USS Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644)

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USS Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644)
USS Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644)
United States
NameUSS Lewis and Clark
NamesakeMeriwether Lewis (1774–1809) and William Clark (1770–1838), who carried out the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–06)
Awarded1 November 1962
BuilderNewport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
Laid down29 July 1963
Launched21 November 1964
Sponsored byMrs. M. F. Engman and Mrs. M. G. Sale
Commissioned22 December 1965
Decommissioned27 June 1992
Stricken1 August 1992
FateScrapping via Ship and Submarine Recycling Program began 1 October 1995; completed 23 September 1996; Sail and top of rudder preserved.
General characteristics
Class and typeBenjamin Franklin class fleet ballistic missile submarine
  • 7,320 tons surfaced
  • 8,250 tons submerged
Length425 ft (130 m)
Beam33 ft (10 m)
Draft33 ft (10 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 14 officers and 126 enlisted men each

USS Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644), a Benjamin Franklin class ballistic missile submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the explorers Meriwether Lewis (1774–1809) and William Clark (1770–1838), who carried out the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–06.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

The contract to construct Lewis and Clark was awarded on 1 November 1962, and her keel was laid down by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Newport News, Virginia, on 29 July 1963. She was launched on 21 November 1964, sponsored by Mrs. M. F. Engman and Mrs. M. G. Sale, and commissioned on 22 December 1965 with Commander John F. Fagan, Jr., in command of the Blue Crew and Commander Kenneth A. Porter in command of the Gold Crew.

Service history[edit]

After shakedown and missile firing off Cape Kennedy, Florida, in 1966, Lewis and Clark began deterrent patrols, armed with Polaris A3 ballistic missiles.

History needed for 1969–72.

On 21 July 1972, Lewis and Clark completed conversion of her ballistic missile tubes to carry Poseidon C3 ballistic missiles. On 18 December 1972, the Gold Crew successfully launched one Poseidon C-3 missile in support of Lewis and Clark's Demonstration and Shakedown Operation (DASO).

History for 1972–73 needed.

On 8 April 1973, Lewis and Clark deployed for an operational deterrent patrol.

History needed for 1973–81.

On 19 June 1981, Lewis and Clark successfully fired four Poseidon C-3 missiles in a Follow-on Operational Test. On 23 July 1981, she began a Poseidon refueling overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding.

History needed for 1981–85.

On 13 June 1985, Lewis and Clark successfully launched four Poseidon C-3 missiles in a Follow-on Operational Test.

History needed for 1985–91.

Deactivation, decommissioning, and disposal[edit]

Deactivated while still in commission on 1 October 1991, Lewis and Clark was decommissioned on 27 June 1992 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 August 1992. Her scrapping via the U.S. Navy's Nuclear-Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington began on 1 October 1995 and was completed on 23 September 1996.


Lewis and Clark's sail and fairwater planes and the top of her rudder are on display at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, part of a memorial to the officers and men of the U.S. Navy Submarine Service who served during the Cold War.


  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
  • This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here.
  • NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644), retrieved 26 September 2011