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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

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Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635)

James Madison Class Ballistic Missile Submarine: Laid down, 3 December 1962, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA.; Launched, 20 December 1963; Commissioned, USS Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635), 2 December 1964; Decommissioned, 31 July 1989 and retained as a Moored Training Ship; Struck from the Naval Register, 28 August 1989; Awaiting disposal through the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA. as of April 2021.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 7,250 t., Submerged: 8,250 t.; Length 425'; Beam 33'; Draft 32'; Speed, Surfaced/Submerged 20+ kts; Complement 120; Test depth 1,300'; Armament, 16 missile tubes, four 21" torpedo tubes; Propulsion, S5W Pressurized Water Nuclear Reactor, two geared turbines at 15,000 shp, one propeller.
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Sam Rayburn94kVice President Lyndon B. Johnson authenticates the keel of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) as Navy Secretary Fred Korth (right) looks on.Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn193kThe keel of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) is swung into place on Shipway 6 in the place vacated by the launching of the Henry Clay (SSBN-625) 3 days earlier.Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn403kVice President Lyndon B. Johnson speaking at the keel laying ceremony for the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn24kCommemorative postal cover issued on the occasion of the keel laying of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635), 3 December 1962, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA.
Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Poker585kTHREE OF A KIND-And an ace hidden in the hole. A trio of Polaris submarines poke their noses over the edge of their building ways while another lies hidden at extreme right. Photo was made just before James Madison (SSBN-627) (center) was launched yesterday, 15 March 1963. At left is the Von Steuben (SSBN-632) and at right is the John C. Calhoun (SSBN-630). At far right and not sporting a nose as yet is the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635). The four-in-a-row Polaris lineup can be duplicated in only one other yard-Electric Boat-where the Daniel Webster (SSBN-626), Tecumseh (SSBN-628), Ulysses S. Grant (SSBN-631) & Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633) have been laid down. The building slot vacated yesterday in Newport News by the James Madison soon will hold (SSNB-641), as yet unnamed. Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
63582kUncle Sam wants you: Invitation for the commissioning of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) on 2 December 1964.Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn649kSteel Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) co-sponsors, Mrs. S. E. Bartley and Mrs. W. A. Thomas, sisters of Speaker Sam Rayburn on 20 December 1963.Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn164kChristening of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635). Mrs. Bartley, right, breaks a bottle of champagne. Her sister, Mrs. Thomas, followed a moment later. Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn92k The officers & crew of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) salute the national ensign as she starts making her way down the launching ramp 20 December 1963, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA.
USN photo courtesy of & submitted by Bill Gonyo.
Sam Rayburn456kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) sliding into the James River with a holiday greeting for the spectators. Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn369kSam Rayburn's (SSBN-635) crew salutes the colors as she is launched on 20 December 1963. Photo courtesy of Dale Hargrave.
Sam Rayburn94kCommemorative postal cover issued on the occasion of the launching of the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635), 20 December 1963, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA.
Courtesy of Jack Treutle (of blessed memory).
Sam Rayburn323kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) during her trials on 12 November 1964.USN photo # NPC KN-12851, courtesy of Scott Koen &
Sam Rayburn124kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) makes her way off the Atlantic coast, probably during her Alpha sea trials. Official USN photo courtesy of Wendell Royce McLaughlin Jr.
Sam Rayburn2.58kFourteen page PDF Commissioning pamphlet for the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635).USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Sam Rayburn103kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) prepares to moor alongside a submarine tender at Holy Loch, Scotland.
USN photo from The American Submarine, by Norman Polmar, submitted by Robert Hurst.
Sam Rayburn108kAdmiral Carlisle Albert Herman Trost graduated first in his U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1953 and was commissioned as an Ensign. He volunteered and was accepted to begin submarine training in 1954 and once again graduated first in his class from Submarine School in New London, CT. During his more than thirty-seven years of commissioned service, Admiral Trost served at sea in destroyers and diesel-powered and nuclear submarines, including tours as executive officer of two nuclear-powered submarines and as commanding officer of a James Madison Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) July 1968 to September 1969. Photo # DN-SC-86-01979 courtesy of Department of Defense Imagery submitted by Bill Gonyo.
Sam Rayburn73kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) with Polaris missile tubes open for inspection, July 1969.Courtesy of Nova/PBS.
