasting and painting. In March the DELTA Sea Trials were completed and the Board of Inspection and Survey inspected the ship and found it in excellent material condition.
POST OVERHAUL SHAKEDOWN
In April shipyard overhaul, refueling and Poseidon conversion was completed. The BLUE Crew under Cdr SKORUPSKI commenced shakedown operations with navigation operations and acoustic trials while the GOLD Crew under Cdr ALDEN established the Off Crew offices in New London, CT.
TEST FIRING OF POSEIDON MISSILES
During May 1975, the BLUE Crew conducted Demonstration and Shakedown Operations (DASO) at Port Canaveral, FL culminating in the successful firing of two Poseidon missiles.
Subsequently, Cdr SKORUPSKI was relieved as BLUE Crew Commanding Officer by Cdr James FUQUA.
POST SHAKEDOWN OPERATIONS
June found ALEXANDER HAMILTON conducting independent steaming evolutions and type training which was followed by a Nuclear Weapons Acceptance Inspection (NWAI), a port visit to Annapolis, MD where the ship was visited by the NATO Planning Group including the Secretary General of NATO, Dr. Luns, and an Operational Reactors Safeguards Examination (ORSE) back at US NAVAL BASE CHARLESTON, SC.
In July 1975 the BLUE Crew was relieved by the GOLD Crew commanded by Cdr ALDEN.
The GOLD Crew successfully completed their DASO at Port Canaveral, FL. In August the Weapon Systems Accuracy Trials (WSAT) were completed at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico and St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Also, the GOLD Crew's ORSE was successfully completed. September found the GOLD Crew transiting to and enjoying a port visit in New London, CT followed by the successful completion of the Nuclear Weapons Acceptance Inspection back in Charleston, SC. The month ended with the successful GOLD Crew completion of the Mark 48 Torpedo Certification Program.
In October the GOLD Crew was relieved by the BLUE Crew commanded by Cdr FUQUA in Charleston.
The BLUE Crew also enjoyed a port visit to New London followed by their completion of the Mark 48 Torpedo Certification Program. Finally, the BLUE Crew conducted a VIP Cruise for VADM J. WILLIAMS, COMSUBLANT and the Norfolk, VA NAVY LEAGUE. November and December saw ALEXANDER HAMILTON commence and complete Post Conversion Availability at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. The BLUE Crew ended 1975 with a return trip to New London (Groton) for a Christmas port of call.
In January 1976, ALEXANDER HAMILTON operated as a unit of COMSUBRON EIGHTEEN, with off crew offices in New London and ordered to make two patrols while operating out of Charleston, SC.
POST OVERHAUL DEPLOYMENT
This commenced with the ship being berthed at Naval Weapons Station, Charleston alongside USS HUNLEY (AS-31) for pre-deployment refit and missile loadout. This loadout is the last requirement prior to resuming the deployable deterrent patrol status after a twenty-seven-month shipyard overhaul and Poseidon Conversion.
Later that month, the BLUE Crew deployed on Patrol THIRTY-TWO and returning to Charleston mooring alongside USS HUNLEY after patrol completion in February 1976.
Subsequently, Cdr ALDEN and the GOLD Crew relieved Cdr FUQUA and BLUE Crew in whole.
Thus, commenced uninterrupted patrols by both crews as a unit of COMSUBRON FOURTEEN, Holy Loch, Scotland as follows:
Patrol THIRTY-THREE by GOLD crew under CO ALDEN which was completed in May 1976.
Patrol THIRTY-FOUR by BLUE crew under CO FUQUA that was completed in August 1976.
Patrol THIRTY-FIVE by GOLD crew under CO ALDEN which was completed in November 1976.
Patrol THIRTY-SIX by BLUE crew under CO FUQUA that was completed between December 1976 and March 1977.
In January 1977 the BLUE Crew made a port visit to Port Canaveral, FL and in February arrived at New London for torpedo loadout and commencement of a period of flexible operations. They arrived back in Charleston ready for refit.
Patrol THIRTY-SEVEN by the GOLD Crew under CO ALDEN was completed between April and June 1977.
In April the ship departed for refresher training and torpedo exercises. For two days the ALEXANDER HAMILTON was host to RADM J.R. LEWIS, COMSUBGRU TWO. The ship then returned to Charleston to complete refit then departed for flexible operations during this patrol. In May the GOLD Crew made a port call to Port Everglades, FL and in June, upon completion of flexible operations and Patrol THIRTY-SEVEN, the boat returned to Charleston.
Patrol THIRTY-EIGHT by BLUE crew under CO FUQUA that was completed between June and September 1977.
In June part of the upkeep included a ten-day period in drydock. After upkeep, BLUE Crew departed Charleston for flexible operations and Patrol THIRTY-EIGHT. In August the ship made port in New London for a visit and midshipmen operations. In September ALEXANDER HAMILTON arrived in Holy Loch, Scotland and moored alongside USS HOLLAND as a unit of SUBRON FOURTEEN.
Patrol THIRTY-NINE by the GOLD Crew under CO Cdr Samuel BADGETT was completed between September 1977 and January 1978.
In October Mr. John Stanley, Member of Parliament, visited the ship and Cdr R.S. BADGETT, relieved Cdr ALDEN as Commanding Officer of the GOLD Crew.
In October the ship departed Scotland for Patrol and completed Patrol THIRTY-NINE the first month in 1978 back at Holy Loch.
In February 1978 the BLUE Crew departed on Patrol FORTY and in April tied alongside USS HOLLAND (AS-32) upon completion of Patrol FORTY.
The GOLD Crew subsequently took over the ALEXANDER HAMILTON for upkeep and in May departed for Patrol FORTY-ONE. Upon completion of this patrol in July 1978, the ship arrived in Charleston and moored alongside USS SIMON LAKE (AS-33).
