Military Wiki
Ethan Allen-class submarine
USS Ethan Allen
Class overview
Name: Ethan Allen class
Builders: General Dynamics Electric Boat[1]
Newport News Shipbuilding[1]
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: George Washington class
Succeeded by: Lafayette class
Built: 1959–1963
In commission: 1961–1992 [1]
Completed: 5 [1]
Retired: 5 [1]
General characteristics
Type: Ballistic Missile Submarine

Surfaced: 6,946 long tons (7,057 t)

Submerged: 7,884 long tons (8,011 t)[2]
Length: 410 feet 4 inches (125.1 m)[3]
Beam: 33.1 feet (10.1 m)[3]
Draft: 29 feet 10 inches (9.1 m)[3]
Propulsion: 1 S5W PWR[1]
2 geared steam turbines (15,000 shp (11,000 kW)),
1 shaft[2]
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h) surfaced
22 knots (41 km/h) submerged[2]
Test depth: 1,300 feet (400 m)[2]
Complement: 12 Officers and 128 Enlisted (two crews, "Blue" and "Gold") [3]
Armament: 16 Polaris A2/A3 missiles, 4 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes[2]

The Ethan Allen class of fleet ballistic missile submarine was an evolutionary development from the George Washington class. The Ethan Allen, together with the George Washington, Lafayette, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin classes comprised the "41 for Freedom" that were the Navy's main contribution to the nuclear deterrent force through the late 1980s.


Rather than being designed as Skipjack-class attack submarines with a missile compartment added, the Ethan Allens were the first submarines designed "from the keel up" as Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) submarines carrying the Polaris A-2 missile. They were functionally similar to the George Washingtons, but longer and more streamlined and with torpedo tubes reduced to four. In the early and mid-1970s, they were upgraded to Polaris A3s. Because their missile tubes could not be modified to carry the larger diameter Poseidon missile,[4] they were not further upgraded.


To comply with SALT II treaty limitations as the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines entered service, in the early 1980s the Ethan Allens were refitted as SSNs (attack submarines) nicknamed "slow attacks". Their missile fire control systems were removed and the missile tubes were filled with concrete. Sam Houston and John Marshall were further converted to carry SEALs or other Special Operations Forces, accommodating 67 troops each with dry deck shelters to accommodate SEAL Delivery Vehicles or other equipment. The Ethan Allen-class submarines were decommissioned between 1983 and 1992.[5] All were disposed of through the nuclear Ship-Submarine Recycling Program 1992-1999.

Boats in class

Submarines of the Ethan Allen class:[1][5][6]

Name and hull number Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) General Dynamics Electric Boat 14 September 1959 22 November 1960 8 August 1961 Decommissioned 31 March 1983. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1999
Sam Houston (SSBN-609) Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. 28 December 1959 2 February 1961 6 March 1962 Decommissioned 6 September 1991. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1992
Thomas A. Edison (SSBN-610) General Dynamics Electric Boat 15 March 1960 15 June 1961 10 March 1962 Decommissioned 1 December 1983. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1997
John Marshall (SSBN-611) Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. 4 April 1960 15 July 1961 21 May 1962 Decommissioned 22 July 1992. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1993
Thomas Jefferson (SSBN-618) Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. 3 February 1961 24 February 1962 4 January 1963 Decommissioned 24 January 1985. Disposed of through Ship-Submarine Recycling Program, 1998

In fiction

In the Tom Clancy novel Hunt for Red October, Ethan Allen (by now old and ready to be broken up), is detonated near the Red October in order to convince the Soviets that the fictional Typhoon had been destroyed.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "SSBN-608 Ethan Allen-Class FBM Submarines" from the FAS
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 199–200, 244. ISBN 1-55750-260-9. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 SSBN 608 at
  4. Polmar, Norman (1981). "The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet". Arms and Armour Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-85368-397-2. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen, eds (1995). "Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995". Naval Institute Press. p. 612. ISBN 1-55750-132-7. 
  6. California Center of Military History (dead link 2015-05-07)

External links

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