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First Trident Launch submitted by Bill Kaczmarek MT2- Gold crew 78 - 80

 

 The Key was chosen to execute the first submerged launch of a Trident missile back in 1978-1979 and we steamed from our home port of Charleston, SC to Cape Canaveral, FL loaded with ballast in our missile tubes.  When we got there, we outfitted the boat with a telemetry mast and then loaded two trident D-1 test missiles with the idea of doing two shots.  

When the boat was finally rigged, we proceeded out to the test range where we launched the first bird.  About three seconds into the launch, the status reports stopped being read and after a few more minutes we found out that the missile failed and was destroyed as it hit the ocean about a mile away from us.  I remember the ship rocking as the shock wave hit us and the collision alarm going off.  It was at his point that I also met Vice Admiral Carr, head-on.   When the collision alarm sounded, I came around the port side upper level corner of the missile compartment to secure the W/T door at about flank speed and ran smack dab into him as he was approaching the corner.  Those stars on his collar looked huge and I thought I'd get in trouble for running over an Admiral but he was scrambling to get out of my way and told me to carry on.  

After the unsuccessful launch attempt, we returned to port and turned around the fired tube.  We then found ourselves in the position of not having a mission to execute and a whole patrol cycle to do it, so COMSUBLANT sent us to Annapolis to show the middies what a real live submarine looked like and try to recruit some of them for the pirating life.   This picture shows the middies coming aboard.  I actually met a kid from my home town who was a midshipman (I knew his father) at the time.  It was during this in port time at Annapolis that  Senator Moynihan  came on board and I remember shaking his hand when he was touring through Launcher and the Missile compartment.

This picture shows the underwater video cameras in position over the tubes that we were to fire.  If you watch some of the submarine shows on the Discovery or History Channels once and a while, you can make out the Keys' missile hatches as they're opened for the launch.  Ours weren't painted like billiard balls so they're pretty distinctive.

 

The Key went on to successfully launch the first Trident missile from a submerged submarine and then became the first submarine to be completely outfitted with the new missile and proceed on patrol.