USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608)


USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608)

USS "Ethan Allen" (SSBN-608), lead ship of her class, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Ethan Allen.

Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Corporation of Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 22 November 1960, sponsored by Mrs. Robert H. Hopkins, great-great-great-granddaughter of Ethan Allen. The ship was commissioned on 8 August 1961, with Commander Paul L. Lacy, Jr., commanding Blue Crew and Commander W. W. Behrens, Jr., commanding the Gold Crew.

On 6 May 1962, "Ethan Allen", under the command of Captain Paul Lacy and with Admiral Levering Smith aboard, launched a nuclear-armed Polaris missile that detonated at 11,000 feet (3.4 km) over the South Pacific. That test ("Frigate Bird"), part of Operation Dominic I, was the only complete operational test of an American strategic missile. The warhead hit "right in the pickle barrel."

To make room for the new "Ohio"-class ballistic missile submarines within the limitations of SALT II, "Ethan Allen"'s missile tubes (and those of other earlier ballistic missile submarines) were disabled, and she was redesignated an attack submarine with hull classification symbol SSN-608 on 1 September 1980.

"Ethan Allen" was decommissioned on 31 March 1983 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register two days later. The hulk was tied up in Bremerton, Washington, until entering the Nuclear Powered Ship-Submarine Recycling Program.

"Ethan Allen" in Fiction

* In Tom Clancy's novel "The Hunt for Red October", the decommissioned USS "Ethan Allen" was destroyed with a fuel-air explosive to cover for the escape of the defecting Soviet Typhoon-class submarine "Красный Октябрь" ("Red October"). The destruction of "Ethan Allen" was intended to simulate the explosion and sinking of a nuclear missile submarine, although the "Ethan Allen"–class boats were considerably smaller than Typhoons.

*She also appears in the novel "Footfall" by Niven and Pournelle.


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