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USS Thomas Jefferson (SSBN 618)

- later SSN 618 -
- decommissioned -

USS THOMAS JEFFERSON was the fifth and final 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 THOMAS JEFFERSON was redesignated as SSN 618 to comply with the SALT I treaty on March 11, 1981, and concrete blocks were placed in the missile tubes to disable the submarine's missile launch capability. She served as an attack submarine (SSN) mainly doing exercises until she was decommissioned on January 24, 1985, and stricken from the Navy list on April 30, 1986. On October 1, 1996, the THOMAS JEFFERSON entered the Navy's Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., which was completed on March 6, 1998.

General Characteristics:Awarded: July 22, 1960
Keel laid: February 3, 1961
Launched: February 24, 1962
Commissioned: January 4, 1963
Decommissioned: January 24, 1985
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock 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 THOMAS JEFFERSON. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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About the Submarine's Name:

Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell, Albemarle County, Va., 13 April 1743 and graduated from William and Mary College in 1762. He was admitted to the bar 5 years later. In 1769, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses where he soon became a leader of the patriot faction and helped form the Virginia Committee of Corespondence. He maintained that the colonies were not subject to Parliament but were bound to England only by allegiance to the Crown.

Jefferson was sent to the Continental Congress in June 1775, and a year later he was entrusted with writing the Declaration of Independence. He returned to the Virginia legislature in October 1776 where he labored to reform the new state on democatic principles. He succeeded Patrick Henry as governor in 1779 and held that office until 1781.

Jefferson succeeded Franklin as Minister to France in 1785 and, after his return in 1789, became the Nation’s first Secretary of State. Growing differences with Alexander Hamilton prompted him to resign from Washington’s cabinet 31 December 1793, and he subsequently led growing opposition to the Federalist party. From 1797 to 1801, he was Vice President and he defeated John Adams in the presidential election of 1800. Upon entering the White House, Jefferson introduced a more democratic tone to public life, and his two terms as Chief Executive were marked by careful administration and rare frugality. Highlights of his presidency included the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the Navy’s victory over the Barbary pirates. Their valiant and skillful fighting in the struggle with the North African corsairs gave American seamen some of their most colorful and cherished memories while strengthening the new nation’s position as a power worthy of respect.

In retirement, Jefferson exerted great political and intellectual influence as he worked to establish the University of Virginia. His brilliant career was brought to a fitting close when he died 4 July 1826, the 50th anniversary of his immortal Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps Jefferson’s place in American history was best measured by President Kennedy while entertaining the Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere. “...I think,” the President told his distinguised guests, “this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

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USS THOMAS JEFFERSON was laid down on 3 February 1961 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; sponsored by Mrs. Robert S. McNamara; and commissioned on 4 January 1963, Comdr. Leon H. Rathbun (Blue Crew) and Comdr. Charles Priest, Jr., (Gold Crew) in command.

After shakedown training by both crews and a yard availability period, the fleet ballistic missile submarine was assigned to Submarine Squadron (SubRon) 14 in early October. On 28 October, the Blue Crew took the submarine on her first deterrent patrol which ended at Holy Loch, Scotland, in December 1963. THOMAS JEFFERSON continued patrols from Holy Loch for the next four years and also acted as flagship for SubRon 14. In 1966, she returned to New London for two training and rehabilitation periods. She began her 15th deterrent patrol on 12 January 1967 and, upon its completion, returned to Newport News for her first overhaul and refueling. On 17 June 1968, the submarine was ready for sea, and refresher training was held for both crews. Her 16th patrol began on 29 October and terminated at Rota, Spain, on 5 December 1968.

THOMAS JEFFERSON made four deterrent patrols in each of the following years: 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972. She also conducted special operations in 1970 and 1971. On 20 October 1972, the Gold Crew was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation for its special operations of the previous year.

THOMAS JEFFERSON completed two patrols in 1973 before returning to the United States to hold midshipman training from 18 June to 31 August. Her last patrol of the year terminated on 12 December 1973. Her 36th and final, patrol in the Atlantic lasted from 31 January to 22 March 1974. After calling at Norfolk and Charleston, the submarine returned to New London on 22 May. THOMAS JEFFERSON was then reassigned to the Pacific Fleet with her new homeport at Vallejo, Calif. She stood out of New London on 7 June en route to the west coast and arrived at Mare Island on the 27th.

On 1 July 1974, THOMAS JEFFERSON entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul, refueling, and conversion to the Polaris A-3 missile system. She remained in the yard until 17 November 1975 when she got underway for Bremerton, Wash. The submarine remained in Puget Sound for a month and then moved to San Diego.

During the period January to March 1976, THOMAS JEFFERSON's Blue Crew conducted post-overhaul shakedown operations and then transited the Panama Canal to conduct a Polaris missile firing at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Gold Crew took over the ship on 4 April and conducted additional post-overhaul shakedown operations which included a missile firing at Cape Canaveral, a transit of the Panama Canal, and a missile loadout at Bangor, Washington, before resuming deterrent patrol operations with the Pacific Fleet on 8 August. THOMAS JEFFERSON continued these operations as a unit of Submarine Squadron 15 throughout 1977 and 1978, at the end of which she completed her 44th deterrent patrol.

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