Sam Rayburn161kSee Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) circle at sea in 1970. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Sam Rayburn666kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) at sea April 1970. USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Sam Rayburn553kSome T.L.C. from a tug as the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) comes home.USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Sam Rayburn300kNo one following!USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Sam Rayburn66kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) with her eight starboard Polaris missile tubes open with the usual request for the Army-Navy football game where Army gets nuked.USN photo.
Sam Rayburn834kA starboard bow view of the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) being dismantled prior to decommissioning, circa 31 July 1989.
Defense Visual Information Center photo # DN-SN-86-00575, courtesy of & submitted by Bill Gonyo.
Sam Rayburn67kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) as a towed trainer.USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen &
Daniel Webster513k Sam Rayburn (MTS-635) and Daniel Webster (MTS-626) tied at NPTU Goose Creek, SC., 16 April 2002. Photo courtesy of Creek via Robert Hurst.
Sam Rayburn930kSam Rayburn (SSBN-635) gets a loving tug from the Christoper B. Turecavo on 16 September 2010 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Zane Johnston from via Steven Gower.
1.03k Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) welcomed the Moored Training Ship Sam Rayburn (MTS-635) in advance of its inactivation 3 April 2021.
Rayburn (formerly SSBN-635) served as a MTS at Nuclear Power Training Unit—Charleston for more than 30 years training Sailors in the operation, maintenance and supervision of nuclear propulsion systems. Along with MTS Daniel Webster (MTS-626), Rayburn is being replaced by the next-generation training vessels MTS La Jolla (MTS 701) and San Francisco (SSN 711).
Providing unique opportunity for the NNSY workforce, Rayburnmarks the Navy’s first inactivation of a MTS. Upon completion of this work, Rayburn will be towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for recycling. NNSY will also perform Webster’s inactivation.
"Sam Rayburn has proudly served the U.S. Submarine Force and Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program since 1964, and we now welcome it to America’s Shipyard," said Shipyard Commander Captain Dianna Wolfson. "Performing the first inactivation of a Moored Training Ship will develop another important facet in our service to the Fleet, and we look forward to excelling in our mission as one team."
Throughout Rayburn's three-decade stint as a training vessel, NNSY has performed maintenance on it as needed, sometimes in Portsmouth when a dry docking was required, and other times on-site in Charleston, sending upwards of 200 employees to perform Pierside Extended Maintenance Availabilities and support depot level repairs during continuous maintenance availabilities.
Commending Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Charleston (NNSY-CHS) team for its record of planned maintenance and emergent repairs, Admiral James Caldwell, Director, Naval Reactors, said, "NNSY-CHS’s efforts directly contributed to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Training Program’s (NNPTP) ability to meet or exceed annual fleet requirements for qualified operators for the past several years, allowing the nuclear Navy to achieve 100 percent fleet manning for the first time in ten years. This recognition speaks to the direct leadership, dedication and follow through of a passionate team striving for consistent impactful results."
During this time of modernization for the NNPTP, the NNSY-CHS team has been concurrently working retirements of Rayburn and Webster; delivering and supporting work of the new vessels; and modernizing the site to enhance future training needs.
"Preparing and towing the MTS 635 represents the next step in modernizing the nuclear training program here in Charleston," said MTS Project Superintendent Chrystal Brady. "By retiring the MTS 635, NPTU Charleston can move forward with the final preparations to receive the MTS 711 later this year. The NNSY Charleston team continues to demonstrate dedication to the mission of the site! To care for and deliver this asset, many personal sacrifices have been made over the years to deliver on maintenance schedules and, most recently, to ensure an on-time tow. Our team takes great pride in the way we represent NNSY and the Navy every day!"
Exemplifying Captain Wolfson’s "One Mission-One Team" mantra, sending Rayburn to Portsmouth required constant communication and coordination between NNSY and its Charleston team hundreds of miles away. "There were several key parts to this plan for Norfolk Naval Shipyard—the safe departure from Charleston, tow, and safe arrival at Norfolk Naval Shipyard," said Pat Ensley, NNSY Submarine Program Manager. "This was a great team effort to accomplish this mission. The detailed preparations for departure took significant planning and execution to complete the preparations for tow."
Following La Jolla which completed its conversion at NNSY in November 2019, San Francisco is now in the final stages of becoming a Moored Training Ship for towing to Charleston. These conversions are the closest NNSY has come to new ship construction since the 1950s, requiring two complete hull cuts, separating each boat into three pieces, recycling the center section, and adding three new hull sections, adding 76 feet to the overall length on both vessels.
Photo & text courtesy of " via Bob Haner.
359k Sam Rayburn (MTS-635) en route under tow to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for recycling. Photos courtesy of MTS635
1.27k Sam Rayburn (MTS-635) in Norfolk, Virginia 25 June 2022 while onboard the USAAF P-520. Photo courtesy of Austin Oliver.

View the Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway web site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
Fleet Reserve Association

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Welcome Aboard the USS Sam Rayburn (SSBN 635)
FAS - SSBN-616 Lafayette Class FBM Submarines

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