“The Happiest Among Mortals” – USS Daniel Boone SSBN 629

Did you have a hero growing up? I had quite a few but one of my favorites was certainly Daniel Boone. Living in Western Pennsylvania, we still had a lot of “woods” near where I lived and as kids we would spend a lot of time hiking and exploring. This was in the days before parents were so paranoid that you couldn’t be more than a few feet from the house and under the watchful eye of mom or dad. Frankly, once we got up and had breakfast in the summer, the world was pretty much at our beck and call. The only way you knew it was time to come home was when you were really hungry and the old fire bell in our back yard rang.

Exploring was an adventure and building forts was something that was part of the day. There were always imaginary Indians to battle and we were constantly looking for another adventure. I actually feel sorry for kids who have to look into a video screen to find adventure these days. I can’t possibly imagine sitting on my butt all day staring into a screen with flashing lights all around using nothing but my fingers to destroy computer generated images. Nope, for us, it was the woods.

Not that they were always safe. I still have the scar on my forehead from those stiches that came from being a little too slow during a game of dare. Plus I am sure that Mom was not thrilled to have to continue to patch up our jeans from the many stumbles and falls we had as we hiked up and down the steep hills and valleys of the woods. But we all went together as neighborhood kids and I am still close with my best friend who could out climb and out wrestle most of us.

Daniel Boone was a TV show that we got to watch on those rare occasions we watched TV. He was a great role model for a young kid as we watched him navigate through the woods and overcome many obstacles using his long rifle, a knife and his wits. Our long rifles were nothing more than a carefully selected stick and we did have our Boy Scout knives but I think our use of wits was probably way overrated.

Daniel Boone could get in and out of scrapes with ease. He knew the woods and he knew people. Frankly, I think he would have made a great Submariner. Always looking for the next adventure. So it was no surprise that his name would fall among the names of the heroes selected to grace the name of a 41 for Freedom boat.

USS DANIEL BOONE (SSBN 629) was the 12th LAFAYETTE – class nuclear powered fleet ballistic missile submarine.

From the August 1964 ALL HANDS Magazine: Boone Joins Missile Fleet

Another nuclear-powered submarine equipped with Polaris missiles has been placed in commission.

The new sub is USS Daniel Boone (SSBN 629), a Lafayette class ship which measures 425 feet in length, displaces about 7000 tons, and is armed with 2880-mile Polaris A-3 missiles.

The commissioning of Daniel Boone raised to 19 the number of fleet ballistic missile submarines now in full service, there are nine others which have been launched but not commissioned, and 13 still under construction.

Daniel Boone is longer and heavier than earlier SSBNS, having additional spaces not built into George Washington and Ethan Allen types, including an activities room.

The new submarine was built and commissioned at Mare Island, Calif.

She is named after the 18th century frontiersman.

Daniel Boone rates the special attention because she is the first fleet ballistic missile submarine to become operational with the Pacific Fleet. She is based at Pearl Harbor.

She is built to accommodate 126 enlisted men and 14 officers. Amidships, she has 16 tubes for Polaris A-2 or A-3 missiles, and her bow has four torpedo tubes.

Her propulsion is provided by a steam turbine powered by a water cooled nuclear reactor, and she always knows where she is through her SINS (ships inertial navigation system).

Like the original Daniel Boone, she is an expert in making her way through trackless areas. However, her weapons are considerably more formidable.

On 25 December, 1964, Daniel Boone (SSBN 629) departed her operational base in Guam loaded with 16 A-3 missiles, marking the first operational deployment of a Polaris missile submarine in the Pacific.

The USS Daniel Boone was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on February 18, 1994, the DANIEL BOONE subsequently entered the Navy’s Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program. Recycling was finished on November 4, 1994.

General Characteristics: Awarded: July 21, 1961

Keel laid: February 6, 1962

Launched: June 22, 1963

Commissioned: April 23, 1964

Decommissioned: February 18, 1994

Builder: Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, Calif.

Propulsion system: one S5W nuclear reactor

Propellers: one

Length: 425 feet (129.6 meters)

Beam: 33 feet (10 meters)

Draft: 31.5 feet (9.6 meters)

Displacement: Surfaced: approx. 7,250 tons; Submerged: approx. 8,250 tons

Speed: Surfaced: 16 – 20 knots; Submerged: 22 – 25 knots

Armament: 16 vertical tubes for Polaris or Poseidon missiles, four 21″ torpedo tubes for Mk-48 torpedoes, Mk-14/16 torpedoes, Mk-37 torpedoes and Mk-45 nuclear torpedoes

Crew: 13 Officers and 130 Enlisted (two crews)

From Admiral Rickover’s Book “Eminent Americans”:

USS DANIELBOONE (SSBN 629)

NAMED FOR Daniel Boone (1734—1820), most famous of frontiersmen and Indian fighters, skillful guide of the first pioneers who crossed the Appalachian Mountains and settled permanently in Kentucky, a man of infinite resourcefulness, courage, and perseverance. One of his adventures is said to have been used by James Fennimore Cooper in The Last of the Mohicans. In fact, Cooper’s hero Leatherstocking was probably modeled after Boone. Lord Byron devoted seven stanzas of Don Juan (1823) to him which made Boone posthumously world famous. *

The Boones were English Quakers who came to this country in 1717, settling first in Pennsylvania where Daniel was born (in Oley, near Reading). His grandfather was a weaver and surveyor, his father a blacksmith and stock raiser. The family moved to the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina, near the frontier, when he was 16. Daniel had the kind of childhood boys dream about, yet no other could have prepared him so well for the tough life he had chosen.

There was time to roam the woods, hunt and fish, observe animals, enjoy the solitude of the wilderness. And these things, which he liked best to do, made him an expert woodsman and crack shot. The chores expected of him taught him much else.

*Canto 8, Stanzas LXI—LXVII. These sing an ode to the American pioneers. “The free-born forest found and kept them free, and fresh as is a torrent or a tree. And tall, and strong, and swift of foot were they . . . Simple they were, not savage; and their rifles, though very true, were not yet used for trifles . . . Serene, not sullen were the solitudes of this unsighing people of the woods.” Of Boone, Byron wrote that he “was happiest amongst mortals,” and “left behind a name for which men vainly decimate the throng, not only famous, but of that good fame, without which glory’s but a tavern song.”

Like the man she was named after, the submarine Daniel Boone was always searching for adventure. Her mission to preserve the peace was ultimately successful. She was successful because of the hard work and dedication of her crews over the years.

Mister Mac

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