Cdr FUQUA and the BLUE Crew relieved Cdr BADGETT and the GOLD Crew in whole.
In August the BLUE Crew departed for Submarine Base New London and arrived in September.
Later in September Cdr Marcus FRIEDMAN, relieved Cdr James FUQUA as Commanding Officer of the BLUE Crew of USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
Also, in September the BLUE Crew departed from New London Submarine Base for Patrol FORTY-TWO and returned in October to Holy Loch, Scotland at the completion of that patrol.
In November, CO BADGETT and the GOLD crew relieved the BLUE Crew and after refit departed Scotland in December for Patrol FORTY-THREE.
GOLD Crew completed Patrol FORTY-THREE on 11 February 1979 and turned the ship over to CO FRIEDMAN and the BLUE Crew.
During this upkeep period, in February and March, a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI) and a Supply Management Inspection was conducted by SUBRON FOURTEEN with an overall grade of SATISFACTORY for both. The BLUE Crew under CO FRIEDMAN completed Refit 44 on 14 March and departed for Patrol FORTY-FOUR on 15 March which was successfully completed on 18 May 1979. Prior to turning over the ship to the GOLD Crew an ORSE inspection was conducted by members of the Nuclear Propulsion Examination Board (NPEB)and BLUE Crew Engineering satisfactorily passed inspection
The GOLD Crew (CO BADGETT) relieved the BLUE Crew and during this upkeep the AN/BQR-21 Sonar System was installed, replacing the AN/BQR-2 system.
The ship completed satisfactory tests on the equipment on sea trials during June. On 11-12 June a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection was conducted by SUBRON FOURTEEN but due to a security violation was UNSATISFACTORY but a SATISFACTORY on-the-spot reinspection was conducted. Also, in mid-June a Mini-DASO was conducted at sea. The purpose of this excercise was to allow Weapons Dept personnel an opportunity to perform casualty procedures on non-tactical missiles with an overall grade of "SATISFACTORY".
On or about 18 June, the boat fired (1) MK 14 Mod 5 practice torpedo (no results noted) and on or about 20 June, the ship fired (4) Mark 37 Mod 2 excercise torpedoes (no results noted). The crew completed refit 45 on 20 June and departed for Patrol FORTY-FIVE on 21 June. Prior to officially completing the patrol an ORSE was conducted at sea by the NPEB and subsequently passed. The ship returned to Holy Loch on 30 August
The BLUE Crew (CO FRIEDMAN) relieved the GOLD Crew and commenced an extended refit that lasted from 31 August to late October 1979.
The ALEXANDER HAMILTON was placed in floating drydock USS ALAMOS (AFDB-7) and repair work by personnel from ship's company, from USS HOLLAND (AS-32), from the dry dock and from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. On 23 October during sea trials, the ship fired (4) MK 37 MOD 2 excercise torpedoes (no results were noted). The ship completed refit 46 on 30 October and departed on Patrol FORTY-SIX on Halloween.
During this patrol on 29 November, the boat conducted a Torpedo Certification Program (TCP) by COMSUBGRU TWO and Naval Underwater Systems Center personnel off the coast of Andros Island, the Bahamas. The TCP consisted of firing seven (7) Mark 48 torpedoes against a target simulator with the result being (3) torpedoes out of (7) fired were "hits". The ship completed Patrol FORTY-SIX and tied up alongside USS CANOPUS (AS-34) in Charleston, SC. on 7 December 1979.
EMERGENCY COOLING VALVE REPAIR AND BATTERY REPLACEMENT
The GOLD Crew (CO BADGETT) relieved the BLUE Crew and commenced Refit 47 in preparation for the next patrol.
Along with a Supply Management Inspection (Satisfactory) that was held by COMSUBRON EIGHTEEN between 17-19 Dec, major work was completed during this refit. First, alongside the USS CANOPUS, a major primary coolant valve, Emergency Cooling Valve XC-4, was repaired with the work completed by Charleston Naval Shipyard personnel. During this same period, 7-27 December 1979, the ship's 126 cell battery was replaced by Charleston Naval Shipyard personnel working with ship's force personnel.
MOSS SYSTEM INSTALLED
On 12 December the Mobile Submarine Simulator (MOSS) system was installed as well. This system gave the ship the capability to shoot out of torpedo tubes a torpedo-like self-propelled acoustic device that generates a typical submarine noise signature.
(NOTE:) [The mobile submarine simulator (MOSS) MK70 is a sonar decoy used by submarines of the United States Navy. It was a 10-inch vehicle, without an explosive warhead, but able to generate both an active sonar echo and a passive sound signature recorded to be extremely similar to that of the launching submarine. The purpose of MOSS was to create multiple targets all with the same acoustic signature. MOSS was originally developed by Gould until Westinghouse acquired that division. Some current underwater training targets are modeled after MOSS's design. The MOSS first entered service in 1976 and was deployed on all American ballistic missile submarines from the 1980s until it was withdrawn in the mid-1990s. From Wikipedia]
On 23 Dec the ship test fired (1) MOSS exercise unit and later on 28 Dec (3) additional excercise units were tested. The GOLD Crew completed refit 47 on 3 January 1980.
In early January the GOLD crew under CO BADGETT commenced Patrol FORTY-SEVEN. On 17 January ALEXANDER HAMILTON conducted a Torpedo Certification Program (TCP) off the coast of Andros Island under direction of COMSUBGRU TWO and Naval Underwater Systems Center personnel. Five of seven MK-48 torpedoes fired against a target simulator scored "hits". This patrol was completed on 16 March with the ship returning to Holy Loch and the USS HOLLAND.
The BLUE crew under CO FRIEDMAN relieved the GOLD Crew in whole on or about 18 March.
