I am a big submarine fan and I recently ran across this picture of the Ethan Allen on the internet. It reminded me of the time during the late 60’s when I served on the USS Ethan Allen, SSBN 608. This was a Polaris submarine. She was the first of a class that were built from the keel up to carry missiles. I reported aboard at the height of the Cold War and I made four patrols. During the time I was aboard there was some question about the operational readiness of these boats and missiles after having been in service for a number of years. In spite of an extensive preventative maintenance program, live firings of missiles showed a high number of failures. We had fired single missiles on sea trails prior to patrol successfully but a number of other boats had problems.
The Allen was selected for a live firing exercise that involved firing seven missiles in a war time sequence. This meant every minute or two we’d launch. It was a major test. My job during the launch was to fire a flare in between each launch as a signal to the surface observers. We steamed out of
The picture here shows the boat underway. It looked pretty casual with the guys in shorts on the sail planes and the flag flying from the sail. It reminded me of our return to port with a broom tied to the periscope (“clean sweep”) and a 7-Up flag flying from the sail. The boat has the hull number painted on it (608) and this was not the case when I was on it. Then, hull numbers were painted over as part of deployment. The other picture is one of me in my “office” on the boat.