for Submariners

by Hamilton 1:1 Communications, LLC

Benjamin Franklin Class
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The Benjamin Franklin class of submarine was an evolutionary development from the James Madison Class of fleet ballistic missile of submarine. Having quieter machinery and other improvements, they are considered a separate class. A subset of this class is the re-engineered 640 class starting with USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654).


The submarines were built with the Polaris A-3 ballistic missile and later converted to carry the Poseidon C-3. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, selected units were further modified to carry Trident-I (C-4) ballistic missiles.


Originally commissioned as ballistic missile submarines, the two remaining members of this class of submarine have been converted to special operations attack submarines, with a capacity for carrying and delivering special operations forces added.


The ‘boomers’ converted to dual DDS carriers are huge compared to STURGEON SSNs. On the SSBN the SEALs and crew can be berthed without ‘hot racking’ - three men sharing two bunks on a rotating basis. Enough exercise equipment can be loaded for the SEALs (and crew) to maintain the physical conditioning required for mission success. Mission planning, briefings, and operations can be conducted with minimum crew disruption. Submarine crew training and casualty drills can be conducted with minimum impact on the SEALs. Both the submarine crew and SEAL teams can better maintain operational proficiency.


Two submarines of this class were converted for delivery of special warfare units ashore. In the early 1990s, to make room for the Ohio classballistic missile submarines within the limits set by the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty, the ballistic missile tubes of USS KAMEHAMEHA (SSN 642) and BENJAMIN FRANKLIN were disabled.


USS KAMEHAMEHA (SSN 642) is a BENJAMIN FRANKLIN class fleet ballistic missile submarine, built in 1965, recently completed conversion to a drydeck shelter/swimmer delivery platform. USS KAMEHAMEHA is now a very capable attack submarine with extensive modifications to enable her to conduct missions in support of special warfare operations.

In March of 1994 USS JAMES K. POLK (SSN 645) completed a 19-month conversion from ballistic missile submarine to attack/special warfare submarine at Newport News Shipbuilding. She then changed homeports to Norfolk where she was a mainstay at Submarine Squadron SIX. As the only dual dry-deck shelter submarine in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, POLK made three deployments to the Mediterranean Sea. The submarine held its inactivation ceremony 08 January 1999 at Naval Station Norfolk after nearly 33 years of service.

Boats Built:


General Dynamics Electric Boat
Newport News Shipbuilding
Mare Island Naval Shipyard
8,250 tons submerged
425 feet
33 feet
31 ft.
25+ knots submerged
Greater than 800 feet
S5W nuclear reactor
143 (approx.)
Horizontal Tubes: Four Tubes
Vertical Tubes: 12 Vertical Launch System Tubes
Special Operations:
2 Dry Deck Shelters
2 Seal Delivery Vehicles (SDV)
Unit Operating Cost Annual Average:
$13,000,000 (source: FY1996 VAMOSC)