During refit 48 between 26-27 March, COMSUBRON FOURTEEN and Defense Nuclear Agency personnel conducted two inspections; a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI) and a Defense Nuclear Surety Inspection (DNSI). Both were passed satisfactorily. The ship departed for Patrol FORTY-EIGHT on 16 April 1980 and completed this patrol on 21 June and immediately was given and ORSE at sea by members of the Nuclear Propulsion Examination Board with the disappointing result of unsatisfactory.
They tied up alongside the USS HOLLAND and were relieved by the GOLD Crew under CO BADGETT.
MAIN FEED PUMP MOTOR REPLACED
During this upkeep (#49) on 2-3 July, the crew completed two inspections; a DNSI and an NTPI by the Defense Nuclear Agency and COMSUBRON FOURTEEN respectively. Both were passed. During the week of 10 to 17 July, Number TWO Main Feed Pump Motor was replaced alongside USS HOLLAND (AS-32). This repair effort involved cutting into a watertight bulkhead in order to replace the motor (Note: The Main Feed pumps are located in LLAMR-2). After sea trials, the GOLD Crew under CO BADGETT commenced Patrol FORTY-NINE on 25 July 1980. Near the end of this patrol, 22-26 September, ALEXANDER HAMILTON made a port of call to Portland, England which is southwest of London on the English Channel. Then, during the last two days of November an ORSE was conducted at sea by members of the NPEB with an overall grade of "satisfactory". The GOLD Crew completed Patrol FORTY-NINE on 3 October 1980.
After the GOLD Crew was relieved by the BLUE Crew, refit #50 was commenced.
Between 8 & 11 October a Supply Management Inspection was conducted by SUBRON FOURTEEN personnel which the ship passed. Then, during sea trials (25-26 October), an Operational Reactor Safeguards Re-examination was given by the CINCLANT NPEB and this time the exam was passed. Prior to proceeding on Patrol FIFTY, the first two days in November, the ship visited the British Royal Navy Base at Faslane, Scotland (HM NAVAL BASE - CLYDE near Holy Loch on the west coast of Scotland). ALEXANDER HAMILTON then proceeded onto Patrol FIFTY on 4 November 1980 under CO FRIEDMAN and completed this patrol on 6 January 1981
During this year the Navy's policy of Pride and Professionalism was applied in all areas of personnel and command involvement aboard ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Emphasis on training the crew in the performance of their jobs led to successful results when the ship undertook major operations. The enhanced training and the resulting improvement in personnel performance resulted in the highly efficient operation of shipboard systems which allowed the ALEXANDER HAMILTON to complete two Strategic Deterrent Patrols in which all commitments were met with the ship getting underway on time.
From January to April the crew attended training and went on to the ship's refit site where preparations for patrol were carried out. On 6 January the ship moored alongside USS HOLLAND (AS-32) upon completion of Patrol FIFTY.
On 10 January Cdr BADGETT and GOLD Crew relieved Cdr FRIEDMAN and BLUE Crew in whole.
On the 11th the ship was moved to the Floating Drydock USS LOS ALMOS for repair work to Sonar Hydrophones. On the 24th the boat was moved back alongside the Tender. The ship and crew commenced a Fast Cruise alongside the HOLLAND on 28 January. On the 30th the ship departed Holy Loch for sea trials with Capt WILSON COMSUBRON FOURTEEN aboard as observer.
On 31 January 1981 USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON (SSBN-617) conducts her 617th DIVE.
The ship returned from sea trials on 3 February and was underway from Holy Loch for Patrol FIFTY-ONE on 7 February.
On 26 February, Cdr R.S. BADGETT, USN, Commanding Officer of the GOLD Crew was frocked to the rank of CAPTAIN whilst on patrol
The ship and crew pull into Holy Loch on 9 April to complete Patrol FIFTY-ONE and prepare for a MINI-DASO and returned to sea for the MINI-DASO on 12 April and successfully completing same on 15 April.
Then on 20 April 1981, Cdr FRIEDMAN and the BLUE Crew relieved Capt BADGETT and the GOLD Crew in whole.
At the refit site the ship underwent a Defense Nuclear Surety Inspection, a Salvage Inspection, a Weapons System Review and an Underway Material Inspection. In early May, the BLUE Crew successfully conducted an NTPI inspection and on 9 May 1981 the ship began a Fast Cruise alongside the USS HOLLAND, followed by Sea Trials in the Irish Sea commencing on 11 May and completed on 15 May. Later that month, on 23 May the ship was underway from Holy Loch.
Prior to deploying on patrol, the ALEXANDER HAMILTON made a port visit to Faslane, Scotland, where the crew had the opportunity to visit GLASGOW, EDINBURGH and the surrounding towns. After leaving Faslane, the ship departed for Strategic Deterrent Patrol FIFTY-TWO.
The patrol was completed on or about 24 July when BLUE Crew conducted a successful Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination (ORSE). Patrol FIFTY-TWO was highly successful with all commitments fulfilled and the ship's systems fully operational.
Then on 30 July Capt BADGETT and GOLD Crew relieved Cdr FRIEDMAN and the BLUE Crew.
From 2 to 4 August, the GOLD Crew successfully conducted yet another Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI) and for several days in August, the ship was again berthed in the Floating Drydock USS ALAMOS for repairs. On 28 August the ship commenced a Fast Cruise alongside the tender and on 3 September departed for Sea Trials. After successfully completing Sea Trials, ALEXANDER HAMILTON loaded out for and departed for Patrol FIFTY-THREE on 8 September 1981.
Breaking from the normal deterrent patrol operations, the ship pulled into New London, CT on the 23rd of September and conducted a Dependents Cruise. This was followed by several weeks (26 Sept to 13 Oct) of daily operations which included successful BLUE and GOLD Crew MK-48 Torpedo Training and Certification (TCP) and the first SUBRON FOURTEEN Tactical Readiness Evaluation (TRE). This is where the crews demonstrated their ability to safely carry and employ the MK-48 weapon system.
