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USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657)
USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657), a Benjamin Franklin-class ballistic missile submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Francis Scott Key, the author of the poem "The Defense of Fort McHenry", which became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner".
The contract to build her was awarded to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut on 29 July 1963 and her keel was laid down on 5 December 1964 (Picture). She was launched on 23 April 1966 (Picture) sponsored by Mrs. Marjory Key Thorne & Mrs. William T. Jarvis (Picture 1, 2) and commissioned on 3 December 1966, with Captain Frank W. Graham (Picture) in command of the Blue Crew (Picture) and Commander Joseph B. Logan (Picture) in command of the Gold Crew (Picture).
Francis Scott Key was decommissioned on 2 September 1993 after completing 72 deterrent patrols and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 2 September 1993. Ex-Francis Scott Key entered the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Bremerton, Washington, and on 1 September 1995 ceased to exist - except in the hearts of the men who served on her. (Key waiting to be scrapped Picture 1 Picture 2)
That's the navy's history giving the Key's birth on December 5, 1964 and her demise on September 2, 1993 and nothing in between. Well, the men listed on the Key Crew Page filled all the days in between and gave her life and spirit. Through months of boredom occasionally punctuated by moments of terror, each of the 72 patrol cycles would play its self out. Qualification, drills, field days, more drills, watches, vampire movies, mostly great food, practical jokes, many books, college courses, family grams, half way night, racking 12ers, golden flappers, periscope liberty, patrol stares and endless daydreaming before the three sweetest words in an FBM submariners vocabulary were uttered - SURFACE - SURFACE - SURFACE!
The below brief history of the Key covers the period from its keel laying to 1985. It was contained in the Crew Welcome Booklet that was given to each new crew member.
This web site is dedicated to the men of the Key and their families, and to the 41 for Freedom, anyone else just would not understand. As George Orwell wrote: "we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
For a listing of the men who were plank owners of the Key (the first crews), just click here: PLANK OWNERS.
To honor those KEY shipmates that have passed away, we have dedicated the following page: ETERNAL PATROL.