USS Nathan Hale

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USS Nathan Hale (SSBN-623), at the AUTEC test range in 1981, Andros Island, Bahamas.
United States
NameUSS Nathan Hale
NamesakeNathan Hale (1755–1776), a hero of the American Revolutionary War
Ordered3 February 1961
Awarded3 February 1961
BuilderGeneral Dynamics Electric Boat
Laid down2 October 1961
Launched12 January 1963
Sponsored byMrs. George Whelan Anderson, Jr.
Commissioned23 November 1963
Decommissioned31 January 1986
Stricken31 January 1986
FateEntered Ship-Submarine Recycling Program 2 October 1991; recycling completed 5 April 1994
General characteristics
Class and typeLafayette-class submarine
TypeBallistic missile submarine (hull design SCB-216)[1]
DisplacementSurfaced: approx. 7,250 tons Submerged: approx. 8,250 tons
Length425 feet (130 meters)
Beam33 feet (10 meters)
Draft31.5 feet (9.6 meters)
SpeedSurfaced: 16 – 20 knots Submerged: 22 – 25 knots
ComplementTwo crews (Blue Crew and Gold), 13 officers and 130 enlisted men each
Sensors and
processing systems
BQS-4 sonar[1]

USS Nathan Hale (SSBN-623) was the sixth Lafayette class nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarine produced. She was named for Captain Nathan Hale (1755–1776), a Connecticut schoolteacher who served in the Continental Army and known most famously for giving his life as a spy during the American Revolutionary War.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

The contract for Nathan Hale's construction was awarded on 3 February 1961. Construction began on 2 October 1961 by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 12 January 1963, sponsored by Mary Lee Lamar Anderson,[2] the wife of the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral George Whelan Anderson, Jr., and commissioned on 23 November 1963 in a subdued ceremony due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy the day before.

Operational history[edit]

Nathan Hale entered service on 21 May 1964 with her home port at Charleston, South Carolina, and performed deterrent patrols as a member of the United States Atlantic Fleet. She was originally outfitted with the Polaris missile system and in the 1970s underwent conversion to the Poseidon missile system. In the period 1967-68 she underwent overhaul and refueling, and was subsequently transferred to the Pacific Fleet, home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and operating out of Agana, Guam. By April 1986 she had completed 69 deterrent patrols in the Atlantic and Pacific.

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Nathan Hale was decommissioned on 3 November 1986 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 January 1987. Ex-Nathan Hale entered the Navy's Nuclear-Powered Ship-Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington on 2 October 1991. Recycling of Ex-Nathan Hale was completed on 5 April 1994.

In fiction[edit]

Nathan Hale's hull number, "623", was used on the submarine portraying the fictional U.S. Navy nuclear submarine USS Sawfish in the 1959 film On the Beach. However, the U.S. Navy did not cooperate in the making of On the Beach, and the submarine portraying USS Sawfish was in reality the British Royal Navy diesel-electric submarine HMS Andrew (P423), which bore no connection to USS Nathan Hale.

Nathan Hale was the name of the U.S. Navy nuclear submarine in the 1967 novel "Pre-Empt" by John R. Vorhies. Pub Date: 23 Oct. 1967, Publisher: Regnery. The novel involved a U.S. Navy nuclear missile submarine commander who goes rogue and threatens to launch his submarine's missiles unless all the world's nuclear powers surrender their nuclear weapons to an international body.


  1. ^ a b c d Adcock, Al. (1993), U.S. Ballistic Missile Submarines, Carrolltown, Texas: Squadron Signal, p. 22
  2. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (4 November 2006). "Fashionable Hostess Mary L.L. Anderson". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 November 2022.