On 13 October the boat departed New London, CT for transit to Holy Loch, Scotland.
Prior to commencing upkeep, the GOLD Crew successfully passed another ORSE and on 7 November 1981 Cdr FRIEDMAN and BLUE Crew relieved Capt BADGETT and GOLD Crew in Holy Loch.
After arriving at the refit site, the ship underwent a Weapons System Inspection, a Salvage Inspection and a Material Management Maintenance System Inspection. So, from August to November the crews again participated in a normal training cycle during which independent evaluation of their performance produced an overall grade of Above Average. This evaluation grade is the highest assigned to a submarine crew within the past several years.
Also, in November the ship received a visit from Dr. R.L. WAGNER, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy. He was accompanied by Colonel W. KAHN, USAF, Colonel P. CHESSNER, USAF, Lt. Colonel C. CREEDAN, USAF, and Commander J. KENTOPP, USN. Dr. WAGNER visited ALEXANDER HAMILTON in order to learn, first hand, about the special environment in which the crew works, to get acquainted with the type of men who are part of the submarine fleet, and to assess the ship's material condition. Cdr Marcus FRIEDMAN, BLUE Crew Commanding Officer, personally led Dr. WAGNER and his entourage on a tour of the ship and provided opportunities for the crew to demonstrate system's operations and answer Dr. WAGNER's questions.
On 25 November the ship commenced Fast Cruise alongside USS HOLLAND and departed for Sea Trials two days later and lasted for two days. Before getting underway for patrol at the end of the year (1 December), ALEXANDER HAMILTON made another port visit to Faslane, Scotland. This opportunity for visiting a foreign port was a welcome chance for traveling around the countryside and resting after a difficult upkeep period just prior to the start of a deployment.
On 4 December 1981 ALEXANDER HAMILTON departed for Patrol FIFTY-FOUR. The USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON closed its 19th year as an operational Fleet Ballistic Submarine in excellent mechanical condition, deployed at sea, performing its primary mission of deterrence
In December during the off-crew period for the GOLD Crew, Cdr L.P. GEBHARDT relieved Capt R.S. BADGETT as Commanding Officer of the USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON GOLD Crew.
USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON welcomed the New Year at sea, underway for Patrol FIFTY-FOUR. During this month the ship made a Port Call at Lisbon, Portugal and during the four-day visit the crew had the opportunity of meeting new people and learning about their country and customs. The Portuguese liaison personnel and the town's people were very friendly and made the crew feel at home.
The ship then got underway again and completed the patrol. On 11 February 1982 the BLUE Crew brought the ship to Charleston, SC and moored alongside the USS CANOPUS (AS-34) and on 15 Feb was relieved by Cdr L. GEBHARDT and the GOLD Crew for Refit FIFTY-FIVE.
The BLUE Crew returned to New London, CT for rest and recuperation followed by two months of intensive training.
The ALEXANDER HAMILTON commenced its second Extended Refit Period (ERP-II) with Charleston Naval Shipyard (CNSY) assistance on 17 February. The next day the ship moved to the Floating Drydock (USS ALAMOGORDO) for extensive work during the ERP-II which involved 60 days of shipyard availability with CNSY costing approximately $7 Million. The purpose of ERP's is to extend the periodicity between major overhauls. The work was completed by 1 April and the ship moved from drydock back alongside USS CANOPUS. On 5 April commenced Fast Cruise and on 11 April left Charleston for four days of Sea Trials and returning to Charleston on 14 April. Between 17 April and 8 May 1982, the ship conducted weekly operations, including a very successful BLUE and GOLD Crew MK-48 (TCP) and also successful (TRE) conducted by Squadron FOURTEEN. Both Crews were recognized as TOP TACTICAL PERFORMERS in the fleet. On 14 May the boat departed Charleston for Scotland and arrived to tie up to USS HUNLEY (AS-32) in Holy Loch on the 21st to complete an abbreviated Patrol FIFTY-FIVE.
Then on 25 May Cdr FRIEDMAN and BLUE Crew relieved Cdr GEBHARDT and the GOLD Crew.
After a short upkeep period, on 12 June, the crew commenced a Fast Cruise alongside HUNLEY, followed by six Sea Trials from which they returned to Holy Loch on 20 June. During Sea Trials the ship received a Nuclear Technical Proficiency Inspection which thoroughly examined the crew's ability and expertise in the handling, maintaining and safe keeping of nuclear weapons.
On 23 June, prior to proceeding on patrol, the ALEXANDER HAMILTON visited Faslane, Scotland and departed Scotland for Patrol FIFTY-SIX on 26 June 1982
During the period 28-29 August an Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination was administered to the ship. This exam tested the crew's ability to maintain and properly operate the ship's propulsion plant.
At the end of this exam Patrol FIFTY-SIX was completed and on 2 September Cdr GEBHARDT and the GOLD Crew relieved Cdr FRIEDMAN and BLUE Crew in whole and commenced Refit #57.
At the completion of upkeep, the ship commenced Fast Cruise alongside the HUNLEY and departed Holy Loch for Sea Trials in the Irish Sea on 23 September. ALEXANDER HAMILTON successfully shoots the LAST MARK-37 EXERCISE TORPEDOES to be used in the Atlantic Fleet and returns to Holy Loch on 27 September. Then on 1 October the ship departed Scotland for Patrol FIFTY-SEVEN.
On 12 November 1982, during the off-crew period the ship held a Change of Command in which Commander C.Guy MENDENHALL, III relieved Commander Marcus V. FRIEDMAN as Commanding Officer of the USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON (BLUE).
