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USS Sam Houston (SSBN 609)

- later SSN 609 -
- decommissioned -


USS SAM HOUSTON was the second ETHAN ALLEN - class nuclear powered fleet ballistic missile submarine and the second ship in the Navy to bear the name.

After 18 years of service, the SAM HOUSTON was redesignated as SSN 609 to comply with the SALT I treaty on November 10, 1980, and concrete blocks were placed in the missile tubes to disable the missile launch capability. From September 1982 to September 1985, the SAM HOUSTON underwent conversion to an amphibious transport at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. This conversion allowed the SAM HOUSTON to carry special forces. Modifications included additional troop berthing and removal of some missile tubes. The SAM HOUSTON was finally deactivated on March 1, 1991, and entered the Navy's Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. The submarine was both decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on September 6, 1991. Recycling of the SAM HOUSTON was finished on February 3, 1992.

General Characteristics:Awarded: July 1, 1959
Keel laid: December 28, 1959
Launched: February 2, 1961
Commissioned: March 6, 1962
Decommissioned: September 6, 1991
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.
Propulsion system: one S5W nuclear reactor
Propellers: one
Length: 410.4 feet (125.1 meters)
Beam: 33.1 feet (10.1 meters)
Draft: 29.9 feet (9.1 meters)
Displacement: approx. 7,900 tons submerged
Speed: Surfaced: 15 knots
Submerged: 20 knots
Armament: 16 vertical tubes for Polaris missiles, four 21" torpedo tubes
Crew: 12 Officers and 128 Enlisted (two crews)


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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS SAM HOUSTON. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.


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Accidents aboard USS SAM HOUSTON:

DateWhereEvents
September 28, 1982Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash.USS SAM HOUSTON spills less than 50 gallons of low-level radioactive water during a test while she is in the PSNY undergoing maintenance. The spill was stopped, the water was contained within the ship, and no radioactivity was released to the environment. The submarine's reactor was not operating. Two individuals were in the area during the spill and one of these individuals received low-level radioactive contamination.
April 29, 1988southeast of Fox Island, Puget Sound, Wash.USS SAM HOUSTON runs aground in Carr Inlet of the southeast tip of Fox Island in the Puget Sound while operating in shallow water to determine how quiet the vessel is in water. The submarine is freed the next day by four tugs and the USS FLORIKAN (ASR 9) while the submarine's crew remains aboard. The SAM HOUSTON suffers minor damage to exterior hull equipment.


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About the Submarine's Name:

Samuel Houston, generally known as Sam Houston, was born on 2 March 1793 at Timber Ridge Plantation in Rockbridge County, Va. After the death of his father in 1807, Samís mother took him to eastern Tennessee where he learned the ways of the Cherokee Indians and became deeply committed to furthering Indian rights - a cause he served throughout his life.

Houston enlisted in the 7th Infantry on 24 March 1813 for service in the war with England. He fought under General Andrew Jackson and, although severely wounded during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, remained in the Army after the end of hostilities. He had attained the rank of First Lieutenant before he resigned on 1 March 1818 to study law.

Soon after being admitted to the Tennessee bar, Houston was appointed prosecuting attorney for the Nashville District. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1823 to 1827. In the latter year, he was elected state governor and served as head of the Tennessee government until 1829 when he relinquished office and became a trader in Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

Much of his time in the next few years was devoted to securing fair treatment of Indians by the Federal Government and to promoting peace among various Indian tribes. He visited Texas in 1832 to negotiate with the Comanche tribe on behalf of the Cherokees and, thereafter, became increasingly involved in that region.

Soon after the outbreak of the Texas War for Independence, Houston was chosen Commander in Chief of the Texas Army. On 21 April 1836, his badly outnumbered force, which had been retreating before the Mexican Army, turned and decisively defeated their pursuers at San Jacinto. They captured the Mexican commander, Santa Anna, and his entire army, thereby winning independence for Texas.

On 22 October 1836, Houston was inaugurated President of the Republic of Texas and held the office until December 1838. He then stepped down but again headed the new government from 1841 to 1844.

When Texas was annexed to the United States, Houston was elected as one of the stateís United States senators, and he served in the Senate until 1859, when displeasure over his loyalty to the Union prompted the Texas Legislature to replace him. However, his enduring popularity among the electorate won him the office of governor which he held until he was deposed on 18 March 1861 for refusing to swear allegiance to the Confederacy. He then retired to his farm where he died on 26 July 1863.


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History of USS SAM HOUSTON:

USS SAM HOUSTON was laid down on 28 December 1959 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched on 2 February 1961; sponsored by Mrs. John B. Connally; and commissioned on 6 March 1962, Capt. W. P. Willis, Jr., (blue crew) in command.

Following shakedown, the nation's seventh Polaris submarine fired her first missile on 25 April off Cape Canaveral, Fla. The gold crew, commanded by Comdr. J. H. Hawkins, then took over, completed its missile firing on 11 May 1962 and then departed from Cape Canaveral for its own shakedown training.

On her first patrol, SAM HOUSTON, manned by the blue crew, operated continuously submerged for 48 days and 2 hours, then moored alongside the submarine tender PROTEUS (AS 19), in Holy Loch, Scotland. Following upkeep, the gold crew commenced its first patrol on Christmas Day, returning to Holy Loch in February 1963. The crews were again alternated, and SAM HOUSTON departed on her third patrol in March. On this patrol, she was the first fleet ballistic missile submarine to enter the Mediterranean where she joined the NATO forces. On a short operational visit to Izmir, Turkey, she became the first Polaris submarine to make a port-of-call during a patrol. With the two crews alternating every 90 days, SAM HOUSTON completed 6 successful Polaris patrols by the end of the year.

By the end of 1964, SAM HOUSTON had completed 10 patrols. During 1965, she completed four additional deterrent patrols. During 1966, SAM HOUSTON completed 3 more patrols, including her longest which lasted 71 days. On 10 August 1966, she returned to the United States for the first time since her deployment in 1962 and commenced a major overhaul at the Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth, N.H. On 30 October 1967, she got underway for sea trials, and, a month later, her blue crew began shakedown training. In January 1968, the gold crew conducted shakedown operations. Following further tests, she got under way for her 18th deterrent patrol, and put into Holy Loch on 25 May. By the end of the year, she was on her 21st patrol. During 1969, SAM HOUSTON completed her 22nd through 24th patrols. In 1970, she continued to operate with Submarine Squadron 14 until shifting to the Mediterranean on 9 August to join Submarine Squadron 16.

She operated out of her advanced base at Rota, Spain, until October of 1972. On 27 November, she entered Charleston Naval Shipyard and began an extended in-port period, which included regular overhaul and the updating of her weapons and propulsion systems.

After 18 years of service, the SAM HOUSTON was redesignated as SSN 609 to comply with the SALT I treaty on November 10, 1980, and concrete blocks were placed in the missile tubes to disable the missile launch capability. From September 1982 to September 1985, the SAM HOUSTON underwent conversion to an amphibious transport at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. This conversion allowed the SAM HOUSTON to carry special forces. Modifications included additional troop berthing and removal of some missile tubes. The SAM HOUSTON was finally deactivated on March 1, 1991, and entered the the Navy's Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. The submarine was both decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on September 6, 1991. Recycling of the SAM HOUSTON was finished on February 3, 1992.


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