USS Francis Scott Key

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USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657)
USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) commencing a hard turn to starboard, possibly during her sea trials off the United States East Coast sometime before December 1966.
United States
NamesakeFrancis Scott Key (1779–1843), author of the words to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner"
Ordered29 July 1963
BuilderGeneral Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut
Laid down5 December 1964
Launched23 April 1965
Sponsored byMrs. Marjory Key Thorne and Mrs. William T. Jarvis
Commissioned3 December 1966
Decommissioned2 September 1993
Stricken2 September 1993
FateScrapping via Ship and Submarine Recycling Program completed 1 September 1995
General characteristics
Class and typeBenjamin Franklin-class fleet ballistic missile submarine
  • 7,300 long tons (7,417 t) surfaced
  • 8,250 long tons (8,382 t) submerged
Length425 ft (130 m)
Beam33 ft (10 m)
Draft31 ft (9.4 m)
Installed power15,000 shp (11,185 kW)
PropulsionOne S5W pressurized-water nuclear reactor, two geared steam turbines, one shaft
SpeedOver 20 knots
Test depth1,300 feet (400 m)
ComplementTwo crews (Blue Crew and Gold Crew) of 120 men each

USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657), a Benjamin Franklin-class ballistic missile submarine, was the only submarine of the United States Navy to be named for Francis Scott Key (1779–1843), an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet who wrote the poem "The Defense of Fort McHenry", which became the words to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner". During World War II there was a liberty ship named SS Francis Scott Key.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Francis Scott Key is waterborne for the first time at the end of the launching ways at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation at Groton, Connecticut, during her launching on 23 April 1965.

The contract to build Francis Scott Key was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut on 29 July 1963 and her keel was laid down there on 5 December 1964. She was launched on 23 April 1965, sponsored by Mrs. Marjory Key Thorne and Mrs. William T. Jarvis, both direct descendants of Key,[1] and commissioned on 3 December 1966, with Captain Frank W. Graham in command of the Blue Crew and Lieutenant Commander Joseph B. Logan in command of the Gold Crew.

Service history[edit]

The Francis Scott Key was part of Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 16 based in Rota, Spain. The squadron and submarines moved to Kings Bay, Georgia in 1979.

The Key conducted the first submerged launch of a Trident missile in 1979. She also became the first submarine to go on deterrent patrol with Trident I missiles.

The Gold crew performed the submarine's last SSBN deterrent patrol, Patrol #72, in 1992. The Key combined crews and changed homeport from Charleston, SC to Pearl Harbor, HI in late 1992.

A montage of a Trident I (C4) missile and its reentry vehicles launched from Francis Scott Key

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Francis Scott Key was decommissioned on 2 September 1993 with Commander Carl D. Olson in command, and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. Her scrapping via the U.S. Navy's Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington, was completed on 1 September 1995.


  1. ^ "Polaris Sub's Deterrent Role Cited at Launching". General Dynamics News – Electric Boat Edition. May 1966. Retrieved 11 November 2022. Mrs. William T. Jarvis and Mrs. Marjory Key Thorne, both direct descendants of Key, christened the divisions's 16th missile firing sub. About 65 other descendants attended the ceremony

External links[edit]