The ceremony was held at the Shepherd of the Sea Chapel in Groton, CT. Cdr FRIEDMAN's next tour of duty takes him to Norfolk, VA where he joins the Staff of ComSubLant. Cdr MENDENHALL came to the HAMILTON after a highly successful tour as Officer-in-Charge of the submarine NR-1 (the USN nuclear powered deep dive and research submarine). The main speaker at the ceremony was Capt J.D. APPLE, Chief of Staff or Submarine Group TWO. In attendance was Mrs. Carolie WOODS NOBLE, the ship's sponsor (Note: This name does not match the name as the sponsor for the christening because Carolie's first husband's name was Valentine Hollingsworth, Jr and the custom of the day was to use the husband's first name rather than the wife's first name. Her maiden name was Carolie WOODS and her second husband's name was NOBLE so the name noted above is correct. She passed away in 2008-DH).
(Note: USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON was awarded FY-1982 ASW and OPERATIONAL WHITE "A" and SUPPLY BLUE "E" in SUBRON FOURTEEN.)
On return from Patrol FIFTY-SEVEN the GOLD Crew successfully conducts an (ORSE) prior to mooring alongside USS HUNLEY on 9 December 1982.
On 12 December Cdr MENDENHALL and BLUE Crew relieved Cdr GEBHARDT and GOLD Crew.
During this refit period, the GOLD Crew (off-crew) was awarded the CSS-14 FOOD SERVICE AWARD. Also, in December the ship was host to a distinguished visitor. Mr. John Regan (Tex) McCRARY, a media entrepreneur, who toured the Holy Loch facilities assessing the possibility of including the Submarine Support Site in a Christmas television show to be transmitted to the United States from various overseas locations. On 27 December the ship commenced Fast Cruise and later departed on Sea Trials and was still at sea on Sea Trials as the year ended.
Prior to the commencement of Patrol FIFTY-EIGHT, ALEXANDER HAMILTON spent four days in Plymouth, England as the BLUE Crew enjoyed a friendly port call to this famous city. In March 1983 a successful Tactical Readiness Exam and a Navy Technical Proficiency Inspection (NTPI) marked the end of Patrol FIFTY-EIGHT.
Cdr GEBHARDT and the GOLD Crew relieved Cdr MENDENHALL and the BLUE Crew and refit FIFTY-NINE was commenced.
Toward the end of April 1983, the GOLD Crew completed upkeep and Sea Trials and left Holy Loch for Deterent Patrol FIFTY-NINE. In late June the GOLD Crew successfully completed Patrol FIFTY-NINE and returned to Holy Loch, Scotland to be relieved by the BLUE Crew.
The BLUE Crew worked that summer to ready the ship for Patrol SIXTY and for an Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination to be given at the end of patrol. The purpose of this exam is to determine if the propulsion can be operated safely, a job requiring the participation of all hands. Once this was successfully passed, the ship returned to Holy Loch in late September 1983 completing Patrol SIXTY.
In early October, Cdr GEBHARDT and the GOLD Crew relieved Cdr MENDENHALL and the BLUE crew in whole.
Refit was completed and followed by Sea Trials in October and November 1983 and the GOLD Crew departed Scotland to commence Patrol SIXTY-ONE. The crew celebrated the Christmas holidays on patrol, at sea.
The GOLD Crew and Cdr GEBHARDT bring ALEXANDER HAMILTON back to Holy Loch in early January 1984 after a successful Patrol SIXTY-ONE and turns the ship over to Cdr MENDENHALL and the BLUE Crew to commence upkeep and refit for the next patrol.
After Sea Trials the ship proceeds onto Patrol SIXTY-TWO in February 1984. On return to Holy Loch the BLUE Crew successfully completes an (NTPI) and (TRE) inspection and exam ending Patrol SIXTY-TWO in April of 1984.
The GOLD Crew and Cdr GEBHARDT relieve the BLUE Crew and Cdr MENDENHALL and the next refit commences. Refit comes to an end in May as the GOLD Crew sets sail on Patrol SIXTY-THREE.
While the GOLD Crew is on patrol, the BLUE Crew was flown to the MK-48 Proficiency Range off the coast of Florida during July for a MK-48 Proficiency shoot aboard USS JOHN ADAMS (SSBN-620) to test the ability to shoot torpedoes accurately. The GOLD Crew completed Patrol SIXTY-THREE in July returning to Holy Loch and turning the ship over to the BLUE Crew.
In August 1984 ALEXANDER HAMILTON is the scene for a VIP visit by the distinguished Mr. John F. McCARTHY, the corporate vice president and General Manager of Northrop Corp., a company involved in submarine weapons systems.
In September 1984, after refit and Sea Trials the ship is underway on Patrol SIXTY-FOUR. This patrol is spent getting the crew and ship ready for an ORSE. In addition, much attention is given to preparation for an upcoming Extended Refit Period (ERP-III) by the GOLD Crew. In November, the BLUE Crew brings the ALEXANDER HAMILTON back to Scotland to complete Patrol SIXTY-FOUR.
The GOLD Crew arrives in Holy Loch to relieve the BLUE Crew to commence an arduous ERP-III which will last twice as long as a normal refit and designed to allow greater maintenance to the ship to allow greater time between expensive yard periods.
On 8 January 1985 ALEXANDER HAMILTON (GOLD) completed the Extended Refit Period (ERP-III) and commenced Patrol SIXTY-FIVE which was completed on 16 February.
The BLUE Crew under Cdr MENDENHALL relieved the GOLD Crew under Cdr GEBHARDT on 19 February.
From 9 March to 14 March the ship conducted Sea Trials. On 18 March 1985 the ship commenced Patrol SIXTY-SIX.
Patrol SIXTY-SIX was completed on 26 May. The GOLD Crew under Cdr GEBHARDT relieved the BLUE Crew and Cdr MENDENHALL on 28 May 1985.
After refit, from 15 June to 21 June the ship conducted Sea Trials. On 26 June ALEXANDER HAMILTON departed for Patrol SIXTY-SEVEN.
