USS Robert E Lee
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Robert E Lee SSBN-601

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Robert E. Lee

(SSBN-601: dp. 5,946 (surf.), 6,700 (subm.); 1. 382'; b. 33';
dr. 29'; s. 20 k. (surf.), 35 k. (subm.): cpl. 112; a. Polaris
Missile System, SubRoe, 6 21" tt.; cl.
George Washington)

Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601) was laid down 25 August 1958 by the Newport News ShipbuildEng & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched 18 December 1959; sponsored by Mrs. Hanson E. Ely II; and commissioned 16 September 1960, Comdr. Reuben F. Woodal (Blue Crew) and Comdr. Joseph Williams, Jr. (Gold Crew) in command.

The third m/clear-powered ballistic missile submarine to join tho fleet, and the first mlelear-powered ship built in the South, Rober E. Lee operated in and out of Newport News until 2 December 1960, when she got underway for the Narragansett Bay ()perating Area for torpedo firing tests. Following the sueeessful firing of five torpedoes on 6 December Robert E. Lee sailed for Cape Kennedy, arriving on the 12th. The submarine then loaded Polaris test missiles and 10 days later conducted her first missile launch. The Polaris ran "hot and true."

In January 1961, she conducted additional simulated missile launches and on the 15th departed for the Bermuda Operating Area. There, joined by Torsic (SS 423) on the 25th, she engaged in antisubmarine training. Returning to Norfolk on 30 January, Robert E. Lee entered the Newport News dryDock on 3 February for a month of yardwork. She departed Newport News on 17 March, loaded torpedoes at Yorktown on the 25th, and got underway for Cape Kennedy, arriving 9 April.

The nuclear-powered submarine conducted "special operations" Off of Cape Kennedy during May and.Tune, and in late June sailed for Holy Loch, Scotland, where she joined Submarine Squadron 14 on 10 July. She conducted practice torpedo firing during the first week of August and departed Holy Loeh 9 August on her first deterrent patrol.

During the next 2 years Rohert E. Lee completed nine more deterrent patrols. On 10 September 1963, the submarine entered the floating dryDock Los Alamos (AFDB-7) and on 4 October resumed her normal patrol schedule. Continuing to operate out of Holy Loeh into 1964, the ballistic missile submarine got underway on 27 November for her 16th patrol which terminated on 28 January 1965 at Mare Island, Calif.

On 22 February, Robert E. Lee entered the Mare Island Division of the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipvard for her first overhaul. Major items ot work included refueling the reactor, reengineering of many ship systems to provide greater safety and reliability, modernization of the navigation system and modification to the weapons system to give the submarine the capability of launching the improved MK 3 Polaris missile.

Emergiog from overhaul after nearly a year and a half of work, Robert E. Lee got underway for sea trials on 12 July 1966. Sound trials and weapons system acouracy trials were conducted during the latter half of Julv; and on 5 August she entered San Diego harbor for a 5-day visit. Underway for the east coast on 10 August, Robert E. Lee transited the Panama Canal 20 August and arrived at Charleston, S.C., on 4 September.

During the remainder of September and the first week of October, the fleet ballistic submarine conducted shakedown operations off Cape Kennedy, Fla. On 10 October, with the Under Seeretary of the Navy on board as an observer, Robert E. Lee successfully fired a nontaetical Polaris A-3 missile. She returned to Charleston to commence a predeployment upkeep period at the Cooper River Site. On 4 December, she sailed from Charleston on her 17th deterrent patrol, which terminated at Holy Loch on 30 January 1967.

By 4 October, Robert E. Lee had completed three more patrols. Then dryDocked in l,os Alamos for minor repairs and hull surveillance, she resumed her patrol schedule on 1 November; completed her 21st patrol before entering drvDock on 22 November for 2 weeks of repairs. She departed Holy Loch on 26 December for another patrol.

Robert E. Lee remained attached to Submarine Squadron 14 throughout 1969 and 70. Contimring to operate out of Holy Loch, she completed her 33d deterrent patrol by 1 Januarv 1971.

Robert E. Lee was dryDocked for her second overhaul 27 January 1971 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. She did not leave the dryDock until 11 December and, afterward remained berthed at Puget Sound for the remainder of 1971. For the first seven months of 1972, Robert E. Lee was engaged in post-overhaul trials and exercises on the west coast. In midAugust she transited the Panama Canal and arrived in Charleston, S.C., 14 September. She continued normal operations, this time on the east coast, throughout 1972 and for the first .seven months of 1973. Transiting the Panama Canal early in August, she arrived in San Diego on 1he 17th and then moved on to Pearl Harbor, arriving 5 September. After a month in Hawaii, she sailed for Apra, Guam, and continues operations in that area into 1974.