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Robert E Lee

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Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601) was laid down 25 August 1958 by the Newport News ShipbuildEng & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched 18 December 1959; sponsored by Mrs. Hanson E. Ely II; and commissioned 16 September 1960, Comdr. Reuben F. Woodal (Blue Crew) and Comdr. Joseph Williams, Jr. (Gold Crew) in command.

The third m/clear-powered ballistic missile submarine to join tho fleet, and the first mlelear-powered ship built in the South, Rober E. Lee operated in and out of Newport News until 2 December 1960, when she got underway for the Narragansett Bay ()perating Area for torpedo firing tests. Following the sueeessful firing of five torpedoes on 6 December Robert E. Lee sailed for Cape Kennedy, arriving on the 12th. The submarine then loaded Polaris test missiles and 10 days later conducted her first missile launch. The Polaris ran "hot and true."

In January 1961, she conducted additional simulated missile launches and on the 15th departed for the Bermuda Operating Area. There, joined by Torsic (SS 423) on the 25th, she engaged in antisubmarine training. Returning to Norfolk on 30 January, Robert E. Lee entered the Newport News dryDock on 3 February for a month of yardwork. She departed Newport News on 17 March, loaded torpedoes at Yorktown on the 25th, and got underway for Cape Kennedy, arriving 9 April.

The nuclear-powered submarine conducted "special operations" Off of Cape Kennedy during May and.Tune, and in late June sailed for Holy Loch, Scotland, where she joined Submarine Squadron 14 on 10 July. She conducted practice torpedo firing during the first week of August and departed Holy Loeh 9 August on her first deterrent patrol.

During the next 2 years Rohert E. Lee completed nine more deterrent patrols. On 10 September 1963, the submarine entered the floating dryDock Los Alamos (AFDB-7) and on 4 October resumed her normal patrol schedule. Continuing to operate out of Holy Loeh into 1964, the ballistic missile submarine got underway on 27 November for her 16th patrol which terminated on 28 January 1965 at Mare Island, Calif.

On 22 February, Robert E. Lee entered the Mare Island Division of the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipvard for her first overhaul. Major items ot work included refueling the reactor, reengineering of many ship systems to provide greater safety and reliability, modernization of the navigation system and modification to the weapons system to give the submarine the capability of launching the improved MK 3 Polaris missile.

Emergiog from overhaul after nearly a year and a half of work, Robert E. Lee got underway for sea trials on 12 July 1966. Sound trials and weapons system acouracy trials were conducted during the latter half of Julv; and on 5 August she entered San Diego harbor for a 5-day visit. Underway for the east coast on 10 August, Robert E. Lee

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