Patrol SIXTY-SEVEN was completed on 3 September. The BLUE Crew under Cdr MENDENHALL relieved the GOLD Crew under Cdr GEBHARDT on 6 September.
From 24 to 27 September the ship conducted Sea Trials. On 4 October 1985 the ship commenced Patrol SIXTY-EIGHT. The ship returned from patrol on 13 December thus completing its SIXTY-EIGHTH Deterent Patrol.
Cdr GEBHARDT and the GOLD Crew relieved Cdr MENDENHALL and the BLUE Crew in whole on 16 December. The GOLD Crew ended 1985 working on refit #69
The year 1986 was one of many changes for the crews of ALEXANDER HAMILTON. As the year began, the GOLD Crew was fulfilling a familiar role - preparing for yet another strategic Deterent Patrol at refit Site 1 in Holy Loch, Scotland.
On 1 January 1986 the ship began her SIXTY-NINTH Deterent Patrol, the most ever for a single SSBN (at this time).
The BLUE Crew (off-crew) CO Cdr C.G. MENDENHALL accepted the prestigious 1985 SECRETARY of DEFENSE AWARD for MAINTENANCE EXCELLENCE on behalf of both crews in ceremonies held in Washington, DC.
At the completion of Patrol SIXTY-NINE, the HAMILTON returned to Groton, CT for the first time in over four years as both crews prepared for crew combination in anticipation of decommissioning in May 1986.
In March Cdr MENDENHALL relieved Cdr GEPHARDT as Commanding Officer of the ALEXANDER HAMILTON and would become the CO for the combined crew.
Thus, on 10 March the ship became a one crew submarine again. Though the shipyards have been an unlikely place to find this ship...the last overhaul being completed in 1975...preparations were made in earnest for this strategic asset to be removed from the force as a gesture of goodwill in accordance with the terms of the unratified SALT II Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.
That very same day, on 10 March 1986, ALEXANDER HAMILTON began an UNPLANNED four-week maintenance availability at the Submarine Base, New London, CT because of the grounding and subsequent damage to the USS NATHANAEL GREENE (SSBN-636). This grounding accident resulted in the decision to OVERHAUL vice DECOMMISSION the ALEXANDER HAMILTON. The ship was given a reprieve.
From April to June 1986, the newly combined crew sailed to Charleston, SC to perform a reactor plant purification media replacement while drydocked in USS ALAMOGORDO (ARDM-4). During this in-port period, the ship operated as a training platform on the Atlanta Underwater Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) range for performance of a torpedo certification for USS ANDREW JACKSON (SSBN-619)(GOLD).
Upon completion of this operation, sound trials were conducted at Exuma Bay, Bahamas to test the effectiveness of a NEW PROPELLOR Design which had been installed during the drydock period as a CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) project. Following Sound Trials, ALEXANDER HAMILTON returned to its new homeport of Groton, CT on 16 June for a four-week pre-overhaul testing period.
The ship again proceeded to Charleston, SC on 7 July 1986 to conduct Midshipman Operations in the Charleston operating areas before proceeding to AUTEC for a second torpedo certification, this time for USS WOOODROW WILSON (SSBN-624)(GOLD).
The ship then returned to Groton, CT arriving in August, the ship received the news that it refueling overhaul had been awarded to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA. On 1 October the ALEXANDER HAMILTON sailed from the Thames River in Groton, CT and headed for the first stop on her trip to Washington State. The ship's sixteen Poseidon C-3 missiles were offloaded at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, SC...this being completed by 13 October.
Then, on 14 October Cdr Craig WELLING relieved Cdr C.G. MENDENHALL as Commanding Officer of the ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
The ship began its 5,300-mile interfleet transfer on 15 October 1986. ALEXANDER HAMILTON entered the Pacific Ocean on 23 October after passing through the Panama Canal (the first of three transits).
On 27 October the ship officially shifted its operational control to Commander, Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC). After a brief port visit in San Diego, CA, from 7-10 November, the boat proceeded north towards Puget Sound and on 17 November the ship moored at the Explosive Handling Wharf at the Bangor Submarine Base to complete final offload preparations for overhaul. The final underway period of the occurred on 26 November as the ship was moved to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Pier 3 while awaiting the availability of its new berth in Drydock #5. The ship officially began its third overhaul on 30 November 1986 and was drydocked on 12 December to begin a planned 24 month refueling overhaul.
This year ended with ALEXANDER HAMILTON having operated in four ocean areas; Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean and Pacific from Scotland to the east coast to the state of Washington in an unusually varied set of operations for a ballistic missile submarine. (Note: These operations allowed several of the crew of the ship to qualify as members of the various maritime orders; Order of the Shellback, Order of the Ditch, Order of the Rock and Order of the Spanish Main)
USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON continued her refueling overhaul at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA for the entire year. Cdr Craig WELLING, Commanding Officer.
THIRD (AND FINAL) REFUELING OVERHAUL
USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON continued her refueling overhaul at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA with Cdr Craig WELLING as Commanding Officer. On 14 April 1988 ALEXANDER HAMILTON was moved from Drydock "5" to Pier "3" at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA. Throughout the year, the ship earned a number of SILVER Awards; the first, on 16 May she began flying the SILVER DOLPHIN FLAG which meant that all enlisted personnel onboard greater than ten months are qualified in submarines. Then on 27 June, ALEXANDER HAMILTON celebrated its SILVER ANNIVERSARY for 25 years of commissioned service.
