Physical Description

                                                       USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN 640) Characteristics                                                                                                  

Builders:      General Dynamics, Electric Boat
Displacement:      8,250 tons submerged


425 feet

Beam:      33 feet


25+ knots submerged


Greater than 800 feet



Horizontal Tubes:     

Four Tubes

Vertical Tubes:     

16 Vertical Launch System Tubes

Keel laid down by Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, CT 25MAY63;
Launched: 5DEC64; Sponsored by Mrs. Francis L. Moseley and Mrs. Leon V. Chaplin;
Commissioned: 22OCT65 with Capt Donald M. Miller [B], Cdr Ross N. Williams [G] in command;
Decommissioned and struck from the Navy List 1OCT94;
Disposed of through SRP at PSNS 21AUG95.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) left an indelible stamp on America. He was a statesman, scientist, and businessman who made a fortune by the age of 42. The author of a distinguished autobiography and inventor of bifocal glasses, he entered public service at age 48 and became a leading diplomat. He secured vital aid from France during the American Revolution and was the only American to sign all four documents which established the United States as an independent nation - the Declaration of Independence, the Alliance with France, the Peace Treaty with England, and the Constitution.

The submarine named in his honor was the 32nd Polaris Missile Submarine built for the Navy and is the first ship of the 640-class Ballistic Missile Submarine -- USS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (SSBN 640).

After successful completion of all sea trials, the boat was placed in commission on 22 October 1965 at the U.S. Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory, New London, CT.

Shakedown cruise commenced on 26 October 1965. On 6 December 1965 the Gold Crew successfully launched a Polaris A-3 missile in close coordination with an orbital pass of the Gemini 7 astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell. The Blue Crew successfully launched a Polaris A-3 missile on 20 December 1965.

Following the tactical loadout in Charleston, SC, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN transited the Panama Canal, assigned to CINCPACFLT on 4 April 1966 and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 20 April 1966. The Blue Crew then deployed with the ship on 6 May 1966 on its first Polaris deterrent patrol, which was successfully completed on 11 July 1966 when BENJAMIN FRANKLIN arrived in Apra Harbor, Guam.

On 27 February 1969, the boat was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation, in recognition of the achievement of both crews in sustaining an exceptionally high state of readiness from the period of commissioning to September 1968.

On 28 August 1970, the Blue Crew departed Apra Harbor, Guam, MI, for the BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S nineteenth Polaris patrol and transit to New London CT. This was the final patrol prior to entry into the shipyard at Electric Boat Company, General Dynamic Corporation, Groton, CT, for Poseidon conversion. The conversion was completed in May 1972 and the BENJAMIN FRANKLIN once again took her place in the deterrent force.

Upon completing of her 29th deterrent patrol, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was awarded SubRon16's Battle Efficiency "E".

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN completed 16 Poseidon deterrent patrols before entering Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in November 1979 for her second overhaul, during which the TRIDENT 1 Weapon System was installed. Shipyard overhaul was completed 5 September 1981, and she once again patrolled the seas.

On 18 December 1983 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN completed her 51st patrol, the 2,200th Strategic Deterrent Patrol made by a Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine.

In July 1985, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN arrived in Norfolk, Virginia transferring to SubRon8 and acting as as "SSN Asset" while awaiting the start of her third overhaul. After transferring to Charleston, SC, in July 1986, the boat began a reactor refueling overhaul which was successfully completed in November 1988.

Following overhaul and completion of the post overhaul shakedown period, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN resumed her role as part of SubRon18, homeported in Charleston, SC, beginning with Patrol 58 in July 1989.

Upon completion of her 62nd patrol in October 1990, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was awarded SubRon18's Battle Efficiency "E" and was named Atlantic Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine of the Year for FY-1990 in recognition of the ability of both crews to consistently meet all challenges. For these accomplishments, she was awarded a second Meritorious Unit Commendation.

On 22 October 1990, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN marked the 25th anniversary of her commissioning. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN completed a total of 69 deterrent patrols and was decommissioned on 23 November 1993.

On September 5 - 8, 2002, The first USS Benjamin Franklin - SSBN 640 Reunion was held in Groton, CT.  During this time, we enjoyed the attendance of  over 300 shipmates and spouses ranging from commissioning to de-commissioning crews and Captains.  We also formed the SSBN 640 Association.  If you are a formers 640 crew member and have not been added to our roster or would like to join our association, please contact our Membership Chairman Len Excelby @


Source: A. Toppan with additions and updates by Kevin Owen


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. Only one submarine of this class is in service in the Atlantic Fleet. This is the USS James K. Polk (SSBN 645), assigned to Submarine Squadron SIX and home ported in Norfolk, Virginia