Forty-One for Freedom
The Cold War Contribution
Throughout the Cold War, the “Silent Service” played a vital role in protecting America from its enemies. Nuclear power allowed submarines to go to sea for longer periods without coming up for air. The development of Polaris Missiles allowed strategic weapons to be taken closer to potential enemies, while remaining undetected. Forty-one of these submarines were built. Unlike previous submarines which were named after sea creatures, these Fleet Ballistic Missile boats were named after famous Americans, and others who were instrumental in promoting the American cause. The Polaris Missiles were replaced by Poseidon Missiles, which were replaced by Trident Missiles.
The Soviet Union went bankrupt trying to develop the technology to find these boats. They never did, and the Soviet Union dissolved; the Cold War was over!
The Forty-One for Freedom are all gone now, and even the Trident Submarines which replaced these original “Boomers”, are being decommissioned or converted for other services, such as Cruise Missile launchers. At decommissioning, many of these fine old boats were a lot older than some of their crew members.
America doesn’t need as many Strategic Weapons now, but during the Cold War, when our Country needed us, we were there, on patrol, and prepared. There wasn’t much glory, and we didn’t see much of the world. But we were proud to be serving our Country, and we are proud of the contributions of the “Forty-One for Freedom”.
USS George Washington, SSBN 598
Content on this page used with permission of author Larry Smith