The event was chronicled in the 7 July 1988 copy of the "SALUTE" the PSNY Newsletter. "More than 200 crew members of the USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN617) their wives and guests converged at the Consolidated Mess banquet facilities at Naval Submarine Base, Bangor on Saturday, June 25, to celebrate an important date in the "proud old lady's" history...Notable attendees included: CAPT C.D. SUMMITT, former BLUE Crew Commanding Officer, retired RADM Harvey LYON, former GOLD Crew Commanding Officer and RADM W.P. HOULEY, former Weapons Officer of the GOLD Crew...as past and present crews celebrated the SILVER ANNIVERSARY of their ship's commissioning..."I've come to realize that it is the crews of the ALEXANDER HAMILTON in their 25 years of vibrant service that we are recognizing today," the present Commanding Officer Craig WELLING announced to the assembled crewmembers and guests...[he also noted] by the time the ALEXANDER HAMILTON reached Bangor on Nov. 17, she already completed 69 patrols...had won the Secretary of Defense's Phoenix Award for maintenance excellence in 1986...and is a leader in submarine qualification and career retention" That last note leading to the final award, the SILVER ANCHOR AWARD in December 1988.
As noted in another base newspaper: "The Navy's ballistic missile submarine, USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON was recently presented the COMSUBPAC's SILVER ANCHOR AWARD for fiscal year 1988. This award is given annually in recognition of superior achievement in the implementation, management and promotion of personnel retention programs within the Pacific Submarine Force." "It's retention efforts for the fiscal year have resulted in (76) crew members re-enlisting for a total of 373 years of service(!)."
Between 14-15 December the ship completed a Reactor Safeguards Examination conducted by NAVAL REACTORS with an overall grade of satisfactory. The final significant event of 1988 was on 19 December when the Crew's Mess onboard was officially reopened.
POST OVERHAUL OPERATIONS
January through April 1989 found the ALEXANDER HAMILTON completing the final steps of overhaul and preparation for sea trials. On 25 May the ship completed Phase II Crew Certification. Sea Trials soon began on 2 June and continued into 14 June with satisfactory results.
On 26 June the Crew was split with Cdr Craig WELLING taking command of the BLUE Crew and Cdr H.R. BISHOP taking command of the GOLD Crew.
The BLUE Crew remained with the ship. During 27-29 June the boat underwent an Inspection and Survey (INSERV) prior to the overhaul which was declared COMPLETE on 7 July 1989 after (32) months in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. A Dependent's Cruise was completed on 9 July and four days later the ALEXANDER HAMILTON was underway from Bangor, WA and heading south toward the Panama Canal with a FINAL destination of Groton, CT.
It proceeded through the "Canal" on 14 August 1989. During this transit to Connecticut the boat conducted rigorous training prior to arriving in Florida. This included an Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam (ORSE) on 28-29 August.
FINAL MISSLE LAUNCHES
On 8 September the ship commenced another Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO) which culminated in the successful launch of one (1) Poseidon C-3 missile on 29 September. This was quickly followed by two additional inspections; a Nuclear Weapons Acceptance Inspection and a Supply Management Inspection during 3-4 October. On 8 October the ship arrived in Groton, CT returning to familiar surroundings. The next day the ship returned to sea for a short Dependent's Cruise.
On 12 October Cdr Harold R. BISHOP and the GOLD Crew relieved Cdr Craig WELLING and the BLUE Crew in whole.
On the same day there was another change of command when Cdr Ross HARDING took over the BLUE Crew from Cdr Craig WELLING.
In November, while the BLUE Crew (Cdr HARDING CO) commenced the first post-overhaul offcrew training, the GOLD Crew (Cdr BISHOP CO) commenced refit in preparation for the next year's operations of ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
In January the GOLD Crew made a port of call at Port Canaveral, FL and successfully completed a Tactical Readiness Examination (TRE). In February 1990 the crew completed and passed an Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam and a Supply Management Inspection.
Also in February, Cdr BISHOP and the GOLD Crew was relieved by Cdr HARDING and the BLUE Crew.
RETURN TO STRATEGIC DETERRENT PATROLS
In March the BLUE Crew made a port call at Port Everglades, FL. The ALEXANDER HAMILTON returned to Charleston, SC and completed and passed MK-48 Torpedo Certification. They commenced the first Post-Overhaul Upkeep Period while in Charleston, SC. Just prior to patrol, the BLUE Crew completed their Tactical Readiness Exam and subsequently commenced Patrol SEVENTY, the first post-overhaul patrol.
Later, in June the ship completed its 70th Patrol and before pulling into Holy Loch for Upkeep, completed an (OSRE) and their Supply Management Inspection.
Cdr Ross HARDING and the BLUE Crew was relieved by Cdr Harold BISHOP and the GOLD Crew in whole who commenced Refit 71 which was completed in July.
Upon completion of upkeep, ALEXANDER HAMILTON commenced Patrol SEVENTY-ONE. In September 1990 Patrol SEVENTY-ONE was completed but the GOLD Crew also had to pass an (ORSE) and Supply Management Inspection.
After pulling into Holy Loch, Scotland, Cdr Harold BISHOP and GOLD Crew was relieved by Cdr Ross HARDING and BLUE Crew who commenced Refit 72.
Upkeep was completed in October and the BLUE Crew commenced Patrol SEVENTY-TWO. The end of 1990 found the ALEXANDER HAMILTON on her penultimate patrol.
On or about 8 January 1991 the BLUE Crew completed Strategic Patrol SEVENTY-TWO and returned to Holy Loch, Scotland.
On 12 January Cdr Harold BISHOP and the GOLD Crew relieved Cdr Ross HARDING and the Blue Crew.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON'S FINAL PATROL
Immediately Refit #73 was commenced which would be the last upkeep period for ALEXANDER HAMILTON in Holy Loch, Scotland. Patrol SEVENTY-THREE was completed in April but the ship did not return to Holy Loch but to Charleston, SC and thus completed her Deterent Patrol career but still had important duties to perform.
While in Charleston the boat offloaded all sixteen missiles as part of the phase out of the C-3 Poseidon missile system. After the strategic missile offload, ALEXANDER HAMILTON transited to New London, CT and completed and excelled during the Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination earning an overall grade of ABOVE AVERAGE in late April.
On 16 May 1991 the BLUE and GOLD Crews combined into a single crew with under the command of Cdr Ross HARDING after he relieved Cdr Harold BISHOP.
Concurrently many families began moving to Bangor, WA the ship's new homeport. After completing an operational upkeep in New London, CT the ship returned to the Charleston, SC Operating Areas.
This is the beginning of a period of special operations from June through the end of August prior to arriving at its new Homeport. From 7 to 24 June, she conducted Midshipmen Indoctrination Training (Note: Summer Cruises where "3/C midshipmen [participate in an] indoctrination cruise onboard a surface ship or submarine provide[ing] midshipmen a snapshot of a 'day in the life' of Fleet enlisted personnel. This opportunity allows midshipmen to experience the lives of the young men and women they will eventually have the privilege to lead after commissioning. In addition to exposing midshipmen to operational naval forces...from USNAINST 1530.lD dated 10 Oct 2019).
After this was completed, ALEXANDER HAMILTON made a series of port calls on its way to the Pacific Ocean and its new Home Port. The first stop was at St. Croix US Virgin Islands (the boyhood home of Alexander Hamilton) from 3 to 7 July 1991. A great place to be on the 4th of July. This was followed by a visit to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico from 7 July to 9 July.
After that, on 13 July the ship transited through the Panama Canal for the third time.
The boat made a port visit at Rodman, Panama for two days starting 19 July. This was followed with a port visit to San Diego, CA from 28 July to 1 August 1991. Then the ship participated in ASWOP-91-3.
ASWOP-91-3 was a multinational antisubmarine warfare exercise comprised of US and Japanese ASW forces that took place between 3 and 10 August 1991. ALEXANDER HAMILTON had the role of the aggressor submarine in the open ocean transit from San Diego to Pearl Harbor. Although greatly outnumbered and constrained by exercise geometries, HAMILTON provided an elusive target for the ASW forces and during several free play scenarios was successful in attacking the target of interest WITHOUT BEING DETECTED.
Upon arriving at Pearl Harbor, HI on 12 August the ship and crew enjoyed a port visit until 16 August at which time she commenced the final leg of her transit to a new Home Port and arrived in Bangor, WA on 23 August 1991.
After a short upkeep ALEXANDER HAMILTON participated in operations in local operating areas from 6 to 18 September and again from 1 to 18 October. Her role during this time was to provide services to other submarines, surface ships and aircraft in excercise operations. This included one more port visit, this time to Nanoose, BC, Canada. This was followed by a much needed upkeep back at the Naval Station in Bangor, WA from 19 October to 30 November 1991.
From 1 December to 17 December ALEXANDER HAMILTON participated in CNO Project CST-6 which was a high priority project requiring a dependable platform. During this same period, she provided submerged target services in critical sea tests and Advanced Defense Initiative (ADI) programs. Both being important research and development programs for national security. Thus, the ALEXANDER HAMILTON completed the year as a SUCCESSFUL ANTI-SUBMARINE/SURFACE WARFARE attack submarine.
From 18 December to the end of the year, the good ship and crew enjoyed a Christmas Holiday Standdown.
FINAL YEAR OF OPERATIONS
During 1992 ALEXANDER HAMILTON's role in the Pacific Northwest while awaiting inactivation was to provide services to other submarines, surface ships and aircraft in excercise operations as well as provide an excellent platform for CNO high priority projects requiring a submarine. During this last year of operations out of the Washington home port(Trident Squadron 17), the HAMILTON completed support service for TRE's (Tactical Readiness Exams) for several of the Trident Submarines stationed there. The boat and crew represented themselves well, even against the newer, more advanced submarines.
From 7 Jan to 15 Jan and again from 22 to 28 January the ship participated in operations in local operating areas. Then, commencing 3 February ALEXANDER HAMILTON provided submerged target services in critical sea tests as part of CNO Project CST-7. Upon completion of the first phase of this operation the ship arrived in Pearl Harbor, HI for a port visit on 21 February 1992. This port visit lasted for seven days after which the boat returned to sea and continued CNO Project CST-7 from 11-19 March.
From 3 to 8 April the ship completed operations in transit to San Diego, CA with a port visit to SUBASE, San Diego commencing on the 8th of that month. During 14th to the 17th the boat participated in operations in the Southern California Operating Areas. On 17 April ALEXANDER HAMILTON began operations in transit to the Pacific Northwest Operating Areas. Toward the end of that cruise a final ORSE was conducted between 29 April and 1 May 1992 with an overall grade of Average.
RECORD NUMBER OF DIVES
On 1 May ALEXANDER HAMILTON completed 1002 dives. This marked more diving evolutions completed than any other SSBN. (Note: I do not know if that record still holds true.) The final surfacing event occurred on 2 May 1992.
Cdr Ross M. HARDING was relieved by Cdr Brian J WEGNER in a change of command ceremony held onboard at Marginal Wharf at Bangor Submarine Base, Bangor, WA on 24 July 1992.
This was near the end of the Inactivation and Lay-Up period which ran from 2 May until 30 September 1992. On 18 August the ship conducted a deactivation ceremony. Cdr N.B. "Buz" BESSAC (Ret), the ship's commissioning commanding officer, was guest speaker for the ceremony. Many former shipmates attended as guests. This was 30 years to the day from ALEXANDER HAMILTON's Launching!
On 30 September 1992 ALEXANDER HAMILTON was towed from Bangor Submarine Base to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA. As 1992 came to an end so did the impressive career of one of the finest 41 For Freedom FBM's.
On 23 February 1993 USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON SSBN-617 was decommissioned and the commissioning pennant was hauled down in Drydock #4 Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA. The crew was released to follow-on assignments.
Edited by the Webmaster, Dean Habhegger